Styling Photos : Part 1

I've been asked to write a blog post on how you can achieve better 'styled' photos of your crafts for Instagram and general online networking using only your iPhone (or other camera phone). So, I decided to show you several steps using a hank of beautiful alpaca yarn I recently purchased.  All photos were taken and edited on my iPhone. 
This photo is something I see a lot online. You get home from a days shopping eager to share your latest buys. It's often late in the day when the photo is taken, so usually the product is placed under an artificial light to get a better shot.
The artificial lighting casts all kinds of nasty shadows and an overall yellow cast onto the photo.
So, lets be patient and wait until the following day to take the photo in the exact same spot, but with all artificial lights switched off. 
This produces a much more realistic colour and gets rid of some of those nasty shadows. The yarn is where I left it, tipped out of the shopping bag on to my table. 
For my next step I have cleared the area around the item I wish to photograph. I've got rid of all the other items that were sitting on my table causing distraction. This makes the yarn the focus of my photo.
Already, in just a couple of steps my yarn photo is looking so much better! But, we can do even better :)
In this photo I moved my phone a little closer to the yarn to make the yarn fill the frame of the camera. This produces a good, clear photo of my yarn, but it lacks a little style don't you think?
For my next photo I searched the house for a small container that complimented the colours of my yarn. I took the photo (as with all the other photos) from directly above. However, because of the angle, you can't actually see that much of the lovely container.
So, I moved my phone more to a 45* angle so that part of the side of the container can be seen, showing off the beautiful complimentary colours.
Next I added a piece of old washed wood which also picks up on the colours of the yarn and container as a background to my photo. You could use anything you have available, a piece of patterned paper, a piece of fabric, a scarf etc.
I've also edited for the first time using the Snapseed app. I boosted the saturation and contrast a little. The whole set up was still on my table, which has a large window behind. Now I am starting to get a big variation in the lighting & shadows because of the window behind and because I am now photographing at a 45* angle.
For this photo, I picked up the whole set up and moved it into a shady spot, away from the window. Now I am getting a much more even light across the whole photo. This photo is now very useable. However, I decided to just back up my phone a little to give a bit more space in the frame on the bottom right of the photo so that I could introduce a new element. I added 3 pebbles, again picking up soft tones from the yarn.
All in all, this took me less than a couple of minutes to go from this to this!
Below, I've produced a little bullet point guide to help you when taking your photos. After a while this does become second nature and will help you make your photos more beautiful. Let me know if you try this out and I'd love to see your 'before and after' attempts!
  1. Turn off all artificial lights
  2. Move to a well lit but completely shaded spot
  3. Clear the area of additional clutter
  4. Fill the frame
  5. Consider using a container and/or complimentary props
  6. Change the angle if necessary
  7. Add a complimentary or contrasting background
  8. Boost saturation and contrast in a photo editing app


  1. This is a fantastic post, Anita. I learned a ton and feel inspired to go find something to photograph with my phone. I usually use a cheap, simple point and shoot camera for all my photos.

  2. Fab! Styled shots for me now on ;-)

  3. Lovely! I've read much about product styling for my etsy shop but never found a clear and concise guide like this. Thank you, I will definitely keep this in mind :)

  4. HID Metal Halide bulbs are very efficient and put out a white hue leaning toward the blue spectrum, which is a close approximation of sunlight. This makes the appearance of the plants more appealing, and the growth habit resembles that of those outdoors.

    Light So Bright