Behind The Scenes: Tips for Getting the Most Out of Every Styled Shoot

Behind the Scenes // Making a giant bouquet

Later this week, I’ll be teaching a styling workshop at Craftcation, so I thought it was fitting to sneak in the next Behind the Scenes post.

Today, I want to talk about going the extra mile with your work + getting the most out of every shoot. It’s not the most glamorous topic, but let’s be real, hard work is never all that glamorous. In fact, it can be downright annoying and tedious at times. But hey, that’s what separates the good ideas from the great ones. Spending a thirteenth hour refinishing a piece of furniture to make it ‘perfect’ or heading into borderline OCD territory by continually moving a donut 1/8 of an inch until you get the exact shot you were picturing in your head.

It probably sounds completely crazy, and it kind of is. BUT the craziness is worth it.

Color Block + Ombre Donut DIY

That said, here are my tip five tips for getting the most out of every shoot (whether you’re doing everything yourself or you have a team of people helping you)…

1. Consider everything. Don’t just pay attention to the product or DIY you are photographing. Consider all the details that surround it as well – the foreground, middle ground, background. Attention to detail is the redheaded stepchild of ‘done is better than perfect’. BUT I would rather spend an extra 60 minutes getting something that I am completely satisfied with than get done early and sit on the couch for an extra hour afterward. And I really like sitting on the couch.

2. Be okay with making changes. If something isn’t working, don’t be afraid to change it. Instead of spending another 20 minutes trying to ‘make it work’, switch things up. Move things around, try a different angle with your camera, etc.

I did this a lot with a project I created for Curbly recently for faux copper planters. It’s better to have too many options that not enough, right? I talked about options in the last Behind the Scenes post.

Behind the Scenes // copper planters project

3. Be okay with being a little crazy. To an outside person, it is going to look straight up insane that you are having a photographer shoot your outfit post right next to a busy restaurant (with people walking by who totally don’t ‘get it’). But that’s okay. If you get the photos you want, who cares!

4. Ask for what you want. This is the part where you put on your art director hat, if you want to get into fancy terms. If you’re working with anyone else (a photographer, a model, an assistant, etc) do not be afraid to speak up. This is a tough one – believe me I know. I definitely worry that if I ask a photographer to try a different angle or crop in a certain way, I might seem like a jerk. And that genuinely concerns me because as much as I try to fight it, I care what other people think of me. BUT the bottom line is, I’m not a jerk. I just know what I want, and as uncomfortable as it might be (especially when you’re working with someone new), I’m going to ask for it. Even if I apologize a zillion time while doing so.

5. Treat every photo you set up and take as if it were being done for your favorite magazine. This is the most important rule to remember. And it’s something I always have on my mind. Whether I’m taking photos myself or working with a photographer, I treat every project exactly the same – as if it is being shot for my absolute favorite magazine.

Behind the Scenes // Giant DIY Bouquet Shoot

Bouquet photos by Mary Costa Photography // All other photos by Brittni Mehlhoff

So here’s a quick story to reiterate all of these points, really quick…

For this flower shoot, I asked my friend Kelly if she would be my model. Obviously, she’s adorable and I know her pretty well, so I was comfortable asking her to make changes to her stance (Tip 2) and get poked with a thorn or two, if need be.

I raided her suitcase to pick out something that was neutral but complimentary to the flowers I was working with (Tip 1). But she didn’t have any shoes that matched the outfit I chose. I wanted to get a couple of full body shots, so I asked her to wear mine, as in the ones I was wearing at the time of the shoot (Tip 3 and 4). I crossed my fingers that they weren’t too sweaty (again it was helpful that we know each other for this one) and went without shoes until we were finished with all of the shots.

I asked Mary, the photographer, if I could go through the photos as we were shooting (Tip 4) to make sure we were getting what I was picturing in my head. And the whole thing went by smoothly. In the end, it was just a DIY for the blog, BUT it was just as important to me as a magazine shoot would have been. So, I treat them the EXACT same way (Tip 5).

Have your own tricks to share? I’d love to hear how you approach DIY and/or product shoots, in the comments below.

And if youre looking for more ways to create beautifully styled, share-worthy tutorials, check out my Skillshare class, The How To on How Tos: Creating Compelling Tutorials for your Blog.

15 comments | Click here to reply

These are great tips! I’m going to start using these when I put up more post. Thanks for the advice!

Kasey

Glad to hear that Kasey. Let me know how it goes.

Brittni

Brittni, I really appreciate these peeks from behind the scenes!

Bethany

Glad to hear that Bethany!

Brittni

Britt – I did not know those were your shoes! That’s so funny. I would have done the same thing – pray they weren’t sweaty!!!

Love your tips. 🙂

Lexy | The Proper Pinwheel

Haha Lex. Yep, the shoes are mine.

Brittni

Such good tips! And I love the final shot..so gorgeous!

chelsea

Thanks Chelsea. Mary takes such great photos, doesn’t she?

Brittni

Great tips, thanks for sharing!

Rebekah {aCricketSang}

Thanks so much for sharing these tips. I love your behind the scenes posts! I am working on taking product pictures for an online shop, and I was hoping to get your opinion on the backgrounds of product pictures. For blog posts, it’s ok to switch up the backgrounds, but do you think product pictures should all have the same background. I am struggling with this because My products are all different shapes and colors. I would greatly appreciate any advice!

Ashlyn

Hi Ashlyn. That’s a good question. This seems like more of a preference thing than anything else, but here’s my opinion…When I’m shopping for products, I like to look at both types of imagery. I think it’s important to keep a consistent look for your brand, so shooting products on the same background as your base shot (for lack of a better term) that will be shown first is probably a good idea. Then, add additional photos of the details and at least one styled shot in an environment. I know that sounds like a lot of work, and it is, but ultimately I think it helps to convince potential customers to buy your products if they’re on the fence. Also, it’s great fodder for bloggers who you want to promote your work- gives them more options, based on their preferences.

Here’s an example of a web shop that is doing this combination of photos really well:
http://www.fermliving.com/webshop/shop/spring-collection-2014.aspx

Let me know who it goes!

-Brittni

Brittni

Thanks so much for the tips! I’m always on the look out for inspiration and know-how on how to improve my product shots.

I love your final shot!! just my taste.

Take care,
Lisa

Lisa

Thank you so much for the advice Brittni! Your input was extremely helpful, and although it seems like such common sense to do both types of shots, it never crossed my mind.

Ashlyn Holmes

It’s great to see a behind the scenes post, especially for this flower bouquet as I loved the original post. The colours are simply divine!

Hope

Great tips!

Kait
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