Raid my Props/Costumes!

When it comes to my photography, I tend to prefer styling everything for myself. This is because I am the fussiest when it comes to my work, only wanting to create with exactly what I feel will benefit my concept, and will visually find consistency with my portfolio. 

Because of this, I tend to spend most of my time browsing a plethora of apps, websites and antique shops. These are amazing places to find similar things to shoot with, all the random bits a pieces you may need for a specific look.

a beautifully weird mix of props I’ve made, costumes I’ve bought and designer pieces. 

In terms of finding what I shoot with, I go to many places, these include:

1) Charity/Antique shops

2) Costume hiring

3) Online Shopping: Ebay, Amazon, Etsy, Wish and Aliexpress.

4) Designers sending pieces to photograph

5) Making things for myself

6) Turn to friends and family

I will break each one of these down for you to help you begin collecting for yourself!

1) Charity/Antique Shops.

results from antique shopping.

This has to be one of my favourite steps in finding my props/costumes. This is the way I began to build my ever-growing collection, I am luck to enough to have lots of these little charity shops around where I was brought up, so it was nearly a daily occurrence to find me wandering through everyone to find hidden gems. To this day, if I am looking for something specific, I will always turn to my trusted charity and antique shops. Just before lockdown, I ended up finding a conductors stand/music sheet holder, something I couldn’t find online (at a good price) but was sat in this one charity shop, waiting for me!


I recommend finding ones that are close to you, and ask whoever is working or volunteering if they have specific things out the back? Most of the time, they keep the fancy or bulky stuff out the back, so ask away! I’ve found thats where they keep the wedding dresses!

2) Costume Hiring.

photos from hiring with the Royal Shakespeare Company & The Vintage Wardrobe in Gnosall.

Hiring costumes has became my new found love, since discovering it as an option a few years back. I sometimes struggle to find something more specific that I am after. I will have raided every charity shop like stated in step one, but no luck! Sometimes as well I am after something really antique looking and I suppose, costume-y!

This is when I turn to the amazing connections I have built with a couple costume hiring businesses. I either contact them with my idea, and they send similar things, or I will go through the many photos I have taken of each piece, sending that on and seeing its availability and price, achieving this through emails. Or something I would much rather do is visit them and wander through the costumes myself. I can then better get a feel for whether they’d work or not in a shoot. 


Find a theatre company that are close to where you live, and contact them to see if they have an costumes from past productions you could shoot with. Or find a costume hiring company to visit and hire their costumes. They work with a lot of arty people so their is no over-the-top or weird there, its like visiting a home away from home!!

3) Online Shopping.

an old photo from when I first got a clothes rail to put all of my costumes on (goodness knows where they all went before I got this!)

Online shopping in general is one of those darker places, where things aren’t always guaranteed, I’ve bought a dress on Facebook market place for example, paid for it and never got it! So whilst I still sometimes check on there, I don’t particularly recommend it for that reason, unless perhaps its someone close and you can pay cash. (Just let someone know where you’re going and what you’re doing.)

However, most of my finds have been through online sites like the ones listed. I find that because everyone and anyone can sell through them, chances are, what you’re going to need is on there! My recent love is taxidermy animals, which I have found on eBay with great ease. Amazon are great to as their delivery times are really fast, and they have great variety. I turn to sites like Etsy, wish and aliexpress if I want to treat myself and splurge on a fancy dress! Their delivery times are usually quite long however because they usually come from China, just something to be mindful of.

I definitely recommend spending a few hours or even a day just searching key words to see what comes up! For me my go to search terms are: vintage, fairytale, sheer, prairie , whimsical e.t.c, you never know what you’ll find


Search a variety of keywords/terms, so more will pop up, also check the prices are right when you select sizes/colour as sometimes they go up in price depending on that.

4) Designers sending pieces to photograph

designs from ‘General Guerisse’, ‘Costureoreal’ and ‘just as strange as I am’

I have been so fortunate to be able to photograph designer pieces in my work. Before I was a photographer, I was a fashion student, so being able to be around others creative visions is such an honour. This privilege allows me to put another level or artistry and story into my work, and reach a wider audience.

Usually each person pays for the shipping on their end, when borrowing. This can become difficult if you ever want to sell the images, but typically I will have that conversation with the designer and see how each one feels about that, if this is your intent, its better to pay a hiring fee for them, rather then just borrow.


Find designers through Instagram and contact them honestly about what you have planned and why you’d love to photograph their pieces. Don’t worry too much about introduction (i.e hello my name is… they’ll get to know you properly soon enough!) Message more about why you love their work and what your idea is, its good to go in with confidence and be clear on what you’re doing! 

5) Making things for myself

an exhibit I had made for my older work, as well as some props/costumes I made for shoots.

I highly recommend making things to go into your shoot. I’ve only recently began to truly enjoy building props and crafting costumes, as for me, this makes the final image more meaningful to me as the artist. 

Some of the wacky things I’ve worked on include a giant toy spaceship, crystals to look like droplets of water, fairy wings made from wire and plastic, a giant teardrop, toy drum and box for a nutcracker concept and a fashion forward mermaid tail made in collaboration with Eleanore Williams designs.

This list of crafted props will hopefully grow in the future, its really helped me consider each element in my photos and see opportunities to appreciate the little details that can be queitly nestled into the final photo.


Find an artist you trust with your vision to collaborate with, their skills will become such an asset and help fine tune your idea.

6) Turn to friends and family

a dress/hoop skirt a friend of mine let me shoot with when I was first starting out. I also shot with some friends, who are working with a studio set up, so I borrowed their lights and this amazing crown to practise.

When I was starting out, this was such a big help to build my confidence, my portfolio and my collection. The kindness of my loved not only helped my photography look better, but it also showed me they were supporting me on this crazy journey. They were such a supportive pillar for when I was starting out, and I will always be so grateful for that. 

I tend to prefer paying to have things, so theres no worries if they one day want it back, then you know its definitely yours, unless you know its only to borrow for a little bit. 


Ask on your Facebook if people have specific props/costumes or even locations you can shoot with, most of the time I’ve found people to be really helpful, especially if they are your friends and family. You could also find a Facebook group that sells and buys and see if anyone has anything in there, great for bulky things like barrels or bits of wood!

Some of my favourite costumes in my collection

the first dress in this sequence is one of the very first ones I ever got, its from a charity shop. I think I got to for £35 (!!) I created so many photos with this one dress, and since then, I have collected so many! I find it hard to let go of them, perhaps because of my fashion background. I love fabrics, fashion and design.

Red suit: Antique shop, with trousers- OBSESSED!

Flower Jacket: eBay, spent a week praying I could get it, bedded last minute and got it!

Gold Jacket: Bought from a studio where I held a workshop

Red ballgown: A lady on Facebook kindly gave me this when my mom shared about the dress I bought on Facebook marketplace but didn’t receive.

Gold sequin dress: Again Facebook marketplace, one to watch out for but can be good! I was out at the time, my mom was in and a soldier came up to the door carrying this dress, it was a weird moment!

Sheer dress: Forever 21, currently altering it!

Blue dress: Bought off a photography friend, Tabitha Boydell.

I always look for costumes that have a block colour, so they’re simple and easy to work with in photoshop. I have lately tried to find more with textures in them; lace and sequinned materials are beginning to make an appearance in my collection now!

Some of my favourite props in my collection

Gold Mirror: From Facebook Marketplace, one of the times it actually went well on there! She lived down the road from me so I knew I could pick it up safely.

Antlers: Antique shop a work colleagues partner runs! They are stunning

Pearls: Hobbycraft! The best place for all things crafting

Moon Mask: Antique shop from ages ago, fell in love! Also where I got my big gold crown I always shoot with

Giant Rose: Charity shop I think!

Key: Good ol’ eBay

Bow and Arrow: This one might have been amazon, either that or eBay

Birdcage: I think this was from a national trust shop on a trip somewhere!

I hope this post has helped you see how I have built my collection, and I hope it can inspire you to try and find some amazing props and costumes for your own work, feel free to share with me what you find and where! 

Also never feel limited, if you dot have a certain prop or costume, MAKE IT! I’ve learned that it can be so rewarding to build what you dream. Theres always a way to bring your vision to life! 

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