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Shooting Creative Portraits With Props

Lesson 1 of 8

Shooting Creative Portraits With Props Class Introduction

Joshua Kissi

Shooting Creative Portraits With Props

Joshua Kissi

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Lesson Info

1. Shooting Creative Portraits With Props Class Introduction

Lesson Info

Shooting Creative Portraits With Props Class Introduction

I'm Joshua Kissi, I'm here and I will be going through how to take creative portraits with props. So, basically a prop is any item or object that's placed in a photo in a frame or a subject is holding. And that's super important if you do a lot of portrait photography because most times people are nervous, so if you give them a prop in their hand they get a little bit less nervous and that's also great. So that's a great way to use props. But the thing about props is that it could easily overkill a photo or bring it to life. So it's one of those things where you really have to look at the details of what you're putting in a frame and what you're taking out the frame. So, I have this PDF, in format of some of my work I've done with props, and I'd love to walk you guys through it. Yeah, it's right here. Awesome. So, as you guys can see, creative portraits with props. And the first kind of prop, which isn't really a prop is motion blur and really how that's done, and I'll show that once w...

e get to the test shoot part of it, is you pretty much just put your fingers in front of the lens. It sounds super, like, really but like, it's the most creative way you could kind of come up with some type of motion blur. So, you kinda see here, it looks like it was post process and kind of added some type of hazy effect. But basically this is like my index finger, like right here. Going over this girl's face. And here, is also a shade of my thumb that's going over his face. But it's pretty much you could do it with certain lenses. This was shot on a 55 millimeter, 1.8. And pretty much, you put your finger and it just creates this like blur effect when you're shooting photos. So it's a nice way to just like, instead of just a crispy photo of these two subjects, it's a nice way to add some story. A nice way to add some, sauce to it, if you will. And this is another example of that. Again, you could kinda see the motion blur here. The subject's face is in focus, and through here you could kind of see, it just adds a dreamy, mystical effect and I like a lot of that in my portraits. You can see the next thing is prisms. So these are really interesting. Let me see if I could pick up one. But it's pretty much these kaleidoscope-type of objects. And you can pretty much play around with it in front of the lens and it's a nice way to kinda duplicate and have this multiple subject effect. So, I was actually using him to hold the prism, which is the diamond, and as well as to shoot through it. So it's another way you can kind of, again, multiply how much you see of the subject in a creative way. 'Cause normally it would just be him, no duplication of the subject. This is a nice way to kind of get this dreamy, kind of weird effect and it's the things that make me happy so, I love to do them. The next one is floral, I won't get flowers right now but, it's kind of like a really trendy thing within the past five years to use floral in photography and sometimes to try to come up with it in a unique way could be a challenge. So, of course you could put it in the subject's hair. Have them hold it. You could also use it in a frame of how you are shooting as well. And it's just another way to kind of bring some life into the photo. Kind of bring some nice props where people could kind of again, the subject on the right, she's a good friend of mine, her name is Michelle. She's super nervous in front of photos, in front of photographers, sorry, and what I did was just like, hold these flowers and I'm gonna shoot you and that's it. And she's pretty much laughing, having a good time, and we're able to get some great photos. She looks like a natural. She really is not. She's like, mortified that I'm even showing her photo. But it's cool. Here's another display of how florals could be implemented inside of portraits as well. The next one is gels. And I've used a lot of gels for album covers I've shot, portraits, and they're pretty much, I'll get it real quick, sorry. They're pretty much these, these things that you see in a lot of photo stores and you could cut out different shapes. You could kind of like, place it on a light. You could place it in front of your lens. And it's a nice way to get, again, these streaks of light, as well as being placed on the subject. This is the artist Lecrae. Shot his album cover and it was all through, pretty much gels. I went to Atlanta, just showed up and he was like, this is the set? I'm like yeah, just me and like, four gels and we got the job done. So it was really cool. This is another example of using gels and it pretty much just gives you like this nice streak of color. It puts the whole subject in color as well. So obviously he's not a yellow person but through the yellow gel it just appeared that way. So that's another creative way as well. Again, beautiful streaks. That could happen as well. Here's some outtakes from both of their album covers. They're both hip hop artists. One on the right is Big KRIT, the one on the left is Lecrae. But again, using gels and lighting on gels on how to kinda get creative with props. And the next one is the reflector. And this one is always interesting. Sorry, I'm going back here. This one is always interesting 'cause you use it to light subjects and you use it for different things but a lot of times I love to use it as a background. So you kinda see, he's holding the reflector. This was in New York. And, pretty much you just put it right behind the subject. Like, literally, like that. And, take a photo and it gives you this creative background where it looks like you're in a whole different world. So, it's a nice way to do creative story telling, as well. So, I did that here, with some models as well. And to be honest, it's just an affordable way to get creative. It's like, after a while, it's like, what else can I do (laughs) with the budget I have as a student? (laughs) To get different variations of imagery. And a reflector's a really creative way, whether you use the metallic side or the gold side to kinda show as well. And I think that's the ending of it. So I'm gonna pretty much have amazing volunteers to test shoot as well as test shoot on you guys as well and do some more portraits right there.

Class Description

Photographers are always looking for new and innovative ways to add a little spice to their portraits and stand out in a crowded field. But sometimes, all you really need is a well-chosen, well-placed prop to transform your image into something special. Photographer and entrepreneur Joshua Kissi will show you how to use props to create the mood, emotion, and texture you’re looking for.

In this class, you’ll learn how to:

  • Use props wisely without overdoing it.
  • Utilize prisms and reflectors to add special effects to your imagery.
  • Change the dynamic of your portrait by adding a vase of flowers or piece of furniture.

If you’ve been wanting to add more props to your shoots but weren’t sure how to do it, this course will help you incorporate them with style and impact.



I loved watching him in his element. Can't wait to put these ideas into practice. Please bring him back!


Good class. Bring him back for a class on his editing.

Whitney Welshimer