Posted by: Small House Under a Big Sky Homestead | February 12, 2013

Part 2-12 Steps for Better Photo Staging

This blog post is part two of my three-part blog series that focuses on tips for better photo staging. There are certain photo stylists that stand out in the world styling and I want to share their work with you.

While I am in no way an expert in photo staging, I have been studying this subject all winter and have discovered there are specific things we all can do to up our interior photo styling prowess.

Kate of first told us about this talented stylist, Heather Bullard. Bullard is Contributing Editor to Country Living magazine and is a whiz at the styling of rooms.

We will start with Heather’s Tips for Better Styling…

Step 1: TELL A STORY: In some rooms there is a lot going on. Let your styling tell a story of not only the objects that reside here but of the people who live here too. Showcase the objects that are used everyday and the people who use them. Do they collect art or sculpture? Do they collect vintage china and textiles? Are they dog lovers? Do they have children? Are they history buffs?

Step 2: AIM FOR CONTRAST: Bullard looks for ways for objects to balance one another. This might be achieved by contrasting items made of white ceramics against textured wood and/or baskets.  Or, consider contrasting the texture and pattern of your curtain fabric with your rug.

Step 3: USE A STATEMENT PIECE: In my opinion, Miss Mustard Seed is a master at this technique. She often uses statement pieces as a focal point without out-shining her furniture. Think about how she uses her antique hobby-horse or a large stained basket on top of her furniture. Other elements in her rooms are real life objects like paintings, curtains and a candelabra are kept at a minimum so the painted furniture she creates just stands out and shines.

Step 4: REAL LIFE STYLING: Keep props and styling pertinent to the space or room you are styling. If your photograph is of a kitchen then using food, knives, tools, scales, baskets, a tea set or a cutting board just makes sense.

Step 5: GROUPING LIKE ITEMS: Many of us have collections of similar vintage items be it clocks, scales, china, old canning jars, baskets, rusty tools and so on. Using them displayed in a grouping is an effective way to stage a photo.

Step 6: USE NATURE: Utilizing fresh flowers, a green branch, a beautiful piece of fruit or even a shapely fall gourd gives life to your setting.

Step 6: SHOOT FROM ABOVE: A photo that is shot from above is dynamic and interesting. While this option is not pertinent for every situation it is, rather, one more interest gathering option to keep in mind.

Step 7: SHALLOW DEPTH OF FIELD: Taking a close up photograph with a blurred background can be achieved using a 50mm lens with a low aperture setting. In this type of photo the man object is kept in focus and the background or foreground is not. A 50mm lens for most cameras will cost around $150.00.

Step 8: RULE OF THIRDS: When I was photographing for publication years ago using traditional film cameras, I learned about the rule of thirds. The rule still applies. This rules of thirds helps to create a more dynamic shot.

Step 9: INCLUDE SOMETHING ALIVE: If you look at the photography that you admire the most, chances are they included flowers, greenery or a person. Almost everyone uses flowers but I really like photographs that include a cute child, a cute dog or a cute chef that lives there, working in or walking through a room. It makes the photo story more believable.

Step 10: MAKE A SPACE LOOK LIVED IN: Pull the chair out just a little from the table or desk. When shooting a bed, ruffle the sheets a bit or fold down the corner of the blanket or spread. These little things make the room  or furniture piece seem more welcoming.

Step 11: PAY ATTENTION TO THE LITTLE THINGS: First declutter your space and then make sure your phone and lamp cords aren’t showing, or your TV set isn’t on a weird channel. Put the lid of the toilet seat down and the soap and shampoo bottles away. Aim for a balance of the empty space to the collections to keep things interesting.

Step 12: USE THE SAME COLOR THREAD: When photographing multiple rooms, use a color thread throughout each room to make the photo story come together.

Credit goes to Kate

Small House / Big Sky Donna

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