Food Photography, Lifestyle Photography, Wedding Styling

Why I Believe Intentional Styling is Effective Storytelling

In the last decade, there’s been a movement around being “real” and the “authentic.” And there’s something kind of freeing about seeing that, isn’t there?

The #Authentic Movement

Thanks to others posting on snapchat about their their real lives, I know that I’m not the only one who hasn’t showered in 5 days or who’s kitchen is a danger zone! Thank goodness for that!

But from a creative sense, “real” photos seem kind of obvious to me. We all look different without makeup. Our homes all get messy. Yeah, I can relate to that.

But when it comes to artistry, I believe that just sharing what’s real can be an easy way out.  Sure, I can relate to things that are real, but in art as in life, I don’t just want something I can relate to, I want someone I can connect with.

Why I believe in Intentional Styling

This desire is the driving force behind why I believe in intentional styling. I’m not trying to portray some unattainable life I wish I had. It’s not about impressing others or giving a false idea of reality.

I believe in styling because I want to tell a compelling story by highlighting what’s real in a way that makes you feel something in your heart.

Here’s an example: I styled this scene after I spilled flour all down the front of my jeans while I mashed up bananas for banana bread. I want to share the story of that moment. If I just cared about being real, I could have taken a snapshot of my spilled flour and talked about it, but I felt there was more to the story.

In an image, I wanted you to feel my yearning to make a cozy home for my beloved family. I wanted you to sense how I tend to overthink things and make a mess. And I wanted you to understand how I don’t always get it right, but just how beautiful things still can be. 

Intentional Fine Art Styling For Clients

When I take a photo, I want you to feel like you know something about the people represented in the image. I want you to understand their story a little more than you did before you saw it.

This is the heart of our approach when I style things for our clients as well. I listen first, understand them, then tell their story through images.

I’m working with a chef on a cookbook. She had shared with me what drives her to cook. She wants to welcome people and encourage them and she uses food as her tool to do that. So as I styled for her, I worked to tell the story of her having just stepped away from her food preparations to answer her door to welcome and hug her arriving loved ones.  I wanted you to feel her warm spirit, understand the strength and welcome in her hands, and look forward to the delicious appetizer she had prepared.

For my brides, I’m not trying to turn their details into some idealized version of perfection, but to tell their story. Why did they choose their color pallette? Where did this heirloom bracelet come from? How did he propose with this engagement ring?

Shelby surrounded herself with her beloved mom and her bridesmaids. They calmly sipped champagne and chatted as Shelby’s butterflies began to flutter. She had such a delicate sense of romance and anticipation about her getting ready time and I wanted to capture that in the way I styled her getting ready details. How could I tell the story of her lovingly laying out her wedding heirlooms and details in her suite, giving the viewer a sense that she had just stepped out to answer a question or find a friend? That's the challenge I gave myself in this set.

I could just show the real. I could show you the flour covering my pant legs, I could post my no-makeup-pajamas-all-day days (which you know I do on Instagram stories.) But I find joy and life in finding ways to express the feelings those moments evoke in a beautiful, impactful way.

So sure, do show what’s real. But don’t stop there. Draw me in. Tell me a visually compelling story.