Styling your photos and products with props is more than just arranging a pretty picture. It can evoke emotions in your viewer while at the same time conveying the message you're trying to communicate. Ultimately, this leads to a more memorable post, and likely more followers and potential clients! Which is the whole point of posting on Instagram for your business, right?!
Pictured below are some of my favorite props. You probably will recognize some from my Instagram photos:
The way I've learned how to best style my photos has just come with time and developing my own aesthetic. Here are some tips that I've learned along the way:
- Start with a good background
When it comes to backgrounds, especially with flat lays of paper products like calligraphy, a good background provides contrast to the items you're trying to highlight. The background I use most frequently is actually just a piece of white foam board I ordered from Amazon (used in the photo above). I've also used my wooden coffee table, a silver platter I bought at an antique store, and cushions from my living room.
- Use what you have
The first thing I do when I'm styling my work is to "go shopping" in my own home. My most frequently used props besides my calligraphy pens and supplies is my laptop. Don't feel like you constantly have to go out and buy new props for your Instagram photos (although at times you just may want to!) As long as it makes sense with the context of the photo and is not too distracting, go for it! Some other things to consider as props that you may already have in your home are: cutting boards, cake stands, glass bottles or jars, spools of ribbon, and if you're a calligrapher, stamps and wax seals.
- Look at ordinary things in a new way
Sometimes just playing around with things you already own can spark ideas for new styling props. Think beyond the typical use for an item. I've used a lid to a candle jar because it had an ornate design in the metal and matched the aesthetic I was going for in one of my invitation suites. For one of my shots I even grabbed a sweater out of my closet because I loved how the fabric mimicked the colors in a project. I folded it in such a way that you couldn't really tell it was a top, but looked more like a blanket or a styling cloth. The key here is: don't overthink it!
- Look to nature for inspiration
I always love when I have fresh flowers to style my photos with; however, the price of bouquets can add up--thanks Trader Joe's ;). So don't be afraid to venture into your backyard and grab leaves, branches, pine cones, etc. to add to your photos. Remember, these are filler items that are meant to enhance your main object in the photo...not compete with it!
- Adding your personal touch
Personally, the photos I love most from people I follow on Instagram are the more "real" ones. They aren't the perfectly styled photos that could be in a magazine. They're a little more messy and a little more personal. Don't be afraid to add a bit of your personality and "you" into your photos--and I mean this literally! Try simply putting your hand in the photo holding one of the objects. It helps to connect your viewers with you and humanizes your brand and business. Out of all of my tips I think this is very effective, and one I need to implement more myself.
I hope this inspires some of you to have fun with styling your Instagram photos. If you have any other tricks of the trade you'd like to share, please let me know!