Saturday, January 13, 2018

Styling And Photographing For Instagram

vintage teacup styling, vintage teacups, vintage styling, flowers and teacups, styling with flowers and teacups, tea and roses, vintage tea and roses, tea and dogwoods, tea and magnolia, tea and daisies, tea and ranunculus

Hi friends! If you are an Instagram user, you may already be aware of the fact that there are a few analytics applications that will calculate the top nine images liked by your followers, friends and other Instagram users in 2017. I used the app called and the image shown here is the result of the algorithm doing its magic.

It's interesting to take a walk down memory lane - both figuratively as in the act of looking back at images which hold symbolic meaning and literally taking a walk along an old familiar route, retracing steps from another time.

Both of these activities have occupied my mind lately.

Recently I had reason to walk about a mile to catch a bus. The route was familiar as I used to walk it most weekdays, including during the time I got my first iPhone. Back then I was already versed in photography and having a camera phone opened up my curiosity for learning a new way of taking pictures. I would look around as I strolled along the city streets, seeking out interesting subjects to capture with my new camera. As I retraced that route last week, memories of those days came flooding back and I was thinking about my journey through still life photography and Instagram.

I discovered Instagram soon after I started taking photos with my phone. Like so many others, I began sharing my images there. I was inspired not only by the gorgeous and interesting portrayals of everyday life, but also by the snippets of conversation. People were talking to each other from all over the world! Before long I found a great community of women who were sharing their styled photos of flowers, tea, coffee and other bits of everyday life. They call it 'faffing' which is an English term meaning to spend time doing something that is not important instead of the thing one should be doing. It has gained greater significance though as a calming meditative process that helps to cultivate a relaxing mind.

Intrigued by this artistic community, I decided that I was going to learn still life 'flat lay' iPhone photography. There's something about this style of photography that taps into the ancestral memory. To create an image that is both in the present but yet evokes symbolic and emotional memories of the past piques the curiosity of the viewer. You can't help but want to stop and peer into this moment in time and engage with the objects - search out the familiar, see what resonates and find your own memory locked within. No wonder prop stylists are always on the hunt for new and interesting items to add to their collections!

At the same time, it truly is the art of placing objects. Those everyday things that are familiar to us and have meaning and context in our lives suddenly transform into objects of art. You find yourself considering size, shape, and quantity, and thinking critically about color, style, composition, unity, proximity. There are so many elements to consider, ponder and get frustrated over. But this is an invaluable exercise for developing the artistic eye. It's not easy for most of us and does not happen overnight. Similar to any creative endeavor, one must dive in, keep going, resist the urge to compare yourself to others, and take breaks along the way.

Thank you for letting me share my styling and photography journey thus far. If you would like to share yours, leave a comment or visit me on Instagram.   


  1. I loved reading this and couldn't agree more about the value in this kind of 'faffing" I think of instagram as an incubator for creativity.

  2. Elizabeth,

    Thank you for reading. I agree - the importance of developing creativity is key.


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