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Using Unexpected Props in Product Photography

In the traditional teachings of product photography, there's a strong emphasis on consistency, relevance and telling a story. Whether it's a masterclass or an online tutorial, seasoned commercial photographers often advocate for using props that align closely with the product's story, ingredients or materials it is made from. The idea is straightforward: props should match and enhance the product, hint at its uses, or reveal something about its ingredients. But what if breaking away from this conventional approach could set your brand apart? Introducing unexpected props into your product photography might just be the game-changing idea you need to catch your potential customer's eye.

Breaking the Mold

Conventionally, product photography has been about harmony and tailored narratives. For example, a skincare product might be photographed with natural elements like green leaves or clear water to emphasize its purity and organic origins. This classic approach makes sense as it directly communicates the product's value proposition to its audience. However, the predictable can sometimes become monotonous. That's where unexpected photography props come in.

The Unexpected Advantage

Take, for instance, the unconventional pairing of garlic with jewelry. At first glance, it sounds nonsensical. Garlic, often associated with pungent aroma and culinary uses, doesn’t conventionally complement the luxe, pristine image of high-end jewelry. However, this stark contrast in jewellery photography can capture attention precisely because it defies expectations. It makes people pause, look, and think. This moment of pause is where the magic happens in advertising.

Visual Impact and Memorable Messaging

Using unexpected props can aid in creating striking visuals that stand out in a sea of standard advertisements. When a viewer sees garlic nestled among glittering diamonds, it disrupts their scrolling autopilot. This disruption not only captures attention but can also enhance memorability. Pairing such imagery with a clever tagline—like "Fresh Season’s Harvest"—can add a layer of sophistication and wit, suggesting freshness and rarity (and seasonal news) that could translate metaphorically to the timeless appeal of the jewelry.

Creating a Buzz

Beyond aesthetics , unexpected props can serve as a powerful tool for generating buzz and sparking conversations. When a product is presented in a unique and novel way, it naturally becomes a talking point, both online and offline. People are more likely to share and discuss a product image that surprises or intrigues them. This kind of organic engagement is invaluable, as it increases visibility and helps in building a brand narrative that feels fresh and exciting.

Encouraging Emotional Engagement

Unexpected props can also play a crucial role in emotional engagement. By juxtaposing unrelated elements, photographers can evoke a range of feelings or reactions that might not be accessible through more conventional presentations. For instance, the contrast between the everyday, almost humble nature of garlic and the exclusivity of handmade jewelry could evoke a sense of humor, curiosity, or even a reevaluation of value and beauty. Such emotional responses make the advertising experience more personal and relatable.

Differentiating Your Brand

In a competitive market, differentiation is key to brand identity. Using unexpected props can distinguish your brand as innovative and bold, willing to take risks and think outside the box. This can be particularly effective for newer, smaller brands trying to make an impact or established brands looking to shake up their image. By defying industry norms, a brand can position itself as a leader in creativity, attracting customers who are looking for something beyond the mainstream.

Practical Considerations

However, it’s important to approach this strategy with caution. The use of unexpected props needs to be thoughtful and well-integrated into the overall marketing strategy. It should not confuse the message but rather enhance the storytelling. Marketers and commercial photographers must consider their audience’s preferences and sensibilities to ensure that the creative risk translates into a positive impact rather than alienating potential customers.


While classic product photography principles provide a strong foundation, incorporating unexpected elements can infuse your campaigns with new life and distinction. The use of unconventional props in a jewelry ad isn't just about being different; it's about being memorable. It challenges viewers to think and engage on a deeper level, turning everyday product photography into something truly extraordinary, an art form. In the dynamic field of marketing, sometimes, the best move is to surprise, delight, and maybe even perplex your audience, all in the name of standing out.

I would like to share some unexpected pairings from my own commercial photography archives.


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