How to Style and Shoot Photos Perfectly

I absolutely love styling and the process of taking photos for my blog and my homeware shop is one of my favourite creative processes. I work as a freelance stylist for various magazines and I have become more and more interested in styling over the past few years. I take great pride in decorating my little North London home by sourcing vintage and unusual pieces and I equally love styling the photos I take for my blog.  I thought it would be a great idea to share what I've learnt and show you what goes into a perfectly styled photo.

Inspiration

First up is inspiration. Hop over to Pinterest and your favourite blogs and see what other people are doing with regards to styling. Here are some images I recently collected, keep reading to find out why I think these photos work...



The above image is a fantastic example of how three simple elements can create a beautiful and inspirational image. A print, a chair and a plant. They're all beautiful pieces that add a sense of warmth and homeliness to the photo. The stacked blankets are a perfect way to style textiles too. 


Image via Meadows & Byrne

Not everyone has a beautiful home prepped for a photo shoot but as this image shows all it takes is a roll of light coloured paper tapped to a wall to make a neutral backdrop. I regularly use a roll of inexpensive lining paper used to prep bare walls before wallpapering. You can then layer other coloured paper like the light blue used here and some wood effect contact paper as the "floor". Boom you have an expensive looking background ready for your props.



This photo shows how a few simple props are all that's needed to show off a product or DIY project. The key is to stick to neutral and un-branded props so that the focus remains on the main object you're trying to sell. The peg board in this image is the main feature but it's been enhanced by styling small and pretty props on the shelves. 

If you need more inspiration take a look at my my Styling Pinterest board for lots more photos.


Equipment

The Canon 100D is a great camera for what I need to do, which is take some really nice shots and HD film without having to lug around a massive camera body. I have always used Canons and I can't really fault them. The first DSLR camera I used was the 1000D, which, in my opinion is the perfect entry level camera if you are just starting to get into photography. I know that DSLRs are expensive but if you want to begin taking good photos they are invaluable. A cheap digital camera or phone probably won't do the job if you're looking to take professional looking shots.

Now as for the lens, I like to use a Canon EF 50 mm 1.8 STM because this lens has the ability to create shallow depth of field effects. This gives photographs a lovely focus on key elements of what you're shooting while the rest of the shot is blurred. I also use the Tamron AF 70-300mm F/4-5.6 Di LD Macro 1:2 which is a great inexpensive all round lens that can take detailed macro shots too.

I always use natural lighting and I shoot on a relatively bright but cloudy day so that the sunlight isn't too harsh.

Backgrounds

There are so many options with regards to backgrounds, I switch between using my white painted wooden table in front of my living room window, marble contact paper and one of my sheets of textured paper.


A popular option is marble, which could be the real thing if you have it or alternatively you can buy very inexpensive rolls of marble effect contact paper. Natural or stripped wood boards also look lovely in most photos. 


For a cooler or more industrial look you could opt for OSB (chipboard) or plywood which are both very trendy at the moment. Tiles are a great option if you are shooting bathroom or kitchen products, you can tile a relatively small piece of MDF which you can then lay on the floor or lean against a wall ready to shoot.


I also sometimes use my white sheepskin rug as a neutral alternative to my white table, it's particularly great for more wintery themed photos. I love white washed wood, it's a really diverse background and adds in a homey atmosphere to photos.

Below are a few examples of various backgrounds I've used in styled photoshoots...


I used a wooden chopping board for my gluten free cupcakes blog post.


For my perfect gift wrapping guide I chose a pretty wrapping paper as the background.


I used a cheap marble effect contact paper from Wilkinson's as the background for my Peanut Butter and Caramel Oreo Ice Cream recipe.


And I have also used my white sheepskin rug for my recent Paper Home book review post.

Props

Props are a vital part of any styled photoshoot. The first step is to look at what you'll be shooting and really have a think about what props would compliment them. You'll be surprised at how many things you could use that are lying around your house. I haven't spent one penny on props, I simply had everything in my flat already.

Things to look out for are unbranded, plain or vintage items. Objects that have a timeless quality to them that don't look dated or tacky. I tend to reach for the same few props which include plain notebooks, 1960's homeware items, nice coloured pencils, fancy beauty products and vintage children's books. If you need some inspiration I've created a Pinterest board to have a look at.

Below are some photos I took of the products that I make and sell on my homeware website. Take a look at the props I've used and you'll notice they're all pretty basic. 


 A vintage orange coffee pot and a few stoneware pieces to complement my "Our Sky at Night" Print.


I used a trio of Mid Century style homeware items and a vintage movie poster to style my Escher tablecloth


To add to the stationery theme I used some coloured pencils and gold safety pins along with a cute mini polar bear to style my Brown Bear notebook


To convey the correct size of my toiletry bags I use common products like razors and watches but I also try to make sure they look quite neutral.

I really hope you found this post useful. My last tip is to keep things simple, there is nothing worse than an over styled photograph! 

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