That’s right, we are going to talk about every photographer’s favorite shopping oasis. The place we all run to claiming, “we just need toothpaste,” knowing full well we will walk out two hours later with a cart full of items we didn’t know we needed and a much lighter wallet. Let’s face it, those red circles are pretty much our equivalent to the Bat Signal. Target.
While my bank accounts (and husband) probably don’t appreciate Target the way I do, it’s actually an amazing resource for photographers. There is something down every single aisle that can come in handy for your next photo shoot or photo-op with your own littles. Don’t believe me? Read on and I’ll prove it.
In my photographer’s guide to Target, I’m going to share how I shop, section by section, and where I find the best photo props, wardrobe items and useful stuff for my photography business. You might be surprised at the great things at Target for photographers.
1. The dollar spot
Also known as Bullseye’s Playground, the Dollar Spot is probably the most dangerous area in all of Target. Everything is so cheap that it’s easy not to notice when you go from $0 to $60 in an instant. This is one of my favorite places to find things I can use for photo sessions. Here are a few ideas—
1. Bubble wands — I like to buy cute ones in case they end up in the images.
2. Themed garlands — I like the ones with fun sayings. You can hang them or have your clients hold them for a whimsical look.
3. Signs and decor — Target has so many dollar (or $3) options, from cute wooden signs to things like faux pumpkins or small flags for 4th of July.
5. Toys — Things like bubbles, stickers, coloring books, sidewalk chalk and little toys make great client gifts for the little ones. Bonus, small toys can double as photo props!
6. Seasonal accessories — This is where I buy bunny ears, witch hats and any kind of holiday headband.
7. Large scarves — This is a great find! I bought a whole bunch in various plaids and colors, and they are big enough to use as small blankets for photo shoots.
8. Mason jars — So great for putting twinkly lights in!
2. The clothing departments
I frequently buy wardrobe items to style my clients and my editorial photos from Target’s clothing departments. Their clothes are so cute and on trend that everything pairs well with higher end clothing. It’s also a great place to get your basics, like tees or tank tops. Even if you don’t style your clients yourself, Target is a great place to suggest shopping for photo session clothing.
Target is also a great place to get your own “photography uniform.” I am constantly up and down at photo sessions and often find myself laying in dirt, grass, sand, mud, and weeds. If you’re like me, you’ll need clothing that is comfortable but also affordable so you don’t have to worry about it getting ruined. There are always cute clothing options at Target for photographers.
A basic white tee makes a great natural reflector!
3. The seasonal section
Target always has a large seasonal and holiday section (typically in the back corner) devoted to the various times of year. This is my go-to spot for seasonal props. From Christmas decor to summer fun items, this section will have what you need. Even if you’re not doing a themed shoot you can still find small items that will give your photo session a dash of styled flare.
4. The sports and outdoors department
From skateboards to pool floaties to hula hoops that become a ring master’s circle, I have found several great items for photo shoots down these aisles. Be creative!
5. The home department
I love to get things for indoor test shoots in Target’s home decor department. I can always find great items to create a mini set in my studio or to use when accessorizing an Airbnb for a styled shoot. From removable wallpaper to faux plants to cute pillows, I love that I can bring in a little pop of color or on-brand flare with items found here.
Some of my favorite photo session items to find in Target’s home department are—
1. Blankets — Every photographer needs great blankets! Newborn photographers can use them as backdrops, family photographers can have their clients snuggle up on them, and wedding photographers can use them to protect the bride’s dress when having her sit on those dirty (but photographically gorgeous) staircases. They also come in handy when you need to keep your clients or models warm between shots on a cold day.
2. Towels — Whether you use them as props or just to dust yourself off before getting in your car, towels are great for beach photos. As a bonus, you can use your towel as a workstation to keep your camera bag out of the sand.
3. Curtains — Both shower curtains and regular window curtains make great photography backdrops.
The home decor section is also useful when creating a cute styled outdoor scene, like a camping setup or picnic.
6. The kitchen and dining department
I love to use mugs as props (and to give them as client gifts). I always find great ones at Target in the kitchen department. This is also a great spot to find cups, plates, spoons and other accessories to use as props for styled shoots. And, Target always has great towels and placemats to use for flat-lay photos or food photography.
There are plenty of items at Target for photographers to keep themselves comfortable during sessions. I shop here for stainless steel water bottles, which I carry with me on long shooting days so I always have cold water.
7. The grocery department
Yes, the grocery section. I actually get items from here to use in photo shoots all the time. Popsicles, fruit, candy, baking supplies — these items make great props for styled sessions. Plus, you’ll find great food items here for flat lays.
The refrigerated aisles and colorful snack aisles make great photo backdrops if you happen to be shopping with your own kiddos.
8. The arts & crafts section
This section has great wooden letters and other crafty props, plus I always find great paint colors here to change up any props that need refreshing.
White poster board makes a good reflector or a portable flat lay backdrop!
9. The party supply section
This is another great section to find small props and gifts for clients (and pretty bags to put them in). The party favors in this aisle are especially great for giving to kids at the session because they make a fun, high-energy prop. There are also great balloon, garland, and photo booth prop options here!
I love the thank you card sets from Target and often use them to accompany my client gifts. I can always find something cute and on brand.
10. The cosmetic and pharmacy departments
I like to keep a kit of items from this section in my camera bag at all times: makeup for refreshing, bobby pins for keeping hair in place, a comb and hair ties just in case. I also like to get travel sizes of wipes, hand sanitizer, tissues, wrinkle release spray, hair spray, pomade, deodorant (for those long shooting days), bandaids and pain reliever (in case a headache strikes).
11. The toy department
This is a great spot to find noisy or silly toys to get the attention of little ones. You can also find tons of great colorful toys to use as photo props.
This one is pretty obvious! Cameras (like the Sony a6000 or the FUJIFILM Instax Mini 9 with film), memory cards, portable instant printers, lenses, drones, accessories, and camera bags — you’ll find tons of options at Target for photographers. I also have a nice stash of headphones that I use as props.
If you’re a film photographer there are lots of amazing options for double exposures within Target’s aisles. Think neon, Christmas and marquee lights, colorful pillows, blankets and other decor that can create patterns and color.
13. The pet department
In case you need treats or toys to get the attention and participation of the furry family members. Pets need cute photography props too, right?!
14. School and office supplies
Here you’ll find planners and Post-it notes to keep track of all of your shoots and workflow to-dos. Plus, you can pick up fun pens to keep in your bag for check writers. This is also a great place to buy printer paper, tape, mailing labels and envelopes — all of your daily business necessities.
15. The organization section
I think we could all use a little more organization in our lives. There are tons of great organizational boxes, shelves, bins and tools here at Target for photographers. I get bins here to keep all of the random props and items I bought in the other aisles organized (OK, not the popsicles and fruit, that would be a gross mess).
Photographers — tell me your Target secrets!
What are your favorite buys at Target for photographers? Do you stop at the Dollar Spot first, Starbucks, the clothing department? I gotta know your Target shopping flow… because I know you have one. We all do! Leave a comment with your favorite photography items from Target and feel free to pin my photos as inspo to your Target shopping Pinterest boards. There are so many great reasons to shop at Target for photographers!
p.s. If you liked this article on Target for photographers, you’ll probably dig this story on Click’s budget-friendly photography products.
All photos by Tenley Clark