May 2014 Archive

Surfside Food & Photo Workshop | Day 2

In between eating amazing food at the workshop, we take a few pictures. This morning we go to learn a bit from Helene about composition and styling and then watch her style and shoot a beautiful scene (you’ll have to check my IG feed for her final image!).  She had taken the time to prepare a rather ugly, plain (but no doubt delicious) soup as a challenge for us today.  Without a beautiful food subject to count on you really had to be creative and thoughtful in telling a “story” that would draw people into the image and invite them to linger (over ugly soup).  The other unplanned challenge was that it was a dark, disgusting, rainy day outside!  All of our gorgeous bright natural light was gone but Helene used it to illustrate how we could still use it to our advantage.

I really wanted to push myself today to create something outside of my typical bright,cheery, minimalist style.  As soon as they let us loose in the make-shift prop rooms I went for the darkest surface that I could find and started to pull dishes and silverware that I felt would work well together while providing a mix of textures. I pulled dark gray linens, a mix of metal and ceramic bowls and plates and a few other little pieces that I would use to create my dark, rich color palette.  The color story always seems to be the place that my mind goes to first and once I have my props selected and some initial styling done, I bring in my food at the very end.  I was really really happy with how these images turned out. I love all of the complimentary colors and textures going on. I love that you can see yourself sharing a meal and a glass of wine with a friend on a rainy day in this image.


I was able to create two shots with this “story.” The first was shot from overhead, obviously the way I tend to “see” things stylistically and where I am generally the most comfortable.  While we styled and shot, Helene was on hand to answer questions or help with pointers when we got in a bind. She provided some really helpful tiny pointers that made a big difference in executing my vision for this scene.  For my second image I worked to convert this styling into a 3/4 shot…an angle that I rarely use and one that comes less naturally to me creatively.  I think it turned out gorgeous and I have a hard time picking a favorite between the two!


Just a few of the things that I learned today from the workshop are:

1. I was BLOWN AWAY by what Helene was able to get in such low light and I was easily able to put her lessons to the test and create gorgeously lit images while on a higher (then I would normally shoot) aperture, with a beautifully low ISO!  Seriously, my mind is still blown.

2. I am learning to trust my instincts a bit more with styling and at the same time, try not to overthink things.  Any of you who have worked with me live on a product shoot know that I become really perfectionist when it comes to styling. With open ended time to “tweek” my styling I sometimes need to know when to just move on!

3. I want to start shooting tethered when I am doing on location shoots with clients.  And maybe even in my own home. It just makes the process so much easier when you can see the image full screen, see your problems and make your tweeks and be done!

I should also mention that another thing that I have learned is that I do not enjoy the cooking process as much as the eating process. haha. I guess I knew that already but I have truly gained a whole new respect for those of you who just really love the cooking process and can nerd out reading recipe books when I am only opening them to look at the pretty pictures ;)

Until tomorrow!!


Surfside Food and Photography Workshop | Day 1

I have stolen away this week to treat myself to four days of eating gourmet food, learning to cook, and learning to style and shoot food from one of my favorite food photographers Helene Dujardin. So, basically, I have died and am in heaven. I might not come back. I started following Helene on Instagram after devouring (no really, the images in it are good enough to eat) her book…twice.  When she announced that she was hosting a gourmet food photography and cooking workshop…at a beach house…it really took some convincing (not) and I really took some time to think about whether it would be worth it (not).  When I told Graham that it was a workshop that revolved around eating and styling he told me that I basically HAD to go. (Thank you honey). I agreed.

Each day we spend a bit of time learning from Helene, watching her style and shoot a scene and then they let us loose in a kitchen full of beautiful fresh food and with two rooms full of surfaces and props and tell us to have fun and create two shots that we love. Oh. my. goodness. The hardest part for me is getting past all of the options!  I have to just pick something and go with it.

Seeing all of those gorgeous props I wanted to create a beautiful color story. I and went for a beautifully vibrant beet salad that the chef had made the day before and selected a light, textured surface with minimal props.  I liked the shape and surprising pattern of the radishes when cut open and I chose a simple clean bowl that mimicked the shape of the radishes to give it some visual interest.  I stuck with the clean, bright, minimalist style that I tend to be drawn to and really do love the first shot that I created!


Also in the kitchen and vying for my attention, was the most gorgeous bunch of radishes in all different shades of pink, red, white and purple.  I didn’t have much time left for a second styling, we were really only supposed to create one, but I tried to quickly fit this idea in.  I would have loved to fiddle and perfect it (radishes like to roll…how dare them!) and I wish that the leaves had been green and fresh enough to keep but I do like the concept and the color palette in my second shot even if it was not perfectly executed.


So that was day one. Already I have learned some things that will drastically improve the way I shoot.  I knew that so much of what would be covered would apply to product photography and I am looking forward to putting everything to use.  Among those simple but game changing tips that I have learned are:

1. Instead of being so quick to increase my ISO in lower light, I should rely on my tripod more and not be afraid to slow my shutter speed way down to get the exposure that I need.

2. I am generally shooting way more open (aperture) then I should be, especially for print.  Again, taking advantage of my tripod and slowing my shutter speed down instead of widening my aperture to take in more light will keep my pictures crisp and with more detail preserved.

3.  You photographers may laugh at me but I had never heard of the golden spiral.  Its kind of like the rule of thirds…a great rule to learn and then forget. But hey, you never know when it will come in handy!


Tomorrow I want to push myself to create something a bit darker and more rustic, outside of my comfort zone but with more depth and warmth that draws you into the shot.  More to come!

Confessions of an ugly website.

I remember how frustrating it was to be in the early stages of my business, wanting to set myself apart but only able to afford to work with website templates and prefabricated “themes”…none of which really seemed to capture my style.  Would you laugh if I told you that my very first website was completely BROWN….like dark, nasty, BROWN! Seriously! Not that I really knew what my style was back then, but I knew for sure that what I had at my disposal was NOT IT.  Oh, if only there had been a Stockshop back then! One of the most fun and amazing things that I have gotten to see since opening up the SC Stockshop is how a few gorgeously styled and carefully selected images can literally TRANSFORM a brand starting with the home page of a website. I get to see this exciting transformation all the time with my custom clients. We put so much time and effort into planning stunning, well branded, hero images that connected with their specific ideal client, but it truly amazes me the impact that even the images that I create for the stock can have on a brand.  One little example that a SC Stockshop client sent me the other day is from Pretty Darn Cute Design who uses one of our gorgeous styled desktops to show of her custom site designs and WordPress themes.

Pretty Darn Cute


But print and web designers aren’t the only ones showing love to the Stockshop!  One of our biggest fans is none other then one of Texas’ most sought after senior portrait photographers Amanda Halloway!  Amanda is actually a custom client of mine as well and let me just tell you, we have BIG, FABULOUS things planned for when I fly out to Texas later this summer for her 3 day shoot! Gah!!  In the mean time, my newest styled desktop theme was not in the shop for an hour before Amanda snatched it up to show off her gorgeous Statement Cards.  I’m not gonna lie Amanda, this theme looks like it was made for you.  Ya’ll need to go take a look at the INCREDIBLE brand that this girl has created. I mean, STUNNING! Thanks for letting me be a small part of it!

2013 Shay Cochrane


And with that I am so very excited to launch the newest addition to the shop!  I’m telling you, this one has a piece of my heart for sure!  Bold black and white patterns, graphic prints, mixed metals, wood elements, succulents, polka dots, calla lilies and even some oh-so-current floral pattern. Seriously, does it get any better!! I wanted this series to be a bit more modern but without loosing its feminine charm.

2013 Shay CochraneThis theme has a few different flat desktop styling variations, two that are more intricate and one that is more simplified  and with a bit more negative space.  I just LOVE so many of the details pulled into this series but among my favorites have to be the hanger shaped paperclips and the mini wooden bowl…and the black leather tassel keychain…and the geometric glass terrarium…

2014 Shay Cochrane


Of course, I had to create a styled computer desktop to accompany this series. Those Callas just steal the show don’t they!?

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And can we talk about the pink tipped matches!?  These are from BelloPop Designs a favorite Etsy shop of mine!!

2014 Shay Cochrane

Of course the series would not be complete without something for my print designers!  I scaled this styling way down and kept it very bright and clean and modern.  And that lighting! Gah!!


The “big sister” of the three flat desktop styling gives you plenty to feast your eyes on.  A  favorite element of mine is the tipped lightbulb glass container with the gold paperclips falling out…but the black and white graphic passport cover is pretty darn fun as well.  You can find all of these styled stock images in the shop for purchase individually but also as a complete #BrandBuilderSet designed to give your site and brand a stunning and cohesive look through the use of the full collection of images.  I genuinely hope that you love it as much as I do!

2014 Shay Cochrane

Here’s to doing business beautifully friends!!

P.S There is currently ONE seat left at the styling and product photography live online mentor session Tuesday May 27th! If you have ever considered product photography this is your place to start!  Once this mentor session is full you will be able to join a waiting list for the next one!  Find out more here!



A very special announcement!!




Almost weekly I get an e-mail that sounds like this…

“I would really like to get into product styling and photography but just don’t know where to begin!” 

From working with the right gear to getting your feet wet in the commercial industry, the information is hard to come by and the mentoring opportunities even more limited.  I have had trouble even keeping up with the number of mentor session and workshop requests that I have received over the past few months. That, my friends, is why I have created the first ever SC LIVE online mentoring event!!!!

What this live mentoring event will cover:

First and foremost, just like a one-on-one mentor session, the content of the live mentoring event is all about YOU and answering your specific and unique questions.  The mentor group size is limited to only 10 participants and each participant will be asked to submit their most pressing questions and concerns ahead of time.  The live event will then focus on getting answers to the specific questions of the mentor group, meaning that no two live sessions will ever be the same!! Because I would rather meet with you over coffee then speak from a podium, the format will be casual, highly personalized, and conversational so that together we are making sure that your questions are being answered! Topics of conversation that will be covered are:

  • Gear recommendations
  • What you need in a start up “studio”
  • Natural light vs studio light
  • Styling basics
  • Getting your first clients
  • Pricing, perceived value, and setting yourself a part

Just as if we met over coffee, I am an open book. Any knowledge that I have is yours and the format is such that you will be able to ask questions live as they come to you in addition to the questions that you have submitted ahead of time.  The small mentor group size (10 participants) and the two hour time block will ensure that everyone walks away with their specific questions answered!

Are you intrigued!? The first 10 people to register will be a part of the first online mentor event group and all others will be put on a waiting list until the next event is announced.  Hop on over the the official page for all of the details as well as info on how to get one of the limited spaces in the first mentor group! I can’t wait to “see” you there!

– Shay

SC Stockshop desktop love!

Ya’ll know I love a beautiful styled desktop and since the bright and airy white styled desktops released last month were so popular I wanted to create some styled desktop stock images with a completely different aesthetic. I have been in love with the wood grain on this coffee table , which has since been re-stained (now you know my secret!) for quite some time and was finally able to steal some time alone with it ;) The result was a set of absolutely  beautiful styling that incorporate a mix of wood, acrylic, gold, soft pink florals and earthy green tones from our pretty little succulents.  This styling was shot with beautiful natural light and makes an absolutely gorgeous backdrop for showing off prints and flat paper goods or incorporated into your brand as a stunning blog or Facebook header, IG announcement background or home page hero image welcoming your clients to your shop.  I always love the challenge of new styling concepts and I want to take the styled desktop idea further so I would love to hear your thoughts on the colors and textures and surface types that you think would make for a gorgeous desktop!  You can view all of these images in the shop here.

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Please do leave a comment below and let me know what you would like to see in a styled desktop!  I love hearing your creative ideas and being challenged!!!

Have a beautiful day friends!


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