bloglovinBloglovin iconemailfacebookFacebook iconinstagramInstagram iconlinkedinLinkedIn iconpinterestPinterest iconrssRSS iconsoundcloudSoundCloud icontwitterTwitter iconyoutube bananaBanana graphic bananaleafBanana leaf graphic bird-with-leavesBird with leaves graphic blue-chocolate-popsicleBlue chocolate popsicle graphic blue-popsicleBlue popsicle graphic cactus-flower-topCactus w/ flower top graphic cactus-pink-topCactus w/ pink top graphic cactus-yellow-topCactus w/ yellow top graphic cherriesCherries graphic coconutCoconut graphic coffee-cupCoffee cup graphic firecracker-popsicleFirecracker popsicle graphic flamingoFlamingo graphic frozen-bananaFrozen banana graphic kiwi-popsicleKiwi popsicle graphic kiwiKiwi slice lemon-wedgeLemon wedge graphic lime-wedgeLime wedge graphic orange-popsicleOrange popsicle graphic pineapplePineapple graphic pink-chocolate-ice-cream-popPink chocolate ice cream pop grahpic pink-ice-cream-popPink ice cream pop graphic pink-popsiclePink popsicle graphic pink-sundae-conePink sundae cone graphic pink-swirl-conePink swirl cone graphic pizza-slice-basilPizza slice w/ basil graphic pizza-slice-olivesPizza slice w/ olives graphic pizza-slice-onionsPizza slice w/ onions graphic rainbow-swirl-coneRainbow swirl cone graphic rainbow-waffle-coneRainbow waffle cone graphic strawberriesStrawberries graphic strawberryStrawberry graphic sunSun graphic text-helloHello text graphic text-shine-onShine On text graphic text-yayYay text graphic watermelon-largeWatermelon slice (large) graphic watermelon-smallWatermelon slice (small) graphic

True story: when I was a kid I used so say that I wanted to be a food photography stylist. I’ve always been fascinated by the lengths stylists will go to create “the shot.” I think natural selection had something to do with the fact that I never made it as a food stylist…because let’s be honest…if there is food around me, it’s getting eaten…not photographed.

Styling photos for Damask Love is definitely my favorite part of the job. I love coming up with creative props that can make a photo more interesting. If you’ve read Damask Love for a while, you know that my photos are very “proppy.” I use a lot of “stuff” in my photos – that’s just my preference. There are plenty of other blogs that take the “prop-less” route and the outcomes are beautiful.  For today’s installment of “The Non-Photog’s Guide” I’m sharing my approach to props and photo styling. None of what I say here is a hard and fast rule, rather my personal approach. To develop this post, I literally just sat down and looked through two years of Damask Love photos and “studied” my own styling and prop habits. I categorized them and I’m here to give you a few of my own ideas on the topic.  I hope you find this information, helpful!


ThePropRoomIf we’re being honest, I am obsessed with props. If I had my druthers, I would sell all my worldly possessions, buy a cot and move into the prop room at Martha Stewart Headquarters in NYC. They can just stick me between the cakestands and the candlesticks. I promise, I’ll be quiet and I won’t bother anyone!

Given my penchant for props, I am constantly adding them to my collection. Now, I certainly don’t have a Martha-style stockpile, but I have a few pieces that serve me well in my blog photography:

MyPropswithTextThese are some of my most used props for blog photos. You probably recognize a few of them from photos on Damask Love. Generally, I take a four seasons approach to props. I like to have a few pieces that fit in each season of the year. My roll of craft moss and artificial peonies are perfect for spring. My pumpkins and artificial autumn leaves (not pictured) are two of my favorite fall themed props. Of course, there are also plenty of year-round props, like crates, buckets and my trusty chalkboard that comes in handy all of the time!

Click through to see the rest of the post and all the photos hat I have for you!

There’s a lot that goes on behind-the scenes of a blog photo. Personally, my photo shoots are a big mess…


There is a method to the madness though…I promise! Here are a few of the things I consider when photographing for Damask Love:

Props-That-Make-SenseI am always fighting the urge to throw my favorite props into every photo. I have to remind myself that sometimes my favorite props don’t make sense in the photo. I try to think of the theme or spirit of my focal item and create a photo that jives with that theme. Here’s an example:

Props-that-Make-SenseWhile I do love both of these photos, the springtime, country feel of the focal item makes more sense in the bottom photo. The wheat stalks in the first photo remind me more of a fall, rustic scene – so as much as I love them, I just have to save them for another photo.

Make-a-MessI love the look of a little chaos in my photos. Makes them look a bit more organic. Confetti,  for example, can look great scattered throughout your photo, but if you just plop it into the photo, chances are it will just look messy. This is your chance to “make” your own mess…


Prop-YourselfYou’ve probably heard the suggestion that you should include a bit of “nature” in photos. I love to do this with flowers or fruit. Even if they are artificial, they still give the look of something natural…something that “breaths.” You can take this to the extreme and include something that breaths…literally…yourself! Photos that include hands is a big trend in product photography, so I’ve just recently begun to consider it to be a useful approach for photos on Damask Love. Here’s a comparison….

Prop-YourselfBoth photos show the exact same product, but by including my hand in the photo, I can include a bit of “human-ness” to the blog and show that I’m involved in each part of the process.

Go-With-What-You've-GotAdding a bunch of props to your already filled home may not be on the top of your to-do-list. I get it. A few weeks ago, I purchased some huge birch branches to use as props…and now we have a ginormous “tree” in the corner of the craftroom. There are plenty of options for props that you probably already own. Take a look around and see what you’ve got…use it…play with it and see how you like the result.


TheStylingSolutionThere are tons of prop-tions (get it? Prop Options?!) – and once you’ve settled on the props for your photo, there are some things you can consider when it comes to styling.


Anchor-the-Focal-Item Anchor-the-Focal-Item-Sample2Anchoring the focal item can provide structure and contrast to the photo. I try to do this as much as possible. Even something as simple as a piece of cardstock can anchor your focal item.

CutItOutThis is one of my very favorite techniques for styling, and I didn’t even realize it until I studied some of my old photos. Chomping a bit of the photo can make things more interesting. To me, it creates an extension of the photo beyond what the eye can see. There is something “more” happening in the photo when it’s slightly cut off.


Cropping out part of the photo can also give the eye some direction about what to look at. In this photo of the books and bookmark, the first photo includes full shots of the books – and consequently the eye focuses on the books rather than the bookmark. By cropping out the books some, they are still recognizable, but the eye focuses on the bookmark first – which is the focal item of the photo.

Fill-The-EdgeSo – after sifting through two years of photos, I now realize that I do this all the time! If you take a browse through some Damask Love posts, you’ll notice this technique throughout.

Filling the edge of the photo creates flow and continuity. There is a cohesive scene rather than a focal item that sort of floats in the middle of the photo. Of course, this is a matter of preference, but I really love the look of props that peek in from the edge of a photo.


The-Lived-In-LookCreating the “lived-in” look with product photos is the same idea that realtors use when staging a home. Creating a “lived-in” look gives readers a complete “idea” for the item in the photo. They can see what it’s for, they can begin to picture it in their own homes. The “lived-in” look gives purpose to the item in the photo.


For this DIY editorial calendar project, the first photo does a great job of showing you the project, but there is something missing. By adding a few of my craftroom elements, the editorial calendar now has a “purpose.” You can see how I use it and begin to think of how you might use it, too!The-Lived-In-Look

The same idea works for this wreath calendar. Alone, the photo allows you to focus on the details of the calendar – and of course this type of photo has it’s own important purpose…maybe for the tutorial portion of a post. The lower photo shows the wreath “in action” and allows readers to envision this project in their own space.The-Support-StaffThere are all sorts of random tools you can use to give lift to your projects. I do this all the time. In the final photo, you don’t see all the elements, but they are very integral to the shot.

With this rustic holiday gift bag, I used a camera lens to prop it up. The final photo is much more interesting than if I simple photographed the bag laying down.


When shooting these tags, I used an acrylic block to prop up the middle tag. This adds depth to the photo and also tells the eye which of the tags to look at. If I had photographed this tag flat along with the other, the eye would focus on each of the elements equally. By propping up the yellow tag, it gets to be the star of the show.Supporting-Staff-2MoreTipsHeader{ASK!} Many of my props are items that I’ve gotten for free by simply asking! When I go to Pottery Barn or West Elm, I ask about the props that are being used in displays. Sometimes, the employee or manager will tell me that the display is being dismantled and I can come by to pick up some of the elements in the display! SCORE! Give it a try – of course you may get some crazy looks, but it has worked for me and it can definitely work for you!

{OVERHEAD SHOTS} Straight on shots from over top the focal image are popular in blog photography. I use them a lot for my cards as well as photographing the supplies in a tutorial or the elements of a card kit. One thing to remember when doing this: make sure all the items are lined up neatly! One slight tilt or item out of alignment in a row will jump out in an overhead photo.

{THE LIVED-IN LOOK FOR STATIONERY} When photographing cards, you can create a “lived-in” look by simply adding an envelope to the photograph. I do this in many of my photos and I think it creates a complete package and show exactly how the card can be packaged up and given away to a friend!

Thanks for making it through today’s post! I hope it’s been helpful and that you’ve picked up a tip or two that you can put to use in your own blog photos!

ETA: 6/19/2013

{HOW TO USE THESE TIPS}: The content of this post is intended to serve as instruction and inspiration for your own blog photos. It is not permission to duplicate the photo styling that you see here on Damask Love. I work hard to produce photos that are identifiable and represent this blog. Thanks!


  • Love the comments on “cropping clearly” in this post on DesignSponge
  • Take some time to visit the great links in this post from Decor8
  • Centsational Girl offers many of the same tips that I mention here, along with some additional ones that you’ll appreciate.
  • $15 will buy you an hour with super-duper photographer Justin Hackworth who is partnering with Alt Summit to offer a class on how to take photos for your blog. The class offers plenty of time for asking questions, which I love.
  • Pencil Shavings is a great blog…only made greater by this post all about styling products for photography.

Keep on crafting with these other posts

57 thoughts on “How to Take Blog Photos: Props & Styling

  1. When taking photos for a blog, you’re probably thinking of the visual aspects. But there’s also a lot of other stuff that goes into it—like styling.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.