Photo styling can be intimidating, but it doesn't have to be! That's why I'm sharing with you what I wish I knew when I started on my styling journey. Since we all have a different product niche, I tried to include something in here for nearly everyone - whether you photograph beauty, lifestyle flat lay, jewelry, wedding, paper goods, or something else entirely.
If food or clothing is your photo jam, I actually have another how-to just for you. Click here for 9 killer food styling techniques. Click here for everything you need to know about clothing folding, styling, and branding.
And don't worry - if you love one of these techniques but the photo doesn't feature what you photograph (i.e. the photo features jewelry but you're an oil guru), just modify the advice to suit your niche!
To take the work out of prop-sourcing, I’ve linked to Amazon listings for some of the props I discuss. None of these are sponsored, just affordable props that I’m loving (everything is under $15 at the time of writing this). All of the backdrops featured here are Replica Surfaces (naturally), so click the photos to learn more about each one.
Now let's get that creative genius flowing!
Lovely loose tea
Alright, new favorite styling prop right here - loose tea sprinkled in the foreground of your shot. With the beautiful pops of color you find in loose tea, styling with tea works for so much more than food shots - beauty, candles, soaps, home decor...I could go on and on.
My favorite loose teas of the moment? Anything with colored pieces in it (think lavender, rose, and peach). This sampler from Tea Forte comes with five beautiful varieties and won’t break the bank. Plus they’re individually packaged so they’ll stay fresh and vibrant for styling AND sipping. Hellooo perfect Sunday morning!
When styling beauty and product photos, simplicity is the key to keeping all eyes on the star of your shot. Yes, I said simply. Isn’t that a RELIEF? To my eye, no props are prettier than in-season fruit and a sprig of fresh greenery.
But that whole fruit needs to slow (stop) its roll! To stop fruit from rolling, cut the rounded bottom off. It only took a thin slice off of the base of these oranges to make them stay right where we wanted them, at this elegant angle.
Trying to stop other rounded props from rolling? A dab of blue sticky putty (yep, that stuff from second grade) will do the trick! And this pretty pop of green? Fresh mint, of course! Finish the look with the White Marble and All-White Replica Surfaces.
Keep it simple, Beautiful
Styling handmade goods or clothing for resale is totally different than styling food or creating intricate flat lays. When it comes to selling, simple styling is the name of the game. Since you’re reading this, you already know that it's key to start with a backdrop or two that capture your brand’s vibe.
After that, I wholeheartedly believe you only need ONE great prop to finish the look. How awesome is THAT to hear? Using just one prop in every listing adds visual interest and creates a consistent look for your shop without distracting from the item for sale. My prop of choice? Two strands of faux greenery draped along opposite corners of your photo, just like we did here. I’m loving these willow and eucalyptus ones that come two per pack.
Want an entire how-to devoted to clothing folding and styling? Here you go!
Block off some time
This isn’t the first time I’ve talked about styling blocks, but they deserve an extra mention! Styling blocks are any square or rectangular object that can be placed under another object to elevate it and allow you to slide other objects underneath. Here, we used styling blocks of different heights to elevate both invitations and slide flowers underneath. I promise you already have styling blocks in your home - rectangular match books, deck of playing cards, children’s blocks, or even small bowls - literally anything with a flat top surface. If you’re after a more professional look, snag some wooden blocks from your local craft store.
Give the maker a hand.
Add a personal touch to your photos. Literally. When shooting small items like jewelry, oils, or small products, try holding them in your palm (or a friend’s) and placing the hand in front of your favorite backdrop. Your hand creates a frame for your items while the backdrop (this is the Cement Replica Surface) lends texture.
(Flat) lay on the motivation.
Not a scroll goes by that I don’t see a couple inspirational quotes whiz by on my Instagram feed. Most are beautifully styled graphics created in Word Swag or a similar text styling app. It’s when I catch a glimpse of a MANUALLY styled message, though, that I really stop my scroll. What do I mean by that? No graphic design, just flay lay. AKA quotes spelled out on a letter board, an open book page, or *gasp* a message printed out on actual paper and surrounded by related props!
Yep, it definitely takes more time to create and capture the photo than to apply text in an app, but knowing that the photog went the extra mile to showcase their message really makes me take notice and double tap.
To create your own styled quote, grab a few simple desk props and place them around your message like we did here. Want to share a page from a cookbook? Choose kitchen props, of course! Create this light and natural look with the Beechwood Replica Surface.
What do you think of my little secrets? Comment and let your girl know!
Photos used with permission from photo gurus @shopwildbloomstudio and @beatboxportraits