Alt Summit Recap: On Photo Styling


One of the things I was looking forward to the most about Alt Summit was the Photo Styling class I had signed up for.

I was a little bit bummed because I had packed my DSLR and brought it with me to the class, but forgot all my SD cards in the hotel room (which was a 20 minute cab ride away). So I had to settle for setting up and then shooting with my iPhone.

The girls from Confetti Pop taught a great class and shared their insider secrets. Here are some of my favorite take-aways.

Materials to Have on Hand: 

Scissors: Functional ones and cute ones for photos.
Double Stick Tape or Glue Dots:  To secure stray pieces of, well, anything.
Dust Spray Can: To remove dust from your props and surfaces because dust is almost impossible to remove in Photoshop.
An Iron:  When you’re working with linens, you want to make sure they are pressed!
T Pins: For securing backdrops, etc.
Small and Large Binder Clips:  Also for securing backdrops and tightening loose clothing on models.
Gift Wrap:  To use as a backdrop or surface. Secure to a piece or wood or foam core and you’ve got a pretty backdrop!
Pastry Tweezers: To move stray sprinkles, confetti or to tug the corner of your table cloth.
Small Paint Brush or Paint Brush: For removing dust, stray pieces of confetti, etc.

Prop Shopping:

Cake Stands: Target, Home Goods, TJ Max or Thrift Stores
Pretty Scissors: Etsy, Michaels, Thrift Stores
Backgrounds: Paper, Boards, Gift Wrap or Fabric
Look for Items on Craigslist: Tables, Wood, Furniture, Etc

Maintaining a Budget

Michaels: Small Business Account, Coupons
Contributors: Be willing to ask people to borrow props, lay out all of the details, look at both bigger and smaller shops.

Other Tips

– Organize your props so you know what you have.
– Always roll paper and fabric – don’t fold.
– Brainstorm on Pinterest, research online + come up with plan. Start with a Mood Board.
– Figure out what sites you’d like to submit the shoot to before the shoot, not after.
– Use the rule of thirds.
– Keep your styling consistent so people know it’s something you created.
– Learn the stores that have your same aesthetic and use them.
– Use natural light to get your shots – and use foam core to bounce light back in.

After they talked about how to compose the shot and get  the lighting correct, we got to experiment with some fun props. I chose florals because I rarely get to work with them (our flower choices around here are pretty sparse). A few of my shots are above – and again, they’re taken with my iPhone so they’re not the quality I wanted!


I can’t wait to dig into planning my first real styled shoot, and I feel much more confident about doing one after these lovely ladies share their knowledge! Thanks Shauna and Maddy!


Leave a comment


  1. Tan January 31, 2013  4:58 pm Reply

    Fantastic! I've been looking for a roundup on this session since I couldn't make it. Photography is something I really struggle with, mostly do to horrid lighting in my home. These photos look great!

    • mariahleigh33 January 31, 2013  5:51 pm Reply

      Thanks Tan! I think we sat next to each other at a panel - you're too cute and so is your brand! xo.

  2. sheri January 31, 2013  6:17 pm Reply

    That was a great class - gorgeous pictures!

    • mariahleigh33 January 31, 2013  6:37 pm Reply

      Thanks Sheri!

  3. Sandra January 31, 2013  6:58 pm Reply

    Lovely recap! I've taken tabletop photography at Nicole's Classes but couldn't attend the styling class at design camp.

    Your photos are lovely even WITH the iPhone!

    Great tips - thanks SO much for putting this together!

  4. Mina January 31, 2013  7:40 pm Reply

    I think the pictures with your iPhone turned out great! Wish I could've attended that class. Looks like it was really good!

  5. corey February 1, 2013  7:32 am Reply

    thank you thank you thank you!!! i had to choose between this class and another and was heartbroken. i am so happy you re-capped it! love the pictures! cheers! corey

    • mariahleigh33 February 1, 2013  3:00 pm Reply

      My pleasure! The girls at Confetti Pop did an awesome job!

  6. Eden February 1, 2013  9:36 am Reply

    Thank you for sharing. I wanted to attend this class but had a scheduling conflict. Too many things at the same time. And you're being too hard on yourself, I wish my iPhone photos turned out as well as yours! So glad we got to meet in person.

    • mariahleigh33 February 1, 2013  3:00 pm Reply

      Thanks Eden! It was awesome meeting you too :)

    • mariahleigh33 February 4, 2013  9:59 am Reply

      Thanks Anna!

  7. Melanie February 2, 2013  9:14 pm Reply

    I was so sad I couldn't get into this class but you've captured it perfectly here. Thanks Mariah for sharing these tips! Lovely photo collage too.

    • mariahleigh33 February 4, 2013  10:00 am Reply

      Thanks Melanie! The girls from Confetti Pop were awesome!

  8. Shauna @ Confetti Pop February 5, 2013  3:25 pm Reply

    These pictures are lovely! I love that they were taken on an iPhone and turned out this pretty.

    • mariahleigh33 February 6, 2013  11:29 am Reply

      Thanks Shauna! Loved your class! xo.


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