Clever ways to use contrast to catch your viewers attention

When you are styling an image it's important to aways get straight to the point - the focal point that is! We are about to teach you some clever ways to use contrast to highlight those key areas and make sure you are catching the viewers eye for all the right reasons.

Talented food and product stylist Allison Goh is joining us as a creative expert this week to share her top photography tips for turning up the contrast.

Allison's top 3 tips for adding more contrast to your image

Experimenting with the contrast in a shot is a clever way to add more to your impact to visual storytelling by highlighting the hero of the shot. There are three ways you can add more contrast to your image:

Colour contrast

You can create extra impact by contrasting the colours of the hero object and the backdrop or by adding pops of bright colour. Placing a lighter/brighter coloured hero object will always draw the viewers eyes straight to it before travelling slowly around the rest of the image.

Lighting Contrast

Experimenting with the lighting in a shot is another clever way to bring focus to the hero object. Using a spotlight or creating a vignette effect to darken and defocus the edges is a great way to direct the viewer's eyes right to the focal point of your image.

Composition contrast

Using objects of varying sizes and shapes helps your composition have more impact. By cleverly arranging objects of different sizes in a cluster or cascading fashion you can create a flow which directs the viewer's eye around the image or directly to the hero object(s)

How to style a high contrast image by using a black background

Start with your primary props 

Firstly, pick one or two primary items to be the main focus of the image. These should be light or brightly coloured to stand out against the dark background. This colour contrast will draw the viewers eyes to the primary items first before absorbing the rest of the details.

Select the supporting props

When choosing supporting props, the size plays an important role. Ideally these props are smaller in size and darker in colour so that it does not take the focus away from the main object. Using objects of varying sizes, and by arranging them in a gradual change in sizes, creates a visual flow which directs the viewer's eye to your primary props. 

Add context and texture

You can add more context and create a three dimensional look to your image by adding a layer of dark coloured texture such as linens, trivets or books under your primary object. You can add to this effect by turning the supporting items on their sides and stacking or layering your props. A flatlay does not always have to be flat!

How to style a high contrast image by using a white background

When styling a white scene, it is better to keep it simple by featuring less props and not introducing as many colours. Try and stick to a colour palette that complements the fresh openness of the white background. Generally, a white scene should be less busy as the white base doesn't have the same "drawing-in" effect as a black background.

Q&A with Allison Goh

Tell us about how you developed your signature style ‘the dark scene’?

When I first discovered the beauty of flatlays on Instagram, I fell in love with it instantly and decided to try it out on my own. The few flat surfaces I have at home were either my black dining table, the black marble kitchen top or the dark grey floor tiles. This led to the birth of "the dark scene" - where images are shot against a darker background to allow everything in the photo to stand out. 

Your images always seem perfectly lit, do you shoot in natural light or have a home studio set up?

Natural light is my best friend. All my pictures are shot in natural lighting.

Tell us about your equipment and editing process, are there any tips you can share about editing images with high tonal contrast?

I don't use a standalone camera or any lighting accessories for the photos featured on my Instagram.  All the photos on my Instagram are taken with my iPhone and edited using the IG app.  One of my favourite editing tool is "Vignette". It makes the edges dark while highlighting the centre of the shot.  This helps bring out the hero object(s). 

Your photos are often filled with delicious food, do you shoot on location or cook and style it up at home?

It is a mix of both. For most of my food styling & photography projects, I tend to shoot at the client's location. My husband loves to cook so I take advantage of that sometimes.

You also seem to be drawn to natural elements, tell us about some of your favourite props to use  in your photos?

I love using earthy elements such as flowers, pinecones and some sort of greenery in my shots. They add a nice element of texture & colours to the photos.

When it comes to sourcing unique tableware what are your tips and favourite places to shop?

I'm drawn to antiques and ceramics. Most of my tablewares have been bought at flea markets when I have travelled overseas or through online stores. Before purchasing any tableware, I do a quick mental run through of the other props I already have at home and how they would be able to complement a new potential piece.

What are your top 3 favourite images you have ever created and why?

Mm.. this is gonna be tough but I guess if I have to pick 3, they will be:

There is just something about each of these images that draws you in. I like how the objects are not all aligned, some are tilted or turned on its side (i.e.macarons), items placed on top of each other to create that illusion of depth even though it's suppose to be a 'flatlay'. And lastly, I have a soft spot for earthy muted tones. It is not loud but yet it has such a strong drawing effect on the eyes.

You can see more of  Allison's beautiful images and signature 'dark scene' photography at her Instagram account @imehly and her 'lighter side' at @theehlyx

Visit her personal portfolio and website at: