Props are obviously essential to all forms of styling. It is the stylist’s responsibility to decide what is needed, search for the perfect props and bring it to the venue. Bigger clients will provide a larger budget to work with but it is often up to the stylist to buy and hire the props upfront before being reimbursed. Therefore not only does a stylist need to know where to get the most appropriate props, they also need to be able to plan their own personal budgets. Talking to Aurélien Farjon last week he explained he has collected and acquired props over the years.
First of all, Aurélien recommended gradually building up your own collection. Over time, a stylist will naturally pick up bits and pieces, whether it is an amazing find or a brilliant bargain, you never know when they will be handy down the line. This personal bank of props means you have something to fall back on if needed, or a source of inspiration if a particular brief is proving difficult. Storing this collection may be tricky, as Aurélien has found with his collection slowly taking over his storage space, however it’s definitely worth having a small collection to play with, even if just for personal work.
Antiques Fairs can be great places to find potential props. I have always been a fan of finding something a little more unusual and antiques definitely offer this. I have visited many small antiques shop however last month I went along to Ardingly Antiques & Collectors Fair. The fields of stalls seemed never ending, filled with everything form precious gemstones to elaborate crockery sets to medieval cabinets. The inspiration that these antiques have to offer is abundant, even slightly overwhelming. One of the main problems I think I would have is to remain considerate, carefully thinking about how props could work together and act as beneficial transferable items across styling shoots.
I have also read that some shops cater specifically for stylists, allowing them to hire their goods for a small percentage of the price. Buying your own props, even if they are a bargain, is going to end up being very pricey. The storage would also cause lots of issues. Therefore, being able to hire props is crucial.
Prop houses are another resource I have discovered through both research and my meeting with Aurélien. They sound like magical locations where you can find anything you could ever need or want under the sun. Prop houses store an enormous supply of props which are available for individuals or companies to hire for films, shows, parties, weddings, exhibitions, corporate events, photography shoots, etc. The list is endless, as is the list of props available. Aurélien advised to me just go and have a look around some time. He particularly pointed out Super Hire, which I definitely intend to visit when I next can. They’re brilliant for inspiration, you can keep in mind what you see and then for future projects you have in the back of your mind what’s in store. Seeing something may spark an idea for a current project as well. I thought Aurélien summed up what I would find well when he said that there are some brilliant finds surrounded by a lot of crap.
By the sounds of it, you can find props anywhere and everywhere. You just have to be determined, think specifically about what you need and know how to search well!