One of my favorite things to do on a Saturday morning is stage a photo. Whether it is my morning coffee, a new book or even a bundle of oranges, I take joy in creating something beautiful out of ordinary items. It is a great way to express creatively after a long work week; taking items from around the house and see them in a new light.
For me, it is easy to get bored with design. I group knick-knacks together and after a few weeks, I'm ready for change. Since I don't have pockets deep enough to always buy new decor pieces, staging photos helps me keep my apartment fresh and new.
One of the main reasons I wanted to start this blog was to show beauty in people, places and things from my perspective with the intent that it inspires others to see the world in a new light. This series of photos are of items and food you can likely find in your own home or at least a variation of it. My hope is that if you are feeling in a rut, this post inspires you to try new things and see your home with a fresh perspective.
I was recently house sitting for close friends and found myself feeling creative. The Gray's live in a beautiful, new construction condo in the Bucktown neighborhood of Chicago. I'm always inspired when I am at The Gray's. Their unique style and vibrant color scheme is a deviation from my apartment norm that I had to explore my creative juices.
With Mindy's permission, I took to the main floor of their condo and started to style some photos. They have so many fun trinkets and decor pieces, I had a hard time choosing where to start.
I started with a basic apple. It is more about seeing the potential in something vs. seeing an item for what it really is. Yes, this is an apple, a knife, some peanut butter and a flower on a cutting board when you look at each item at face value. Stage them together, add great lighting and now it is now a wonderful stock image that you can frame and use as decor for your kitchen! It may take time to position the items so they sit nicely together and don’t topple over or roll around on you.
*Pro Tip: If you're using a wood or bamboo cutting board, flip it over and use the non-cutting side when taking your photo. It will make your board look clean and new.
Now, I know what some of you are thinking - Flowers with fruit? Absolutely!
Why? Because it works. It adds a touch of color, a softness to the photo and breaks up the blank space. It doesn't have to make sense, it just needs to be pretty!
Don’t be afraid to change up the angle and see your work from a different point of view. Bird's eye view isn't the only option! Try looking at the items from different heights, depths and vantage points and see what works for your photo.
* Disclaimer: I by no means consider myself a photographer. These "pro tips" are merely just tricks I have picked up as I go along.
I love the above photo. All the green!
The Gray's have some beautiful green accents in their home and these chairs give me so much envy! I put together a few pieces of decor from around the house and set them up on this chair in the living room. Forward facing shot and BAM! I created a simple, yet classic still life. Of course with photos like this, you don't necessarily keep the books on the chair after the photo it done, but maybe you put them back on a shelf in this setup. I took these elements from various places within their house and combined them to make this silhouette. Re-purposing old items gives them new life.
*Pro Tip: Books are a wonderful accent for rearranging and/or staging a photo. They help build levels, add color and can serve as a beautiful backdrop - see previous post.
The next photo has to be the easiest and most basic of staged photos someone can take. Coffee and breakfast.
* Pro Tip: White plate-ware. It's clean, sleek and can go with any decor. It a great foundation and you are not confined to a certain color scheme. This is completely subject to each person's design aesthetic.
To master this common Instagram shot, I set my coffee and breakfast, in this case yogurt and granola, on a flat surface. Paired it with polished flatware (nothing grinds my teeth more than water stained silver) and a cloth napkin. Shoot from a bird's eye view and I became as basic as all those Insta-famous bloggers! I paired breakfast with two different trays and an oak coffee table to give it dimension.
Wine makes me happy and beautiful pictures of wine makes me doubly happy. I created this silhouette of wine bottles and glasses, added a few corks and a wine key. You will have to be careful when working with reflective items. Chances are you will appear in each and every picture (as per above).
* Pro Tip: When staging a photo, keep everything very close together. You are going to feel like things are on top of each other, but this will fill your photo. Often, people will space their items out too much and the picture looks bare. The closer the items are, the tighter your photo will be.
The job couldn't be done without my trusty on-site assistant, Louie.
Note: This process is not as glamorous as you think it may be. It can be messy... very messy. The cleanup may take more time than taking the actual photo. However, it is part of the process. Have fun and try new things. It's going to take some time to get comfortable and find your rhythm, but I believe in you!
So now it is your turn. Get creative and try new styles. Share your creations on social media with #TMAstaged and we can all enjoy our fresh perspectives together!