A little something different: food photography

By far, the most helpful styling & photography specific workshops that I have found are food photography workshops. Specifically, anything put on by the incredibly talented and humble Helene Dujardin.  As most of you know, I am self taught both with the technical side of photography as well as, more recently, the styling side of the commercial photography industry. Heck, I am pretty much figuring it out as I go with commercial photography in general and product styling specifically.  It’s proven very difficult to find great hands-on styling training as well as any kind of wisdom about how to navigate the industry and so, food photography, while different, has really helped me to connect the dots and grow in my knowledge and styling in ways that have easily carried over to products. Not to mention, I just really love and admire everything about food photography. Check out my Pinterest styling inspiration boards and you will find lots of food styling images that I use as inspiration for my product styling.  Food styling (as opposed to just food photography) really is a whole ‘nother beast – one that I don’t really have any interest in wrangling right now BUT I will take any bit of styling advice that I can and so when I heard that Helene was going to be putting on a workshop in Birmingham with her favorite food stylist Tami, who is phenomenal in her own right, I just could not possibly miss it.

So, today was day 1 and over the course of the day we had two assignments, the first was breakfast and the second was a pasta dish.

Tampa Food Photography

I was able to select my surfaces and props and then pull what I wanted from the large spread of food and ingredients provided to create my own images.  Overall, I’m really happy with the results and can see how I have grown since attending her workshop last year.  I still feel like I have no idea what I am doing but each time I learn to trust my gut a bit more.

Tampa food photography 2

For example, my gut tells me that glitter tipped nails are not a great fit for this image…but hey.

One thing that I love love love about this workshop is that everyone is able to create their own images with the large spread of ingredients, surfaces and props provided.  No vying for position or all attendees coming away with “different” versions of the same image (that they really should not be taking any credit for anyway) and the best part – no two images look alike – AT ALL!  You are taught some principles, watch it put into practice and then (gulp) let loose on your own under their watchful eye – ready to lend a hand when you get stuck.


I had a lot of fun getting some practice with styling the pasta for this second set of images.  For the above image I had a color story in mind but it took a lot of playing around and not liking anything to figure out the best way to execute it without defaulting to my comfort zone of shooting overhead.  In the end I really love the angle that I ended up with thanks to Helen’s suggestions.


For this last image I had about 10 minutes left to execute because of how long I took developing the first image so it really didn’t get the time and attention that it deserved. There are elements that I like about it…the curve of the props leading through the image, the contrast of white on the dark background, the simplified color palette and the pops of green.  I’m still not great at “editing ” my own image visually and so I have a hard time choosing between two similar images like these last two – probably because neither is really a winner.  I like the completed thought of the S curve in the top one but I like the closer feel of the second one and not having the bread, which I never did conquer, in the first image.  If I were going to develop this image more it looks a little too clean to me. I would mess it up a bit with salt, stray peas etc on the table and would love to have added a dark rich texture like a bowl of a beautiful kale salad peeking in. My noodles were also going a bit flat but hey, not bad for a non food photog!


So tired, but happy, I am headed off to bed with one more day of shooting ahead (rhyme not intended). Good night friends!


In the shop: Watercolor styled desktop

We are just loving this new watercolor styled stock desktop that has hit the SC Stockshop!

2013 Shay Cochrane


We think its perfect for bloggers, creatives, and shop owners alike. We only have 20 available, so hurry and shop now!

Creating a concept: Product Styling and Photography

I knew this image was going to be a favorite of mine the moment I started styling it.  There are client projects in commercial product styling where you have a very clearly defined image concept and then there are projects that, for a variety of reasons, have an end goal but no other creative restrictions.  Often times, when shooting on location for a client I am simply pulling from available props and items the client has on hand and creating as I go – styling on the fly you might say.  I LOVE the challenge of projects like that and really feed creatively off of the client’s product and props that are found last minute on location.  Do you guys remember the “White Room Challenge” on HGTV’s Design Star? I kind of think about it like that – my very own White Room Challenge!

For this particular image I was shooting on location in Miami for Adrienne Bosh in anticipation of the launch of her new website, store and event space Sparkle and Shine Darling.  One of the goals during this day long shoot was to create  7 images that would communicate the various themes that customers will be able to pick for events hosted in the amazing SASD event space.  One of those themes is her “Garden Tea Party.”  Adrienne wanted these specific images to be a small teaser of what your experience will with each party theme without the images being simply a typical themed table setting.  I LOVED this idea!


For our primary props I knew that we would need to incorporate some of the gorgeous patterned tea cups, pots and saucers that she has in her store collection as well as featuring the gorgeous Sloan Fine Tea (whose packaging is to die for!) that will actually be available in the Sparkle and Shine Darling boutique and cafe.  Adrienne had gorgeous fresh peonies, ranunculus and roses on hand and ready for styling (and you know I LOVE to incorporate fresh florals any chance I get!) so I was in styling heaven.


For our secondary props we pulled this fabulous soft pink vintage perfume atomizer as well as PINK sugar cubes and hearts!  Its doesn’t get any more Darling than pink sugar cubes!  But when you think about a garden party you don’t think modern, sterile, white do you? No, you think about a lush garden with green grass, blossoming trees and mossy stepping stones!  I have worked with moss before and knew that it would lend a gorgeous color and texture and complete the garden tea party story but the problem was that we had nothing of the sort on hand – the only risk in styling and shooting on the fly.



Fortunately for me, Adrienne has the most gorgeous fresh floral arrangements created each week and placed around her home.  Sitting in the living room was a beautiful, lush, tropical green arrangement that had the most perfect mossy greens arranged in. What are the odds!? PERFECTION. It’s never fun to ask a client if you can disassemble something in their home for the sake of “getting the shot” but Adrienne was sweet enough to let me pull whatever I needed to complete the vision.  To me, the moss is what makes this image. It brings in that crucial earthy element while maintaining a clean aesthetic.


Creating an image concept, whether on the fly or through hours of inspiration gathering, is one of my favorite parts of the job and when it works, you feel it instantly.  I knew this was going to be a favorite image of mine the moment I starting styling it. It makes me want to take off my shoes and sit on tree swing with a cup of tea in hand while my bare feet brush over the soft green grass.  A good image begs you to crawl inside and live in it and for me this image does exactly that!




In the shop: New gold styled desktops

If you have ever been in the SC Stockshop, you know that we are big fans of gold. Specifically, gold desk accessories. You can probably guess our excitement level over these new styled stock images that have just hit the shop!



We have both new gold and peach styled desktops as well as new gold and soft pink styled desktops!


Can you even handle the amazing pineapple desk accessories? We can’t either!


Which do you prefer, peach or pink? Remember, we only have 20 of each available so get yours today before they are all gone!

In the shop: Fuchsia and Navy Styled Stock

We are so excited about the newest SC Stockshop additions! Many of you have asked for navy desktop options as an alternative to black and we think you are going to LOVE these new fuchsia and navy styled stock options. We can’t get enough!


We have a new complete Brand Builder Set as well as a new two piece set which includes a tablet screen for featuring your work. We also have several new individual options for you!

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Remember, these gorgeous new fuchsia and navy styled desktops are only sold in quantities of 20. Grab yours before it’s too late and do business beautifully, friends!

PS: We always create images with you in mind and we would love to know what new color palettes you would like to see featured in the shop! Let us know in the comments below and you could see new desktops created for your brand and your audience!

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