Black Velvet Styling - Photography Backdrops Blog

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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Lebanese Lamb, Pine Nuts & Roasted Aubergine Recipe
May 09, 2019

Lebanese Lamb, Pine Nuts & Roasted Aubergine Recipe

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!).  

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New styling workshops just added - come along to learn how to plan and style food, props and products for content marketing and photography
April 29, 2019

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.

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food styling backdrop flatlay paper surface photography background
April 05, 2019

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!

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UK Food & Drink Awareness Days and International Food Dates for content marketing and photography planning
March 29, 2019

UK Food & Drink Awareness Days and International Food Dates for May, June & July 2019

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!

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7 NEW Spring designs - comment your favourite to WIN IT!
March 09, 2019

7 NEW Spring designs - comment your favourite to WIN IT!

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!

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What's in season? UK Seasonal Food Calendar now available in Excel and PDF formats saving you HEAPS of time!
January 25, 2019

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 :)

Get my UK seasonal food calendar here.

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!

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How to mount my printed photography backgrounds for food styling and more
January 03, 2019

How to mount my printed photography backgrounds for food styling and more

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. 

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Autumn/Winter 2018 Food and Still Life Styling Work
December 22, 2018

Autumn/Winter 2018 Food and Still Life Styling Work

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 - hello@blackvelvetstyling.com or 07866 636070.  I look forward to hearing about your project!

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National Food Days and Foodie Events for the UK - February to April 2019
December 09, 2018

National Food Days and Foodie Events for the UK - February to April 2019

If you were looking for dates to celebrate or tie in with for your food styling, product photography or social media content during February, March and April 2019 here's my list - you can also download it as a spreadsheet for free here.  This should save you a lot of time as I've just checked all the dates and formatted it for you so you can expand on the spreadsheet in Microsoft Excel - decide what to prioritise and make a splash with, what to nod to or maybe repost for and what you can ignore if it doesn't really sit well with your brand/audience.  

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Gift vouchers now available! Treat your loved one to their choice of photography backdrops
November 29, 2018

Gift vouchers now available! Treat your loved one to their choice of photography backdrops

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....

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SAME DAY DISPATCH, next day delivery on photography backdrop sheets, Christmas deadlines and other fascinating shipping news!
November 27, 2018

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!)

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8 decorating themes and styling ideas for Christmas 2018
November 21, 2018

8 decorating themes and styling ideas for Christmas 2018

I thought i'd share some styling themes with you, ones that I've created for clients this year and other ones that I've collected over several years or found recently and fallen in love with.  I'm now torn between styles for my own home this Christmas! I will just have to have several trees :)
I hope this gives you some ideas for your winter food or still life styling or maybe even your home - trends aside, decorating your home for Christmas or the holidays should begin with what makes you smile.  Whatever you decide - have fun and remember to laugh when the dog/baby knocks it all over!

So, here are 8 styling ideas & ways to decorate this Christmas 

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Pumpkin Pie Recipe for Thanksgiving 2018
November 16, 2018

Pumpkin Pie Recipe for Thanksgiving 2018

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.

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Boring blog about social sharing and UGC etiquette
November 12, 2018

Boring blog about social sharing and UGC etiquette

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!

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10 Affordable and easy backdrops for food styling and photography backgrounds
November 03, 2018

10 Affordable and easy backdrops for food styling and photography backgrounds

Hi :) If you didn't already know, I'm a stylist and content creator too, so I want to share some affordable, everyday food photography backdrops and props with you, ones that you can get on a pretty small budget or may already have at home.  

I'm a big advocate of having lots of different options* and I'm not naive enough to believe or propose that you should ONLY EVER USE MY PRINTED BACKDROPS! :D For me, good food styling starts with a beautiful dish of food - everything else is purely framing - and using layers and texture is a big part of that for me.  So even though I often start with one of my backdrops when creating content, there will always be other elements and smaller surfaces to compose the shot and frame the hero. (UNLESS! I am creating content to sell the backdrop itself - then propping will be minimal to show the surface off!)

Styling surfaces come in all shapes and sizes, and if you're photographing food or other smallish still life cameos, it should be easy to find interesting, affordable backgrounds big enough for your needs.

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October's Instagram 3forFREE Giveaway Winner! #blackvelvetstylingoct18
November 01, 2018

October's Instagram 3forFREE Giveaway Winner! #blackvelvetstylingoct18

Congratulations to Nicky Ryan who has won Octobers 3forFREE giveaway!

Nicky is a food, lifestyle and travel photographer based in Sydney Australia and entered with this stunning still life photo, shot on my Bridge photography backdrop.

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We're now proudly supporting Surfers Against Sewage!
October 31, 2018

We're now proudly supporting Surfers Against Sewage!

Hi! If you read my post about why I don't print my backdrops on vinyl (PVC) you'll know that the ocean and marine life is very close to my heart.  You'll also know that I've been making some changes at home and at work - in this business - to keep our product, processes and packaging as eco-friendly as possible.

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