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10 Household Objects to Elevate Your Portrait Photography

Author: Libby - Printique by Adorama

Sometimes all you need to do is look around the house to find new inspiration for your photography. Using everyday, household objects can help you explore new ideas and embrace your creativity. Plus, it’s always fun to see what type of effects you can produce with light and shadow. Here are 10 inspiring ideas for using household objects for portrait photography.

1. Plants

Photo Credit: @we.are.details on Instagram

Any taller plants or flowers with long stems will work perfectly for either a vignette or shadows. If you are using leaves or palms as a vignette, you’ll need to set up your camera behind them and take a few shots to test.

2. Lace

Photo Credit: @baranlotfollah of Unsplash
Photo Credit: @jamesoliverbarr from Unsplash

Lace tablecloths or curtains can make for some amazing portraits. Play around with having the lace close to the face or further away and closer to the window.

3. Fans

Photo Credit: @krivitskiy from Unsplash

Fans can be used for more than just great 80’s music videos. If you have a subject with long hair, try placing the fan in different angles and directions. The way the hair naturally flows adds to the end portrait.

4. Water

Photo Credit: @galexie on Unsplash

Water on a reflective or transparent surface will give an amazing effect. If you use a nozzle with a fine spray, you’ll have smaller droplets that for the most part will stay in place. The closer you get to the surface and spray, the heavier the water be and it will run. So depending on the look you’re going for, this will dictate the distance you’ll want to spray the water onto the surface.

5. Smoke

Photo Credit: @florenciaviadana from Unsplash

We are not promoting smoking, but you can get some fun artistic shots with smoke from blown out candles and sage bundles. These always look amazing in black and whites so the patterns in the smoke are more visible. Darker backgrounds will lend themselves better for this type of photography hack.

6. Cut Crystal

Photo Credit: @we.are.details on Instagram

Think of cut crystal bowls, spheres or anything really with crystal. The fractals often give dynamic patterns. The great thing about crystals is that the effects are created directly in-camera, with no need for photoshop.

7. Window Blinds

If you have blinds, you can often play with shadows. You can open them wide for harsher shadows or open just a bit for a softer look.

8. Pasta Strainer

Photo Credit: @abi147ae on Unsplash

The pasta strainer is our next hack. Make sure there is strong light. When the strainer is further away, the pattern will be wider and of course, closer to the subject will make the pattern smaller.

9. Windows

Photo Credit: @vapricot from Instagram

A lot of older windows will have panes that create patterns in bright light. Again, you’ll want to work with your subject to see where those lines hit to see what looks best.

10. Paint

Paint is one of the most fun items you can find to play with for portrait photography. There really are no rules when it comes to setting this up, but you’ll want to make sure to showcase hi-lights with light and dark paints.

We turned all f these images into black and whites for a more dramatic look. When printing black and white portraits consider a few of our favorite photo papers for this like our Deep Matte Fuji and Giclee Fine Art Paper. We hope some of these outside the box ideas will help with your creativity during these times.