Monthly #bvs capture challenge - June theme: STACKING

Monthly #bvs capture challenge - June theme: STACKING

Welcome to June and our next #bvs capture challenge!  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 June #bvs challenge and guest judge

The June 2022 challenge theme is STACKING and we're so happy to have Costas @mademymrmillas as our guest judge helping Anna, Suze and I select the finalists. 


food styling backdrops photography background studio props stylist
I remember creating hand-painted backdrops for Costas very early in his food photography journey; its been a pleasure to watch his work and style unfold.
Costas is a food stylist, photographer, and recipe developer as well as a designer and art director based in the UK. His background in graphic design and his passion for food combine to inspire his work, which is centred around bold, graphic colour combinations and rich textures, alongside simple and minimal compositions with the food front and centre.
A beautiful capture by Costas @mademymrmillas using stacked props and pancakes to add height and interest


About our theme - Stacking

Stacking is perhaps a very simple technique but I think its often overlooked and underrated! 

Best shot at a low angle, stacked objects are a brilliant way to use the third dimension of your image and composition; height!

Whether you use props, product or food in a stack it immediately adds interesting light and shade - perhaps going dark where the objects meet with highlights in between catching the light.

You can also manipulate the light on your set to accentuate the new shape you have created through stacking.  Stacking often creates a cylindrical shape but that will depend on the shape and consistency of whatever you stack!

Some obvious foods to stack would be doughnuts, biscuits and burgers but what else could you try? Sandwiches, sushi and cut fruit could work well too, and what about stacking different shapes and sizes? Have fun experimenting!


 A stacked avo and egg bagel shot on the Appledore photography backdrop


Photography tips for stacking

  • to highlight your stack try darkening off the back wall of your set with black card placed near the light source
  • play with the light to add shape and contrast on your new cylindrical shape created by stacking
  • try side lighting with only one light for a chiaroscuro effect - more tips on that technique here!


Styling tips when stacking

  • an infinity curve will give an instant set with a base and wall to shoot at a low angle - read tips on using infinity curves here.
  • a stacked pile creates quite a static composition - try adding fabric or a long flat prop (like the wooden board used above) through the depth of the composition (along the table top) to create a foreground and background too
  • try adding an action or a human element to add depth and movement like Anna has in her biscuit shot or in another example with cascading sugar on the Ariel backdrop here  (you'll need to be on a tripod for this and increase the aperture)


Biscuits and robust baked goods are perfect for stacking in tall piles, shot here on the Ariel deep green backdrop


Editing ideas for hard light photography 

  • try gradient or brush masks to darken and lighten areas to create more depth into the image
  • accentuate the shape of your stack by deepening the shadows and blacks (watch for the saturation going up if you use contrast too much)


A tall stack of biscuits captured by our wonderful brand ambassador @anna_janecka on the Athena photo backdrop

I hope that’s given you some ideas and inspiration to try stacking compositions!


How to enter 

  1. Follow all hosts and judges on Instagram - @blackvelvetstyling @anna_janecka @gourmetglow @mademymrmillas
  2. Have fun exploring stacking styling
  3. Post between 13th - 28th June 2022 using the hashtag #BVSstacking 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 28th June 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 stacking ideas!


Gorgeous stacked meringue by Suze @gourmetglow 


Burgers are the ultimate stacked food! Beautifully styled and shot by Costas @mademymrmillas

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