We’re in the age of social media where everything looks like lemondrops and gumdrops. Many of us, myself included follow many creatives with spotless lives and wonder “how does everything look so perfect all the time?” I volunteered at a Design Love Fest class a couple of years ago. Bri from DLF has one of those Instagrams where I’ve always wondered “how does everyday look like that?!” In the class she covered a section on staging and art directing, she explained how some days her house can look a hot mess, and she may not even leave the house... but she’ll style a particular area to shoot and get her photo.
Light bulb moment.
Don’t ask me why I assumed that these bloggers and creatives go out every single day to amazing cafes and museums and get these great photos, but I really thought they did. This class made me realize that a lot of things are preplanned and probably shot a few days in advance. I was relieved to know that everyone isn’t out kicking it at coffee shops everyday without me.
A couple of months ago I completed a DIY backdrop I found on The Nectar Collective. The goal of the backdrop was to create a surface I can shoot things on up close. I painted one side of the backdrop icy white and the other side three accent colors. To test it out I decided to stage something and shoot it on the white side. I ran into the issue of “what props should I use”. I spent awhile on Pinterest and tried to come up with ideas but nothing really felt natural. After awhile I just grabbed a couple of items I like mixed with random things in the house that were in the same color palette, it was super random. The point of the photos was to test out the white background, not necessarily style something so I just threw it together.
When I looked at the photos I thought “Ooh I actually like these”. Since I gave up on my inspiration hunting and just threw something together I didn’t actually expect to like them. That moment it hit me… the inspiration hunting really didn’t work because I was trying to force it. After deciding to just grab things I like, I naturally picked up things that I use or represent my interests. Lesson learned: things can be planned but they don’t have to be forced. I took a step back and looked at the items I grabbed. Based off my observations I came up with a few tips that help when finding prop items
Textures, Colors, & Patterns
Bringing in texture always spices everything up, especially when you partner it with a pattern. For me using a texture makes things seem not as one dimensional as they are. Mixing textures, colors, and patterns gives your styling personality and something different that may not be easy to replicate. When looking for textures/patterns/colors in your home think about things you may use everyday: scarfs, blankets, floors, surfaces, etc. The fury white texture is a throw that lives on my desk chair.
Include something you often interact with
When styling something it seems more natural if the objects in the shot are in someway reflective of you. I used magazines because I read magazines on a daily basis. I used the Nylon and Girlboss due to their bright colors and the Fader Kehlani cover because I love how dark it looks plus I was listening to her while working. I was using the stool to take photos from above, it wasn’t high enough so I grabbed another one and randomly placed the white one on the backdrop. It wasn’t purposeful but after taking a photo it worked. Plus… it's something I actually use.
Throw in something random
I grabbed a white hippo head that I bought from the Rose Bowl Flea market early this year. Its super random but it fit into the color palette and it was really unexpected. There’s something about throwing in something from left field that adds personality and character into your photo.
angles & Cropping
In the past there have been so many photos I’ve taken and if I didn’t immediately like it I discarded it. I’ve grown to appreciate the art of cropping. When viewing your photos crop different places and see if you can discover a new perspective. To give you better options shoot from a ton of different angles. Now when I shoot things I try to cover the main angles (left, right, below, above). After cover those I just experiment and try to discover new ways of looking at things.
These are just a few things I’ve learned recently....as I discover more I’ll share it. I'm thinking I should start some type of column on blogging and creating content. I've always had this thing with the phrase "fake it to you make it" so maybe this will be the title.. undecided. Have you had any “lightbulb moments” about blogging or creating in general? any styling tips? let me know!