Styling with Stella

AGC’s co-founder offers her top tips for styling an interiors shoot.

Design couldn’t be more of a subjective topic. However, although there are certain technical skills that can be taught to aspiring designers to give them the edge, when it comes to styling and directing photoshoots, a different skillset is required and sometimes you can’t quite place why something should be 1cm to the left!

Here are my top tips for being a top notch stylist at shoots.

Always style for the camera lens. Great Designers will know how to present a room to the person entering it, however, the camera sees something completely different. Collaborate with your photographer to achieve the best angle and once you know your frame, style the space based on what you see through the viewfinder. To the naked eye, the arrangement might be very out of perspective and odd, however the camera will take a very different picture.

How to frame a shot. I tend to focus as much on the blank space as I do the filled in space to ensure it feels balanced. Lighting and shadows are also a key factor so ensure that you understand how the sun effects the property throughout the day so you can prioritise the shot.

Theme. For editorial shoots you may wish to consider props instead of just decorative accessories and ensure that your styling reflects the character of the property. Also, imagine who might live there. What do they eat? What are their hobbies? What do they read? How old are they? Do they have a family? What are their hobbies? What are their aspirational brands? This will ensure that your portfolio is cohesive throughout .. but don’t overdo it! Less is more and placements need to be realistic.

Simple but significant. Choose substantial accessories that make a difference. Small insignificant items create clutter and don’t add much and hollow pieces like clear glass vases won’t make an impact .. plus you will need to fill them!

Focal Point. Always remember the purpose of the shoot and what you are trying to sell. Avoid focal points such as TVs and toilets and ensure that a fresh eye is directed straight to the prize.

Consistency. Your portfolio will need to flow. If you have made additions to your styling on shoot day, say to a coffee table, make sure that the items are featured in all shots that the coffee table is featured in. Also think about your Window Treatments, these are great and soften any photo but if you have treatments open in one shot, ensure they are open in them all.

Quality not quantity. Spend your time capturing the killer shots and not capturing images for reference. There’s only going to be a few you will want to see in magazines and want people talking about so don’t detract attention with an abundance of secondary shots.

To be symmetrical or not symmetrical? Very good question! I believe in a-symmetry. I love to group items in odd numbers and differing heights and shapes for contrast. But if you want to be symmetrical then stick to it. After all, it’s subjective!

Lamps off. Unless you a shooting a lamp catalogue, let your photographer take care of the lighting and enhance best areas without beaming orange light into the room

Blooms. Flowers inject life into a space but depending on the lifestyle of the occupant, the scheme and the architectural elements they just might not be needed. I prefer to keep any arrangements simple, sophisticated and understated made up of one or two colours … if I had my way they would always be cream or green!

Attention to detail. Is your reflection in the mirrors or windows? Are plugs and wires hidden to the best of your ability to make post-editing easier? Are zips facing down on cushions and are matching patterned materials all facing the same way? Look and look and then look again.

Flow. When you create your portfolio think about how it flows. It’s good to take your reader on a journey from start to finish. Remember to maximise those Killer shots and let the order of your pages make the viewer make sense of the property layout.