Finding and Choosing Costumes and Props for Photography

Finding and collecting costumes and props for photography has become quite the hobby this past year.

Here are some tips and things to consider when you’re out searching for that perfect item for your next portrait shoot!

These points focus on sourcing used items, so let’s get thrifty!


Where to Buy Items

Thrift and consignment shops, online stores, and friends are great places to find items for your next shoot!

  • Big thrift stores like Arc and Goodwill are all over the place, and Goodwill is even  online!

Don’t let the big guys make you forget smaller, independent options.

  • Consignment shops are a good way to find brand names, but tend to be more expensive.
  • Certain items are available seasonally, like Halloween for costumes and Spring and Summer months for wedding dresses, so plan accordingly or try your luck online.
  • Ebay and Shop Goodwill are personal favorites, but there are plenty of other sites for used clothing, like ThredUp.

Some photographers and fashion bloggers also sell off items, so keep an eye out.

Stay on top of shipping and handling fees!

  • Borrow items from friends or other photographers.
  • Garage sales aren’t very reliable, and may not be worth it.


Things to Consider When Shopping

  • How much is it?  Could it be found cheaper elsewhere?  Are there sales coming up?
  • What condition is it in?  Does it need a little cleaning or fixing?
  • Does the costume fit?  Clothes can usually be taken in, but only to an extent.  Best option is to aim within a few sizes of the people you usually shoot.
  • Is the fabric going to wrinkle easily or need special care?
  • What is your plan for the item?

Are you adding it to your collection of costumes/props, or is it a one-and-done deal?  If you don’t plan on keeping it, are you going to re-donate or try to resell?

Items you plan on reselling should be in the best condition possible.  Holes and missing parts are going to drop your potential earnings, unless weathered is what you’re going for.

Items just for your collection only need to be in a condition comfortable for you.  Missing buttons can be duplicated in editing, loose buttons and seams can be mended.

  • Vague is better!

You’ll get more use out of clothes and props that can fit plenty of different themes, characters, and looks.

Look for items that you can reuse again and again.  They’ll become a staple in your wardrobe and prop box!

However, if you tend to shoot Victorian looks, then feel free to stock up on these items.

  • How useful is this/How many shoots will I really use it for?

Hollaback to the previous point!

If the prop or costume is super specific, like a geisha costume or an Edwardian chandelier, how useful is it realistically going to be for you?

If it’s only going to get before the camera once or twice, consider passing on it or finding a borrowed/rented option.

  • How many do you actually need?
  • How much does it weigh & how big is it?

If you plan on keeping or reselling an item, how much room are you willing to dedicate to its storage and would shipping costs be a deal-breaker for a future buyer?

  • Is it useful for everyday life?

Whether you plan on keeping an item or selling it in the future, it’s got to sit somewhere.

Try to opt for things you can put to use, wear yourself, or display along your normal décor, and you won’t have a stack of boxes in the closet.


Whether you photograph high fantasy or the latest trends in fashion and modern living, I hope you find this list helpful when thrift-shopping and choosing your newest additions to your collection of costumes and props!

If you have any questions or tips and thoughts to add, please let me know!


Much Peace and Keep Roamin’

Have any ideas for tips, tutorials, or DIYs you’d like to see on Roman Leaf?  Please feel free to comment bellow or contact me!

Witch Bottle

Happy Winter Solstice!

Today marks the shortest day of the year, and so the days will start getting longer.

Only a matter of time before Spring returns~!

In the meantime, cold weather means more time spent inside making props and decor, like this glass bottle filled with tiny flowers available in the Metaphysical Blend Shop!

There are tons of bottles, flowers, and leaves hanging around the studio, just waiting to be photographed!

Let’s make the time in the coming days to play and make progress on our projects!

Much Peace and Keep Roamin’

Handmade pendant in the shop featuring wire-wrapped orange glass.

Handmade gold lotus necklace

Touch of Nature

Décor doesn’t have to be elaborate or expensive.  You can find a lot of beauty and inspiration in a simple thrifted bowl filled with dried flowers.

Let’s go out and scavenge some fresh or fallen flowers, sprinkle them over a table, fill a bowl or vase, press and frame, or draw from nature’s beauty another way!

Much Peace and Keep Roamin’

Warm Winters

Dried Purple Flowers

Reading List: Handmade Home – Living With Art and Craft

Stage Coach Desk

‘Handmade Home, Living With Art and Craft’ by Mark and Sally Bailey recently found itself on my pile of books from the library.

Not only is it wonderfully written, but the photographs by Debi Treloar are absolutely stunning and inspirational.

The book takes us around the homes of the writers, as well as of other artists and designers.  The homes are all unique, but share a common air of coziness, personal style, and the handpicked and handmade.

Definitely a wonderful book to go through.  It’s full of gorgeous ideas and inspiration that’ll give you a new appreciation for your antiques (like this old stagecoach desk), and have you searching for new finds at the local thrift shop.

Much Peace and Keep Roamin’

Streep photograph of a chocolate shop Antique Freezer

Chocolate Shop

Streep photograph of a chocolate shop

This lovely chocolate shop in Pennsylvania captured my eye and imagination for years.  Not only due to a big love for sugar and all things sweet, but because the very beautiful setup was reminiscent of the sweet shops in Harry Potter.  To me, at least.

No matter how many times it was passed over the years, I never had the courage to go in, buy some dessert, and ask to take some photos around the shop.

Those of us that are terribly shy and awkward are many, though hopefully we continue to push ourselves out of our shells when we really want to.

Let’s not let our shyness hold us back from what we really want, be it a big chocolate cookie, or permission to go nuts with our camera in an inspiring location.

Much Peace and Keep Roamin’

Old Stone Barn Red Brick

Hanging To-Do List

To-Do List Wall Hanging

To-Do List Wall Hanging Close-Up  To-Do List Wall Hanging Close-Up 2

This hanging to-do list serves as a more colorful replacement for a calendar.

The decorative paper was found on clearance, and it’s hung with red yarn and string I had on hand.  Scrap paper serves as the actual list on each banner, which was cut using a second-hand corner punch.  Using pencil will help extend the list’s life, but when they get too ratty, the white pieces will be recycled/upcycled some other way and replaced.

As much as I love the the photographs in calendars, this will hopefully be a better alternative.

In addition to  brightening up the wall and making the tasks for each day more appealing, structure and routine are supposed to help in managing depression.  For the sake of easy wins, the first things listed are simple things that I normally do anyway.

Simple wins are good.

Much Peace and Keep Roamin’

Wall Flowers Close-up Teapot Wall Decor Bow

Upcycled Wall Decor

Upcycled Wall Polka Dots

Wall Flowers Close-up

There’s nothing wrong with paint, to each their own, but when it comes to adding color around the house, I’d rather my decor options were a little more eco-friendly and removable.

Currently one wall is partially decorated with some circles punched from colorful cardboard packaging.  Cardboard and paper packaging with designs and colors we like are everywhere, and probably wrap the things we already buy.  So take a second look at what you toss in the recycling bin.

Held up with just a bit of tape, they’re a great alternative to paint when it comes to adding a little color and design to a wall!

Much Peace and Keep Roamin’

Thrifted Decor Teapot Wall Decor Close-up