Before we dive in to this blog post let’s firstly discuss - what is whimsy and what types of images we can call whimsical? The translation, according to the Oxford dictionary, is that whimsy is a way of thinking or behaving that is unusual and not serious. When it comes to photography, this could be translated into presenting our images and ideas in a way that amusing or light hearted.
In preparation for writing this article I asked a few of my friends on instagram to send me examples of photos that they felt were whimsical. I was surprised to discover that every single one of them interpreted it differently! Some of them sent over highly conceptual works of art and fairytale inspired images whereas others had simply used light or the mood to convey a whimsical feeling.
For ways to add wonder through lighting you might enjoy our previous post: How to take whimsical images using window light
When analysing these examples I discovered one common element — all of the photos evoked a dreamlike feel through the use of props, colours, light and unusual perspective. These artists had all created a sense of whimsy though artfully arranging and presenting simple visual elements in unexpected ways.
Creating original, never seen before conceptual photos is not an easy task and many artists spend hours in post production bringing their ideas to life in Photoshop. However this process doesn’t need to be complicated or overly technical, a whimsical image can be fun, dreamy and magical without becoming surreal. Simply using everyday items in unexpected ways can add an interesting and amusing aspect to your images without requiring additional editing.
There several props that are great starting points to ignite your imagination. Let’s dive in and discover the 5 simple items you can use to add a little extra whimsy to your photos.
Books are a gateway to your imagination, you can be inspired by the stories they tell or make up your own. Whether they are the entire concept or part of the composition, books are perfect to fill a still life scene or create more interesting portraits.
Never stop experimenting. Try different angles, different arrangements, different props until you find a result you are happy with.
How often are mirrors used in fairy tales and folklore? That’s because a reflection holds unlimited creative possibilities. Experimenting with different reflections allows you to create ambitious and original images in a wide variety of genres.
You can explore new sides and aspects of your subject through mirrors. It may not seem like a simple concept but the execution allows plenty of scope for creativity and technique.
There’s a reason why flowers are one of the most popular photography props of all time. There is something inherently magical about the way they grow and bloom and all of the creative possibilities they offer us.
Flowers can be transformed and used into unexpected places and ways. Make a wreath, fill the bath with flowers, don't be afraid to experiment.
There’s no limit to the creative ways you can work with flowers, the key is to find something that is special to you.
Nothing adds delight to your images like a touch of glow and sparkle. Achieve this effect by using fairy lights, candles, sparklers or bokeh overlays. Due to their ease of use, fairy string lights are one of the most popular props for photography and are a simple way to make photos aesthetically pleasing with a touch of magic.
Sparklers are also a great item to enhance your photographs because they are cheap, easily accessible and perfectly beautiful. Using sparklers in your image convey a feeling of magic and a sense of celebration. You can experiment with photographing them as they are or trying slow shutter speed to create beautiful light trails that look fascinating.
Candles themselves are an interesting subject for shooting, and often do not need further items in shot to create an irresistible photo. The process of photographing burning candles carries certain difficulties, but photos taken in their light are so beautiful that they are worth the effort.
Embrace the seasons and celebrations in your part of the world and use what you have on hand. For Christmas photography try classic items like stockings, wreaths, Christmas tree toys and Santa hats.
Autumn photo props can include leaves, apples, pumpkin, Halloween costumes.
You can use flowers, heart-shaped pillows, and oversized cards for Valentine photography props.
For Easter, colourful baskets and coloured eggs. For summer - beach balls, pool floats, baskets with flowers or veggies, hats and sunglasses.
When creating whimsical photos the main thing to remember is to have fun doing it. Remember our original definition was to create images that are unusual and amusing so having a sense of humour is vital. Don’t be afraid to try new things and be a bit tongue-in-cheek and crazy. Often the best results come from letting your creativity run wild and just seeing what happens