My photography style; a guide to my set-up + tips.
Five years ago - in April - I started my Instagram for the sole purpose of sharing what I'm reading, loving and just my thoughts on every story I read. What a journey it's been, because I would say that it's one of the best things that's happened to me. Over the years, one of the things I've learned by posting on Instagram is Photography and styling. It's something that you practice every single day, and it changes a lot through time. But I can confidently say that I reached the style that I'm most in love with and I now got a few standard tips to talk about with you.
*Before we begin, I'd like to add a disclaimer here that these tips and ideas are based on my own personal styling, skills and experience. It shouldn't be taken as the best/only way to do things or anything like that! These tips I'm sharing today are what I learned and practiced on through the years. I'm sure if I come back to this in a year, I'll want to change a few things as there's no end to what you can learn.
/ Identity is key. To have a consistent photography style; one that have all your captured photos flowing together, you must determine what is your identity? Think about the things you love the most, the feel and vibes you yearn for, what are the objects that best reflects these vibes and start incorporating them into your photo. i.e: I love the vibes of fall, a cozy and slow morning, I love stories, depth and details and a little bit of shine here and there, that's why you'll find that my photos have blinging gold here and there, glasses, different shades of sweaters, open books, hand-scripted journal pages, some wheat/grass, coffee, blankets, fluffy pillows ...etc.
/ Have your own color palette. To build your own aesthetic, this color palette should be the guide you follow when adding styling elements - and in retouching later on. But it's very important to start off with a balanced photo to get that perfect and final color after retouching. i.e: my own color palette is a flow of earth-tones and fall colors; off-white, mustard, rust, deep-green, orange, white, yellow, brown, black ... etc. and you can play around with their tints and shades. Every item in the photo is in alignment with that; all the props are balanced within the same color palette.
/ Balance is important. It's important to know that having an identity and a color palette always goes along with having a balance to both. You shouldn't have a single color or an item overused. i.e: if your photo is composed of all-white items, you'll have a very bright photo and no clarity and depth to the item in focus. Same goes if you have an all-black one, you'll have a very dark photo on your hand. If you add too much greenery and plants, they'll take the eye off the main focus. Too much of one thing isn't always the way to go, a balance has to be maintain so the eye can flow comfortably and easily through every detail within.
/ Get inspired. Inspiration is how your creative juices flow endlessly. i.e: I follow accounts on Instagram that reflects my own vibes and with which I have a similar mindset and aesthetic. I spend hours and hours scrolling through Pinterest and creating boards for everything that inspires me.
/ Your props and background play a roll to tell the story. Try to always have props in your photo that speaks the story you want to tell. i.e: I always have a plain background to not create distraction and my props are within the same flow. You collect props through time and with practice you'll find that you start to develop an eye for them. Like for example, if you're going for that warm, cozy and earth-tones style, here are some of the props I found to aesthetically complement my styling: old books, candles, wooden boards, coffee - mugs, glass pots, oversized sweaters, gold earrings and necklaces, ripped pages, brown paper, vintage objects - cameras, phones, typewriter, maybe some journal pages, polaroids, old photos ...
/ Build your idea from center and outwards. After you have a general idea of the story you want to tell with your photo, I found it easier to always begin with one item in the center - or on one of your focus points - and start build depth and texture all around. i.e: in the below photo, the main focus is the book it falls on one of the focus points of my photo and then I started building texture all around it. I propped it up on a brown sketchbook and an open old book, added my glasses on top, put a honey-colored glass bottle with some wheat-grass behind it, a throw-blanket with pillows in the depth, a candle on the left, some earrings here and there and a beige thread ball. You'll find that all the items are subtly rotated to direct your eyes towards the book and together they create the mood and vibes I wanted to reflect.
/ Practice makes perfect. Yes, as much as we say this line, it is indeed true. Practice is key to perfecting your styling and photography skills. Try, try and try some more. You won't always be satisfied with the results but that should drive you to try and practice again and again. It took me years to reach that point where am at, and still I'm learning, developing and changing my style every once in a while.
And that's all! I hope you guys enjoyed this run through my photography styling and I hope it inspired you in any way it can. If you do follow any of these, I'd love to know - tag @shetellsastory on Instagram so I can see - and I hope this is something that you love and find interesting just like I do. Please also let me know if these type of photography posts are something you want to see more of in the future. And as always, keep spreading magic.