Photo Styling Tips from Jessica Sturdy of Bows And Sequins

Photo Styling Tips from Jessica Sturdy of Bows And Sequins

By Jessica Sturdy of Bows And Sequins

Photo Credit: @bowsandsequinsHi guys, I’m Jessica from @bowsandsequins. I recently hosted an InstaMeet in Chicago to celebrate Dunkin Donuts’ newest treats for Spring, including Chocolate Chip Cookies, Blueberry Crumble Croissant Donut, and the Caramel Latte Square. It was such a fun (and oh-so-sweet!) evening getting to meet and mingle with fellow Instagrammers in Chicago. Since I was helping host the event, I was in charge of the photo stations. When the plan is to Instagram, lots of planning, styling and props are a must! When shooting food, having the right tools is immeasurable. Following are some key tabletop props that I like to have on hand to illustrate the products features and create mouth-watering images: 

  • You can never go wrong with marble slabs for photographing food! It’s the perfect white backdrop that doesn’t feel ‘flat,’ like a sheet of paper or poster board would.
  • When it comes to desserts, cake stands are another must for me. I love how they elevate the photos, both literally and figuratively!
  • Paper straws are always the perfect pops of color and pattern.
  • You can’t go wrong with mason jars! You can use them for drinking glasses, vases for flowers, and display for straws, ingredients, etc.
  • Flowers are always a must, no matter what you’re shooting! Have lots of colors and textures on hand.
  • I love a mix of girly things juxtaposed with natural elements. A great wooden surface is great mixed in with feminine cake stands, etc.
  • For this event, since we were focusing on making desserts using the DD products, mixing in loose ingredients such as chocolate chips, blueberries, sprinkles, and milk made the pictures that much more interesting!


 And now for taking the photos… Here are some rules and  best practices I like to live by:

 1. Composition

  • According to The Rule of Thirds, photographers should imagine (or edit) a photo as if it were divided into 9 equal pieces separated by two vertical and two horizontal lines. Lucky for us, that’s the same as a 3×3 Instagram. Create more interesting photos by placing the important elements of your photos along the intersecting lines. Or if you like to keep things symmetrical, center the object (or focal point) in the middle of the two lines! Tip: When taking a picture, use the grid option on your phone.
  • Keep your photos pretty by clearing up your photo-taking space. All “photobombs” should be intentional! (example: You’re taking a picture of product on your desk. No one wants to see the garbage can in the background.)
  •  Stage it! The best shots are geometrical and symmetrical, because eyes like simplicity in a busy photo.

      2. Lighting

  • Natural light is best! Take photos outside or next to a window for the best results
  • When the sun won’t shine: Use an overhead light and avoid yellow-toned lighting (aka tungsten) – it tends to create funky shadows. You can always borrow a friends phone and turn the flashlight on to fill in light where you need it, too!

      3. Find your style!

  • Developing consistency in your feed is definitely key for accumulating followers! People want to know what to expect when they fit the Follow button.
  • I personally like light, bright, and colorful pictures. That might not be your shtick though and that’s okay! Just keep it consistent. If you love black and white photos, but also vivid photos, figure out a formula and stick to it. (Example: every other photo is B&W or something of the like that looks good to you!)

      4. Props

  • Props are an Instagrammer’s best friends! I keep a handful of things around to liven up my photos and make them more interesting (and fun!)
  • If you’re photographing a recipe, maybe sprinkle some of the natural elements into the shot (i.e. chocolate chips, sprinkles, blueberries, etc.). If it’s a drink, maybe keep some photogenic paper straws on hand to use instead of a plain clear plastic straw. (Bonus points if you use the orange and pink DD straws!)
  • If you’re photographing your desk, add some colorful pens, paper, or business cards… Whatever makes sense!