Last week photographer Lissa Gotwals came to my studio to help me photograph three new invitation suites. And this time, I decided to try my hand at styling the images by myself.
While watching stylist Michelle Smith at my first photo shoot, I realized how important a background is to creating an interesting layered image. Michelle did not start each image by laying down my cards. Instead, she played with fabrics, textures, painted boards, etc until she was satisfied with the “canvas.” Sometimes props would be laid in before the cards, too. I have been practicing this and find it hugely helpful, because my inclination to lay out all the cards first and style around them was making my images flat and boring. Not to say that all styled images need a busy or layered background (we used some simple set-ups, too), but I liked how it created and mood and set off my cards. Not to mention that trying to fix your background once the props and cards are set is not easy.
My first step in styling the images was to make private Pinterest boards for each, with screen shots of the design files, style, and prop inspiration. That’s “Lima’s” board above. It helped me clarify the look I was going for and edit out images that didn’t fit with the others. Once I had my themes, I set out looking for props and backgrounds, referencing my Pinterest boards regularly to make sure I stayed on track.
Of the three new designs, I had the most fun gathering materials for Lima. I purchased a yard of beautiful (and expensive) blue-gray silk and stapled it to a big piece of cardboard to make a background (see image below), but in the end, the cheap dark gray foam core I already owned was a more dramatic background. Figures. I raided friends houses for props. I had way more shells, dried plants, seeds, books, and old wood than I could possibly need. Having a ton of props to choose from is so helpful… you never know what will be the right thing until you play around a bit. Once I had my props gathered, the styling came together pretty quickly. You can watch a time lapse video of me styling in real time at the top of this post.
Here’s the blue versus gray background:
For me, looking at the set-up through a camera lens is key. I don’t know why everything seems so much clearer that way, but it really does. After watching the video, I realized the book needed to be open. But otherwise, I was pretty happy with it, and on photo shoot day we recreated this exact set-up.
Lissa is working on the photos she took, and this suite and the two others will be in the shop SOON. Follow me on instagram for more videos and new design peeks!