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Building a Styling Prop Collection

Lesson 18 from: Craft Photography Fundamentals

Candice Stringham

Building a Styling Prop Collection

Lesson 18 from: Craft Photography Fundamentals

Candice Stringham

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Lesson Info

18. Building a Styling Prop Collection

Next Lesson: Creative Backdrops


Class Trailer

Session 1


Introduction to Craft Photography Fundamentals


What Your Visuals Say About Your Brand


How to Become a Photographic Author


How to Use Natural Light for Your Product Photography


Setting Up Your Photo: The Basic Rules


Becoming the Viewer to Take Better Photos


Shooting 3 Setups: Creating the Backstory with Images


Lesson Info

Building a Styling Prop Collection

So building a prop collection. This is where those words are so, so important, and those colors, and how you wanna represent yourself. Because I have a whole closet full representing like, the different brands that I help. So, different drawers go with the different brands. But luckily, you guys, hopefully are working with one brand and you can invest in one set of props that are going to work with you. So, this is like, My Mind's Eye drawer. Everything I've talked about, like glasses, perfume, lipstick, rhinestones, like, things that I know our customer likes. They don't necessarily compete with our product. I'm not gonna like, buy paper clips from Kate Spade if we're selling paper clips, right? Even though they are girly and cute and I want them, they don't go with us 'cause I'm not gonna put something competitive in my images. Also, you see like a cake server 'cause we're always doing party stuff. So, a pretty cake server. So I'm thinking all the time when I'm out shopping, does thi...

s fit in my brand? Would this be a good investment? Okay, so I do tons of stationary shots, obviously, between both companies and so I have lots of different options on pencils and pens, those are inexpensive props so I can get a lot of those and it's not gonna hurt my budget. We've got our paper clips, different varieties of those. Just different office supplies so I can do a desk set in minutes. I just pull that out, pull the tray out, lay everything out, add some flowers and now I have a really nice fake desk. Okay, and this is my favorite brand of drawers. So now everything is brighter, and a little more geometric, and fits that brand. So some basic kits. If you are interested in like, photographing food, you would come up with just a basic kit. White dishes are pretty much applicable to anyone. So, that's where I would invest, right? I might buy some more expensive white dishes than I would normally because I know I can use those over and over again. So, that's where I'm gonna push in my money as far as styling goes. And then the little accessories I can just, I don't spend as much because they're not as important and I'm not going to be using them as often. So, you can see here a nice glass set, various napkins. And the thing I love about napkins and silverware if this is something you're going to be propping with is you can always find napkins in like, the clearance section of anywhere because once there's like, one left, then they're not gonna sell them and so they put them on clearance and you only need one, that's the beauty of this. And same with silverware. You can find those at antique stores, flee markets because they only have one or two sets and so they can't really sell them. And you only need one set, so it's a great place to look for silverware inexpensively as well as cloth napkins. If you are a crafter, and you're showing a lot of process and you're styling the creative part, the paper part, then you wanna invest in things that relate to that that you know that you can consistently use over and over again. And these are neutral, so no matter what I'm crafting, no matter what color it is, it's gonna work with it. Same with like a bathroom. If I sold a lot of bathroom products, I might invest in white washcloths. I might invest in you know, a really beautiful bottle. Or, just things like that that can be in the background and give it the bathroom feel, but don't compete. So these are just things that I use on the daily basis that are just like, little things that help. So, blocks. So I can make things higher or shorter, especially when I'm doing a top down. One of the ways that I make a subject the main character is by making it higher than everything else. Because then it's like a little bit bigger and it really stands out. And so I'll use a block underneath that specific item to make it pop. So blocks I use all the time. Okay, a spatula, a paintbrush, I use a lot just whether it's cleaning things off or actually painting and details. Or things like that. Scissors, just handy. Q tips, good for cleaning out if you have something messy. Tweezers, the syringes are more for food. The spray bottle if I want to make something look slick or glistening or cold. Frogs, we'll talk about this again. Clamps, clamps are also really, really handy for holding up boards. You just put a clamp on each side and now you have like a little stand. Double stick tape 'cause you always need tape. And paper towels. Okay, these are not cute, but these are, out of all of those things, these are things that I think you need for a basic kit. Frogs, tape, blocks, clamps, hot glue. Okay, so we've already said this, they stop, see, it used to be longer, you can tell this is on the first slide. But I wanted to show like, here's the props, there's the image, there's where we set it up. You would never know that we were in a yellow kitchen photographing this beautiful, clean image. There's two more that we did from it. Okay, so I put this here at the end of this slide 'cause I wanted to talk about this with branding and why styling is so important. So, the chef in the three of us at Handmade Mood, there's me, and Sarah, she's their chef, and Amanda. And, she, Sarah, decided that she would accept this sponsorship from a tuna company and Amanda and I were like, we're more on the aesthetic side and we're both like, what? And part of the rules was we actually had to photograph the can of tuna and it had to be in the blog post. And we both were just like, oh come on, like, a can of tuna? Like, it's not that we have anything against tuna, but does it really fit our brand, right? Like, are we gonna convince people that we're serious about this post, right? Or that we're just trying to make money, 'cause that's not good. I don't ever want that to be the way the way that I run a blog. It's bad for blogging. But she was like, but no, but I have this recipe and I really wanna use it. She really wanted to do it, and she was really excited about this recipe. So she did, but we had to come up with a way to photograph this tuna can so that it matched our branding. And so we did it in our kitchen set. That's on the marble, there's some white dishcloths, some silverware behind it, just really blurred out. And a white foam board in the background. And come on, is that not like the most beautiful can of tuna you've ever seen in your life? I was so excited when I took that, that like, I was like, I could hang this on my wall, I'm so good! But the thing is, it didn't really follow the rules of what they had given us. Like, here's our brand, here's how it looks. Well they took this image and it was on Facebook, and it was on all of their social media and we got thousands of hits. And that was not part of the deal, it's just that they loved what we did, because it felt like us and our audience loved what we did because it felt like us and it felt authentic. And that was all in the styling. And so it just becomes really important to style in a way that is authentic to you and to your brand. So, I don't even know how many times I've said brand today, but it's a lot, 'cause it's important.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Creating Visuals For Your Brand Assignment
Slide Presentation for Lessons Part 1
Slide Presentation for Lessons Part 2
Prop List

Ratings and Reviews

a Creativelive Student

This class taught by Candice was amazing. She teaches in such a step-by-step, easy to understand pace. She shares so much of her own tips and tricks she uses to create beautiful images without spending a fortune or having all kinds of expensive equipment. Having the DSLR lessons included was really great for anyone who wants to do more than the camera phones are capable of. Learning the basics of how to use a DSLR is confusing for most people, but Candice broke it down in the simplest way possible. Social media is all about imagery, so if you want to put out the most beautiful eye-catching photos, then you want to learn how to use more than the camera phone. I don't have a business where I need to take photos of things I sell and I still enjoyed her class so much. As a photographer, I am going to use her ideas and insight when I photograph things for fun. There is so much to gain from this class. I would highly recommend taking her class. She is a wealth of great ideas and information and has that friendly personality of someone you'd want to sit and have coffee with.


A wonderful class to get you going with craft/product photography. Candice provides (and shows) fantastic examples and it's really fun to watch her work through a shoot, moving items, etc. to create the final image. She also covers some basic photography tips which is very helpful. Great class! I definitely recommend to others!

Melinda Malamoco

I loved this class! Candice is so personable, clear and relatable. I would want to hang out with her and be creative! I have been taking pictures for YEARS, and for my Etsy store for over two years, and I still learned a lot in her class. The lessons are set up in a way that you can follow, take what you want and don't worry about what you don't need. I will say that I got a TON of ideas for how to better display my brand, what my personal style is and how to be consistent with it. I so recommend this class for anyone who has small business or just wants to be able to take better pictures of their products. Okay, off to build a prop kit!

Student Work