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April 17, 2016

How to Style a Photo Arrangement

in, Blogging Tips
photo arrangement

For the last couple of years Instagram has been riddled with gorgeous photos of well-styled arrangements of anything from tech gear to camping gear to the latest Birchbox. I’ve always been fascinated with this style of photo, maybe because I love the detail and the precision that exists behind the photo. I created this guide as I was going through the process of taking this style of photos in hopes that it will help you take better photos. If anything, it helped me learn how to take better photos!

photo collage
  1. Choosing the right background & lighting

I cannot emphasize this point enough! A unique background and the proper lighting will make a world of difference for any photograph. My two favorite backgrounds are either just a plan white blanket or a slab of wood. (I use the top of my coffee table because I like the natural pattern and color of the wood.) I’ve also seen some gorgeous photos with marble backgrounds, but I’ve yet to achieve a world where I have marble countertops, but if you do, white marbled backgrounds photograph so well. And then there’s the issue of lighting. I can guarantee you that unless you have a professional light kit, natural light (as in light from the sun) will always look better than household bulbs or florescent lights. I get the most natural sunlight in my apartment in the morning time, so if I’m ever taking photos in my house I always make sure I’m capitalizing on that light, otherwise I end up with yellow-ed, dirty looking photos that renders them basically unusable, even after heavy editing.

photo collage

2. Choosing the right camera settings

This point really goes along with the background and the lighting. If you know anything about cameras you know that the big three (shutter speed, aperture, and iso) will help you achieve the right exposure and look of your photos. I found this article that breaks down each of these terms and how to manipulate them on your camera. The only other thing to note is make sure your photos are in focus! You can fix so many small issue in Lightroom (the program I use to edit) but you cannot fix an out of focus image. It pays off to double check on your camera’s screen before you clean up your arrangement.

3. Choosing the right products

Just as important as making sure your subjects are well lit and in focus is making sure you have photograph-worthy subjects. Like I mentioned earlier, I’ve seen photo arrangements of everything from bumper stickers to beauty samples. I like to organize my photo arrangements by theme. For example the photo below is a ‘What I Carry’ photo,  basically things that could be found in my bag on any given day. Theme your photo arrangement around logical groupings (kitchen essentials, hair products, camera equipment, camping equipment, etc.) This will help your viewers/ readers to understand and better appreciate your work!

photo collage


4. Choosing the right arrangement

Once you’ve chosen your products, now all you have to master is arranging your products. The good thing about this type of photo is that it’s ok if it looks staged and arranged. I think people just assume that your bag didn’t drop and your things happened to fall in a visually appealing arrangement. A couple tips to help you out:

  1. Symmetry is key!
  2. One slightly crooked item will make any OCD person crazy.
  3. Always arrange your items closer together than looks natural in real life. Trust me, things look much better in the camera’s viewfinder when they’re close or overlapping.
  4. Don’t force an object in the photo. If you can’t find a spot for it, you don’t need it cluttering the photo.
  5. Look for inspiration on IG accounts. I love Madewell’s Instagram account for this very thing!
IMG_0278 photo arrangement

So there you go! These photos are so beautiful if they’re done well and with just a few simple things to keep in mind, they’re easily achievable. Let me know how your photos turn out!

Have a great weekend!

~Emily ~

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