I’m currently writing this blog post from sunny New Orleans where I’m honored to serve as a speaker for the third time at The School of Styling. I greatly understand the work that goes into planning and executing a multi-day event so to be on the front-end of this experience is not only a pleasant and enjoyable experience but an honor I hold with high regard.
My presentation on Thursday is covering all things flat lay styling. This type of styling has be a critical part of my past work as a wedding planner and designer, and will continue to be crucial in my role as a floral designer. But more than that, my styling experience continues to be an asset with RB Soap Co. and other creative endeavors that fill my schedule and contribute towards my revenue (e.g. styling colleague’s stationery, executing bridal editorials, and speaking at workshops like this week here at TSOS!).
In celebration of my upcoming presentation this week, I wanted to share three of my top tips for styling success when you’re styling scenes for professional purposes (we’ll save everyday iPhone styling tips and tricks for a different day). While styling may be considered an inherent talent, it’s an area of creativity that can most certainly be improved upon when considering different approaches and strategies, and one that can greatly enhance your business credibility and presence. Here are my tips woven throughout this post, which showcases stationery designed by Nellie Sparkman, styled by yours truly, photographed by Samantha James Photography.
ONE: Styling Has Two Critical Parts To Get The Job Done
Once a ‘scene’ is styled and every accent piece is in place, the job is far from being done. A beautifully styled scene is only truly brought to life when it’s photographed just as intentionally as it was styled. Uncovering, knowing, and honoring your brand style and values, is key to styling images that make sense and look visually appealing. This is the first half of the job. But bringing that styled image full circle and finishing the job is when the scene is photographed by a professional who shares your brand aesthetic or in the very least, understands your vision and the story you’re trying to tell. Communication is a largely overlooked part of styling and I’m here to encourage you to communicate more often and clearly with your colleagues when executing a styling job.
TWO: Preparedness is Key to Efficient and Successful Styling
So much of the styling process, and having this be a seamless success, involves intentional planning and foresight (like anything in life, right?). The times I have half-heartedly gathered my styling pieces and rushed the process of placing them in their scene, or the times I’ve failed to communicate the vision and details to the photographer, are the times where the final images have fallen flat and worse, have never seen the light of day. Not only is this a waste of time and resources, but it’s a wasted opportunity for growth and profit.
Alternatively, the times I’ve been thoughtful about how I approach my styling process, and over communicated my needs, vision, and expectations to all professionals involved, I’ve gotten back images that both defined my abilities as a stylist while clearly telling the story that I was hoping to illustrate. These efforts have included styling scenes in low-pressure situations, pre-gathering the details I am styling so I’m not rushing around and forgetting important elements, and even asking photographers to show me the back of the camera so I could see what they were capturing through their lens to make sure it meets my expectations.
THREE: Think Outside the Silk Ribbon Spool
Alright, let’s chat about vintage-inspired silk ribbon wooden spools. Beautiful? Absolutely. Critical to telling every story? Likely not. So I encourage you to consider what you use in your styled scenes and give thought to what purpose each item has. Have a sense of discretion and know when a styled scene needs something added to it or better yet, when something can stand to be removed. Building a better set of skills as a stylist involves editing, standing back, considering details that aren’t trendy, and taking great risks.
If you’re interested in the styling boards used for this flat lay shoot, they’re from EG Creative Co., which is a company founded by my colleague Emily Waters who owns Treasury Rentals. Her vibrant textural styling mats roll up unlike many large square boards so they take up little space when they are not in used. But aside from the convenience factor, they are really quite unique and beautiful. I highly recommend these to anyone who has a lot of styling jobs in their future or is looking for new surfaces to style scenes on.
And finally, if you’re interested in learning more about styling strategies or have a product you’d love to have professionally styled for you, I’d really love to connect and work with you. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or join the conversation below!