I am hoping these Friday styling lessons will act as a form of mentorship. Why should you have a mentor? Like many artistic professions prop styling has a knowledge base that is passed down by word of mouth. Sure you can have a good eye and have the ability to find great props, BUT there is no substitution for putting your time in and learning and observing someone that’s been in the business for many years. Natalie (my former assistant, far left) with 2 interns on set with a chicken friend. Nat was with me for 5 years and is now a Senior Stylist with Ballard Designs (so proud of her). Lately I have been thinking about how I came up in the business. I was mentored by some amazing people. I assisted in a full service photo-studio (that means we shot editorial, commercial, food, fashion and interiors) for 3 years. I had the opportunity to work on all sorts of photo shoots. After about 3 years I slowly started my freelance business. I would still work in the photo studio and assist, it was always a place for me to hone my skills. I have people email me every month about how to get started in the photo styling business. I used to have some pat answers but the landscape has changed… changed drastically. With the editorial magazine business in decline (have you seen how thin they are lately?) and the rise of so many great editorial resources on the web, the business of prop styling has changed for good.
With this rise of online resources there are more and more bloggers wearing many hats: writing, photographing and styling their own content. So with these styling lessons on Fridays I am hoping to reach out to those that want to improve, hone and learn more styling skills.
Today’s lesson is How to be a Producer (in other words, how to make your story hang together).
By now your blog has a point of view, if it doesn’t… it needs to. Your content should be original. I like to have at least 80% of my content be something I styled. Whether you are food, fashion, decor, or lifestyle driven what is your message? Everything on your blog should have your unique point of view. You should have a style opinion… a strong one.
Once you have established your point of view, producing photo-shoots should be easier. When I work for clients I need to know about the brand (their point of view) in order to produce a great story for them.
Treat your blog like it’s your own magazine and identify what your brand will be about. Everything from photography style to styling touches, your photographs should look like you (your brand) in other words when you produce a story it should have your style stamp on it.
8 tips on how to produce a story:
1. Come up with a theme.
2. Come up with the points you want to make. I like to keep it to 5.
3. Make a shot list. Here’s one from the Tradhome Online project that we shot a couple months ago:
Tradhome Sunday Suppers
Call time 9:00am
Photographer Deborah Whitlaw Llewlleyn
Menu and Shot list
Casual Sunday Supper set up. Recipes to be included. Take away ideas for the table setting and interesting plating ideas. Plenty of photo options as far as angles and details.
Camponata with crostini.
Arugula Salad with wine with coaster and wine glass.
Dinner plate with flank steak with pickled onions, farro, grapefruit and fennel salad.
Apple, pear, and rosemary cobbler with vanilla ice cream.
Menu card on the table with detail of the place setting.
Table setting – full table shot.
Close up cross table shot with the centerpiece idea.
Party Pantry shot as possible opener shot for Sunday Supper prep, before the party shot, setting the table. TBD
Location- Joseph’s home
You can see the full story here.
4. Make a list of all the props.
5. Order and collect props and shop for props.
6. Unpack and store all the props in one location. If transporting, pack and load everything then unpack in a staging area so that everything is easy to access and pull from.
7. Designate where you want to start shooting according to the best light. If you are lighting the location the sun light is not as crucial. You should know how to light artificially, I will say most bloggers depend on natural light (too much) photos appear blue and blown out. If you want to learn more about how to light check out my food/prop styling photography workshops.
8. Go through the shot list. Shoot everything on the list and a few extra details you see along the way.
1.Be on time… in fact be a little early to the location. You want to be fairly unpacked by the time the rest of the photo crew gets there.
2.Have too many props, in other words have many more props than you think you will need.
3.Be on set. I can’t tell you how many times I have had assistants hanging with the props and not on set, it’s a bad habit. If you’re not on set you cannot be ready for the next shot or help out with the shot that is being photographed. Plus you won’t learn anything hanging in the back and if you are the primary stylist you need to move things on set for the camera. Be present in all senses of the word.
4.Pack up as you go. Once a prop is used pack it up. More than likely you will not need it again and it makes for easier clean up at the end of the day.
Until next week, happy styling xxStyling : Tags: Behind the Scenes, photo shoots, producing, styling lessons, tips and tricks