Monday, 15 May 2017

TEN props to use in instagram photos

photo styling props for instagram

One of the main reasons I love instagram, is that it allows me to practice styling. You see it quite often in magazines and blog editorials – stylists aren’t just limited to clothes.

I absolutely love adding props and creating little dioramas, collecting props and displaying them in a pretty way. A lot of photos you’ll see are staged and I guess some people may feel a little cheated at this. But just like makeup can enhance a face, adding extra bits to a scene can make that photo go from a good, to a great. I know a lot of artists have ‘prop boxes’. For me though, I just use what I have dotted around the house, but charity shops and car boot sales are a great place to look for ornaments and props that don’t break the bank. Here are ten ideas for how to style your photos.

1. Plants

Adding greenery is a great way to add extra colour and freshness into your photo. It adds an element of life and growth, as well as being pretty! Vases of fresh flowers or even just cacti and succulents, they add height and vibrance to a plain photo.

instagram prop ideas

2. Drinks

I love adding a mug of tea or coffee to a shot, and it’s a great excuse for drinking an extra cuppa! This adds in a human element too – it reminds the viewer that there’s a person behind this photo and solidifies your brand as being personal. You don’t have to be limited to hot drinks either (though a hot chocolate with cream and marshmallows definitely looks comforting!) Tall cups, beakers or glasses also look nice in the background of a shot – especially for that ‘lived in’ look.

instagram photo styling ideas

3. Snacks

I feel like the inevitable comes after drink – food! Cake is always a beautiful thing, and when added to a photo it just makes the whole shot even more scrumptious! Obviously not all food looks appetising, but things like cookies, fruit and sweets add colour to your shot and won’t melt while you’re playing photographer!

insta blog photo ideas

4. Ornaments

This one is definitely one of my favourites! This is quite a broad category but a great way to add some of your personal style into your photos. Things such as book ends, photo frames, ceramics, patterned boxes, vases and candles look lovely in the background of a photo. I usually use these to dress an image that just needs something else – usually to enhance the main focus of what I’m trying to shoot, but have that soft focus interest in the background.

how to style instagram

5. Your hands!

Just like the drinks, this definitely adds a human element to your photos. I like to do this now and then, because it shows I’m the creator behind the profile – and as someone who is a little camera shy, this is enough to show viewers I am there! I was in a twitter chat the other month and a couple of creators said that photos with hands showing results in more likes – so it’s definitely one to try if you haven’t already!

social media prop ideas

6. Notebooks and books

I really like this one to add some height into the background of an image. It’s good to have things on multiple levels, and books in the background add interest, colour and depth. I try to choose books that don’t have distracting covers, and often line them up with spines showing, or have them lying down in a stack. I also use plain covered notebooks behind a piece of paper, or have it lying open to show some of my scribbles and notes.

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7. Stationery

Ahh, another fave! I’m sure we all have plenty of stationery lying around that can be added to a shot. I like to add this when shooting a desk scene, showing works in progress or behind the scenes. I often like to use media that have been used when creating the artwork, such as coloured pencils or tubes of paint places strategically to the edge. Pots of pens and pencils add colour, as do the many rolls of washi tape we all hoard. Mini binder clips and paperclips also add interest. You can also draw the viewer’s eye to your point of interest if you place it around the edge of the focal point.

photo styling props

8. Wallpaper samples

A bloggers secret staple – using wallpaper for backdrops! Don’t worry if you don’t have any pretty work surfaces – any grubby old table can be hidden using these. You can get lots of different wallpaper styles from DIY shops and many look like wood, brickwork or even lining paper if you’re after something plain. I like to use clean white surfaces for styling products, so I bought a white table top from Ikea that I grab whenever I need it and it can easily be placed by a window for good lighting. Plus, I don’t have to rearrange and clear my messy desk every time I want a photo!

instagram ideas

9. Seasonal items

When Christmas comes around, I love adding in candy canes and baubles to style up my photos. You can also use love heart sweets (and heart shapes in general, of course) around Valentine’s day, seashells in the summer and crisp coloured leaves in the autumn.

how to style photos

10. Lighting

Not a prop but an essential element when photographing, is lighting. Just like a prop can add interest and emotion, so can lighting. A dark, moody photo can dramatically change the look of an image than a brightly lit one – even if the subject is the same. Harsh shadows can be used to your advantage if you’re after a sultry, mysterious photo. Though I tend to go for light and airy, instagrammers such as Sara from Me & Orla and Marte Marie Forsberg do this wonderfully.

It’s totally up to you and your personal choice as to how many props you want to add when styling photos. You can pair it back if you’d like your focal point to really stand out, or add lots of items if you’re showing a specific scene.

Is there anything I’ve missed off the list? I’m always in awe of the variety of photos you see on social media and how intuitive people can be when showing something off!

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

an instagram chat

Instagram and blogging

A chat about Instagram
And a plan...

I like Instagram. I’m a very visual person so an image-led social media platform is clearly going to tick my boxes, and I know I’m not the only one. With the algorithm changes, and the recent inundation of spam comments and bots, it’s lost it’s charm in terms of follower engagement. There’s been a lot of articles written about the issues lately - from how to spot spammers and users using automated likes, to the new outrage that is shadow banning.
I know we're all struggling with engagement - I don't think I've seen anyone praising the algorithm changes (at least on my timeline), and most are battling against it. Followers go up slowly and then drop in bunches, comments are harder to come by and likes are slow to arrive.
I've felt discouraged about it, and that no matter how much I try to improve my content, engage more and focus on this social platform, it doesn't seem to make a dent or a difference. BUT (Don't worry, there's a but!) I love sharing photos. I love the process of drawing and setting up the flat lays, and 'showing off' what I've created. I like sharing my work, even if the audience isn't huge. I like having a portfolio and a page that just showcases my photos.

With that in mind, and as hard as it is, I'm going to try not to focus on numbers. I know that as someone who is planning on launching an online business, and as a freelancer who has to promote her work on the internet, this is probably not what is advised. The thing is though, I don't want to fall out of love completely. Sometimes, focusing on numbers (and especially if you're doing all you can to boost them) takes the fun out of creation. I'm mostly focusing on Instagram here, because for me, that's my most 'formal' social media. It's my portfolio, and as a creator who designs and illustrates, it makes sense that the most visual platform is the main draw. Twitter is more for communication and random thoughts, though I do have Instagram linked to post there too.

As well as focusing less on the numbers, I'm planning to focus on others instead. I love that feeling when I get a genuine comment (not one of those generic emoji thumbs up), or a thoughtful message. I notice the people who always like my photo, every time I post. As the engagement and general feeling about Instagram is on the negative side, I want to at least share a bit more love. I'm trying to comment on posts more, discover more artists and smaller instagrammers from the tags and the explore page, and leave meaningful comments. I want them, and the people I follow, to know I appreciate their content and find it inspirational - even if the general consensus of likes are down. I know I am only a small fish in a very large pond, but a thoughtful comment outweighs the spam bots hugely. It's not much, but I urge you to do the same.

It seems a bit counter-intuitive to round off the post with some self promotion, but if you did want to follow my creative endeavours, you can find my on Instagram right here: katie_moody

I'd love to hear your own thoughts about it all - have you fallen out of love with it? Are you posting less now the numbers are more difficult to come by?

uk blogger instagram chat

Sunday, 2 April 2017

The Stable, Southampton - review

The Stable Southampton
southampton soton blogger
places to eat southampton
The Stable restaurant review

The Stable

As I mentioned in a recent post, Southampton has seriously upped its foodie game in the past few years – with multi-million pound investments to various parts of the city, the new restaurants mean there’s such a huge choice if you’re looking for somewhere to eat. Though I’m usually found eating in the West Quay Watermark, we ventured up to Guildhall Square last week to eat at The Stable. This is known as the Cultural Quarter, and there are some lovely restaurants as well as my favourite coffee house (Mettricks) up here. I’ve been to The Stable before, but we were invited to try their new menu recently and we very gladly booked a reservation.

The Stable is a very refreshing restaurant experience – there are a lot of places serving food in a deliberately American style, whereas The Stable focuses on staying local. Starting nearby in Dorset, the simple concept was born – fine food and cider. It’s a brand that has grown across the South and it stands out from the rest – it really does have a very friendly atmosphere and the food is all locally sourced. So, depending on the restaurant you visit, the ingredients will be different – and it’s a refreshing, honest approach to food that I love. The new menu includes some additions that started out as specials, and were so popular, earned a permanent residence. They’ve also added new pizzas, salads, charcuterie and cheese sharing boards as well as the arrival of The Stable’s first house ice cream – made especially for them by a farm based in Devon.

The Stable in Southampton has an industrial mixed with countryside living feel – high ceilings and elements of metal mixed with wooden walls and plants. We were seated on the mezzanine level and it was perfect to be able to look down at the people below, as well as being a little more separate from those who were just coming for a drink. The amount of choice of Cider on tap is certainly a cider-lovers dream, and definitely a selling point of the place. The Stable seems like a place you can come for drinks and a chilled out atmosphere, as well as place you can come with family if you fancy some pizza. After perusing the menus (the lettering, styling and touches of gold foil were much appreciated by us designers), we ordered at the bar. The queues cleared very quickly with the staff behind being very efficient, and we were back at our table in no time at all.

We started with the garlic bread, and goodness, this was far too easy to eat! It was really thin and crispy, slathered with delicious garlic butter. Graham also had an Ashridge Devon Gold cider, which he said was lovely and very smooth.
I’ve eaten a pizza there before, so this time I opted for the The Lamb Bamb Boogie pie. It was delicious and the pastry very light and crumbly, served with a mountain of salad and some chunky potato wedges. Graham had ‘The Big Jerk’ pizza, which is a new addition, and loved it – jerk-chicken, bacon, red peppers and mozzarella on a thin base.
For pudding, we tried the new ice cream. You can choose three scoops from their five different flavours, as well as the choice of crushed nuts or raspberry coulis toppings. I’m a huge fan of ice cream and it’s the perfect pud if you fancy something sweet to finish on that isn’t heavy.

For a Friday evening, it wasn’t packed out but pleasantly ‘buzzing’ – basically, the perfect size for everyone to do their own thing. Whether you’re after a night out necking some cider (they offer cider tasting boards which are great if you fancy trying a few) or just a romantic evening eating some good food, The Stable is a great bet.

A big thanks to The Stable for inviting us to try their new menu.

Pizza at The Stable
new menu
southampton food review blog

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Top Scrapbooking decorations

top scrapbooking decorations

You all know I love scrapbooking by now (you can find my past posts right here!). If you’re new to scrapbooking and have visited Hobbycraft, The Range or some online stores before, you may feel a little overwhelmed. There is A LOT out there. There are so many paper collections, embellishments, a huge variety of standard things like adhesives, as well as stamps, inks and all the things in between! I thought I’d write a post today sharing my favourite pieces that I use for decorating my scrapbook layouts.

scrapbooking essentials uk

Letter Stickers

Letter stickers are one of the things that I hoard and seem to have the most of! My collection is quite large but you definitely don’t need lots. Hand lettering makes great titles, so don’t feel pressured to use stickers for everything. If you’ve visited Hobbycraft, they have a rack of letter stickers called ‘Thickers’. These are £4 a pack so pretty expensive, and I only buy these when they’re on sale. Homesense and TK Maxx are a great place to look for cheaper stickers, as well as Hobbycraft’s own range. I even found some ‘Thickers’ in B&M for less than half the retail price so keep your eye out. You won’t know the brand once they’re on a layout anyway! Some of the cheaper letter stickers have adhesive that may wear off, so I’d recommend attaching them with an extra bit of glue.


Again, you’ll find a huge range of these in most shops. Instead of using letter stickers for titles, stamping is a great alternative. I have a few different alphabets with different fonts and all varying sizes so they can be used as large titles or subheadings. If you’re using wooden block stamps, remember that it can be a little tricky to get everything aligned straight. Clear stamps mean you can mount the letters onto an acrylic block and create a neater finish, if that’s what you’re after.

I also love using roller stamps – usually between £2-£4 each depending on where you buy them. The sentiments are small but they are good value, and I love adding these to my Project Life spreads in particular. Generally they come with dates as well as phrases and symbols.

In terms of ink, I find cheaper inks work fine if you’re stamping on to matte paper. If you’re stamping onto a glossy finish, Stazon is an acid free ink that is less likely to smudge. Another tip if you’re using acrylic stamps, is to rub the surface with a rubber first so it takes the ink better. It gives a much better stamped result!

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Project Life cards

I have a large range of Project Life cards, but they’re not limited to this purpose. You can make some lovely layouts using PL cards as decoration too! I’ve used them in grid layouts, as well as layering pieces. You can also cut them up so they’re smaller or cut around the sentiment on the card. Project Life cards generally come in a huge kit, so you’re likely to have plenty spares. That means you don’t have to be so precious with them, and it opens up a huge amount of possibilities when you see them as decoration, not just for pocket scrapbooking.

Die Cuts

Finally, my absolute favourite decorations to use are die cuts. These usually come in packs and are all cut out for you, but I’ve made my own before too. A lot of scrapbooking paper is patterned and I often fussy cut around the shapes to make embellishments (and it’s also much cheaper). I have various dishes on my desk for the smaller shapes, and then larger boxes to hold the bigger die cuts. They add instant interest to your layout and give a professional finish.

Is there anything you’d like to add to the list? Pop them down below – I never need much of an excuse to add to my growing stash!