Blog Photography Styling + Affordable Props
There are two things I wish I realized about photography when I started this blog. One: you have to fake till you make it. Two: you have to work with what you’ve got.
There’s this one thing about blogging that really….. hmm how should I put it nicely.. irks me. It’s the idea that everything needs to be perfect. Including blog photography. It’s the idea that every blogger should live in a house with huge windows, all-white interior, a french bulldog and has always perfectly manicured nails (the blogger.. not the french bulldog.. and oops this one is actually true about me- chipped nail polish keeps me up at night :) ).
And here’s the thing: we all blog for different reasons. Just because someone wants to start a blog doesn’t mean that they’re planning to quit their job and pursue blogging as a career. Just because YOU want to get better at blogging or photography, doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re planning to turn it into a business.
And maybe, you are- and that’s awesome too!
If you’re just staring a blog and getting into photography, it might feel a bit overwhelming. You want your pictures to look a certain way NOW, without realizing that it’s actually a process and you will have to learn a few things. Here’s where the “fake till you make it” attitude comes in.
I remember a few years ago telling my husband that we need to re-paint all the walls in our home and get rid of all the furniture because I want everything to be white. He looked at me and said “um… why?” “well.. because it’s for my blog. I want bright pictures!“. Of course, he started laughing, and told me that I’m nuts. Rightfully so. See, I fell into this trap of wanting everything to be white, bright and perfect. I didn’t realize that I could create exact images I wanted, without redecorating my entire house.
One thing I get asked at least once a day is the marble background I use. I get comments saying “oh in love with your counter top!” all the time. No. It’s just a piece of plastic.
This is how I created my “infinite” marble background. Super professional, isn’t it? The only thing that you have to be careful with this is the white balance as with marble papers like this one, it can change throughout the image.
Full disclosure: this post was previously published, but I made some changes and added a few points.
DIY BOARDS + CUTTING BOARDS
I wrote about my DIY White Marble Board a while ago, and when making one of these, the possibilities are endless. I have a few where I used white marble adhesive film and plexiglass. You can find a ton of different colors and patters of adhesive film on Amazon or at home improvement stores like Home Depot (same thing goes for plexiglass). Another place I love is Home Goods- that’s where I found a few marble cutting boards, that also work great as a product background (they also come in handy when it comes to food posts). One of my favorite things to use as a background is actually a cheese board I found at Neiman Marcus and the gold & marble board that’s often featured in my images was found in a Home Goods clearance section- I paid like $8.00 for it.
TRINKET DISHES + COASTERS
Small trinket dishes or jewelry holders are an easy way to add some color and fun to your shots. I use them not only for storing/holding my jewelry, but to also store smaller beauty products, like perfume samples or eyeshadow singles. Coasters are also great as props. Just the other day someone told me they love my marble ring dish. It was a coaster. I found a pack of 5 for like 4 bucks at Marshalls, where a few weeks ago I’ve seen almost identical ones at Bloomingdales for 50 bucks. Home Goods and Marshalls is where it’s at guys! Oh and I also love Lulu and Georgia.
MAGAZINES & BOOKS
Using magazines is probably one of my favorite ways to “dress up” my shots. I always have a lot of beauty and fashion magazines just sitting around and for some strange reason, I always have hard time recycling them- I definitely have some hoarding tendencies. Good news is- they come in handy whenever I take my blog pictures. The same thing goes for books- especially the ones with pretty covers. When taking beauty product shots, I’m always careful not to get any makeup on my books, so keep that in mind.
Small rings, necklaces, pretty earrings can easily add a little something extra to your blog images. I find that this works best especially when it comes to flat-lay style of photos.
I don’t use these too often anymore (other than a big white one for bouncing off the light) but they also work great when used as a background for your photos. I find that lighter colors like light pastels work best for this (they photograph quite well) but I’ve also used colors like black in the past and that worked quite well for me, too- especially for food photos. You can also see my posts on Photography Backgrounds to see what else I like to use.
Colored paper- especially colors like pinks and blues- can easily add some color to your product or beauty shots. They’re also very affordable and easy to store. I always buy them at arts & crafts stores like Michael’s or Joann’s.
These are great for adding some texture into your shots. I like to use anything from rugs, to patterned blankets or even white bed sheets. Sometimes when I style my blog photos, I feel like they seem a bit “empty”- almost as if there was something missing. That’s when I usually reach for one of my throws or little rugs and use them to add some texture to my shots.
If you don’t have any throws or blankets handy, you can try using different fabrics or even some pieces from your wardrobe. Sounds a bit silly, but it works (just make sure not to get them dirty). In the past I’ve used sweaters, blouses, skirts, tops and even pretty lingerie to style my photos.
NOTEBOOKS + STATIONERY
Pretty much any stationery products also work, especially for lifestyle photography. Zazzle is a pretty affordable place where you can find a ton of cute stuff.
CANDLES + LIGHTS
I mean can’t you tell I love using candles for photography styling? It’s probably because I always have a ton of them sitting around and promised myself not to buy another candle until January because I’m getting out of control. White jars always work best I think and if I use a candle that I already burned, I always make sure to wipe off the soot and clean it up a bit.
Small lights can also add some magic and sparkle to your shots- which will be appreciated especially this time of year.
When it comes to finding those affordable photography props, I’d say first take a look at what you already have sitting around your house/apartment/room (nothing is more affordable than using something that you already have). You’d be surprised at all the little props you can find around (I mean, one of my favorite props is a cheese board..). When buying little knick-knacks just for the purpose of styling your shots, I’d definitely suggest storing them all together in a box so that when you take your photos, you can easily grab them.
And.. don’t go to crazy. Don’t think that you have to spend a lot of money on those little props.
Of course I am not saying that styling or “dressing” your photos is a must (some of my favorite bloggers use just plain white background for their product shots) but if you start feeling that all of your images are starting to look a bit similar and you feel a bit bored with them, trying to style them can be really fun. I also think that it’s a great way to add some personality to your blog photos and make them unique.
If you want to know how to start your own lifestyle blog for just $3, make sure to check out my step-by-step guide right here.