Today I was shooting a product here at my house that was screaming for these delicate babies  as props.

I have been shooting more and more propped, staged shots recently and I am LOVING it. I love setting a bit of a scene without making the shot appear to have been staged. I always want anything I shoot to look like someone just dropped the items in the photos as they appear. Those excellent photos you see in magazines - never like that. Those shots take multiple professionals and hours of labor to make the photographs appear the way they do.

The trick in the world of commercial (and often personal) photography is to make it all look like it just happened naturally and without effort. The real truth is it all takes work. So even though it all looks effortlessly perfect, the good looking stuff stuff always happens with a lot of work and elbow grease.

Isn't that really true about everything though? Haven't we been taught that the real stuff takes work and props and hours of preparation? So why do we still ruminate on other peoples lovely Facebook photos and their well-curated lives? Why is it that we feel the need to compete with something that has been staged and propped beyond comprehension? Those friends of yours at Disney World in their matching outfits....that just didn't happen magically. Take your filters off. There is a lot you may not be seeing. Tantrums. Threats. Bribery. A mom with PMS and a dad with a hangover. It all looks good in the photograph. But it's all propped the same as my commercial shoots always are. Outfits are bought ahead of time. Tickets were purchased well in advance. Travel plans coordinated months prior to the posting of the photo. And that photo - they knew exactly where they wanted it taken. It wasn't a happy accident. It rarely ever is.

So my advice is this: Take the lenses off. Remove the props. Things are the same on the other side of the screen for all of us. The struggle for perfection can be real for some people. But don't buy in. Because the real stuff is where you get to the juicy center part. That's where life is lived.

And those props...they are just there to soften those hard edges.