Monthly #BVS capture challenge - August theme is NATURE

Monthly #BVS capture challenge - August theme is NATURE

New #bvs capture challenge for August! Enter for your chance to WIN a £100 or £25 voucher

About the #bvs challenge

Our monthly challenges are open to everyone in the creative community, hosted via Instagram, co-hosted by myself (Sophie!) and some of our brand ambassadors – Anna, Suze, Matt or Patrick – plus special guest judges each month.

For each challenge we will share professional styling and photography tips and ideas that follow a monthly theme. The tips and themes explored should be useful in all still life photography - including food, product and lifestyle content.

We hope to inspire our community and be inspired ourselves – I always find it fascinating how people can interpret things differently and use the same theory in lots of different creative ways! 


Each month we shortlist four finalists and then the community votes for their winner via Instagram.  The winner will get a £100 BVS gift voucher and the runner up will receive a £25 BVS gift voucher.

Plus all winners from January - November will get the chance to be crowned the 2022 overall winner in December!


So let's introduce our August #bvs challenge and guest judge

The August 2022 challenge theme is NATURE and we're thrilled to have @violaminerva as our guest judge helping Anna, Suze and I select the finalists. 

Viola Minerva Virtamo is a photographer (and stylist) , designer, videographer, director and author of five books.  Her style is so beautiful and appears to be effortless but I'm sure has taken many years to develop and perfect! If you don't already go give Viola a follow on Instagram for mind-blowing inspiration.

'My passion is to tell stories through my work. To evoke emotions. To make people slow down in this hectic world. No matter if it’s about photographing a cookbook, designing a logo or filming a brand film, there’s always THE story waiting to be told. And that’s why I love doing all these different things. They’re all different possibilities for me to create something beautiful and memorable.'



Viola has a strong connection to nature which is embodied in her work, often framed with nature or even venturing outside to immerse her scene in it.


About our August theme - NATURE

This month we are exploring bringing nature into our photography. Of course this is easily done if you are creating fresh food using raw produce, but we want to go a step further and look at incorporating stems, grasses, twigs, seeds, bark and other natural materials - August is the perfect time to be collecting these kinds of props (and Autumn too if you want red leaves!) that can be dried and used over the winter.

Fresh flowers are always beautiful but the less-expected, maybe a little past-it natural props can feel softer and more authentic. The risk with pretty florals and fresh produce is that they can be so stunning they take attention away from your product or food - its a balancing act to capture their beauty and enhance the image through it, without it being overpowering and completely captivating. Unless the flower or produce is your focal point of course!

Natural props could be used -

  • literally - as traditional props like stems in vases,
  • or they could be used as a set; like a grassy field or snowy bank,
  • or as a way to frame your scene; looking through tall wheat for example.

As with all styling techniques there are no rules - only a few starting points or guidelines - the only marker of a 'good' capture is if it fits the brief, and that is yours to decide!

I hope you will join us in exploring this months theme and enjoy bringing more nature into your scenes in unexpected ways.

Read on for more styling, photography and editing tips for this months theme.


Beautiful wisteria petals elevate Suze @gourmetglow shot from pretty to styling perfection! Shot on the Peanut backdrop.


Photography tips when bringing in nature 

  • explore using clusters or heads of flowers or seeds that will come in and out of a short focal depth (like I have below)
  • sometimes masking the light on props can help them sit back a bit - if your natural props are too eye-catching use black card (as flags) to reduce the light on them
  • using different heights will vary the focus in your image and sometimes flowers or foliage can be brought right up to the camera to really blow out of focus


Using dried grass and Honesty pods to style products - I love how the grass seeds dip in and out of focus. Shot on a White/Neutral still life canvas.


Styling tips for using nature in your composition

  • explore framing with flowers and stems - we have a whole feature on that here
  • think about slightly older natural props or what happens as things decay - that can be beautiful too
  • lengths and stems can help lead the flow around your image, in composition this is called 'leading lines' (its used in fashion too to draw the eye to or from certain areas!)
  • think about different ways to display natural props - in the vase or bottle instead of standing proud, curled around a bowl, in the furls of a napkin


I used red Creeping Virginia leaves here to crown the cake and also pull the viewers eye from the back to the front of the image, drawing along the detail of the antique books. The Quay (base) and Whitby (back wall) backdrops were used here.


Editing ideas for images with nature

  • structure and clarity tools will age and texturise - watch how this effects your food and organic elements
  • sometimes softening or blurring edges and elements can add an etherial feeling
  • try different crops that might make the organic props more obscure or abstract


@anna_janecka using beautiful leafy lemons on the Ariel backdrop

I hope that’s given you some ideas and inspiration bring more nature in to your photography and I hope you will enter our August challenge!



How to enter 

  1. Follow all hosts and judges on Instagram - @blackvelvetstyling @anna_janecka @gourmetglow @violaminerva
  2. Have fun bringing nature in to your styling and photography
  3. Post between 17th - 31st August 2022 using the hashtag #BVSnature and tagging @blackvelvetstyling

Each entry will be judged on how you’ve used the technique and how you capture the essence of your subject with it.

We look forward to seeing your posts and announcing the four finalists on Instagram soon after the competition closes at midnight on the 31st August 2022.

Good luck!


Competition Rules

Entries don’t have to include our backdrops, our monthly capture challenges are about exploring different techniques.

Entries must stay on your feed for the duration of the competition and judging period if you are a finalist.

Four finalists will be selected shortly after close and announced via our Instagram stories.

The winner and runner up will be voted for by the public via our Instagram stories, this will be live for 24hrs.

The winner and runner up will be announced via our Instagram stories soon after close.

We only need your email address to deliver the prize.  We never ask for personal or bank details via email or private messages.

No purchase necessary to enter.

No minimum order necessary on the voucher prizes.  They will be valid for 12 months.

Open worldwide.

All decisions are final.

Not in conjunction or affiliated with Instagram in anyway.


Good luck, we can't wait to see your captures!


Here I've used my trusty dried grasses and seed heads to soften a product shot on the Draper backdrop.


Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.