10 Photo Styling Tips from The House of Brinson

There were so many things to do at Alt Summit that I was having trouble narrowing it down. The Alt Summit team came up with such interesting seminars, round tables and design camps that I was going a little crazy. When my friends Susan and William Brinson of House of Brinson let us know they were holding a photo styling design camp, I knew I had to attend. Will is an amazing photographer who’s been featured in the New York Times, House Beautiful, Architectural Digest and so many more publications. Susan is pretty a pretty stellar stylist and schooled us on the styling dos and don’ts. Also, they have a super cute love story.

Photo Styling tips by House of Brinson

The Brinsons have a signature style which mixes old and new and they play with light and dark often in their photographs. Their style can be seen in their photographs as well as in their daily life. Their NYC live/work space embodied the light and dark elements perfectly, and they’ve just moved to a country house which their are designing similarly.

Photo Styling tips by House of Brinson

Here are the tips:

  1. Branding consistency: Figure out your signature style and perfect it. Use it across all platforms including in your personal life. If someone sees a photograph with your style, they should know it’s coming from you.
  2. Build a prop closet: Once you have your signature style you can shop for props accordingly. Because the Brinsons are fans of old and new things they have several vintage pieces to work with. The duo also advises to paint a few background boards, front and back to keep in your arsenal.
  3. Shopping: Unless you are shooting an entire tablescape you don’t need an entire set of things. Pick up 1-3 matching dishes for a shoot, you probably won’t need the entire set of 10 or 12.
  4. Color: Susan cuts out paint chips to create color palettes for their photo stories. This helps when styling the shoot, to make sure you’re going in the right direction.
  5. Styling tips and tricks: If something looks wrong or off, it’s probably the scale. Other things that could be wrong: contrast, composition and angle.
  6. Lighting: Use natural lighting whenever possible. We’ve heard this before but after watching them shoot in real time I really see the difference. Natural lighting is key!
  7. Shooting: Use a tripod. I’ve been pretty lazy about buying a tripod but I’m going to order one this week. You can’t get the perfect shot when you’re hand keeps moving!
  8. Practice: Keep playing with the props and keep photographing. Practice makes perfect. Susan was cutting up fruit and pulling the stems off of flowers while Will was shooting and reshooting. Obviously these two know what they are doing so they have to shoot less than the rest of us. Since everything is digital we can shoot as much as we like and pick the best later.
  9. Resources: The Brinsons shared a few resources with us that are great for building your prop closet. They look to antique stores, goodwill and salvation army, discount bins and IKEA when sourcing for shoots. They also stop by local prop houses when they can.
  10. Flowers: Since flowers are such an important part of most photo shoots the Brinsons advise shopping at the wholesale flower market. It’s easier to work with perfect flowers than retouching brown spots of droopy flowers later on.

{images via William Brinson for House of Brinson}

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  1. says

    I love their work and have followed for ages! For more on photo styling you might also want to look at Holly Becker’s courses on Blogging Your Way. I’ve learned so much about photography and blogging….
    Libby recently posted..INSTAGRAM FUN THIS WEEKMy Profile

    • Tina Ramchandani says

      Thanks for stopping by Libby. HOB’s photographic style is so compelling! I’ve taken Holly’s classes and they are wonderful!

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