The art of styling for photography

In today’s world everybody is taking photos; they’re using their digital cameras and smart phones. This means that people need to have an individual focus and a niche market that they are producing for.

For me styling is creating a unique space or focus for the purpose of photography. As I scroll my Instagram feed, there is so much inspiration for being or becoming creative. Personally I have a focus on food, baking, styling and eating and mainly the photographs which I have produced are solely focused on food.

Combination of fashion, beauty and food for a travel essentials image

When I have an idea about connecting food, fashion and beauty the styling usually begins with an object or piece of clothing that I have bought, or seen. From there I determine the colour palette. I believe that colours should be kept to a minimal, clean and fresh. No need to complicate the imagery with a confusion of colour. For surfaces, I usually use wooden tabletops or pressed white sheets, but I have been experimenting with other surfaces such as white tiles and black tissue paper. Sometimes I like to add textures which I layer on top my chosen surface. For example wooden chopping boards on top of a crisp white tablecloth.

Experimenting with tissue paper for a surface or texture
Naturally lit area, with use of wooden textures

KEY TIPS

*If photographing food, don’t use the flash on either your smart phone or camera but aim to do photography in light filled space to eliminate the need for artificial lighting.

*When using your iPhone ensure that you use the grid function. This enables you to frame your photos using the rule of thirds and lets you capture a part of the photo in each third (it makes it more interesting). See video below for information on grid function.

*When featuring products or objects in the images, try not to complicate or overload it so you can gain a clear focused photo.

My inspiration comes from people on Instagram whose style influences mine.

Not Quite Nigella is a regular baker and creator and her photos each have contrasting colour combinations.

MB_Motivation focuses on clean and fresh photos about healthy eating.

Lu Madeline uses slate, cast iron and wooden surfaces which gives her imagery a rustic style.

Eat in my kitchen she uses blue toned surfaces and creates seasonal imagery.

Melbourne Girl has a fresh, colourful style for fashion, beauty and travel.

Mr. Gumbatron has a simple style which is playful and almost all his imagery contains a cup of coffee.

Faceofsjw she focuses on beauty products which are new or in season.


4 rules to keep in mind when styling

SPACE

Start with a naturally light filled space, if that is not possible use any lighting but fluorescent as this gives a fake look.

SURFACES

What looks best, is the look of a clean white sheet or table cloth that has been freshly ironed. Other surfaces that I often use for food photography are polished wooden bench tops or unpolished wood for more of a rustic or picnic shot.

TEXTURES

Having a range of textures helps give depth to photographs, for example a ceramic dish on a large tile or piece of slate. Other textures could include the use of wooden chopping boards, fake grass, rugs and clothing that you want featured in the photo.

THEMES

*For a tea party themed photograph, I would use a fine china tea set, some small delicate sweets such as coloured macaroons and I would arrange them on a white table cloth.

*If I was photographing fashion or OOTD (Outfit of the day), I would include some jewellery maybe a faveourite t-shirt and a fresh bunch of lilies.

*For an afternoon tea scenario I would include fresh fruit such as strawberries beside a filled sponge cake and I would display it on a glass platter on top of a wooden bench-top.


This series of images lead to the creation of a flat lay. A flat lay is photo taken from a birds eye perspective of objects, products or food. I started by creating this in a natural light filled room on a small table which i covered with a crisp tablecloth. On the tabletop, I placed a wooden board and my main object which was my dragonfly t-shirt and worked all the other objects around it.

Objects I started with in pink tones
Birds eye view of my flat lay
Final image, flat lay image taken from above.

I created this short video to show how I produce flat lay photos or how I style for photography. I used a light filled space, had a green colour theme with some white coloured aspects to make the final look fresh.

Final photo from video flat lay demonstration.

I have a passion for food and image styling. I completed a short course in food styling and photography in 2014 and although my experience is minimal, I learn each time I create. You can find more of my work on my Instagram and my blog.

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