Posted by: Small House Under a Big Sky Homestead | February 28, 2013

Part 4: Blog Styling Do’s and Don’ts

In case you missed the first three parts of this four-part “Better Blog Styling” series you might want to go my Small House Big Sky Blog at  This addition makes four parts to the series.

I’ve been working very hard on improving my blogging skills this winter.  I’ve been studying, reading, observing and practicing my skills to produce more pleasing photographs. While I am still in a long “learning curve” stage and know I am by no means an “expert” but I have learned a lot in my quest. And, better yet, I think my photography is gradually improving also as a result.

Since my three-part series on “Blog Photo Styling” received so much interest, I thought I could share some do’s and don’ts that I’ve learned from the school of hard knocks i.e. by practicing and doing. And redoing yet again.


DON’T OVER STAGE: It’s natural when getting started to want to put out all of your favorite collectible in your space or on your furniture. After all when it comes to collectibles, isn’t more better?

Photo 1: My first try…

A) This image is way too crowded in my opinion. The handmade paper is lovely but too much of it overshadows the ink well and pen. Not pleasing to me.

B)  Having the vintage lamp lit makes for shadows and uneven lighting. Not attractive.

C) I also do not care for the vertical view seen here. Everything appears too tightly squeezed into the frame.


THE RETAKE (below):

A) My second try below, is, I think better.

B) This image is evenly lit with natural lighting and no hotspots because I left the lamp unlit.

C) Fewer objects translate to a cleaner more attractive view and actually shows the secretary desk better which is  the object of the photo shoot. Fewer items sitting on the secretary desk top gives the image more breathing space.

D) This horizontal view results in a more attractive overall photograph.


A hand-painted vintage secretary desk simply staged using a vintage glass based lamp, a reproduction inkwell, a feather pen, opera glasses and a shell dish holding paper clips, rubber eraser and staple pull.

CHILD’S MILK PAINTED DRESSER SESSION: My initial attempt at styling fell flat, literally and figuratively.


ATTEMPT ONE: I created this set up with the “B” lying down because I couldn’t get it to lay against the wall correctly and that makes this photograph pretty “ho hum.” Having that “B” lying flat on the table, just doesn’t work for me.


ATTEMPT TWO: The hobby-horse photographed crooked. Darn it.


ATTEMPT THREE: This time I  rummaged around for a way to help the “B” to stand up. I grabbed a wooden art box and that worked pretty well.  I also pushed the hobby-horse into the two items on each side of it so that it would be standing up straight. I like this image a lot more.

ATTEMPT FOUR: This time I decided to add the tilt mirror to the mix as well as a wooden mold that I had milk painted too. This brings a bit more blue to the right hand side of the image and balances things out a bit. I think this is the most successful image of the day.


I think this is the most successful staging image of the series too.

If you are interested in product photography for esty check out this 5-part tutorial.

Thanks for letting me “poke fun” at my feeble attempts to create effective blog staging. And, as always, thanks for stopping in the small house.

Small House / Big Sky Donna



  1. Good stuff Donna 🙂

    • Thanks so much. I feel like you are my cheerleader out there giving an on-going shout out to my blog. Thanks so much for reading SHUBS!

  2. Styling is much harder than it looks. 🙂 I struggle with it.

    • I hear you! I’ve been struggling too. That’s why I began this quest. Now just have to remember the rules. LOL Yesterday I photographed our master bedroom and after the fact remembered about folding down the bed quilt to make I looked “lived in”. Wha!!!

  3. This is a great series. Since photographing my own vignettes, I find that I take in magazine photos much differently than I used to. I really note what the stylist did and how my eye moves across a picture. It is also amazing how different something translates through a camera lens.

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