A Complete Guide To Styling Photos For Your Instagram & Blog
Whether you are trying to quickly take a snap of your breakfast for Instagram or you are taking product shots for your online shop, styling is something that comes into play in every photo you click.
Styling is not just about arranging pretty things together, but also about doing it in a way that evokes emotion and conveys a message to the viewer. There is no right or wrong way to style photos, but a well styled photo tells a story. And although the best way to learn styling is probably through trial and error, here are some of the tips I’ve picked up along my photography journey and I hope these will give you a good starting point.
Using a cohesive color palette for your photos
I am sure you did not randomly pick out colors from the color wheel while designing for your brand. You probably played around in Photoshop with a mood board as a reference for a while before you chose the colors that aligned with your aesthetic and core brand values. Similarly, using the right colors in photography is just as important in order to invoke the right emotions and feelings in the minds of the viewers.
Using a cohesive color palette for your photos creates a professional appearance and overall strengthens your brand. While styling your photos, use objects with colors that co-ordinate and flow well together. Choose a rough color palette beforehand and make sure to stick with it, this will ensure that all your photos align with your brand and look cohesive. I love the contrasting pastel color palette in this photo below, all the colors blend well with each other and the colored marbled textures stand out perfectly against the plain pink background.
Choose one hero piece around which you can create a theme
Instead of having multiple items thrown in together, choose one hero piece around which you can create a theme or mood for the photo. One of the key factors of good photo styling is to have objects distributed in a way that they don’t compete for attention. Instead, each object should fit in gracefully and accentuate the main purpose of the photo.
Arrange all the items that form the photo in a way that they tell a story or reflect a theme. For example, the photo below tells me a story of a just cut cake celebrating an event, a birthday. The bright colors of the birthday candles reflect joy, cheer and happiness.
Using attractive backgrounds + props
Props and backgrounds can make or break a photo. It is very easy go a little too much or a little too less with using backgrounds and props while styling photos. When it comes to backgrounds, I recommend using ones that have a good contrast with the main object you are trying to capture. Good backgrounds highlight the subject of the photo without being overpowering and competing. Something as simple as a white foam board can be one of the best backgrounds for your photos. You can also use wooden boards, contact paper, vinyl backgrounds, fabrics etc. as photography backgrounds. Here are 5 Ideas for blog photography backgrounds under $30.
When it comes to props, I recommend using ones that co-ordinate with one another and form a theme around the subject of the photo. I would say that anything that accentuates the mood of the photo and makes the photo more relatable is a good prop. For e.g. let’s say we are trying to capture a desktop in your workspace, adding notebooks, pens or maybe a coffee cup would make the workspace look more real and relatable. So in this context, using notebooks and pens as props is a great idea. If you are wondering where to find props for your photos, here are 8 prop ideas under $20 for blog photography.
Adding life and a personal touch
I personally prefer real photos to perfect photos. Let’s leave the perfect pictures to magazines and catalogues. When it comes to blog and Instagram pictures, its all about adding character and letting your personality shine through the photos. Bring life into your photos by adding details and quirks that make the photos more personal and more you.
As a feedback to my first Creative Convex photo pack, one of my readers said - “In the future, I'd love to see a bit of you in your stock photos. Maybe a profile, a hand, or something thoughtfully framed over your shoulder. ” - I loved that! Incorporating a bit of you into the photos helps your audience connect more with you and what you do, it also helps to humanize your brand.
Maintaining consistency with lighting, composition and editing
While scrolling on Instagram or Pinterest, more often than not, I can easily recognize a brand just by looking at their photo. Consistency is of prime importance in brand recognition and awareness. When it comes to taking photos, you can ensure consistency with respect to lighting, composition and editing.
Try to photograph under similar lighting conditions so your photos look uniform. If you use dim lighting for your blog photos, try to keep the same lighting theme across the images you share on your social media as well. When it comes to composition, you could use props and backgrounds that are consistent with your brand colors. You could also work out a specific composition frame/ angle for all of your photos.
Also, I highly recommend editing your photos in a similar way to produce a consistent effect. It may be the way you crop your photos, or a photo filter or effect that you could use for all your photos in a way that is consistent with your brand. Here is a snapshot of the fashion blogger, Tamira Jarrel's Instagram, all her photos follow a consistent monochromatic theme and she always uses the same crop pattern and filter for her photos which sets her apart on Instagram.
By posting consistent visual content, you can reach your target audience quickly and easily on content marketing platforms like Pinterest, Bloglovin’ and Instagram.