How to include fresh flowers in your flatlays and not break the bank!

I don’t know about you but I always feel more at home when I have fresh flowers in the house. Though in my home, flowers don’t stay in the vase for long! I’m always asked about how I can afford to include so many fresh flowers in my flatlays. Well the answer is pretty simple really...I keep them in the fridge to prolong their freshness! I learnt this trick off one of my Instagram idols @HumphreyAndGrace and I haven’t looked back since. I shared it recently on my Insta stories and I was inundated with messages so I thought I would write a quick blog about it and answer some of the common questions.

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Off with their stems...

Yes, I do cut off their stems directly under the flower before I refrigerate them but this simply is a personal preference. I find they sit better in my flatlay without their stems, and this also makes them easier to store in the containers. This is certainly not necessary though. It’s all dependent on how you will eventually use the flowers in your flatlay builds.

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You use what?

In terms of containers, I use my Tupperware containers because I find the little vents are handy for adding some air ventilation if needed but honestly you could use any plastic container really. I don’t think it’s a deal breaker if you prefer to store your vegetables in your Tupperware instead and use the Chinese takeaway containers for the preservation of your flatlay flowers...completely up to you!

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To water or not to water...

I generally don’t add any water. I may give them a little spray if they are looking a bit sad but I have found that the condensation in the container is enough. I have also found that if you add too much water they do start to go mouldy. When I first started I did use moist paper towel on the bottom of the container but I have found that this isn’t worth the extra hassle either.

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The best of the bunch...

Recently I have been using Ranunculus because they are in season here in Australia and they are perhaps my all time favourite flower to flatlay! I’ve found that they don’t last as long as other flowers though, perhaps because of their delicate nature but I can still get a good couple of weeks out of them!

My most successful flowers to have on chill would have to be roses. Obviously it does depend on the freshness of the flowers but if you source the freshest of roses they can last for over 4 weeks. I have thrown some roses away because I simply grew tired of using them in my flatlays!

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So there you have it, a simple way to include flowers in your flatlays without a trip to the flower market every other day!

Happy flower faffing! Marisa xx

@Marisa.Young








Less is more: How to refine and simplify your creative aesthetic for visual clarity

We’ve all heard the saying ‘less is more’ and, although there is no single origin or definition of this phrase that we know of, it is most often interpreted as taking a minimalist approach to design which will inturn maximise the clarity of the output.

While most frequently used in reference to design and architecture, this concept can be applied to all of the creative choices we make. From dressing ourselves on a daily basis, to decorating our home or composing that next snap for Instagram. Each step of the process can be curated and refined to obtain a more simplified and practical result.

Although it sounds like it should be easier to do less, the art of refining our choices can often be more difficult. To help you apply this philosophy to your own creative aesthetic, we are going to discuss a few easy ways that you can incorporate the mantra of ‘less is more’ to different areas of your life.

Embrace simplicity

Many popular design trends are inspired by the tapering back of unnecessary decorative elements to focus on form and functionality. Although creativity doesn’t always need to be functional it can help to think about ways to clarify the message or narrative you are trying to tell. Simplifying the elements of your composition can assist in clearer visual communication and increase the chance of your vision resonating with your audience.

Try not to overthink it and focus on the core message of what you are trying to achieve. Founder of Third Boi apparel Bianca Latorre says that when it comes to designing “it’s often almost more challenging to create something beautiful and original whilst resisting the temptation to over do it.” It helps to take a step back from your creation and question each element - does it help strengthen the story or does it distract from it?

 Keeping it simple at home. Photo by Lisa Lee featuring logo sweat from Third Boi.

Keeping it simple at home. Photo by Lisa Lee featuring logo sweat from Third Boi.

Use a limited colour palette

Experimenting with colour is a beautiful and powerful way to express yourself creatively and a simple way to clarify your vision is to reduce the number of colours you are working with. Although, applying a minimalist mindset when it comes to colour choice doesn’t mean you have to stick to classic monochromes or neutrals.

You can still make bold colour choices and experiment with prints or patterns, as long as you stick within a select range of complimentary shades. Working with a restricted palette can also enable you to focus more on other elements of your composition and make more deliberate choices when it comes to design, shape and hierarchy.

 Using a restricted colour palette doesn’t mean you can’t use bold colour or prints. Photo by Lisa Lee featuring her favourite items from Third Boi.

Using a restricted colour palette doesn’t mean you can’t use bold colour or prints. Photo by Lisa Lee featuring her favourite items from Third Boi.

Curate your collection

Whether you are styling your home or a photograph it is important to know what you want the focal point to be and then minimise the surrounding distractions. Trying to work with too many elements can be overwhelming, so start with just your hero piece and then see what else you need to incorporate to complement it visually.

Taking a simple approach to your home decor or fashion choices can result in a more elegant aesthetic where individual elements are able to be appreciated more. When items are given room to breathe they can be better recognised and celebrated for their unique design and architectural details.

 Reduce clutter to increase your creative clarity. Photo by Lisa Lee

Reduce clutter to increase your creative clarity. Photo by Lisa Lee

For the avid photo stylist it can be hard to part with props that you might want to use one day but clutter can be a creativity killer. The Marie Kondo approach to possessions is if they don’t serve you, they would be much happier to serve someone else. This philosophy is handy for focusing on what you actually need and identifying what is worth keeping on hand. Prioritising only what is truly beautiful or is needed for functional reasons can help simplify daily decision making and leave more time for creativity.

Maximise negative space

Experimenting with negative or white space as it’s often known can be very liberating. We are often tempted to fill up any space we have - whether it be hanging art on walls, decorating coffee tables or the filling the full frame of our camera. Knowing which areas to leave intentionally blank can often take a lot more consideration than simply utilising the entire area at hand.

There are many design theories, such as the rule of thirds or the golden ratio, that explore different ways to use negative space within art and photographic compositions. These methods support the notion that in order to be visually pleasing a composition must strike a harmonious balance between positive and negative space.

Considered use of negative space can also help you draw the eye of your audience directly to the hero or focal point of your space. By leaving the surrounding area intentionally blank or clear you can direct your viewer right to where you want them to look. This simple technique works for many creative applications of design, decoration or styling and results in a more dramatic impact.

Interested to read more on this topic? You might also enjoy our blog post: When less is more, finding freedom and fulfilment by living simply

In Summary

When we focus on doing less we are more deliberate, measured and present. We can prioritise what is most important and ensure quality over quantity. This results in a more fulfilling outcome for many people and there are a growing number of movements that support this ideology from slow living to capsule wardrobes.

Not everyone can find satisfaction in a minimalist lifestyle but when it comes to your creative expression incorporating less obstacles for your audience to visually interpret will enable you to more clearly communicate your point of view. Don’t make them work too hard to appreciate the story you are trying to tell or to admire the beauty of your artwork. Simply put - a more minimal approach can help maximise the effectiveness of your visual narrative.

Top 6 Ways to Creatively Frame Your Photography Subject

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Framing isn't just for finished art work - it is also a clever way to compose your image before you take it. Whether are you are photographing people, places or objects, there are many creative techniques you can to draw your viewers eye right to your subject.

Creative framing can help add drama and impact, set the scene and balance the hierarchy and aesthetics of your image. A frame doesn't have to be a traditional box or hard edge, you can frame your image with organic shapes or any type of line that helps visually direct your composition.

Here are our top creative ways you can frame your photography subject for more impact:

Using kitchen items such as trays, plates and boards

This is one of the easiest and most effective framing techniques you can use in your images. Plates, trays and other types of serving ware make excellent frames for photographing table top or flatlay scenes. Simply by placing the items you wish to photograph inside a larger item and shooting from above you can create an instant framing effect for your image.

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It doesn't have to be just for food or kitchen related photography, other household items like clipboards, books and linens can be used to achieve the same effect. Think about how you can contrast the size, colour and shape of your subject with the background prop you are using to frame it.

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Creating a frame with flowers, food or other objects

Arranging a collection of complementary items to form an edge or arc around your subject is an eye catching way to showcase the hero of your image. This technique is very popular in product styling because it allows you to add context to the item you are styling while adding visually pleasing elements to your image.

 Image from creative campaign for Global Nature Australia, styled and photographed by Shelley J

Image from creative campaign for Global Nature Australia, styled and photographed by Shelley J

Your frame doesn't have to be a square or rectangular shape it can be any arrangement of objects or decorative elements that help showcase the hero of your image.

 Framing two ways using florals by Marisa Y 

Framing two ways using florals by Marisa Y 

 Framing two ways using florals by Marisa Y

Framing two ways using florals by Marisa Y


Using Negative Space

Leaving large areas of your image intentionally blank is a great way to draw your viewers attention right to the focal point of your shot. By adjusting the hierarchy of the elements within your photo you can make even the smallest object stand out. 

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The 'hero' of your shot doesn't have to be the largest element of your image. With clever framing you can create an elegant composition where your subject can still shine without dominating your photo. 

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Working with shapes found at home or in architecture

In your own home windows, doorways, shelving or even baths can make great frames for composing your image. Taking advantage of existing shapes in your house and neighbourhood is a simple and effective way to frame your shot. Look around and see what shapes you can find in the structure of your home and also in your furniture.

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Using buildings and their framework is also a very impactful way to photograph people and places. There are so many amazing architectural shapes out there in the world, look for shapes, contrasting colours and interesting elements of the places you go that you can use to create more drama and highlight the focal point of your photo.

 Creatively Squared founders Ruth and Scott on holiday in Hoi An, Vietnam

Creatively Squared founders Ruth and Scott on holiday in Hoi An, Vietnam


Reflecting your subject using glass or mirrors

You can neatly frame your photography subject within a mirror or reflection. This technique allows you to compactly display a portion or your shot within the existing frame of your reflective object. 

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On a larger scale you could even use the other half of the reflection to complete the frame and completely surround your subject matter. Think about what half a frame might look like and how to continue the effect on a reflective surface.

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Looking through a phone or glass

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Framing your photograph through a looking glass, your phone or viewfinder can put an interesting twist on your image. Some glass items even reflect your image upside-down which can add a surprising and whimsical element to your photo. At home you could experiment with photographing through a fishbowl, vase or wine glass - even your reading glasses could make an intriguing frame for your shot.

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Using an actual frame

Traditional rectangular shapes or picture frames themselves can be used in creative ways to compose a visually interesting images.

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Use an old photo frame or create frame shapes out of tape or other household items. This is a really cheap and effective way to frame your shot and can be used on horizontal and vertical surfaces.

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Alternatively you could arrange boxes or trays to get the same effect as a photo frame, this will create more depth to your image and allow you to consider more angles and orientations for your photo.

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Are you up to the challenge of creatively framing your next image? Join our 'In the Frame' Instagram photo challenge and you could win some great prizes! 

For more creatively framed photo inspiration check out our Pinterest board
 

Interior style tips: How to transform your space using art prints

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How do you style prints in your home? Do you stick to larger pieces that make a statement? Or do you use art to make your space feel tranquil and relaxing? In our home, its all of the above. I have prints that I have selected for their calming qualities and I also have prints that we have chosen for their “wow” factor. Each space in my home is different and as a result, the art we have chosen for that space must be styled differently. The perfect print can transform your space, if styled correctly.


How exactly do you do that?? I would love to give you the perfect answer, but I am still searching for it! What I can give you though, is a few tips and tricks that I have come across to help you to style your prints in different spaces in your home.

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Shelfie

You can spend a huge amount of money on the perfect piece of art for your home but will you like that art piece in 12 months’ time? I am constantly changing over prints in our home, especially on my favourite styling tool – my mantle, because I get sick of seeing the same piece over and over again. For this reason, I don’t buy lots of expensive forever pieces, the majority of my art has been sourced from affordable online print stores. This allows me to change up my art every few weeks to change the look and feel of our home without breaking the bank!

Most of the frames that I use on my shelf are from Adairs. Their gorgeous timber gallery frames
come in a range of sizes in natural or painted finishes. Their frames can be leaned against a wall or attached with permanent hooks or 3m command strips (perfect for renters or those who like to frequently change things up!). The Adairs frames can also be used time and time again without the frame fixtures wearing or breaking. Don’t be afraid to add and layer multiple prints on your shelf. I love to layer 2 – 3 different prints in varying sizes, usually sticking to the same theme.

After I have selected my print, I add my decorative items in varying heights just to the side of the print. Decorative items can include candles (my personal favourite), vases (with or without real or faux flowers), stacked books, greenery, marble décor, jewellery cones etc.
I always try to add an odd number of homewares if they are to be grouped together; my number of choice is usually 3. I like to group my items in a triangle arrangement – the largest item is first at the back, the next in size is placed to the left and moved a little forward and the smallest item is put in the middle of the other two items, but again moved a little forward to create the triangle.

Once you have arranged your items, step back and assess whether you are happy with the way it looks. Does it feel balanced? Are you happy with the colour and tone? Is there enough space between your items? You might need to move things around, swap over décor items until you are happy with the way the space looks and feels.

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Bedroom

We chose a large piece to hang above our bed, but there are no rules about the number of pieces you should use or their location. Framed prints can also be leaned on picture shelves above your bed, hung above bedside tables, or larger pieces can be casually leaned against a wall. If you have multiple pictures on the same wall, they can all be brought together cohesively by using the same colour or style of frame.

Size matters! Bigger is always better. Artwork that is too small can look lost and disconnected in the space. There are a few factors to consider when choosing the perfect piece - bed size, ceiling height, bedhead height, room lighting etc. Your artwork should measure at least half to two-thirds of the bed below. And prints should also be hung at least 15cm above the edge of your bedhead.

Less is more, adding too many pieces in a bedroom can make the room feel cluttered. You don’t need to have art on every single wall in your room. Try and keep a balance between art and bare walls to promote calm and relaxation. No need to overstimulate in a room where the goal is to relax and sleep!

Choose a piece that matches the style and colour theme of your room, including the furniture and bed linen. We had already selected bed linen, cushions and throws to match our winter colour scheme before we purchased the print now above our bed. The grey quilt cover and euro pillows are from my favourite linen brand Aura Home (Vintage Fringe Linen). I added extra charcoal pillows to add depth and some cushions that match the cream and natural coloured throws I have at the end of the bed. I found our print online (The Print Emporium) and I couldn’t believe how perfectly it matched my winter colour pallet! It has completed the space and given it a balanced and cohesive feel.

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Living Room

In our living room we have large statement pieces. They range in size from 50x70cm to 100x140cm. Larger framed prints should be hung at eye level. The mid-point or centre of the framed print should be between 57-60 inches (roughly 152 cm) from the floor. Go for the lower end of the range if your ceilings are low or if your family is on the shorter side (that’s us!). In rooms with higher ceilings, art can be hung a little higher.

I have a plant under each print in this room. I loving adding greenery indoors – I have fiddle leaf figs, rubber leaf plants and a monstera (Adairs have a great range of faux plants if you are a notorious brown thumb!).

My main print in this room sits right next to my entertainment unit so I have styled the space with more homewares and personal photos. Here I have also arranged my decorative items on a tray. When your items are grouped on a tray the space looks less cluttered as your brain is more likely to see it as one element in a space rather then seeing the items individually. It gives a more organised and less cluttered feel.

Ultimately print selection is going to be based on your personal preference. Only buy art that you love. My final top tip would be to stalk your favourite Instagram accounts. Nothing better than seeing how other people have styled art in their own homes.

Scandi-style ideas for a kid's room

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Designing a kid's room from scratch can seem like a daunting task, but it can be so much fun too. Having curated my son's room over the past few years, I thought I could share some of my stories and key tips for a Scandi-style kid's room.

1. Room theme

I know it sounds like a cliché, but kids grow up so quickly... I actually think Harvey may end up taller than his six-foot-three dad! He is growing so quickly, and he sometimes has the attitude of a teenager. I am sure you all know what I am talking about. So make sure you keep that in mind when deciding on a room theme and design - it should continue to evolve over the years as your little one grows. For our Scandi room, we painted all the walls in a cool grey that will never age. We decided on feature wall decals of a classic winter Scandi forest to add a unique element, which can be easily be peeled off when he grows out of them.

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2. Lighting

We are lucky as this room gets plenty of natural light so we’ve included sheer curtains to allow the natural light to filter, and a block out roller blind for sleeping.

As a typical boy, our little man loves dinosaurs. I still laugh when I think about the time I was flicking through Insta, and Harvey was peering over my shoulder. All of a sudden he let out an almighty roar, I nearly spilled my coffee all over my lap! I realised he was looking at a really cool pic of a wooden dinosaur light. So yep... I had to get it for his birthday a couple of weeks later.

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3. Furniture

As difficult as it can be sometimes, you don’t want to fill the room up too much - a cot and nursing chair take up quite a bit of space especially if the room is small. When it was time for the cot and chair to move out, we opted for an extendable bed which will grow with him. It also means he has room to make a lot of mess. So much mess! Actually... maybe we should fill it with more furniture to stop that, now there’s a thought?!

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4. Scandi prints

There are so many cute Scandi themed prints available, at very reasonable prices. I'm always switching prints around as I style his room for photos, it keeps it fresh and changing. I am not sure how much he actually notices or appreciates it, but at least I do. White and wooden frames are definitely my favourites. A question for all you mums out there - last September my husband put up a Richmond Tigers Premiership poster on Harvey’s wardrobe door.... when am I allowed to sneakily rip that down, surely it's time?

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5. Decor & Keepsakes

Lots of beautiful wooden toys have been added to this room, they are all such good quality and will last forever and hopefully be treasured and passed down to the next generation. Our Write to Me baby book is always on display with my favourite memories and photos and often features in my photos, along with many other treasured items.

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6. Storage solutions

In keeping with the Scandi theme we have a beautiful set of wooden drawers jammed packed with, yes you guessed it, lots of white, grey and black clothes (I can get a little Scandi obsessed, I know). A shelf is always a great idea for storing books or for the little trinkets you don't want small hands to touch, lots of keepsake storage boxes or toy boxes can help to hide toys away and our wooden wheelbarrow is great for storing books or blankets.


Kelly is the guest host of our 'Moments That Matter' themed photo challenge this week. Find out how you can participate here - Creative Challenge Entry Details

You can see more of Kelly's beautiful Scandi style on her Instagram account @myscandistyle

Passport packed: How to capture inspiring images on your next travel adventure

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I am usually known for my pastels & foodie shots but wanderlust was once my middle name and it was actually on a 6 month hiatus to Kenya I discovered my passion for photography now the rest is really history. I like to now think of myself as an occasional wanderer and LOVE how the excitement bubbles inside whilst I am scrolling through my feed, archiving dreamy destination shots on Insta, pinning the top 10 foodie must eats, and scrolling through Airbnb likes its the new Vogue living mag. Creating content while you’re on the road is a whole different kettle of fish and I thought I would share with you my top 5 tips to taking amazing shots whilst on the road!

1. Tell a story

I must admit that I do take some props from home on my journey. I love taking a net bag to carry groceries in, a linen tea towel usually in pink, and a couple of my favourite accessories like a monogrammed pouch or a boater hat as they all tie the story back to my own brand. Also, a great way to tell your travel story is to collect up ticket stubs, travel guides, hotel pamphlet, cool little post cards and even cardboard coasters… you can use them to create flatlays on the go and add a personal touch to your images.

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2. It’s ALWAYS about the light

And hotels don’t always have the best light so sometimes you need to get creative! We’ve all ogled those incredible “on the bed” shots with the beautiful big windows and views for miles. Most hotel beds are of course pushed up against a main wall so sometimes we need to relocate the “bed” to the window/view/balcony to make the most of the light! I love to take my room service shots on my “faux bed” by the window. Simply relocate the bed sheets/pillows to a table or the floor near the window, add some texture to the sheets and use the beautiful props you’ve brought from home or collected on your journey to create the scene and tell your story. As the light can be a bit unpredictable on the road I always have my Pentax K-3 DSLR, Sony Cybershot DSC-RX100 and my iPhone 6s (soon to be upgraded) on hand!

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3. Do your research and plan

I love trawling through Instagram, Pinterest and Airbnb before I visit a destination and mark off places I want to photograph. As a freelancer my budget doesn’t always extend to the beautiful hotels I love to photograph BUT the good thing is most hotels have services open to the public and this allows you to get some nice shots without the expense. My best example is my favourite pastel hotel in Cape Town - you can pay $600+ for a room per night or you can enjoy their incredible high tea with dessert buffet, unlimited scones & tea, and you can then wander the beautiful grounds for approx. $35! 

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4. Don’t be fooled

You may have seen the insta famous spot in a street just off Venice Beach, California. I dragged my sister from Weho all the way down to Venice to get the shot of the beautiful bunting that spells Venice and the pastel coloured buildings in the background. On arrival I was quite taken aback to find the building that I had thought was pink was actually a deep tone of burnt orange! My shots needed a good dose of Lightroom to calm the burnt orange down and I put a disclaimer on the image to let people know that the buildings were in fact grey and burnt orange not pastel purple and pink. We are all guilty of a bit of colour tweaking here and there but I do recommend finding some original images of your dream destinations and places you’d like to photograph so you know what the original looks like!

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5. Remember to be spontaneous

 At the end of the day my most loved travel images are my most spontaneous! It can sometimes be easy to get wrapped up in getting the a beautiful shot but remember to enjoy yourself, explore and discover new places you’re travelling to!


Dani is the guest host of our 'Wanderlust' themed photo challenge this week. Find out how you can participate here - Creative Challenge Entry Details

You can see more of Dani's beautiful photos on her Instagram account @danibarrois and her personal portfolio danibarroisdesign.com

My first month working as a Creatively Squared content creator

You might be surprised to find out that I have only just began to officially 'work' for Creatively Squared as one of their content creators. I have been with Creatively Squared from the very beginning. I'm an active member of the community and I have enjoyed hosting challenges from time to time. But recently I have stepped up and tried my hand at content creation and product styling for Creatively Squared. This has allowed me to delay my return back to my day job and pursue my other loves in life, styling and photo making. I say making because if you follow me on Instagram you will know that I, like many others on the gram, love actually creating a photo as opposed to taking a photo. Of course, I do a lot of photo taking too. 

 Styling Ta Ku wine varieties for Accolade Wines

Styling Ta Ku wine varieties for Accolade Wines

Joining the Creatively Squared ranks also allows for a very flexible work arrangement around looking after my wee munchkin, Aylee. As I am a Mother now, I am very much time poor [and I thought I was time poor before Aylee]. I need to be very efficient with what time I do have and allocate that time accordingly. Creatively Squared simply provides me with a brief and mood boards [which they have refined themselves directly with the client] and I simply style to meet those requirements. It really is that easy and it allows me to focus on creating the beautiful content. 

 Getting creative with juice boxes for Golden Circle

Getting creative with juice boxes for Golden Circle

I have learnt so much through my first few jobs with Creatively Squared. The guidance Creatively Squared provides brings the best out of my creative process and has be invaluable in my styling journey. I think these skills are reflecting positively on my own personal style too. The jobs so far have all pushed me to step outside my comfort zone and try different styling aesthetics that I wouldn't otherwise attempt in my world on the gram. I have especially loved venturing to the 'dark side' and styling a little bit moodier than my usual light and bright aesthetic which has really surprised me. 

 Putting my background in architechture and love of interiors into practice styling for Stockland

Putting my background in architechture and love of interiors into practice styling for Stockland

 I've loved creating beautiful imagery for household brands

I've loved creating beautiful imagery for household brands

Lastly, working with Creatively Squared gives me the opportunity to work with big brands which I otherwise wouldn't. I find it very hard to charge anyone for styling and content creation because I love it so much. I am so passionate about doing it and simply want to help others out through it...I find it hard to put a monetary value on this. Creatively Squared takes the awkwardness out of the client negotiations and those financial nitty gritties which again allows me to focus on the creativity. And it's nice to get financially rewarded for all my hard work sometimes. Plus, I see it as an investment back into my own Instagram and ultimately that’s supporting lots of small businesses because let's face it, I'm totally obsessed with buying things for Aylee! 

 It's been great working with businesses of all sizes from big supermarket brands to startups like Cardly

It's been great working with businesses of all sizes from big supermarket brands to startups like Cardly

You can see more of Marisa's beautiful photos on her Instagram account @marisa.young


If you love styling and photography and like would to join the team at Creatively Squared we are always looking for passionate creatives to work with our clients. Apply online today!

How to experiment with scale and combine two images using just your smartphone

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Playing with scale is a fun side of photography that can bring a new dimension to your image. This concept is nothing new, after all we have all seen those cringe-worthy tourist pics where they pretend to hold up the Leaning Tower of Pisa with their hand... you know the ones. 

More recently this concept has had a fresh life breathed into it thanks to innovative Instagrammers like Dominique from @allthatisshe and Danielle from @sienna.and.I who have taken this play on scale to the next level by cleverly collaging their images. 

 Image by   @sienna.and.I  on Instagram

Image by  @sienna.and.I on Instagram

 Image by   @sienna.and.I  on Instagram

Image by  @sienna.and.I on Instagram

Instagrammers now experiment with scale as a fun [and often very humorous] styling and editing technique bringing an element of unrealism to their images. Check out the Instagram hashtag #objectsforoutfits for more examples and inspiration. 

 Image by  @allthatisshe  on Instagram

Image by @allthatisshe on Instagram

 Image by  @allthatisshe  on Instagram

Image by @allthatisshe on Instagram

Anyone that has attempted to take a photo like this will know there is just one catch - it is impossible to have both your foreground item and background subject in sharp focus at the same time. Plus ensuring that both are perfectly aligned to get that perfect snapshot would take more patience than all the Instagram husbands in the world have combined.  

This means you'll need the photograph each element separately and the means to combine the two images together. I thought I would try my hand at collaging this week and discovered it's is easier than you might think. 

Here is an simple smartphone tutorial on how I created the simple announcement pic collage for this week's 'little and large' challenge with Tiny Sprout. 

What you'll need

Basically just your smartphone! Although I did take the original photos on my camera there is no reason why you couldn't use just your phone.

Editing Apps used: Lightroom [not essential], Magic Eraser and Snapseed
Equipment used: Canon 550D with 50mm f1.8 lens and Manfrotto Tripod 

Step 1 

Brainstorm an idea for your collage and photograph your subject matter. You can use anything from leaves to food...the possibilities are literally endless and you are only limited by your imagination! 

Tip: Try to photograph the object in similar light conditions to your background image and against a plain backdrop like a white wall. This will make the object easy to edit in the following steps and the end collage more cohesive. 

Here are my original images that will form my collage:

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My original photos were very simply edited in Lightroom [PC]. This is certainly not necessary...smart phones are pretty amazing and these apps are easily assessable to everyone and super easy to use! You can use your camera on your phone and apps like Lightroom [mobile version] Snapseed or VSCO to edit your images. 

Step 2 

Import image 1 to the Magic Eraser app and crop the photo if required. This is the image of the object you want to be at the foreground of your final image. In this case it's my daughter's rattle, Lessa Lamb from Tiny Sprout. 

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Step 3 

Select the 'Magic Wand' tool [you'll find this in the bottom left corner and it will turn orange when selected] and tap of the area you wish to erase, in this case it’s the white background. This wand is amazing because it will intuitively 

Note - Magic Eraser App is currently only available for iOs but there are lots of different apps for removing the background from photos. If this one doesn't suit you or your device check out these 5 Android alternatives from Techwise

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Step 4 

You can now manually fix the areas you want to be transparent by using the 'Erase' tool and restore areas of your object that may have disappeared by using the 'Restore' tool. These are the next two tools to the right of the 'Magic Wand'. 

I found this the most time-consuming step but definitely worth it for the end result. 

Tip: Make sure you are very thorough with the 'Erase' and 'Restore' tools because the 'Magic Wand' doesn't always pick up all the background and this can affect the quality of your end image. 

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Step 5 

Once you are happy with the parts of the image you wish to erase, select the export button in the top righthand corner. You will then be asked to 'Save Photo As'. This is where you can choose to put in your background image by selecting 'Edit Background'. Select 'Photo' and import your second image. Your background image will appear behind your object in are the area you just erased.  

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Step 6 

You can then move and scale your object to the position and size you want it to be in relation to your background image. Once you have the positioning perfect, you can press save and your collage is created! 

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Step 7 

I then imported the image into Snapseed and played with some simple edits like selective brightness and the structure of the completed collage. This step isn't completely necessary but this will help make the two images more cohesive if needed. You can also use other apps such as VSCO and Lightroom for this step. 

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Step 8 

Post on Instagram using the hashtag #CS_LittleAndLarge and tag @CreativelySquared and @TinySproutKids. 

See...too easy. I can't wait to see what you all come up with! 

Happy collaging! 

Marisa xx 

Food styling tips: How to compose your tabletop photo using the golden ratio

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If you are a lover of food styling and want tome tips for your tabletop it's handy to remember some simple composition basics. There is the Rule of Thirds theory, where your content should only take up a certain portion of your composition, but what we will be discussing today is the slightly more complex Golden Ratio.

The Golden Ratio is a sweeping spiral that allows the eye to dance around your image and take in all of the elements before settling on the focal point. Below you can see an example of a Golden Ratio diagram demonstrating the lines you can follow in your styling and use as a guide to place your items.

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The golden ratio makes it possible to create a well balanced image in which the viewer comes to the focal point faster and enjoys a better aesthetic experience.

I've noticed during my experience in food styling that the success of many styling compositions have to do with how our brain works. Our brains will look for familiar shapes and patterns and due to this, some arrangements will be instantly more pleasing than others.

How to use the Golden Ratio

The Golden Ratio spiral can flow in any direction you like and can be stretched or compacted as you see fit. Experiment with arranging the items in your image to flow the eye around in different ways. You can see below how using the same aesthetic theory but repositioning the same props can completely alter the dynamics of the image.

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Sweep left to right

As well as the Golden Ratio, you can apply other baseline shapes to direct the composition of your image that will also trigger a positive response in the brain. In this image below the eye is lead from the left to the right which feels very natural to look at. Our brain is used to absorbing information in this manner, as with a book in which you read the pages from left to right. 

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Try a triangle 

Triangles can also make a pleasing base shape for your composition. This example uses just the plates to move the eye around the image but you could apply the triangular shape to more items  - and even the food itself - on your table.

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Get the most out of your shoot

While you are experimenting with your composition don't forget to get a few detail and alternate angle shots of your set up. Food styling isn't all about the composition - it's all about capturing those delicious flavours! 

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Although many magazines and platforms like Pinterest favour vertical shots, make a point of getting some horizontal snaps as well.

You may want to experiment with different plates and pros within the one shoot. Sometimes it is even best to keep your linens and plates really simple to allow the food to really shine. After all that is the hero of your shot so you don't want it getting lost amongst all the other elements of your image.

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Remember - once the the dish is already in your stomach you can’t get any more photos of it so make sure you capture it from all angles.


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About the Author

Lucie Beck is a Dutch photographer and food stylist. She regularly shares photography, styling and composition tups on her Instagram account @luciebeck and blog Mylucie.com 

What should your next camera be? DSLR vs Mirrorless

One of the questions we get most often here at Creatively Squared is ‘what type of camera should I get?” There are hundreds of cameras and lenses to choose from on the market today and two of the most popular formats for professionals and amateurs alike are DSLR and Mirrorless. So how do you know which one is right for you? The aim of this blog is not to tell you which type of camera is better than the other, it’s about finding one that works with your style (and budget!) and helps you capture the photographs you want. We are going to break down the basics for you and show you some visual examples to help you decide.

What is a DSLR Camera?

The most popular choice for professional photographers, DSLRs use the same design as the original 35mm film cameras or SLR. Inside a DLS camera the light is reflected onto the lens via a mirror and up into the viewfinder for you to preview your shot. When you take the photo the mirror flips up and the shutter opens allowing the light to hit the sensor and capture your image.

What is a Mirrorless Camera?

Mirrorless cameras are a smaller, cheaper option in the market that still offers some high quality specs and interchangeable lenses. With a mirrorless camera the light passes through the lens and directly onto the image sensor. This captures a preview of the image you are taking to display on the rear screen and some models also offer a screen behind an electronic viewfinder that you can put your eye up to like a traditional camera.

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Which one is right for you?

Consider a DSLR if:

  • You want more options and add ons, choosing a DSLR gives you access to a number of lenses from many manufacturers.
  • You need a camera that performs better in low light
  • You have a bigger budget to invest in equipment
  • You need a camera with a longer battery life - No power is used at all if you hold the camera up and look through the viewfinder which makes it possible to get up to a thousand pictures or more on a single battery charge

Consider a mirrorless if:

  • You need something more portable for travel or spontaneous photography
  • You like to shoot video
  • You need to take rapid shots - the simpler mechanics of mirrorless cameras allow them to shoot more photos per second, at higher shutter speeds.
  • You need a more affordable option
  • You want to see a preview on screen - a mirrorless camera allows you to see the shot you are taking more accurately and any adjustments you make to the exposure etc will be represented on screen prior to taking the photo.

Do you really NEED a new camera?

With advancements in smartphone technology and more megapixels than you know what do with, one could argue that you don’t really need to invest in a fancy camera with interchangeable lenses. If photography is just a hobby for you then the camera in your pocket could do the job just fine. In fact, even some of the professionals amongst us shoot on their smartphones - a few of the stylists work with us at Creatively Squared shoot client work on their phones! Taking a great photo really comes down to your skills in composition, lighting and editing - having a fancy rig and lens isn’t going to make much of a difference without mastering those other techniques first.


Have you got a camera that you want to use more often? Why not start with our blog post "Manual Photography Tips: How to get yo' ass off auto" by Photographer Leah Ladson


So what does everyone else use?

We have rounded up a few creative gurus from our community and asked them about their equipment and here’s how it stacks up.

Team DSLR

 Amy Shamblen - Canon EOS 550D  See more from Amy at  amyshamblen

Amy Shamblen - Canon EOS 550D
See more from Amy at amyshamblen

 Tarnya Harper - Nikon D300  See more from Tarnya at  one.little.harper

Tarnya Harper - Nikon D300
See more from Tarnya at one.little.harper

 Dani Barrois - Pentax K3 See more from Dnai at  danibarrois

Dani Barrois - Pentax K3
See more from Dnai at danibarrois

 Marisa Young - Canon EOS 550D  See more from Marisa at  marisa.young

Marisa Young - Canon EOS 550D
See more from Marisa at marisa.young


Team Mirrorless

 Melinda Lee - Sony A5000 See more from Melinda at  m3linda_lee

Melinda Lee - Sony A5000
See more from Melinda at m3linda_lee

 Christall Lowe - Lumix Gx7 See more from Christall at  christall.lowe

Christall Lowe - Lumix Gx7
See more from Christall at christall.lowe

 Caroline Pears - Olympus OM-D See more from Caroline at  pears39

Caroline Pears - Olympus OM-D
See more from Caroline at pears39

 Karen Baker - Fujifilm X-T1 See more from Karen at  karenbakercreative

Karen Baker - Fujifilm X-T1
See more from Karen at karenbakercreative


 

Team Smartphone

 Jodi Burnham - See more of Jodi's photos on Instagram at  jodianne_

Jodi Burnham - See more of Jodi's photos on Instagram at jodianne_

 Bettina Brent - Seem more of Bettina's photos on Instagram at  bettina_brent

Bettina Brent - Seem more of Bettina's photos on Instagram at bettina_brent

 Gina Gooi - See more of Gina's photos on Instagram at  _hello_g_

Gina Gooi - See more of Gina's photos on Instagram at _hello_g_

 Natasha Seager - See more of Natasha's photos on Instagram at  natashainthecity

Natasha Seager - See more of Natasha's photos on Instagram at natashainthecity

Remember - cameras don’t take pictures - you do!

From looking at these examples alone it is easy to see that you can get great results no matter what type of equipment you use. Before you go rushing out to buy a new camera why not take the time to invest in developing your creativity and technical skills first. You might find that the resulting improvements in your photography negate the need for fancy equipment that may be only marginally better than what you already have.