NEW #bvsinspired instagram challenge - join in to win up to £100 in vouchers!

NEW #bvsinspired instagram challenge - join in to win up to £100 in vouchers!



Wow what a great turn out for our first challenge, nearly 100 entries, thank you so so much for joining in!

Clem and I have spent the last couple of days enjoying your autumn creations and discussing our favourites, the different skills and techniques you've all applied to your styling have been so interesting to us and shown us new tricks too. 

As expected most of the entries were based around food photography and seasonal ingredients which is great to see.  There were also some still life and product shots with organic autumn props where the techniques we showed you work just as well.  It really has been magical to take all of your images in and see how you've woven the styling techniques into your creative process.

So without further delay, here are our 5 finalists and a bit about why we chose them - please don't be disheartened if your image wasn't selected, it was honestly so hard to choose just 5, please do join in again next time!


#BVSinspired Autumn 2020 Challenge Finalists

food styling photography still life stylist autumn inspiration seasonal challenge photographer tips how to backdrops backgrounds


We both felt this image really uses the layering technique perfectly - not only using the boards and linens to frame but also adding height with the piled fruit and flowers. 

Such pretty colours and beautiful food too, just lovely Cathye, well done!




food styling photography still life stylist autumn inspiration seasonal challenge photographer tips how to backdrops backgrounds


I just love this vibrant image! The colours are so perfect for autumn but also that long and strong, but soft-edged shadow is just stunning, makes it so inviting. 

It can be hard to shoot dark and moody without loosing interest or vibrancy in the food but this is superb. Congratulations Aruni!




food styling photography still life stylist autumn inspiration seasonal challenge photographer tips how to backdrops backgrounds


Another entry using long autumn shadows but we agree this also brings in many layers and organic seasonal props; just goes to show how many techniques can be applied and how professional it can make your images look when you know the tricks of the trade!

We think you have balanced all these elements and props brilliantly to keep the focus on our hero, the beautiful bundt cake.  Simply stunning, congrats on being a finalist!



food styling photography still life stylist autumn inspiration seasonal challenge photographer tips how to backdrops backgrounds


We both immediately loved this image Katia! The seasonal ingredients, the cosy imperfect candle, the leaves and seeds, the hands and process you've created. 

The ancient and inclusive story of collecting, preparing and enjoying autumn produce is so eloquently told here. Congratulations and thank you for entering!

food styling photography still life stylist autumn inspiration seasonal challenge photographer tips how to backdrops backgrounds


Another beautiful capture using the layering technique very cleverly with the rack, a 'light' prop which brings interest and depth without too much or overbearing weight, keeping the image fluid and delicate.

We really felt this was a very strong composition, kept simple with the muted colours to keep the attention on the delicious date crunchies.  Great work, Annie, well done on being a finalist!


So now its over to you to decide on our winner!

Each of these finalists have already won a 2021 foodie wall planner - now its up to you to vote for our winner! 

The finalist with the most votes will win a £100 gift voucher and the runner up will win a £25 gift voucher.


Please vote by commenting your favourite at the bottom of this post!

Voting closes at 1200 midday (UK), this Friday the 20th November.

(I've put thumbnails of the images and finalists names at the bottom too so you can be reminded easily without scrolling up!) 


Our thanks again to everybody for joining in with our first styling challenge, it was great fun to put together for you and very inspiring for us to digest and contemplate your entries.   


We hope you have been inspired too! Look out for our next #BVSinspired challenge in early 2021.

Sophie & Clem @clemfoodie xx


Now go to the end of this post to comment with your vote!






I'm so thrilled to announce our first ever challenge, open to everyone in the creative community via Instagram, and co-hosted by Clementine @clemfoodie!

About this new challenge

#BVSinspired is a new seasonal styling challenge ran through Instagram, created by Sophie in collaboration with food creatives and experts (this one with the lovely @clemfoodie) and open for all to enter for a chance for one winner to take home £100 in BVS vouchers and a runner up to receive a £25 voucher. Plus all finalists will win a 2021 foodie wall planner!

Through sharing techniques and ideas we hope to inspire our community in developing new styling and photography skills while celebrating the seasons and building a deeper connection with nature.

For each challenge, I (Sophie!) will share professional styling and photography techniques along with tips and ideas from our collaborator, all of which will be perfect for the time of year and help anybody who wants to develop their styling and photography.

The tips should be useful in all still life photography - including food, product and lifestyle content.

 So lets kick off our first challenge!


#bvsinspired autumn/winter challenge is open for entries from the 1st to the 15th November 2020 

How to enter 

1. Follow both hosts on Instagram - @blackvelvetstyling @clemfoodie

2. Read this blog and decide which styling technique/s to put into your capture

3. Post between 1-15th November 2020 using the hashtag #bvsinspired, stating which technique you've used and tagging us @blackvelvetstyling


For the full rules please go the bottom of this post!


#bvsinspired Autumn/Winter 2020 co-hosted with @clemfoodie

Autumn and early winter are a time for coming home, taking stock and indulging in slow living and self-care rituals, being grateful for what we have and where we are instead of searching for improvement (that can wait until January!).

I love this time of year – lamps and candles come into play bringing a different atmosphere to dinner, trainers are swapped for boots and comforting, textural layers become key in our clothes, homes and food.

The sofas have extra blankets and our table settings are more tactile with softly crumpled linens after the crisp whites of the summer; imperfections and ruffled edges are celebrated; seed pods, husks and nuts are natures gifts this season. 

What I want to share with you today is how we can bring this feeling, the essence of autumn to our images and photography while setting the scene, whether that’s based around food, product or lifestyle imagery.

We’ve just touched on layers, so lets start here with technique number 1,


Layer it up

Adding extra layers is a favourite technique in every stylists toolkit – they are a great way to frame, add depth, bring in texture, increase shadows and develop stories through your props. 

I like to think of layers as levels too - each step towards the camera is another level creating more depth, inviting us to reach in.

Layers are even more beneficial in the colder months when we seek to gather and collect, surrounding ourselves with warmth and texture.  Watch how the feeling of this image changes as I build up the layers.


(Backdrop here is Galley.)

For the first #bvsinspired technique I’d like you to use at least six layers in your styling.  This may sound like a lot, but lets count the layers in this early autumn breakfast shot creating many different levels and textures.

(Backdrop here is Aston.)


Starting on the floor and getting taller, coming up towards the camera -

  1. Backdrop
  2. Almond flakes, orange zest, spoons
  3. Linen, low plates
  4. Plums and leaves, cinnamon sticks
  5. Small dishes, cup, juicer
  6. Hero dishes - granola and toppings
  7. Orange in juicer, plums in taller tin
  8. Flowers

Each of these adds more light and shade (which is what texture actually is – small shapes creating highlight and shadow) adding a tactile quality to the image.  Each layer has a different level of softness due to the short focal depth, adding depth as well as texture.

If you can consider your props as textures and layers (or levels) as well as compositional aids working to create shape and flow you will soon have interesting and soothing autumn captures!


Technique number 1 – use at least six layers

To enter with this technique simply build up your image with at least 6 layers



In with the old

In nature Autumn is the time for most plants to shed and fade, gradually decaying and making way for winters tasks.  I think an ageing rose is just as beautiful as a new bud, crunchy old brown leaves remind us of crispy walks and seed husks really pin point the season and our place in natures cycle.

Natural props are very good at stealing the show – fresh ingredients and pretty flowers often need to be carefully placed or dropped out of focus to support rather than overpower.

Look at how the mood in this set up changes when the new, budding rose is replaced for a softer, older version and then some dried hydrangea.  It is now more of a supporting prop – no longer competing for attention but helping set the mood and tell the story of the time of year.


autumn textures styling layers food photography tips autumn textures styling layers food photography tips

(Backdrop here is Stardust.)

With this technique I’d like to see you using things ‘past their best’ to remind us of the briefness and temporary beauty of everything and the changes we experience around us in nature each autumn.


Technique number 2 – use aging natural props

To enter with this technique you could use fruit, flora, fauna or any other organic prop that is on the decline.




Embrace soft autumn light

Around the autumn equinox we have equal parts day and night, and the natural daylight we have in Northern Europe is often very soft (gloomy!) and reaches us from a lower point in the sky than it does during the summer months.

In our photography this translates as reduced highlights and softer, longer shadows. 

For this final technique I’d like you to embrace these subtle differences in the light quality and emphasise them further by playing around with the lighting of your images.

A simple trick I use to create a more pronounced side light and extend the shadows is to ‘flag’ (this simply means to block out) the higher points of the light source with black card.


(Backdrop here is Bare.)

Watch how the light changes in this simple set up as I place the black card to the left where the window is.  (I know the glasses look very precarious but it’s the best way to position the card quickly without blocking light beneath!) 

Do you see how the highlights are reduced and the shadow gets longer and softer (not such a defined edge to it) to the right of the plate?



Technique number 3 – emphasise autumn light

To enter with this technique simply play around with your lighting set up to capture longer shadows and soft highlights

(Backdrop here is Bare.)

I hope that's given you some ideas!


A word from our co-host @clemfoodie

I'm so happy to be hosting this, our first ever challenge with Clementine @clemfoodie. I've admired Clem's vibrant styling and fresh recipes for a long time before she became a customer and generous advocate for our brand, so it feels so right that we are partnering up to host this creative challenge together.

Here's what Clem loves about Autumn and what she might be looking for in your entries when we select five finalists!

'Fall is my favorite season. The atmosphere, the colors, the flavors & scents, everything about it is cozy, comforting and like a big hug.

When I’m working on fall recipes, I tried to always keep this in mind as it helps me to tell a story about the dish I’m making.

For instance, I absolutely love apples. For me, they make the best fall dessert. Why? Because they remind me of my childhood and how my grandma used to make apple pie every Sunday when we were visiting. The smell of freshly baked pie, the sweet apples, how comforting this pie after what seemed like a long week at school and all the love my grandma poured into this dessert. And for me, this is the true essence of fall: a comforting sensation, a sweet memory and some nostalgia.

But apples are not the only ingredient I love about fall and that gives me that sensation a comfort and warmth. Think pears, cinnamon, caramel, nutty flavors but also squashes, maple and nutmeg! I love to use these in my dishes to give that sensation of warmth and coziness. A spicy hot chocolate to warm you up while watching the rain fall down by the window, a creamy and rich butternut squash soup that you eat in front of the fireplace with your favorite knitted socks on.

Colors are also very important to give that sensation of comfort. Just look outside! Shades of orange, yellow and burgundy with a hint of green & brown. You’ll find all the colors in my fall dishes. Sure, it’s not as bright and joyful as summer ingredients, but they’re just as delicious, and while you want freshness during summertime, you’re looking for more filling, creamy and rich dishes during fall. In color theory, the colors of fall (orange, yellow, green, brown) convey the ideas of joy, happiness, leisure, nostalgia and harmony. Exactly what I want to express through my comforting fall recipes!'


And look how beautifully Clem captures that feeling in her styling! Just goes to show that autumn content doesn't have to be dark or monotone.

Of course the food and natural props in this image makes us automatically think of Autumn but the textures, flavours and that lovely side light creating the deep shadows all work together to set the mood further and make us feel super cosy.


food styling photography product backdrops background stylist photo still life surfaces creative challenge instagram


I hope you have read something here that has sparked an idea or inspired you to try something new!  Don’t forget you only need to use one of the techniques above to enter but you could also use as many as you like. 

Each entry will be judged on how you’ve used the technique and how your image captures the essence of autumn.

We look forward to seeing your creations and announcing the 5 finalists on here in around two weeks after the competition closes at midnight on Sunday the 15th November.

Good luck!


How to enter 

1. Follow both hosts on Instagram - @blackvelvetstyling @clemfoodie

2. Read this blog and decide which styling technique/s to put into your capture.

  1. use at least 6 layers
  2. use ageing natural props
  3. create autumn soft highlights and long shadows

3. Post between 1-15th November 2020 using the hashtag #bvsinspired, stating which technique you've used and tagging us @blackvelvetstyling


Competition Rules

Entries don’t have to include our backdrops, it’s more about celebrating the season and sharing ideas and tips!

Max three entries per person/account.

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

5 finalists will be selected shortly after close of entries and announced here.

The winner and runner up will be voted for by the public on this blog post, voting closes 3 days after announcement.

The winner and runner up will be announced here soon after close.

All finalists will win a 2021 foodie wall planner.

All decisions are final.

Not in conjunction or affiliated with Instagram in anyway.


Good luck, we can't wait to see your creations. We welcome your comments below - hope you’ll be participating! 

Oh and as a thank you to our French cohost, Clem customers in France can get FREE shipping when you spend over £50 (on any products excluding mounted boards) between the 1st to 15th November 2020!




Our 5 finalists again



Katia @gourmandpixels


Beccooking @beccooking


Aruni @runi_food




Please comment to vote for your favourite by 1200 midday (UK) Friday the 20th November! 

You can only vote once, must be with a verifiable email address.


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.