I am working on putting together a couple editorials in the next few months so I have had paper and invitation suites on the brain. I have also been considering how to style them. It’s so interesting to look at a photograph that seems so effortless, but as a stylist I KNOW there is actually a ton of thought and work that went on behind the scenes of each photo. I’m going to brain dump some styling thoughts here…meant to help you if you are struggling with this, but mostly for me to think through all the details (even the tiniest ones) of the shoots I am planning.
1. What is the backdrop of each photo? Fabric? A styling board? Is it simple, does it have texture or a slight pattern? You want the paper to be the main focus, but sometimes having a little interest in the background is a good thing. A piece of slightly textured fabric, a painted piece of wood, a slab of marble or stone are all pretty options depending on what is going on with the rest of the shoot.
2. What are the props? Bring along a few items that tie in with the colors and vibe of the shoot. Vintage stamps, trays, little ring dishes or boxes, wax seals, ribbon, string, etc. Also pull in some florals or fruit as props, florals immediately add in some life to the photo, even just pulling some petals or leaves in can help. Or for a botanical look bringing in an entire flower facing upward can help. I used to just look around the shoot to pull in items, which can work, but for even more thought and intention I have started purchasing items to go in these shots- searching online for small details like a vintage tin can make all the difference. Look on etsy and ebay or in thrift shops.
3. Think about the actual pieces. I personally like photos with several pieces, can you pull in a place card, program, or coordinating menu? These aren’t necessarily invitation pieces, but can add to a much fuller looking photo. Also bring multiples of each piece. Does the invitation have a beautiful back? Does the envelope have a great liner, but also beautiful calligraphy on the front? Having multiples of the same pieces can help you show off all of those details.
4. Plan it out ahead of time. For whatever reason shooting can always feel a little stressful or rushed. Whether it’s because we only have 2 hours at the venue or we’re losing the best light of the day, or it’s an actual wedding and I have a bajillion other things to do, it always helps me to have everything planned out so I’m not trying to come up with some amazing concept on the spot.
5. EDIT. I have taken so many styling photos that I go back and look at later that had WAY too much going on. The best way I have found to do this is pull out my phone and snap a quick photo. Something about seeing it through the lens (and constrained within those borders) can start to help see exactly what’s happening in the photo. Is the ribbon too overpowering or laying weird (laying ribbon in a natural looking way is wildly harder than it should be)? Is something crooked? Is it too cluttered? Keep in mind you still want the paper to be the focus, if that awesome tin you purchased on ebay is stealing the spotlight maybe it needs to come out.
Here’s to styling paper! It’s one of my favorite things to shoot, all of these images I pulled are SERIOUSLY inspiring me right now. Not only is the paper gorgeous, but the simple and thoughtful way they are styled is exactly what I am hoping to accomplish with these upcoming editorials!