Below are behind-the-scenes images from my recent styling work for major high street store Next – when I was asked to shoot their gift guide. Let me walk you through my Christmas styling and explain how to produce your own similar shots for your own blog or instagram or just for fun – so that you can be a pro-stylist at home.
I’m going to fill you in on how much work and effort goes into producing a shot like this one >>
In the business we call these type of shots ‘flatlays’.
These type of shots are a work of art which require time and styling precision plus a ton of special props. It’s a styling skill that you can learn all about in this post.
On my Next shoot, I was asked to style shots of gifts with splash of Christmas styling. Now, flatlays are what interior stylists call a shot that is taken from above on a surface (rather than a whole room shot or corner of a home). They show product in detail but they also have to flatter them too. Flatlays use a completely different skill set that is very unique. You would have seen lots of these types of shots on instagram or on beauty blogs – where they show product in detail shot from above.
Back to the shoot…
In August, I was asked by Art Director + Stylist Pippa Jameson to style the Christmas flat lays for Next Home for their extra special gifting guide. You’ll see this gift guide when you pop into Next store over the coming weeks in the run up to Christmas.
We shoot in August to give the Art team time to edit the photos and produce the gift guide.
The brief I was given was to shoot a selection of giftware (from men’s gifts, to home scents to Christmas jumpers). Every shot had to showcase Next’s products so that they looked luxe, desirable and ‘oh-I’ve-got-to-have-it!’
Before the shoot, I was given a brief from the Next team with inspirational visuals as well as a set budget to buy props for the six flat lays.
The props I had to buy were super specific:
A/ Not distract from the product
B/ Add texture and make everything look reallife
C/ Visually inspire and give that Christmas-ssy feeling
Think baubles, glitter, fairy lights, wrapping paper and a shed load of ribbons and string. Oh, and bubble wrap to stuff the products to give them a 3-d effect. All had to be sourced in the middle of summer. I spent a lot of time on-line ordering glitter in a heatwave.
Look at the stash of props that I need for these simple looking shots
The pinecones are my mums!
As well as the props I bought, I also packed my own props from my personal stash collected over the years all stored in my loft for times like these. I drove to the shoot in East London with a car load packed with baubles.
The shots are so different to style compared to say a room set or a house shoot. You have to have a really high attention to detail. It’s a masterclass in perfectionism.
I was teamed with photographer Penny Wincer. We got on so well (we’d not worked together before). She is very creative, talented and an inspiration! We’ve got lots of future projects planned as I love the way we work together.
Her camera is hung up above the flatlay (that’s several £1000s of equipment dangling in the air).
She spent the best part of three days up a ladder. Her focuses is all about the daylight – making sure that the shots look and feel on brand. She is my second pair of eyes on the shoot making sure that we create shots that are worthy of appearing in 1000s of Next stores.
The key to flatlays is place the items roughly into position – then take a shot, examine on the screen, then move props a millimetre. Then take a shot again. And repeat until I was absolutely happy.
These very ‘simple’ looking shots can take about 2-3 hours each. Why? Well textiles are ironed, steamed, then and artfully re-creased to look effortless. Then the backgrounds meticulously cleaned of any imperfections.
Now you have seen behind the scenes, you can see that every ‘lived in’ interiors photoshoot you’ve every seen in a magazine or on my Pinterest feed has been painstakingly built up and tweaked by a stylist so that it looks real but stylish.
I was styling the dark blue background painted in Stiffkey Blue by Farrow & Ball. And I shot all the sets on the same background so there was continuity.
At the end of this shoot the back of my legs were aching! As for hours on end, I was reaching across the giant flatlay to reach to the props. Most of my time was spend kneeling, crouching, stretching, carrying heavy boxes, climbing ladders… it’s a very physical job.
I put a ton of behind the scenes images on my Instagram stories – if you would like to follow me to see more of my shoots.
I was super-impressed by my assistant Rossanna who was my right hand woman on the day. (She did the ‘MY TEA’ logo on the chalk mug). We have since worked on another shoot for Lifestyle Floors which I’m going to post on here soon.
Rosanna is also a blogger – and wrote a brilliant post on 6 Signs That You’d Make A Great Interior Stylist based around what she learned on this shoot. I highly recommend you read her fab post if you want some ideas if you are inspired to become an interior stylist yourself.
So, what do you think?! Do you feel confident to style your own flatly ? Got anything to add to the list? Let me know in the comments below!
For more interior styling posts – check out Everything You Need To Know About Interior Styling and How I Became An Interior Stylist. As well as look at my latest cover shoot for Good Homes which you can enjoy here.
PS Add this post to your Pinterest so you never loose it! And don’t forget to share with you interior-loving friends.