BVS News plus Food Styling & Photography Tips & Resources

Monthly #bvs capture challenge - May theme: HARD LIGHT
May 05, 2022

Monthly #bvs capture challenge - May theme: HARD LIGHT

Welcome to May and our next #bvs capture challenge!  Enter for your chance to WIN a £100 or £25 voucher

About our theme - using hard light

#bvshardlight

I am only just starting to play with and see the possibilities with using hard light in my photography - as a 99% natural-light-photographer I need direct sunlight to get hard light and strong shadows.

But its so much fun exploring this technique now I have some lighting kit! Strong, direct light gives you those hard edged, highly defined shadows rather than the softly graduating patches of darkness you get from soft - or diffused - light.

Typically, larger light sources (that will wrap light around your products and props) produce soft shadows, and smaller, single light sources (like slim, directional light) produce harder light and shadows because there is little or no other light softening the edges from other angles.

Read more

Monthly #bvs capture challenge - April theme: FRAMING
April 06, 2022

Monthly #bvs capture challenge - April theme: FRAMING

Welcome to April 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! 

Read more

Monthly #bvs capture challenge - the March theme is Editorial
March 09, 2022

Monthly #bvs capture challenge - the March theme is Editorial

Welcome to March and a new #bvs capture challenge!  Enter for your chance to WIN a £100 or £25 voucher

#bvseditorial 

I'm so excited about this theme because it is SO different to the creative briefs I usually follow in my commercial styling work or even my own content creation shooting with our backdrops.  Editorial styling is clean, clear, simple, graphic and impactful - never boring, sometimes dramatic, often minimal and always confident to use negative space.

After all, editorial images need space for titles and copt text - that is the purpose of having empty or simply propped areas; to run text over it and it still be clear and easy to read....

How to enter 

  1. Follow all hosts and judges on Instagram - @blackvelvetstyling @anna_janecka @gourmetglow @matt_inwood
  2. Have fun exploring editorial styling and photography techniques
  3. Post between 9th - 27th March 2022 using the hashtag #bvseditorial and tagging @blackvelvetstyling

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

Read more

Monthly #bvs capture challenge - February's theme is monochrome
February 03, 2022

Monthly #bvs capture challenge - February's theme is monochrome

Welcome to February and a new #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.

The February 2022 challenge theme is monochrome and we're thrilled to have Roberta @healthylittlecravings as our guest judge helping Anna, Suze and I select the finalists.

#bvsmonochrome

Most people think of black and white images and artwork when they hear monochrome but it actually describes the use of any single colour (or hue) in different shades. In monochromatic images the colour remains the same but the vibrancy, brightness and - with artistic license - tints and tones differ slightly.

Read more

NEW monthly #bvs capture challenge - January's theme is chiaroscuro lighting
January 06, 2022

NEW monthly #bvs capture challenge - January's theme is chiaroscuro lighting

Welcome to 2022 and our new monthly capture challenge! 

I'm so happy to announce a new regular #bvs capture challenge, open to everyone in the creative community via Instagram, co-hosted by myself (Sophie!) and some of our brand ambassadors – Anna, Suze, Matt or Patrick – plus special guest judges each month.

About the #bvs challenge

This is a monthly styling and photography challenge ran through Instagram, created by Black Velvet Styling and open for all to join in.

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.

Read more

How to use moodboards to plan, present & clarify your styling and photography direction
June 08, 2021

How to use moodboards to plan, present & clarify your styling and photography direction

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.

Read more

Getting started with our printed photography backdrops
May 12, 2021

Getting started with our printed photography backdrops

Printed backdrops - whether on paper, vinyl or fabric material – are a wonderful way to build a collection of photography backdrops affordably.  

For a relatively small investment you can have marble, wood, tiles and more at your fingertips, ready to style and shoot, at only a fraction of the cost of the real thing.

And what’s more your printed backdrops won’t take over your workspace. 

They are light and easy to transport and store, no more lugging heavy surfaces between shoots! 

Here are a few pointers to help you on your way to creating amazing images with our printed backdrops

 

Our backdrop sheets are posted rolled in cardboard tubes or flat if posted in a carry & store case.

We recommend opening your package as soon as it arrives to allow the backdrop sheets to settle. 

Our extra thick vinyl backdrops will jump open and flatten for immediate use.

The paper backdrops can have a soft curve after being rolled but this will relax in a few hours if they are laid flat, face down with a few books on top.  

Read more

food styling photography colour theory stylist props still life set up behind the scenes tips how to
April 28, 2021

Playing with colour theory in food styling

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!) 

Read more

The power of props: elevate your content & craft stories through styling
April 08, 2021

The power of props: elevate your content & craft stories through styling

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?

Read more

How to style: Pancakes
February 03, 2021

How to style: Pancakes

Hey! If like us you think pancakes are for any day, all year round, you'll love these recipes and styling ideas.

We have pancakes most weekends, so trust me these recipes are tried and tested! They're not mine - so I won't copy and paste them to take credit, you can find them on the links.

We will focus more on the photography techniques and food styling tips to help you shoot pancakes this Shrove Tuesday and all year!

 

As with any styling & photography, the first question to explore is; what do we want people to notice first, stay focused on or remember from the image? With food styling we have the added dimension of flavour too!

So what's special about pancakes?

Read more

food styling props stylist prop photography tips how to kit buy for sale online kitchen utensils vintage cutlery tray tin
November 25, 2020

NEW! Food styling and photography props now on sale in our store

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

Read more

NEW #bvsinspired instagram challenge - join in to win up to £100 in vouchers!
November 01, 2020

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

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.

Read more

How to use an infinity curve for food and product photography
August 19, 2020

How to use an infinity curve for food and product photography

Because you might be thinking ‘what the heck is an infinity curve?’ lets’ start with that…

In short, an infinity curve (or cove, or scoop) is created by using a single surface to create the floor and wall of your set, in a fluid curve.  Infinity curves are often permanent fixtures, built and painted in large studios for fashion, interiors and car photography, but they can be used to equally good effect for still life and product photography on a smaller scale, using curved paper, card or canvas as a temporary set up.

Infinity curves create a minimal, stylised, sometimes ethereal look.  They are best suited to straight-up product photography rather than lifestyle briefs that normally require a more natural look; sets that convey home life. 

 

 

Read more

food styling prop stylist recipe photography soup food backdrop background surface composition tips how to
April 07, 2020

Wild Garlic & Cheddar Soup Recipe - Food Styling 4 Ways

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!

Read more

Basic Food Styling Kit Essentials - 25 things you need to style food for photography
March 03, 2020

Basic Food Styling Kit Essentials - 25 things you need to style food for photography

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.

Read more

Blackcurrant cheesecake, 6 ways to style cake - a personal food styling and cake photography challenge!
July 17, 2019

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 :)

Read more

food styling tips photography how to style boiled eggs asparagus parmesan recipe backdrops surfaces still life
May 13, 2019

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!

Read more

Lebanese Lamb, Pine Nuts & Roasted Aubergine Recipe
May 09, 2019

Lebanese Lamb, Pine Nuts & Roasted Aubergine Recipe

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!).  

Read more