Posts Tagged ‘photography’

Favorite Tools for Project Styling

Thursday, April 16th, 2015

Today I thought I’d share a continuation of the article I wrote a few years ago about what I’ve learned for better styling and shooting over the years with a list of my favorite things that I use to photograph my projects and fabrics. I don’t have a team of photographers or assistants, I just trust my instincts and work with what I’ve got.

I’m certainly no expert but I’ve learned some tricks from respected stylists that I’ve worked with, and I’ve gathered some tools over the years to assist me. For me, the focus is always to keep it simple and let the thing that you’re featuring take the spotlight. Here is my list of favorites for project styling!

The All White Backdrop. I use a legless IKEA tabletop for up close shots of smaller items and I’ve stored it in a closet for years. I lay it on the floor and photograph from above. You can find a similar one for six bucks here and it’s great for photographing supplies or in progress or final shots.

zazzle products on white tabletop

notebooks etc available here

sparkle confetti garland

sparkle confetti garland


Natural Light. I always take pictures in daylight when I know I’ll have good natural light coming through the window and I use my DSLR camera adjusted with manual settings (see my list of photography supplies below.) Find that spot in your house that gives you good natural light and set up a little makeshift tabletop or booth but if you’re limited, Brittany has a tutorial for setting up a mini light studio in a convenient spot.

I bought an IKEA loveseat for use upstairs in the studio above our garage and also for fabric styling because you can’t beat a white sofa under a window.

white sofa splatter pillows

 splatter with pick up sticks fabrics


Textured or Patterned Backdrops. A large marble slab or wood cutting board is awesome for food styling, I’ve used my whitewashed trunk and weathered gray stained table as a textured background too.

peonies tea towels

 peonies fabric tea towels

holiday gift tags on white trunk

holiday gift tags

You can also use panels of tongue and groove or beadboard (sold at Lowe’s) or in this shot of black and white fabric pillows, I’ve used just two unrolled strips of white brick wallpaper next to each other on the wall and floor and the pillows are sitting on a spray painted but not yet upholstered hand me down chair.

black and white pillows

When I toured the BHG studios last year, they had prop storage closets (of course they’re a major magazine!) but they also had a separate section of faux backdrops for styling. Here are two faux backgrounds you can buy to fake a textured backdrop for yourself but an online search turns up so many more.

faux paper backgrounds

faux wood / faux white brick 


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Painterly Art Using Photoshop Elements

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015

I’ve taken a few favorite photos over the years of flowers and nature and I wanted to display them around the house. I love the look of painterly prints so instead of just framing an enlarged version of the photograph, I experimented in Photoshop Elements, creating watercolor art with one of the tools… wait for it… the Watercolor Filter!

I took this photo of the beach in Bodega near our home on a favorite outing a few years ago, I always loved the light, the detail, the color, the memory! But I wanted to give it a more painterly quality before framing it.



I first tried the Waterlogue app, it created a decent image but I wanted more control of the detail.

waterlogue surf

So I tried out the Watercolor Filter in Photoshop Elements and I liked that effect a little better. It produced a richer color and more detail I was looking for. If you’re a Photoshop wiz then you know this is a cool tool, if you’ve never played around in Photoshop before this is another fun way to give your photographs that watercolor effect and it’s very simple, use the dropdown Filter application and choose Artistic –> Watercolor.

watercolor filter

You’ll get a pop up window which allows you to alter the texture, shadow intensity, and brush detail, and it gave me this. I love it!

surf watercolor 1


I added a favorite Isak Dinesen quote, “The cure for anything is saltwater: sweat, tears, or the sea.”

beach watercolor print


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