Food Styling & Photography Backdrops, Workshops, Online Courses and Resources
Today we launch our first backdrop collaboration, BVS X Lucy Parissi to bring you three gorgeous new designs developed with photographer and food blogger, Lucy.
I love working with people outside of our own four walls (no offence to my team but external input and feedback is always so inspiring and helpful!) so when Lucy asked me about developing some new backdrops from a few of her own surfaces I jumped at the chance.
Lucy has been a customer and supporter of Black Velvet Styling from very early on so we’re really happy to be collaborating on our first BVS X range with her. Lucy’s work is absolutely stunning – if you don’t already go follow her on Instagram @supergolden88 for a lesson in how to shoot in a beautiful and layered yet clear and elegant style that brands love.
There’s been a lot of back and forth on the styles, colours and tiny details which Lucy and I ironed out over two lots of samples, but I think its safe to say we have three AMAZING new backdrops here.
Two really nice *hopeful* classics and one total wild card that I just couldn’t resist putting in the range. You know I always like to test the boundaries and push you out of your comfort zones a bit!
I think its really important that I never assume too much what you guys would like in our backdrops and that’s another reason I’m so excited to collaborate in this way more – people approach design from so many different angles - I love being surprised by what people find on their travels or have lying around and think would make an awesome print.
We're very excited to announce our first official brand partnerships with two fantastic food snappers.
We're thrilled to be working with Patrick Rock Smith, whom we have shared a mutual admiration with for a while now - Patrick for our backdrops and us for his amazing food photos and London restaurant inspiration.
And I'm equally delighted to be making our long standing advocate and friend, Matt Inwood an official partner too. Matt was a very early adopter (guinea pig even!) and cheerer-onner of our backdrops and already gives a discount code to his Instagram masterclass students, so I guess he has been ambassador-ing behind the scenes all this time!
More about Patrick
Patrick is our kind of guy - he has a huge passion for food and specialises in shooting social media content for big and small brands.
'Photography is my craft, and creative content is everything.'
Moodboards can help you plan, create, clarify and connect your styling and photography for one shot, a days shoot or across an entire brand.
Whether you create them digitally on something like Pinterest, on here with our moodboard feature to collate backdrops for your shoots or physically with magazine tears and swatches, moodboards can be highly effective in helping you develop ideas and make an initial, visual plan.
And lets not overlook the focus and efficiency having a visual reference can bring to each step of your creative process – it will help keep you on track; clarifying your aims and speeding up decisions.
A moodboard is like a mini creative brief; if you’re shooting for your own content a moodboard might be all you need to develop an idea and set the style and tone for your shoot.
If you’re working on a styling or photography job for a client, a moodboard may be the first step in showing them that you understand their ideas and aims before developing a more in-depth production plan or shot list.
Hey! I've been very inspired recently by two great books - How to photograph food by Bea Lubas and Brand Brilliance by Fiona Humberstone.
Both books talk a bit about colour theory in styling and photography, and although I must have covered this in my art A-level or foundation course, I realised I couldn't remember a single thing about it!
So I set myself a challenge to do some research and style a couple of shots with colour theory in mind. Turns out I have actually been using it as a tool in my styling all this time; I just didn't realise (or forgot) how and why.
Two ways to use colour theory in your food styling and photography
For my first play I wanted to use only green in this guacamole shot. I knew it wouldn't be boring because there are so many beautiful green ingredients in it.
We've got the warm, yellowy lime and vibrant pea green peppers, olivey avocados and the strong coriander green going darker and cooler in the shadows.
I selected props that are light, textural and neutral to create the flow of the composition, going a little bolder with the clay plate to meet the strength of the coriander seeds and za'atar on top of the guac. (Side note; ground spices and herb pots are a fantastic way to bring in complimentary colours as well as a final flurry of texture, I have loads to hand in my studio!)
Props are one of the best ways to elevate your content and build deeper connections with your audience.
Using props to support your hero - whether that's food or products - tells a much more interesting story than your hero alone, captivating the imagination of your viewers so you make a lasting impression.
Show your process with 'doing' props.
A used zester to conjure up the zingy flavour of lemon curd, a whisk with little fluffy meringue peaks still attached tell the process of a recipe.
Equally a craftmans tools or offcuts, say the shavings of dry clay carved away while turning a pot or the natural sponge used to dab water while you work, help tell the viewer about the care that goes into your work.
Props are everywhere and can be anything - just ask yourself this question to sanity check them - does this elevate and connect or overtake and distract?
After a very big delay (due to covid and moving and homeschooling and lots of other general life stuff!) we are very pleased to be opening our prop section this week, tomorrow in fact!
Alongside providing props for my styling and photography clients I have been trusted to source props for several cookbooks this year including The Pie Room by Calum Franklin, Ekstedt by Niklas Ekstedt and the MasterChef cookbook.
It feels so good to be finally bringing this part of my work into the BVS offering here!
Being a food and prop stylist myself you will find all of our props perfect for food, product and still life photography, following my prop rules they are -
1. not too big
2. not too shiny
3. not too grabby
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 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.
Through sharing techniques and ideas we hope to support and inspire our community in developing new styling and photography skills while celebrating the seasons and building a deeper connection with nature.
It would be easy to tell you what our best sellers are but they're not necessarily what's best for a beginner. We sell to a massive mix of clients ranging from top experts of the food photography industry to global creative agencies. magazine and cookbook publishers, as well as home makers, recipe bloggers and crafters - everyones' needs are unique and everybody's skill level and experience will be different.
At the start of your content creation journey - whether thats as a newly trained photographer, social marketer, maker or crafter - your priorities and budget will be very different to that of a seasoned content creator or somebody with an established prop collection.
That's exactly what I want to share with you today, five photography backdrops that -
are absolutely timeless,
Three ways to enjoy British asparagus while its in season - recipes, food styling notes & wine pairing
British asparagus season is only a short one lasting just a few weeks in late April and May, sometimes edging into June, so you've gotta be ready with some tasty recipes up your sleeve. Especially as it deteriorates pretty quickly after picking - another reason British asparagus will arrive on your table fresher and tastier than what you can import from else where.
We all know the classics - asparagus and hollandaise is a firm favourite or simply steamed and dipped in butter and sea salt can be scoffed very frantically. But what about when you want to make more of a meal of it?
These are three of my favourite ways to enjoy asparagus as a spring starter or main meal. I can't help but include an egg dish - i just love eggs of any kind, a creamy puff pastry tart is always a good way to get my kids to enjoy different flavours and the scallop dish, well it's just divine and works as a starter or main if you add some buttery boiled potatoes or a green salad.
Now is the time to enjoy wild garlic and this year I wanted to do more with it than pesto! Apparently you can pickle the flowers which will be my next way to enjoy them, but here I'm showing you how to make wild garlic and cheddar soup AND four different ways to style it.
If you like broccoli and stilton soup - and garlic - I'm sure you will love this recipe! The punchy wild garlic is met by the strong cheese and softened with cream and chicken stock (or veggie stock if you prefer to skip the meat element and make this a vegetarian recipe). As always I class this as a lazy, tasty and pretty recipe.
I'm showing you so many different ways to compose a shot for this soup recipe as I have used it as an example in my Styling & Composition course and thought I'd share some of them here. I hope you find the ideas and compositions useful - there are many more styling tips and tricks in my courses if you want to check them out!
Its the question everyone always asks - what do food stylists use to make the dishes look so amazing in food photography?
The real answer is years of experience and practise of course!
But you can get a bit closer to achieving that perfect burger or beautifully frosted berries by having these bits of kit on hand ready to brush, stick, tweeze, spray, blast and blaze.
Obviously the kit you need will change from shoot to shoot, dish to dish with extra machines and kit required depending on what food you're styling - if you work in a niche food group or only bake cookies for example you'll soon figure out what they are and how best to style your food for photographs.
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.
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!
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?
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 :)
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!).
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.
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.