Food Styling & Photography Backdrops, Workshops, Online Courses and Resources

National Food & Awareness Days, January to March 2020
December 31, 2019

National Food & Awareness Days, January to March 2020

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.  

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HOW TO STYLE - THE BASICS. Going forward confidently
December 28, 2019

HOW TO STYLE - THE BASICS. Going forward confidently

Thanks for completing this course!

I honestly really hope you know how valuable this process is and how it really is as simple as that as high up as you can go in marketing and branding - if you complete all of this work you will have what a creative agency would have charged you thousands for but better than that, you will be able to go forward with confidence in your style decisions.

Now you have this knowledge, most of the notes and research can be put to one side if you like but please keep....

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HOW TO STYLE - THE BASICS. Module 5. Food & still life styling kit ESSENTIALS
December 28, 2019

HOW TO STYLE - THE BASICS. Module 5. Food & still life styling kit ESSENTIALS

The final thing I want to share with you in this introductory course is what you should have on hand in your kit to help you style your shots.  Some will be obvious, some will seem random but they will ALL come in handy at some point.  

Essentials for a prop / still life stying kit and basic food styling kit

  • scissors - probably three pairs - one small, one fabric, one general
  • flower cutters/ garden shears
  • flower food pouches (or sugar sachets)
  • wire cutters (for fake flowers, picture hanging wire, floral wire)

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HOW TO STYLE - THE BASICS. Module 4. PROPS dos and don'ts and where to buy them
December 27, 2019

HOW TO STYLE - THE BASICS. Module 4. PROPS dos and don'ts and where to buy them

Here we're going to delve further into the world of props and story telling - the magic that adds life and soul to your photography!

By now you should have your style template sheet filled in which will give us direction for the overall brand style that will be shared across your website, social feeds or portfolio if you're wanting to become a stylist.

Lets flesh it out with a more visual approach and fine tune what we need to make your ideas for a new signature style a reality.

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HOW TO STYLE - THE BASICS. Module 3. Setting your brand style guidelines & PROPS WISH LIST
December 27, 2019

HOW TO STYLE - THE BASICS. Module 3. Setting your brand style guidelines & PROPS WISH LIST

Here we're going to delve further into the world of props and story telling - the magic that adds life and soul to your photography!

By now you should have your style template sheet filled in which will give us direction for the overall brand style that will be shared across your website, social feeds or portfolio if you're wanting to become a stylist.

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HOW TO STYLE - THE BASICS.  Module 2. How to create your look AND OWN IT
December 27, 2019

HOW TO STYLE - THE BASICS. Module 2. How to create your look AND OWN IT

To hone a signature look you have to create a set of rules for your styling and photography (used loosely, you make them so can break them too!) 

That doesn’t mean every post or image is at the same angle or has the same colours in it, but there will be a balanced spread of your key colours across your brand communications or instagram feed, as well as a pleasing and predictable mix of angles, crops and styling themes.

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HOW TO STYLE - THE BASICS. Module 1. WHAT IS STYLE / Learn how to define it
December 27, 2019

HOW TO STYLE - THE BASICS. Module 1. WHAT IS STYLE / Learn how to define it

Its an unfortunate fact for newbies that repetition and confidence are one and the same thing when it comes to styling.

You need confidence to repeat your choices - props, angles, lighting and mood. We can all spot somebody who hasn't found their groove yet - random props and angles, lots of different colours and different lighting moods.

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HOW TO STYLE - THE BASICS.  Intro.  An introduction to understanding style & creating a look for your brand
December 27, 2019

HOW TO STYLE - THE BASICS. Intro. An introduction to understanding style & creating a look for your brand

My 'How to style - the basics' online course has been designed to help you define your brand style and build confidence in creating the food or still life content you need to succeed with your business or freelance work.

In this online course I will;
  • teach you the essence of style,
  • share secrets and tools the pros use to make you swoon
  • give you my essential food styling prop list & kit tips,
  • guide you through defining your own style and
  • give you the confidence to create content without getting held back by perfectionism, comparison or fear. 

With these professional insights and simple exercises you will learn how important and effective it is to be true to your own creative instincts. I will guide you, step-by-step in honing a recognisable brand style, which will become your blueprint for creating beautiful content - effortlessly and confidently.

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2019 Christmas Gift Ideas - Food Photography Backgrounds, Gift Vouchers & Styling Workshops
November 30, 2019

2019 Christmas Gift Ideas - Food Photography Backgrounds, Gift Vouchers & Styling Workshops

What better gift than the gift of creativity?!

Our gift vouchers can be made up to your desired amount and used towards our backdrops, food styling workshops or 1-to-1 tuition with Sophie.

We're really pleased with our 2019 Christmas cards which you can add to your gift voucher order for that extra special touch.  How cute is this chocolate and ginger bundt cake with clementine icing and frosted cranberries?! Shop the gift vouchers and Christmas or general greetings cards here.

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Read about my top 6 food photography backgrounds - and WIN yours for Christmas!
November 13, 2019

Read about my top 6 food photography backgrounds - and WIN yours for Christmas!

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?!

 

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Autumn Spiced Chicken & Squash Chilli / Soup / One Pot Recipe and Food Photography Ideas
November 07, 2019

Autumn Spiced Chicken & Squash Chilli / Soup / One Pot Recipe and Food Photography Ideas

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! 

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Christmas break and last posting dates!
October 25, 2019

Christmas break and last posting dates!

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.

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food styling photo board photography backdrop grey guide to how make flatlay paper
October 09, 2019

A guide to the different tones of our many shades of grey photography backdrops!

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!

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food styling day rate props stylist earn charge how much photography
September 16, 2019

How much do food stylists and prop/still life stylists earn?

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?

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SUMMER SALE! 25% OFF ALL INDIVIDUAL BACKDROP SHEETS
August 12, 2019

SUMMER SALE! 25% OFF ALL INDIVIDUAL BACKDROP SHEETS

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! 

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New monthly giveaways - WIN £50 worth of vouchers!
August 02, 2019

New monthly giveaways - WIN £50 worth of vouchers!

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.

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blackcurrant ripple no churn ice cream recipe easy food styling photography backdrops stylist backgrounds
July 22, 2019

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......

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Blackcurrant cheesecake, 6 ways to style cake - a personal food styling and cake photography challenge!
July 17, 2019

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 :)

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Going plastic free for July? Here are some of the things we do to reduce our use of single use and general plastics!
July 10, 2019

Going plastic free for July? Here are some of the things we do to reduce our use of single use and general plastics!

As you know (or at least I hope you do anyway!) we only sell sustainable, paper-based or FSC plywood backdrops - no vinyl or PVC here.  

I made this decision when I started the business in 2018 as I have been conscious of my use of plastics at home for several years and didn't want to be starting a brand new business creating more plastic in the world - if you have an established business and create useful, long lasting plastic products fair enough, but for me it didn't seem right to start a commercial enterprise making something out of a material I hope will be significantly reduced in production over the next few years.  

I don't think we need to go over the reasons why plastics are dangerous and threatening to the future of the earth and it's life forms on here, but I did want to share with you some of the ways we keep our plastic consumption down in this business. Maybe those of you running your own companies can consider it too.

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Mounted & Sealed Solid Photography Backdrops just got a lot CHEAPER!
June 26, 2019

Mounted & Sealed Solid Photography Backdrops just got a lot CHEAPER!

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.  

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30 of my mounted photography backdrops are now part of the prop collection at Food Studio Hire in London, NW1
June 21, 2019

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.

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Behind the Scenes at the Nottingham Prop Styling & Food Photography Workshop
June 18, 2019

Behind the Scenes at the Nottingham Prop Styling & Food Photography Workshop

'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! 

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141 social media and content marketing ideas for food and lifestyle makers or brands
May 16, 2019

141 social media and content marketing ideas for food and lifestyle makers or brands

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? 

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food styling tips photography how to style boiled eggs asparagus parmesan recipe backdrops surfaces still life
May 13, 2019

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!

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