Food Styling & Photography Backdrops, Workshops, Online Courses and Resources
HOW TO STYLE - FOOD, PRODUCT & STILL LIFE. Food styling and story telling with props for content creation and product/brand photography.
This 'How to style – food, product and still life' online course has been created to teach you how to compose your content like a professional stylist and then check and correct it like a product marketing expert and art director, so it not only looks balanced and beautiful but WORKS to create desire, increase sales and build loyalty for your brand.
Not heard of those roles before? On all (99.9% of) professional photo shoots there will be a stylist, photographer, art (or creative) director....
HOW TO STYLE - THE BASICS. Intro. Your essential guide to understanding style & creating a look for your brand / social media
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.
Hi all, a brief and boring post to give you more details about what going VAT registered will mean for the prices on our products and services. There's good news in there too I promise!
Our prices on photography backdrops and postage will be as follows, from the 2nd March 2020.
- Sets of 4 smaller A2 backdrops will be £38 inc VAT
- Single standard A1 photo backdrop sheets will be £20 inc VAT
- Single large A0 background sheets will be £42 inc VAT
- Mounting and sealing charge for a single faced A1 MDF board, £28
- Mounting and sealing charge for a double faced A1 MDF board, £44
Postage & Packaging
Royal Mail Standard 2nd class, for parcel tubes
- For smaller A2 backdrops only, small P&P charge £4.50 inc VAT (this is a reduction!)
- For orders containing A1 or A0 backdrops, medium P&P charge £6.50 inc VAT (£5.50 reduction on previous large A0 P&P price!)
Royal Mail Next day services (orders must be in by 1pm for same day dispatch), for all sheet sizes/parcels tubes
- Special Delivery Guaranteed by 1pm - under 1kg at £10.50 inc VAT
- Express Special Delivery Guaranteed by 9am - under 1kg at £30.00 inc VAT
Mounted board shipping
- 1st board (single or double faced) £12 inc VAT
- all extra boards (single or double faced) £10 inc VAT
- Shipping to Europe will remain the same (but may be effected when Britain has new EU trade terms.)
- Rest of World shipping will increase by around 10-15%.
Courses, workshops, styling and consultancy prices will be handled individually.
Invoices will show the VAT paid, separated out for your records. As before you will get an email order confirmation plus a printed invoice with your order, both showing the VAT charged.
Our VAT registration number will be 342136432.
We will currently be able to take the VAT off for customers in other EU countries if you have a VAT reg number. Please email if you need to discuss this.
That's all for now!
Thank you for your understanding and continued custom,
Sophie & Graham
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.
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.
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 :)
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.
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 - firstname.lastname@example.org 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!
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.
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.
Recent reports in the media about how much plastic is floating around in our oceans and the devastating effect it has on marine wildlife is heart breaking. As a child, spending our summer holidays in St Mawes, Cornwall, my dad instilled in me and my sisters the practice of leaving a beach cleaner than when we arrived. Sometimes that meant taking an extra piece of litter home, other times it meant doing a full-on litter pick. It wasn’t what we wanted to do as kids, but it has instilled in me an ethos that I have carried with me ever since; only take what you need and always respect nature.
Now I know many plastics are recyclable and I don't consider PVC evil in any way - it has it's uses - but I really don't have faith in the current recycling processes - clearly the UK government has not been acting respectfully, and at worst possibly just passing our rubbish and recycling on to other countries to deal with. Or not as it turns out.
So I have made the decision - at home and at work - to use as little plastic as possible. I would like to be 100% plastic free but I can't see this happening for me at the moment and I think we can still bring change by voting with our money and putting pressure on our government, so I am committed to the following rules I've set myself -
This is a completely new business and product range for me so I'm really pleased to have this great feedback on what I had hoped would be (and is proving to be - thank god!) a good solution to the needs of stylists and photographers on a lower budget or when quick fixes are required if you supply props for many different clients.
Another good sign is that we're already getting repeat orders - only in our second month of being in business - so that makes me very pleased too. Not only are people enjoying shooting with my photography backgrounds, but they're also coming back for more, giving me feedback, discussing opportunities and generally being part of our journey. It's fabulous - thanks so much if you're one of those early advocates.
If you are on the fence as to whether these backdrops would be right for your photography, read on for genuine customer comments and click through to see how these guys are using their BVS backdrops on Instagram or their own websites.
It's sad to say goodbye to such an amazing summer, but
Autumn is awesome too.
I'm excited for more mushroom foraging, pumpkin-spiced lattes, crunchy walks, chestnuts, cosy (forgiving) fashion and all the rich colours the English autumn brings.
Here is my AUTUMN EDIT #1 to get you in the mood for some seasonal styling (and maybe for Netflix and comfort food). I've kept it quite colourful - as that seems to be my style - but also I don't want to go full on dark and wintery yet - Autumn can be bright and sunny and there's still lots of colour around - roses, dahlias, berries, garden apples - all make beautiful natural props before we resign ourselves to winter.
A very quick post to show you how well my printed backdrops stand up to commercial product photography and food styling. I can't share too much until the clients release the content but maaaaaaaaaaaaan these colours look gorgeous!
We shot Christmas, mothers day, cocktails, breakfast, bakes, valentines, fathers day, cinco de mayo and more for web and social media content, POS and packaging images.