Food Styling & Photography Backdrops, Workshops, Online Courses and Resources
After a very big delay (due to covid and moving and homeschooling and lots of other general life stuff!) we are very pleased to be opening our prop section this week, tomorrow in fact!
Alongside providing props for my styling and photography clients I have been trusted to source props for several cookbooks this year including The Pie Room by Calum Franklin, Ekstedt by Niklas Ekstedt and the MasterChef cookbook.
It feels so good to be finally bringing this part of my work into the BVS offering here!
How to create authentic content that builds sales without feeling 'salesy' - you CAN connect with your social media audience AND increase sales at the same time!
I have worked in marketing and content creation my whole career (nearly twenty years now, gulp!) both in-house and freelance, and have been teaching content creation from start to finish for the last three years via workshops and online courses.
There are three things that come up over and over again with my students that you may be struggling with too –
- Finding a comfortable mix of being authentic while pushing for sales (which we all need to do)
- Knowing what to post to offer value & connect with your audience
- Thinking bigger than social media
So today I'm going to share some simple strategies that should help you create your content -
- offering value to your audience,
- while gently reminding them that you offer products/services they can buy
with the added bonus that you will naturally build organic SEO and become a trusted authority in your area as a by-product!
First off let's look at the content mix and my 4/5 rule to share authentically while still pushing for sales
We all know that content creation is about sharing your passion, showing behind-the-scenes and telling your story. People invest in people, especially at the small business end of the market.
For UK delivery on or before Christmas eve -
You can order backdrop sheets and choose Royal Mail 1st class postage up to 12pm on Friday the 18th December. (RM say Monday the 21st but I wouldn't trust that and they may have high demand/low staff this year so we will keep an eye on it!)
Any sheets, carry cases, gift sets etc going with DHL should be ordered up to 12pm on Tuesday the 22nd December. (You can order with DHL by 12pm on the 23rd but this is cutting it fine and I wouldn't recommend it!)
I'm so thrilled to announce our first ever challenge, open to everyone in the creative community via Instagram, and co-hosted by Clementine @clemfoodie!
About this new challenge
#BVSinspired is a new seasonal styling challenge ran through Instagram, created by Sophie in collaboration with food creatives and experts and open for all to enter for a chance for one winner to take home £100 in BVS vouchers and a runner up to receive a £25 voucher.
Through sharing techniques and ideas we hope to support and inspire our community in developing new styling and photography skills while celebrating the seasons and building a deeper connection with nature.
Hi everyone, a quick update about our imminent studio and workshop move (woohoo!).
To enable us to move and reorganise (and for Graham to build our new workspace) we will be putting mounted backdrop board production on hold from Friday the 13th to Friday the 20th November, resuming production again on Monday the 23rd November.
If you need a mounted backdrop order for a November shoot we recommend ordering before Friday the 6th November.
Because you might be thinking ‘what the heck is an infinity curve?’ lets’ start with that…
In short, an infinity curve (or cove, or scoop) is created by using a single surface to create the floor and wall of your set, in a fluid curve. Infinity curves are often permanent fixtures, built and painted in large studios for fashion, interiors and car photography, but they can be used to equally good effect for still life and product photography on a smaller scale, using curved paper, card or canvas as a temporary set up.
Infinity curves create a minimal, stylised, sometimes ethereal look. They are best suited to straight-up product photography rather than lifestyle briefs that normally require a more natural look; sets that convey home life.
It would be easy to tell you what our best sellers are but they're not necessarily what's best for a beginner. We sell to a massive mix of clients ranging from top experts of the food photography industry to global creative agencies. magazine and cookbook publishers, as well as home makers, recipe bloggers and crafters - everyones' needs are unique and everybody's skill level and experience will be different.
At the start of your content creation journey - whether thats as a newly trained photographer, social marketer, maker or crafter - your priorities and budget will be very different to that of a seasoned content creator or somebody with an established prop collection.
That's exactly what I want to share with you today, five photography backdrops that -
are absolutely timeless,
will give you the perfect foundation for a strong prop collection,
work best for those with limited lighting experience OR content creators who shoot and edit on their phone.
Woweeeee, we've made it to 10,000 followers, this is amazing, we're so pleased you enjoy our posts! It's also HUGE for us as a business as it means we can now link directly to our site from Insta and share our recipes, tips and offers with you so much more easily.
I can't tell you how awesome this is and how excited I am by what creative fun this opens up for us!
We always like to say thank you for your support in spreading the word about our business and this time we're doing it with a MASSIVE 10 BACKDROP GIVEAWAY plus a runner up prize, open for world wide entries.
All entries must be via Instagram but we're elaborating on the terms here and trying to make sure as many of you know about it as possible. So, here's how to enter our -
#bvs10k 10 BACKDROP GIVEAWAY ON INSTAGRAM
Three ways to enjoy British asparagus while its in season - recipes, food styling notes & wine pairing
British asparagus season is only a short one lasting just a few weeks in late April and May, sometimes edging into June, so you've gotta be ready with some tasty recipes up your sleeve. Especially as it deteriorates pretty quickly after picking - another reason British asparagus will arrive on your table fresher and tastier than what you can import from else where.
We all know the classics - asparagus and hollandaise is a firm favourite or simply steamed and dipped in butter and sea salt can be scoffed very frantically. But what about when you want to make more of a meal of it?
These are three of my favourite ways to enjoy asparagus as a spring starter or main meal. I can't help but include an egg dish - i just love eggs of any kind, a creamy puff pastry tart is always a good way to get my kids to enjoy different flavours and the scallop dish, well it's just divine and works as a starter or main if you add some buttery boiled potatoes or a green salad.
Now is the time to enjoy wild garlic and this year I wanted to do more with it than pesto! Apparently you can pickle the flowers which will be my next way to enjoy them, but here I'm showing you how to make wild garlic and cheddar soup AND four different ways to style it.
If you like broccoli and stilton soup - and garlic - I'm sure you will love this recipe! The punchy wild garlic is met by the strong cheese and softened with cream and chicken stock (or veggie stock if you prefer to skip the meat element and make this a vegetarian recipe). As always I class this as a lazy, tasty and pretty recipe.
I'm showing you so many different ways to compose a shot for this soup recipe as I have used it as an example in my Styling & Composition course and thought I'd share some of them here. I hope you find the ideas and compositions useful - there are many more styling tips and tricks in my courses if you want to check them out!
I don't know about you but for me, being creative means that I never switch off, I never run out of ideas and projects and I'm often impatient to realise them. The 'stay at home' order during the corona virus pandemic is making creative work much harder in a lot of ways - especially as many of us have children to homeschool and keep safe and well - but there are positives to take too.
The 'stay at home' order is forcing us to look inward instead of outward for happiness, to appreciate what we have instead of focusing on what we think we need or want (based on external factors probably) - this is a fantastic thing to learn and know if you don't already.
Real, peaceful, unquashable happiness lies here. Relearning inner peace and recognising what we can do in our home and garden to nurture ourselves could be a great positive to come out of this situation.
I just wanted to confirm that we are open for business and fulfilling orders - and of course taking extra precautions in our home and business.
We have been social-distancing and our kids haven't been in school since Monday the 16th of March as a, we can easily homeschool because we are lucky enough to work from home, and b, I have a heart condition that may put me at higher risk if i get the corona virus.
Its the question everyone always asks - what do food stylists use to make the dishes look so amazing in food photography?
The real answer is years of experience and practise of course!
But you can get a bit closer to achieving that perfect burger or beautifully frosted berries by having these bits of kit on hand ready to brush, stick, tweeze, spray, blast and blaze.
Obviously the kit you need will change from shoot to shoot, dish to dish with extra machines and kit required depending on what food you're styling - if you work in a niche food group or only bake cookies for example you'll soon figure out what they are and how best to style your food for photographs.
A couple of weeks ago we had the pleasure of participating in a gin making day at Nelson's distillery - it wasn't gifted, but it was a Christmas present from my (lovely) other half.
And it was fantastic! The process, the gadgets, the history - all fascinating and made even better by our passionate and energetic host, David Hunter.
The day started with coffee and a quick chat before a tour of the distillery and introduction to the distilling process - which to my understanding is neutral alcohol + botanicals (including juniper) = gin! Plus of course lots of sciencey bits in cool shiny things.
Dark chocolate and orange blossom croissant (bread and butter) pudding recipe and food photography set up
Hi! Thanks for visiting my blog, today I'm sharing a recipe and a bit about how i shot it and the food photography set up as, like many of you, I shoot food content at home in natural light - which can be challenging in the UK!
The recipe is for a pudding i made for a family meal last weekend and shot on a new backdrop (Delia) for some quick content to promote the food photography backgrounds you'll find on this site. The pudding went down so well I am now writing up the recipe as part of my #lazytastypretty recipe collection - if its easy, looks pretty and tastes good it's a winner for me!
Hey! If this isn't too late for you I've just updated my foodie calendar for the first quarter 2020 - copy and paste it below or download a clean version (without weird web formatting) in my resources and downloads section for free.
If like me you are required to come up with topical or trending food content for your clients this is a big time saver, or it could help you develop your own marketing plan and give you the confidence to focus on a few dates and ignore the ones that don't fit your brand.
Hey! 2019 has been an incredible year for us both as a family and in this business; we recently had our 1000th order, something I thought would take years!
To say thanks and to celebrate our success we are running a HUGE giveaway competition, the biggest yet!
How would you like to win 6 of your favourite photography backdrops, professionally mounted onto solid boards and matt-sealed for a fully waterproof, long lasting photography surface, with free postage included?!
I'm not sure if its a chilli, a soup, a casserole, a stew, a one pot or something else - but I am CERTAIN that it is delish and has everything in it for a complete meal (it's paleo if you're into that). You can of course add nachos, chunky bread or even chips to dip in. I'm a big fan of soup and chips, is that a thing where you are?!
As usual for me, this recipe is a mash up of things I've eaten out, recipes I've used and flavours I want to try. I've made it three times now and for friends yesterday and the verdict was YUM so now I'm ready to share it with you!
Ho ho ho, and meeeeeeeeerry October! I know its early but it's been a very busy year for us so I'm already thinking about our Christmas break!
Our last posting day will be Monday the 23rd of December 2019, and we will start posting orders again on Monday the 30th of December 2019.
Unless agreed otherwise, mounted board production starts again on the 6th of January for the first dispatches that week.
We will still be open for orders over the holiday period, and will probably send out a tasty offer to our mailing list for orders during that time, in lieu of our merriness and incapacity to ship them! Not on the list? Click the turquoise tab at the bottom of the page to register and get our best deals and news.
Grey can fit the brief for many looks - neutral, organic, soft, urban, clean - so it’s no surprise that most stylists and photographers have a few trusty grey backdrops up their sleeve.
Clients love them too because they’re a low-risk, timeless classic meaning their content won’t look dated too soon or fade with the latest colour trend.
I hope you find this useful and thanks again for your feedback which helps me get the right information to potential customers and offer a better service to everyone!
Well that's a tricky question isn't it! And for several reasons.
Firstly, because people (British people sorry!) are taught not to discuss money, and secondly, because freelancers or anybody pitching for work are understandably nervous about publishing or discussing their prices for many different but mostly logical reasons.
Prices may go up or down due to;
- client budget - this is an industry where different areas like editorial, advertising or TV will pay different rates for the same job due to the end use and historical ad agency style pricing
- kudos - if you're somebody that I really want to work with or think would look great in my portfolio I may drop my price if asked to
- stage of career/experience - early on in your career you may charge less and increase with each year of experience
- need to work/lack of work - we all have those quiet periods where we will take any job just to keep working and eat.
Also there are different ways of pricing - perhaps per project if its a large or ongoing shoot or per day with extra services as add-ons if required.
I will be discussing the day rate pricing strategy which I think most freelance food stylists and prop/still life stylists work to.
So what can you charge per day for food styling or as a prop stylist?
Enjoy 25% off all backdrop sheet list prices!
All A1 and A0 backdrops will get 25% taken off automatically at the checkout - no code required.
Ends Sunday the 25th of August 2019 at 11.30pm.
Mounting options and prices not effected - you can still get your discounted backdrop sheets mounted by selecting your mounting options on the product pages.
No minimum spend and the usual P&P and shipping costs available. Not available in conjunction with any other offer (on bundle offers) or discount code.
Don’t miss out - we only hold a small amount of stock so shop the backdrop collections now!
ENTER OUR MONTHLY GIVEAWAYS TO WIN PHOTOGRAPHY BACKDROP VOUCHERS WORTH UP TO £50 !
Share on Instagram to WIN a £25 voucher!
We’d love to see what you create with your BVS backdrops!
Please join our community on Instagram by using #bvsbackdrops and tagging us @blackvelvetstyling so we can see your pics and enter you into a monthly prize draw to win a £25 voucher. (This general hashtag replaces the previous individual monthly hashtag giveaway!)
You can enter as many times as you like with different images, increasing your chance of winning every time!
Winner chosen at random at the end of each month, announced via Instagram and possibly here on our blog.
No churn ice cream recipes - blackcurrant ripple & matcha, cardamom and pistachio - my first #lazytastypretty recipe post
Morning! It's 8.03am and the first Monday of the school holidays so of course I've been at my desk since 6.30am trying to get some work done! To be fair I actually love this time of day - if I'm lucky the kids are still asleep or can be passed off to breakfast/lounging round until at least 9am and I seem to be able to get more done in these first few hours of the day than most of the rest of the time. I'd go so far as to say I LOVE getting up early and feeling 'ahead of the day'. God I'm old. And boring. Oh well, f#ck it. (*sings 'this is me' in head*)
So what am I here for now? To share two recipes with you and kick off my #lazytastypretty food ethos, community, not sure what to call it!
Basically I want to start saving our favourite family recipes and maybe even inspire other families to eat better, live better with little-to-medium effort, enjoying the process and results, whether it's family meals or posh nosh.
Making a good meal shouldn't' be a chore - it's a great excuse to switch off the gadgets, stand up for a bit, be creative and get the whole family involved. (Not every day of course, we're not the Waltons, but aiming for 3-4 times a week to create bakes or meals together is a good thing to aim for I'd say!)
The first recipe I want to share isn't a healthy one, it's a treat......
Blackcurrant cheesecake, 6 ways to style cake - a personal food styling and cake photography challenge!
I don't know about you but I struggle with cake styling. I think its because I don't like triangles, and I also hate that look when you cut out a piece of cake and when you take it away from the rest of the cake you're left with a pacman face. I just can't stop looking at it in a cake shot, it's all I can see!
SO. I decided to set myself a challenge of shooting a cake overhead. I'm avoiding the pacman issue by only shooting it whole and then divided in pieces and repeated, without the rest of the cake in the shot. I'm looking to some of my instagram faves for inspo and pushing myself to do a light, colourful and dark version for each set up.
Here's what I created, why I did what I did and how I feel about each image! Please do comment your feedback below and let me know what cake styling challenges you face or how you've overcome them in your own food photography :)
Thanks to a really big order for my mounted and sealed photography backdrops (see previous blog post!) I can now offer professionally mounted backdrop boards at much lower prices - WITHOUT COMPROMISE on the materials or craftsmanship - I've just got smarter with my processes!
And I've made them easier to order by adding mounting options to the paper sheet product listings.
Simply shop the paper backdrop sheets, and if you want one mounted just check your mounting option before adding to your basket. If you want a double faced board you will be asked to select your backdrop design for the second side from the product swatches - all in one place.
The charge to mount and seal one design on to a single faced board is just £25.
30 of my mounted photography backdrops are now part of the prop collection at Food Studio Hire in London, NW1
Images copyright Howard Shooter. 'Bert' backdrop used above.
I had the pleasure of meeting Howard Shooter yesterday, having created 30 mounted and sealed photography backdrops for his food photography studios in Camden. What a lovely man! (And food photography legend, obvs.)
Howard now has the largest range of BVS backdrops in London! (That I know of anyway!) You can use them as part of his photography services and they are also available to hire in his two extra kitchen studios which are rented out on a daily or weekly basis for food stills, TV and film work.
I'm very excited to see what Howard and his clients create with the collection! The hire studios haven't been open long but Howard has already had The Body Coach - Joe Wicks, Gousto, Marcus Wareing, Louise Pentland, Weight Watchers, The Great British Bake Off and Waitrose in - follow @foodstudiohire on Instagram to see these beautiful spaces in use.
'I had a fantastic time, definitely learnt a lot and left feeling very inspired. Your notes are fantastic and we will be presenting what we learnt to the team.' Rachael, High Street TV
After months of planning and excitement (and a few nerves!) I held my first styling workshops in Nottingham last week.
Coaching people one-to-one (which has just kind of become a thing!) and going on creative workshops myself has renewed my passion for what I do and ignited a new love of teaching, to share my experience and inspire others - especially small business owners and creatives who have a special place in my heart.
I hope this write up and pics give you a good insight into what a styling workshop day involves and how much fun we have on my photography courses!
Here I've put together a list of 141 prompts to inspire social media and web content that will help people get to know you and want whatever you're offering. You'll notice that most of them aren't about selling - actually only 20% of your content should be about heavy promotion or sales talk. More than that and people will switch off - be more passionate about what you do than that! And show people :)
A few pointers before you delve into the list.
Decide what is important for you and be confident in your choices.
Don't force things - nobody can keep their energy up to do things that don't feel natural to them, you'll feed bad about it and your feed/brand will seem random or ingenuine, people can't relate and invest in randomness. Keep it familiar - see how consistent the most successful feeds are - are they boring, or do they create original content in a signature look which balances style, content type and tone?
Quick food styling tip for boiled eggs! Charred Asparagus, Parmigiano Reggiano and Boiled Duck Egg Recipe
Hi! Asparagus season is here in the UK so I'm enjoying it A LOT at the mo. One of my favourite ways to eat it is dipped in eggs and rather fortuitously a friend dropped round some neighbours duck eggs yesterday so I have been dreaming about this lunch since then!
Skip down for the recipe below or get this for a food styling win - I had a happy accident when boiling the eggs!
I went to a middle eastern wine tasting recently and enjoyed some beautiful spiced beef and egg plant (or aubergine!) and I just couldn't get the flavour out of my head. You know, when you're thinking about what you ate somewhere days later?!
So I just had to look for a recipe for what I guessed was a Lebanese dish, and I searched 'beef and eggplant' on ckbk and this absolute belter came up from the cookbook, 'Classic Lebanese Cuisine' (more details at the end of this post!).
New styling workshops just added - come along to learn how to plan and style food, props and products for content marketing and photography
If you would like to improve your styling skills and gain confidence in producing beautiful content to promote your craft, product or brand this is a great way to be taught first hand and have an inspiring day learning with other creatives and business owners.
We will cover everything from generating ideas and linking with national events to honing a style and shooting with natural light where you work with a good couple of hours to develop your skills with first hand help and feedback. For a full list of the topics covered please go to the styling workshop pages here.
INSTAGRAM GIVEAWAY to celebrate my 500th order! WIN 3 Mounted Backdrops of your choice or 2 Runner Up prizes of 5 backdrop sheets!
Hi! As I write this I am at 498 orders - when I get my 500th backdrop order I will launch a giveaway for you to have the chance to win 3 free mounted backdrops of your choice, worth £58 each, so it's a BIG prize worth £174!
I'm so amazed and thrilled by how this business is going - I love doing this work, I'm so pleased its working out as a regular income stream for me - the whole point was to create something I could do from home around my children and adhoc styling/content work so I can't thank you enough if you have been one of the 498 orders, supported me on Instagram or been an advocate or part of my journey in any other way!
I'm a bit late with this one sorry but here is the list of food and drink awareness days and weeks, as well as some international food dates that you might wish to consider for your social media marketing or web content during May, June and July 2019.
If like me you are required to come up with topical or trending food content for your clients this is a big time saver, or it could help you develop your own marketing plan and give you the confidence to focus on a few dates and ignore the ones that don't fit your brand. Just don't feel forced to do everything - quality and authenticity is key!
I'm pleased to introduce 7 new designs today, ranging from textural metals to pastel wooden doors to bold painted effects. I can't wait to see how you use them but also get styling with them myself. Patsy is just *WOW*.
To celebrate their launch I'm giving 1 design away to 3 lucky winners - simply comment below letting me know which you'd like to win to be entered!
What's in season? UK Seasonal Food Calendar now available in Excel and PDF formats saving you HEAPS of time!
If like me you're constantly checking online for what food is in season or looking for what's available in the UK for food styling ingredients for a shoot at a certain time of year, you will love this new download. I have finally had chance to create a workable, seasonal food calendar in Excel so I don't have to do that any more. And I thought if it's useful for me it's probably useful for other food stylists and photographers too :)
Now obviously there are some great websites out there to check what's in season, and there are some lovely printed calendars or illustrated worksheets telling you what food is available each month of the year BUT they simply aren't in the right format for me to scan across quickly and I do NOT want to have to type it all into my content plan!
Paper backdrops are great - they are an affordable way to expand your prop options, can be rolled up and transported in the parcel tubes and can be used as scoops. They are also a great way to bring new props in for individual clients and charge transparently, and even better, they can be disposed of straight after the shoot if space is at a premium.
However, you may want to mount your printed backgrounds to make them last longer or seal them so you can style food straight onto the surface.
Mounting your backgrounds onto boards will of course make them more durable and they can be easier to set up to work on. Sealing them will also make them water resistant and stronger on the surface so even better for food stylists and other messy creatives.
Hey everyone, here are some of the photography projects I've worked on that have been released during the latter part of this year. It's been a privilege to work on some huge brands and household names, mostly styling Christmas in the heat of the summer!
I really enjoy working with a mix of photographers and under different art directors bringing their ideas to life through my sourcing & styling. I can provide food, drinks, still life and interiors styling, alone or with a team around me in studios or on location.
For more info and rates please don't hesitate to get in touch - email@example.com or 07866 636070. I look forward to hearing about your project!
Treat your stylish one to some fabulous backdrops and help their creativity flyyyyy!
Our gift vouchers can be used across the entire range on printed backdrop sheets and professionally mounted and sealed photography backgrounds.
Select £10, £25, £50 or £100 depending on how good they've been....
SAME DAY DISPATCH, next day delivery on photography backdrop sheets, Christmas deadlines and other fascinating shipping news!
I am very pleased to now be able to offer same day dispatch on all of my printed photography backdrops. This means you could order today before 1pm, for delivery for your shoot by 9am tomorrow! (I'm whooping as I type!)
So, here are 8 styling ideas & ways to decorate this Christmas
Like many other Brits I guess, I haven't had sweet pumpkin before, oh apart from spiced lattes! So it was really nice to create this recipe and eat pumpkin in a different way. We waste so many around Halloween anyway don't we so it's good to have another recipe up my sleeve to make use of them. Maybe you could peel and chop the pumpkin up straight after Halloween and freeze it until you need it?
Anyway, it was both delicious and a dream to shoot - I mean that colour! And autumnal natural props always make me giddy, so this was a dream job for me. I'm going to write a post about the work side of this recipe shoot - the photography set up, styling and editing - but for now lets focus on the recipe itself.
I used one which called for fresh pumpkin rather than tinned to use up a big pumpkin I had left over and it wasn't hard at all - just took a bit longer to prep and cook but I think the colour and flavour would be much better with fresh anyway.
I wanted to write a short blog about social sharing and my use of customer images (user generated content or UGC to marketers) as it is very valuable to my business and much appreciated, but only of course, if you're down with it too. I want to check that I am approaching it correctly and respectfully.
So, as I use hashtags on Instagram to mark entries to the monthly giveaway (yeah I give 3 free photography backgrounds away every month just for sharing an image! Check out this post about it for more details.) and I'm now using product specific hashtags to share both my and customer social images on the backdrop listings too, I wanted to clarify my thoughts on the etiquette of it and make sure they are in line with yours. And get your feedback if not!