{inspired} the 4 S's of photo styling

While I was experimenting with styling our piece of driftwood, I thought it'd be a good opportunity to delve into Layla's 4 S's of Styling. I briefly mentioned them in my Haven recap post back in June, and have been meaning to expand since! The background is that I attended a session at the Haven Conference that featured Layla, her husband Kevin and their friend Josh. Josh and Kevin gave a fantastic talk about photography and Layla covered styling photos. It was a fantastic session. So many notes were taken :). One of the ideas I LOVED were Layla's 4 S's: skooch it, scorch it, swap it and stamp it. Let's take a look, shall we?

Skooch it.

The idea here is that when you're styling for photos, skooch things as needed based on what they look like through the camera lens -- NOT what it looks like to your eye. You can see in the photo above that the dishes come right to the edge of the wood and create a nice triangle with the glass.

But, if you were looking at the scene with eyes only, this is how the table settings looked. To get the look I wanted in the photo I had to skooch the wood way over toward the place setting leaving a completely unnatural space in front of the other place setting. Awkward in person; beautiful in a photo.

Scorch it.

This one is so easy. Make sure that any candles in your photos are either lit .... or have at one point been lit. Lit candles make a room looked comfortable and lived in.

I didn't leave the candles lit for the photos because they're were glaring in a weird way. But you can still see that they've been lit at one point. Nice.

Swap it.

Swap it is easy too. (Actually, what am I saying .... they're all easy. That's the beauty of these 'guidelines' ;) As you're looking through the camera lens, swap out anything that doesn't seem right. I started with a grey napkin on the place settings.

But quickly swapped it out for a pink napkin to add a little more life and color to the table. For both skooch it and swap it, the point is to look through the lens and adjust accordingly. A scene or room may look much different from the lens that in person and skooching and swapping allow you to create a beautiful, pulled together, vibrant and full-of-life photo.

Stamp it.

Lastly, in the age of Pinterest, make sure you set up at least one picture with a stamp in mind. A spot for you to label the photo so it's easily pinnable and identifiable on Pinterest.

Bonus photo tip.

One of the tips that stood out the most to me, beyond the 4 S's, was to layer photos with color to create depth. You can see in the photo above that I added a green chair so your eye doesn't come to a crashing halt at the grey brick wall.

To take it a step further, I added a bright green letter behind the chair. It doesn't draw attention to itself, but simply creates a little more depth in this scene. This is especially a good tip in full room photo. Add a touch of color across the room from the photos focal point to draw the eye deeper into the picture. Isn't that a GREAT tip?

Friends I hope this gives you some ideas for photo styling. Which tip resonates the most with you? Do you have a great photo styling tip? Please share in the comments!


  1. I always find these posts so interesting - especially since I'm quite the beginner when it comes to photography. I like the tip with the addition of the color (which is where you added the chair) - I think that's great. I also think that little pop of juice, punch, beer whatever it is in the Ball jar is a nice touch too. Breaks up the photo a little. I guess the tip I've learned a lot from recently is to constantly keep the eye moving, and I notice it all the time now - how photos are styled and objects are placed so that the eye is constantly moving.

  2. Great tips Jenn! And I LOVE the driftwood and how artfully you used it as your centerpiece, what time is dinner?!


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