*Spoiler alert* This post contains a terrible quality video of me!
Last month I was invited to speak at BritMums blogging conference about styling photographs for blog posts and Instagram. Everyone who came to my session was so lovely and complimentary so I thought it would be a good idea to share a small section of my talk here, especially as a couple of you had asked me about this for an Ask Apartment Apothecary post. I hope it will help those people who are thinking about starting blogs or want to improve their styling skills – for everyone else, I hope you enjoy a ‘behind the scenes’ insight.
I went through some general styling rules at the beginning of my talk (maybe I will share those another day) and then showed this video of me setting up a styled dining table (it’s very basic styling – nothing too exciting and hopefully something everyone can relate to in one way or another) for blog photographs. Please forgive the horrendous quality as it’s the first video I’ve ever made and I stupidly didn’t ask anyone for help. The first thing to explain about styling something that is to be photographed is that what looks beautiful to the human eye does not necessarily translate to film. If I were to style a dining table for guests to eat at the process would be completely different. When I style something to be photographed I am not thinking about how it looks in ‘real life’ I am constantly thinking about how it will look on film. Have a look at my process…
When I am ready to take the final photographs of my styling, the shot choices I make will totally dictate how effective my styling looks. Here are a few tips (and please remember I am not a photographer!)…
1. Take shots from intended angle
As I was styling the table I always had in my mind that I was going to take the photographs from the right end of the table. The left end acts purely as a backdrop. Therefore, there is no point taking photographs from the left end as there is nothing to see there.
2. Make sure overhead shots are straight
There is no point in going to all of the effort to choose and place objects so carefully if you take a photograph at a skew-whiff angle. Make sure if you are doing an overhead shot that it is completely straight (straighten it up on photoshop if needs be). I had to partially stand on the table for the straight shot on the right.
3. Take tight shots
When you style something you do not need to take big wide shots that capture all of the clutter and bits of random furniture, dog toy baskets and mirror reflections. Keep your shots tight, especially when photographing things in your own home, as you probably don’t have the benefit of studio-like surroundings.
4. Take shots head on
When taking a front-on shot you may need to kneel down, crouch down or move other furniture (I’m on my sofa for this shot) in order to make the shot straight. Don’t come at it from a strange angle because it will make the styling look strange too!
5. Focus on your styling
If you have styled something make sure you take pictures of the styling itself. I love my Ercol chairs and in ‘real life’ they look great round this table. However, if you take a photograph of all of them together they look heavy, bulky and dominant (far too many spindles all in one frame!). Focus on your styling, capture a slither of the chairs for context and the photo will be a lot more balanced.
6. Think about the perspective of objects
If you take a photograph of objects from certain angles you can capture unpleasant looking shapes. For example, my table is a rectangle but if you take a photo from the angle below it becomes a trapezium and looks quite ugly. Therefore, by taking a shot at a slightly lower angle and by capturing only half of the table top, I don’t create horrible shapes.
I hope all of that makes sense and is useful. I also spoke about quick fix ways of turning your home into a ‘studio’ so do let me know if anyone is interested in another post about that or general styling rules.