Blog Photography Styling + Affordable Props

photography-props

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.

marble-background

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.

life-changing-morning-rituals

JEWELRY

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.

photography-styling

CARDBOARDS

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

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.

holiday-gift-guide-for-beauty-lovers-2016
THROWS AND BLANKETS

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.

FABRICS

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.

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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.

candle

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.

blog-photogrpaphy-tips

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

  • This post perfectly articulates exactly what I’ve been feeling lately as I struggle to keep my blog pictures interesting and creative in a fairly dark apartment. Thanks for sharing!

    http://www.katsomething.com

  • Another amazingly helpful post! I am so rubbish at styling products photos thank you x

    Zoe Mountford x

  • So helpful! I’ve been thinking of getting cardboard for a long time. It’s the cheapest option, so I think I’ll get off my lazy bum to the store to get a few pieces.
    – Charmaine
    http://charmainenyw.com

  • Rita Valente

    I just love your photograph posts! They are always so helpful. I’ve been having a bit of trouble with my blog photography and this post gave me tons of inspiration. xx

    theeuropeancloset.blogspot.com

  • You have a beautiful photography! I was just looking for marble print paper the other day but I think I’m going to have to order it online because I couldn’t find it anywhere! Thanks for sharing your tips <3

    | http://www.noirettediary.com |

  • Rebecca Fletcher

    Your photos are beautiful! I have been looking for a white wood background like your marble one for such a long time but the marble one looks so pretty in photos. Great tips again xx

    http://www.beautylifebecca.blogspot.co.uk

  • There’s a Home Goods right around the corner from where I work. There was a period when I was going in there like every other day trying to find the perfect photography props lol I went pretty notebook crazy, but I also found an awesome marble serving tray, that like yours was on clearance. It’s so amazing what you can find there!

    I’ve been loving switching up my photography for the colder months and trying to make them a little cozier, so I’ve been grabbing different things from around the house to throw in my pictures. I 100% agree that it’s a fake it until you make it deal, and with styles and trends changing so often I don’t know if I’ll truly ever fully make it! Lol

    As always, these are wonderful tips! Thank you!

    Katie | http://www.overthemoony.com

    • OMG Same here! When I started blogging I’d spend so much money on things I wouldn’t use (other than for my blog photos haha) and I ended up having SO much junk.

      I think the the awesome thing about blogging is that everyone gets to express themselves and I don’t really think we should all follow trends too closely haha :)

  • Jocelyne Shults

    Seriously, I always said I needed to have a super nice camera but I was wrong. I started using my phone and use what I had available. You’re definitely right about that. :-) Thank you for sharing too. Lots of good info. -Jocelyne from resonatecreations.com

  • ThePartyParrotBlog

    I am so happy that you have posted this article; I know for a fact that photography can be quite confusing but your images (in my opinion) are always so fabulous and are one of my favorites (and I read a lot of blogs). Thank you for the tips! <3

    Naya
    http://www.partyparrotblog.com

  • Prettypeach Blossom

    You articulated this issue so well. I am almost over the whole perfect white marble look, I actually actively look for blogs that are different for inspiration. Couldn’t agree more with you once you find your feet do you. Be inspired not a duplicate ?. Very helpful post

  • Gosh – you have such stunning photography and this post is so thorough! Thank you for putting it together :)
    – Ambar x
    http://www.herlittleloves.co.uk

  • Fatima

    Love this!! I’ve definitely gotten a lot of inspiration for photography :) Thanks!

    Fatima – http://www.fatima-writes.blogspot.co.uk

  • So useful! I really need to get some of that marble roll, and something similar in white

    – Natalie
    http://www.workovereasy.com

  • This is super handy thank you! I was literally reading this and nodding because I could totally relate to wanting all my photographs to look perfect. I’m someone who started a blog with no photography experience, so I’ve always found taking photos so hard and it is my least favourite part of the whole process simply because I’m such a perfectionist with it. But overtime, I have seen a slight improvement in my photography and it’s posts like this which are so helpful. Thanks very much xx

    Lauren | itslaurenvictoria.blogspot.co.uk

    • You’re very welcome Lauren! I found it really difficult and confusing at first too. I’m a perfectionist too and somethings I’d waste so much time trying to get that perfect shot.

  • Rachel Spross

    This is such a good post! So many great tips :)

    xoxo
    Rachel
    http://thetrendytomboy.com/red-velvet/

  • Once again….amazing post Paula! Your photography posts are always motivating me to take more and better pictures. I love using scrapbook paper for backgrounds too.

    Perfect Shade of Mauve

  • Anything rose gold and marble I’m still obsessed with, absolutely adore your photography!

    Claire ❤ | My Little Memoir

  • Samileen

    Always admire your photography posts Paula, they are so detailed and inspirational. I have been on a blogging/picture taking rut that this came in super handy. Thank you!

    Sam || Marc Jacobs Air Blush Giveaway

  • This was so useful :) I am getting a faux fur rug soon to up my game x

    Creepers & Cupcakes

  • Ahaha, I definitely buy home decor and whatnot mainly to use as blog props. Mine are more shabby/earthy, but I always thought the bright white marble look was just absolutely beautiful! It’s great to find your own niche.

    http://orcmilk.org

  • This post has been super helpful! One thing I am aiming on improving is my photography. I really struggle with setting up for a photo. You’ve given me a few prop ideas. Thanks for sharing.

    Sarah’s Abode -xx

  • sue

    I so need this post so I’m pinning for future reference. Next year on my list of ‘to do’s’ is to improve my photography and styling. Thanks for the information, although you make it look easy – I’m not sure LOL:_ Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond

  • Home Goods is great for finding hidden treasures! I also love the twinkle light idea!

    Brittany | thechicette.com

  • I only recently realized that Marshall’s has so much treasure for the home! These tips are so inspiring! Thanks!

  • This is such a creative post idea! I always love seeing what goes on behind the blog and blog photos. Thanks for sharing your affordable ideas. :)

    http://abbysaylor.com/

  • Amazing tips! I love your photos, they always look incredible!
    xx Dany | The Queens Empire

  • The Gossip Darling

    OMG! I needed this!!! Amazing and super helpful! Thank you!!!!

    Mel | http://www.thegossipdarling.com

  • Some great ideas!

    Gemma
    http://www.fadedwindmills.com

  • Claudia

    This is such a good post. You know how much I love your photos, only wish mine looked as amazing as yours xx

  • Your photos are always my favourite! Thank you for sharing your tips! xx

    Beautylymin

  • This is great. Thanks for sharing of all these tips and tricks.

  • Jasmin N

    Loved this one! So useful! I’m still trying to find my way into the blog photography so I found this super helpful :)

    ♥ Jasmin N
    Little Things With Jassy
    Bloglovin’

  • The Sunday Mode

    Great tips, I laughed out loud at the white walls part because I said the exact same thing when I started blogging! Lucky I didn’t do it haha

    http://www.thesundaymode.com

  • Again, the most useful information! I always insist I’m a writer and not a photographer, so I struggle with the photography aspect of blogging, but simple tips like the ones you’ve given make it seem more approachable and like I can do it, despite my dark house and black furniture (lols). Loved this! XO -Kim

  • Great tips, thank you! :) You’ve got yourself a new follower ;)

  • I’ve actually thought about redesigning the entire room too and after reading this, I just laughed because I never thought that I can just use my creativity and imagination. So far I just bought myself one of those marble wallpaper thingy for my flatlays and I am definitely stepping up my game in terms of dressing up. This post really helped me a lot. All your blogging tips are my lifesaver and references! xoxo Paula

    • Haha :) It’s all about working with what you’ve got! Fake it til you make it kind of thing hehe ;) Thank you Love!

  • Absolutely LOVED this post & thanks for the tips and ideas!! We will definitely be getting/finding some of those props.

    Marley
    http://basicbloggerss.com

  • Love this post! I’m always looking for ways to spice up my photos to avoid always shooting on a plain white background. Thanks for sharing your tips — I took notes! :)

    http://abbysaylor.com/

  • Loved this!

  • Akvilė Šyvokaitė

    Cool post! Keep going! ??

  • Thanks for sharing!

  • Kellyn Jeremy-Aponte

    Thanks for sharing. These are such great tips. I’ve been working on flat lays using props, I’m certainly going to use several tips you have here.