Lazy Girl’s Guide to Photo Styling

The Lazy Girl's Guide to Photo Styling: for blogsHey there, hey. In this age of Pinterest, it is really hard to tell if I have actual regular blog readers or if they are just popping by to check out one project they came across while browsing. Bounce rates are through the roof. And if you know what that means, this post is for you. People like to see pretty images and while they may have come over for a specific post, you want your content, when they click over to the home page to see what you are all about, to grab them and make them stick around. Pretty pictures don’t have to be hard to produce.. For some people, styling photos for blog posts comes super naturally. For me, I have a huge hurdle I have to over come. Laziness. Oh and I have two kids and only a handful of hours where I am kidless to get the work done, but more importantly, I’m lazy. Producing a gorgeous series of blog post photos can be a big undertaking. For a really long time, I didn’t put a ton of effort in to it. But over time, I figured out ways to create better, more visually pleasing images, without exerting a ton of energy. Granted, some photo shoots are more grand and take more time and money to put together, put for consistently good content, here are some tips that will save you effort and hopefully give you more Pinterest worthy photos.

Blog post photo styling tips. Simple ways to make your photos better.Start with a white background. Any one will do. Even a door. Sure it takes a little bit to work around the frame and handles, but you can get really clean, nice shots and you don’t need to paint your walls or freak out because your house isn’t photo ready. I also have a photo frame, that I’ve strung a large piece of white plastic from, to give me a larger space to work with. I leave it up in an area of my kitchen so that it is ready to go when I need it. But this white door idea is super great when I’m feeling super lazy. Or if my work table, in front of my kitchen backdrop, is too full of stuff I haven’t put away from a previous photo shoot. Lazy. Also, any table will work, including a TV tray. Simply throw a cloth on it and get started. I know some people have bought wood and weathered it themselves to make great faux table looks. I ain’t got time for that. You can also get a large piece of wood and paint it white, like I have in the past (but then you have to store it and lug it around). And you can also use white foam core pieces from the local craft store. Prop it up behind your table and you’ve got an instant white background for a few dollars. Don’t think the big bloggers aren’t doing this. Sure, some of their houses have been featured in magazines. But I promise you that most of them do some sort of photo staging such as this.

The lazy girl's guide to photo styling for your blog. Simple tips that help your photos be gorgeous with minimal effort.Pretty pretty glassware. Get some. If you are shooting cocktails, pretty glassware will instantly elevate your photo. You don’t have to spend a ton of money and you don’t need to buy more than 1 or 2. You should also frequent thrift stores looking for interesting glassware. Or you can pick up inexpensive glassware, that you can modify yourself, to make a one-of-a-kind look. Also, glassware will fill out your photo frame. If you are shooting a recipe, but want it to look more like an actual dining situation, you can add some glasses in and it will enhance the feel of the photo. Leave them empty, or even just fill them with water. Or wine. Whatever. Also, consider a prop swap with your blogger friends. I don’t want to shoot every single cocktail recipe in the same glass but I also don’t want to buy expensive glasses all the time. Other local bloggers might feel the same way and it would behoove everyone involved to share their prop wealth.

Blog post photo styling tips. Simple ways to make your photos better.I used to think it was cheating to use fresh flowers or leaves in photo shoots. I would get so bummed out when people would fawn all over someone’s instagram shot and think, you guys! It’s just flowers. I felt like it didn’t really require that much in the way of styling because the flowers did all the work. But people like flowers. And they are super easy to use in photo shoots. So now I use them and/or greenery. It requires less styling and adds SO much. I have stopped buying (when possible due to the season) and go walking around my neighborhood for flowers or branches I can “borrow.” It adds a really great pop of color and a more natural feel to the photos. Something living is always a good boost for a photo (this also includes hands so recruit friends on shoot days when at all possible!). A simple cut flower, next to a cocktail? Boom. Gorgeous photo. Minimal effort. They help to fill in spaces and add another layer to the photo.

How to style photos for blog posts. A lazy girl's guide.Candles are another thing that are super easy to keep around and add a really nice quality to photos. Just make sure that you have burned them before hand so it comes off as a lifestyle-y “I live by romantic candle light at all times” rather than overly staged. You can use groupings of inexpensive candles like above, or look for really great looking vessels holding a scented candle. Or make your own. Also, there are a few photoshop tips you should know that will help you in your photo shoots. If nothing else, learn the “clone stamp” tool. In the photo on the left, you can see a blue mark and wrinkles. With a few simple clicks, I am able to get rid of both for my finished blog post photo. So instead of going to find another table cover or pulling out the iron, I can take care of those things after the fact. You can also learn to brighten your photos which is ideal when you don’t have awesome natural lighting.

Rowenta iron for steaming tablecloths already on the table! And other photo styling tips for the lazy girl. But sometimes you still need to use an iron. A lot of my photos are straight from the front of the table or shooting down from above. But it is always good to get a wide shot, to show the full set up, especially if the focus is on entertaining. This Rowenta iron is crazy awesome and has a vertical steam option so I can get out the wrinkles, while my table is set up, and not miss a beat. And keep in mind that you don’t need to use a tablecloth. You can use anything that gives off the vibe you are after. I’ve used shirts, skirts, towels, blankets, etc. Be creative. And a large piece of muslin fabric is always less expensive than a tablecloth. Grab a few different colors and textures that you can just grab when you start setting up your shot.

I hope these really simple tips will help you to not feel so overwhelmed with photo styling. I hate extra work, but I love traffic. So making a few of these changes might help you increase your traffic as well. It isn’t going to happen overnight, but as you start to develop your look and find your groove, putting a great blog post photo together won’t feel like work at all.

If you are a blogger and you are willing to share your quick photo shoot styling tips, leave them in the comments!

*Iron provided by Rowenta. The Rowenta Pro Master Iron features a precision tip which is awesome for crafters, vertical steaming for use in the upright position on hanging clothes, drapes or tablecloths (works best on hanging fabric with nothing behind it – do not use on the top of a table as the steam might damage the wood). It has variable steam settings and an anti-drip system which prevents spitting and leaking when set on lower temperatures. This is huge! And the iron has a 3-way automatic shut off system that is crazy awesome including shutting off if the iron is knocked over and lays flat for 30 seconds. So you won’t ruin your fabric or burn down your house (probably – this is not a guarantee).

A lot of you probably don’t know this but I spent a lot of my life being an avid ironer (made up word alert). I ironed my full outfit, every single morning, all though high-school and college. And in to my adult years. Even jeans. Even on vacation. Thank you for supporting the brands, like Rowenta, that let you share a little bit more about my loves and quirks with you. A good iron can change your life.

*This post contains affiliate links.  Read more about my editorial policies here.

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Finding Your Tribe – Blog Business + Printable

some-are-the-beatIt is my favorite thing ever when Tori calls herself a blogging dinosaur. She’s this super cute blond gal, who is super business savvy and I know she just means she has been blogging a long time, but the image of a dinosaur just doesn’t fit her. Her strengths are so different from mine. Sometimes I am jealous of all the SEO and marketing knowledge she has but then I stop myself. We are all suited to certain things. And instead of spending my time wishing I could be more like Tori, I need to focus on my own strengths. The coolest part of finding your “tribe” is that they want to help you. They are willing to share their expertise and knowledge with you. Tori is there for me in a second if I need her help on something or have a question. These relationships aren’t one-sided, though. You have to bring something to the table too, but your friends will help you figure out what you are good at. They will ask you for help in certain areas that you never thought you could provide any value. They will lift you up when you are feeling down and will provide invaluable advice in all kinds of areas. And you will do the same for them. BTW, you NEED to check out all the business articles on Tori’s site. She knows what she is talking about.

If you are a blogger, and haven’t formed a community, move this to the top of your to-do list. Sometimes the relationships evolve naturally and sometimes you have to work to find them. Some of my blogging friendships (which shouldn’t be just pigeon holed as most of these relationships have grown in to full-fledged friendships with these ladies) started out with a simple email letting them know that I admire what they do and think they are doing an awesome job. Some were formed at blogging conferences. There are tons of ways to meet other bloggers. Finding your tribe won’t always be easy, but in the end it is something you will cherish.

There are so many bloggers out there and we all fall in to comparing ourselves to them from time to time. But if we can look at it in a different way, like a vast pool of potential friendships, maybe it would seem less daunting. We are all very different, but together we make beautiful music. On our own we are awesome, but together we are even better.

Do you have a “tribe”? Leave a thank you and link to their blog in the comments so we can all go say hi!

*I took this image in Palm Springs last year on our creative retreat. One of the gals, Tammy, wrote out this song lyric (Alphaville’s ‘Forever Young’) for me. She’s ridiculously talented and I consider her to be part of my tribe. Thank you, Tammy for always being there to support me and for collaborating with me on photos and with your awesome writing! I heart you!

Go check out her Letters To You site!

You can download just the lyrics here:

Build your Blogging Community and free printable.

Letters To You Lyrics

Goal Setting – Blog Business

Overcoming obstacles in blog business.Sometimes the things that you think are holding you up, really aren’t. For years, I’ve felt stuck with my blog not growing like I want it to. I’ve blamed it on my branding needing to be redone. I’ve blamed it on the fact that my head doesn’t understand all the backend, coding, SEO, type stuff. I’ve blamed it on my kids and the fact that I don’t have enough time to really focus on the blog. And those things are all true to a certain extent. But recently it hit me. I’m afraid. I’m afraid of the commitment to really take it to the next level. And the possible failure. Fear really is an m effer.

After Bash Conference I had such a clear picture of what I want this blog to be. Finally, after at least 2 years of struggling with it. But it wasn’t anything revolutionary. I simply discovered I was afraid of so many things. Of putting myself out there, of not measuring up to what other people are doing and to not succeeding. I excel at everything I do (or at least I’d like to think that I do). So the thought of putting work in and still coming up short was paralyzing. I think of all the whining I’ve done about not knowing what I wanted the blog to look like or why I’m not being contacted by more brands and I feel sad. Mostly for my friends who had to listen to the whining, but also sad that I couldn’t see what was really going on.

I really credit Coryanne Etienne with helping to open my eyes. In her Bash session, she was able to lay out goal setting in such a way that it wasn’t daunting or scary. Her goal setting comes from a really personal place. And that was exactly what I needed to hear. Success is different for everyone. My numbers don’t have to match another blogger’s to mean success for me. My business goals are directly linked to the things that make myself and my family happy. Once I figured that out I felt ready to tackle my business. This is all still very new and I’m working through obstacles, still. But I feel like I have things that I am working towards and that feels really good.

I am currently trying to come up with a new name for the blog. It is a huge task and I can feel it slowing my progress. It is SO hard to come up with a name that not only shows your personality and won’t pigeon-hole you (because currently people think I either make cupcakes or only blog about food). But I’m not going to let that stop me from moving ahead and working towards my goals. It’s so exciting! By setting goals and taking the time to really think about what would make me happy, I have really demystified my content, what I want my brand to be and SO much more! I have never been happier, even though my numbers could be better.

I can’t wait to share the real ME with you as I move towards my new direction. It’s not all the different from what I’ve been doing, I promise!

Bash Conference: A Recap

My Bash Conference 2015 recapEarly in January I attended a brand new conference called Bash. It was held in Arizona at The Wigwam Resort (beautiful!) and it was two days of sessions, speakers, networking and fun. A fantastic party planner and blogger, that I met years ago at my very first Operation Shower, Michelle of Maddycakes Muse, decided to put on this conference for the party planner/blogger community to learn and grow and lift each other up. Yup, that was a total run on sentence. I’m sure it was no easy task to put on a conference of any size and THIS was awesome. She nailed it. I was super impressed with every aspect of it. I apologize for the iphone photos. Although I took my DSLR, it never left the hotel room. When you go to a conference full of party planners, you kind of just want to party. I wanted to do a Bash Conference recap in case any of you are wondering if you should attend next year. In short, the answer is yes.

Palm trees and blue skiesI want to be super honest. I wasn’t expecting to get a ton out of it. When I started this blog I was strictly party focused and my first real blog friends are all from that world. I wanted the chance to spend time with these gals and at the last-minute was able to attend (side note: Tickets were about $400. BUT there were several opportunities leading up to the conference to win a free ticket. Also, they did a black Friday sale which is where I was able to buy my ticket for $200! Oh! And they offered a VIP option, for an extra $50, which got you preferred seating at the sessions, one on one time with the keynotes and speakers, transportation to and from the hotel to the resort plus some extra special goodies at check in. It was a great feature that I haven’t seen at any other conference.) And it was held in Arizona. I love Arizona. Any who. When the conference was initially announced, it seemed like the sessions were geared towards to party planners. But then they announced another track of sessions and those were more business focused. I wasn’t sure how they would bridge the gap between the attendees who wanted to learn about party planning as a business and building a business from a party blog. I strongly believe, however, that any time you attend a conference you learn somethings, especially if you keep yourself open to it.

My Bash Conference RecapI arrived on Thursday afternoon and had a little time to relax before the first evening’s party. It’s always nice to ease in to a conference. The first night they held a welcome party that included gaming tables (which I sucked at) and craft stations (which after a few glasses of wine, I sucked at). The volunteers for the conference were SO welcoming and made everyone feel right at home. Although I had a bunch of friends with me, I would have had a great time even if I had gone on my own. [Read more…]

Head Shots in Palm Springs

New head shots by Tammy of Dez and Tam Photography.Before Christmas I got to take a super quick trip to shoot some new head shots in Palm Springs with my friend, Tammy, of Dez and Tam Photography! Not only is Tammy a crazy amazing photographer, she is an all around awesome gal. She, Lauren and I decided that the desert would provide the perfect backdrop for the photos. You know we love our time in the desert! We also shot a quick cocktail recipe and DIY post out there and I can’t wait to share those! They came out amazing!

New head shots from Tammy of Dez and Tam Photography! I was dreading having these photos taken. I HATE being in front of the camera. I am so grateful that Tammy is such a good friend and photographer. She was so easy to work with and was really able to pull me out of myself. I ended up with a bunch of great shots that I’ll be able to use in all different ways. Somehow she managed to capture me not looking like a lunatic, in between looking like a lunatic.

My fave furry coat.She really got me to be me and do things that felt natural (if standing in the middle of the desert in a furry coat can feel natural)…

New head shots shot by Tammy of Dez and Tam Photography shot in Palm Springs.If you need head shots done, you have to contact Dez and Tam! And totally go to the desert. The light there is SO good!

Desert head shots shot by Tammy of Dez and Tam PhotographyWhich one do you think should be my “head shot” head shot? Thank you SO much to Tammy!!!!!!! I’ll be sharing more work from this trip soon!

All images by Dez and Tam Photography

And go check out this great cocktail post that Tammy shot for Lauren while we were there. So pretty!