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How photo stylism matters....

Last Summer, we had a photoshoot in our house in France for a New-Zealander and Australian magazines. Although getting a house ready for a photoshoot is beyond tiring - mostly because I always feel the camera is going to pick up every inch of dust and end up acting like snow white on my knees scrubbing the floor like mad - I like watching interiors photographers at work as they often share a few tips.
During the Grand Designs shoot, Chris Tubbs taught Elodie how to have her eyes open in a picture since she has been ruining a fair amount of good photos for years by having her eyes closed when everybody else on the photo is looking at the camera. The trick is to close her eyes, count to 3 and at 3 when she opens her eyes, the photographer takes the shot. Simple but it works. Chris also taught me how to strike a pose by posing with my profile and forearm towards the camera and creating the illusion that I'm fairly slim. It's just an illusion but Chris' B&W portraits of Elodie and I were the best shots we ever had.

Photographer Michael Paul was also very generous with advices on how to take better photos but watching him and his wife Kumiko style a shot, pay great attention to details and see how beautiful the end shots were, was a learning curve and it's really during that shoot, that I realized how great stylism could dramatically change the look of a photo no matter how talented the photographer is. Stylism is the cherry on the cake, the final small details that are going to bring a shot to life.

Leaving aside the lighting and the technique required to take a beautiful shot, I just want to show you how Michael's stylism made all the difference....
In the first two images I took in 2008, it's very simple....apart from the Familia mugs which I put at the forefront of the image as a pathetic attempt to style my picture, there is no stylism.

The blue photo montage on the right hand side of the cupboard was not a style effect done for the photoshoot. It was the look I wanted to achieve to give our kitchen cupboard a feel-good, beach theme all year long - a theme I carried out on the left hand side of the cupboard with family images a year later and it happened to work quite well visually.
It's also very easy to achieve...I got the cupboard from a second-hand shop for 20 Euros. With a bit of help from my father-in-law, we consolidated a few shelves, painted the outside in white, the inside in grey blue, a colour that reminds me of the Atlantic coast and cut out blue/beachy images from various magazines...Once done, I just filled it in with white crockery. The good thing about white crockery is that if something gets broken, you can easily replace them with bits and pieces from different styles. The mix of shapes and styles (you can even add off-white pieces and cream) will just add a pleasant, relax boho feel which I very much like.
So back to my picture, with no stylism, it's just an ok picture which shows a nice, visually pleasant photo montage...

Now look at the same cupboard shot by Michael...First Michael stood back to shoot the whole cupboard. Something I gave up doing because the bottom of the cupboard was empty and the blank space didn't look good.
Michael had the same problem with the blank space but filled in it by adding a white chair at the front (which actually stands on boxes to be raised to the right level). He also added a blue kitchen towel to break the whiteness of the bottom left corner and makes the whole image interesting. If you look at the image, your glance should naturally go from the left top corner where the family pics are to the blue imagery in the right top corner and naturally scanned the whole image back to the left bottom corner.
With just glasses, the top shelf would have been fairly plain with nothing really happening if Michael had not added a jar with silver cutlery. This metallic touch simply lifted up the whole area and made the shelf comes to live a bit more. In fact, this trick was repeated on the other two shelves below and if you hide the 2 jars and the silver candlesticks with your finger, you will notice that the whole cupboard looks a lot better, cosier with these metallic additions.
On the third shelf from the top (where the plates are), Michael added two mercure candlesticks from Cote Bastide to fill in the blank space above the plates. He actually put one candlestick on a match box to create an imbalance between the two and I think it works perfectly.
When I did this cupboard, my purpose was to have a functional cupboard in our kitchen which once closed looks like nothing but once you open it up, you would discover lots of beautiful, feel-good images of friends and family...and I don't know what you think, but I personally love Michael's shot because his style, his eye and technique have perfectly captured the effect I wanted to create and his stylism really made a difference.

Happy Mother's Day...After a gorgeous brunch, I'm off painting our guest bedroom listening to French radio...I know it doesn't sound too rock'n & roll but it works for me. Have a great Sunday



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