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.

Stylist secrets: Behind the scenes of a styled photo shoot

As many of you will already know, a lot of planning and prep work is required to execute the perfect styled photo - especially when you are shooting to a clients brief and capturing images of their products. The end result might look effortless but sourcing props and planning each shot can be a lengthy process - not to mention the clean-up afterwards!

Join us as we go behind the scenes with Jinny from The Urban Quarters as she plans and executes a styled photo shoot for Creatively Squared client Party Kit

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Step 1: Sketch out your concepts on paper

Your shoot has the best chance of success if you make a plan for all the shots you want to take first. That way you can maximise the output of each scene and get the most out of your props and minimise the time you need to spend shooting. By having a good ol' brainstorm you can take the time to think clearly about a bunch of different ideas before you shoot and have more to work with on the day.

That's not to say that everything needs to be planned though, a lot of the best shots happen in the moment and something that looks good on paper may not translate so well in real life. Think of the planning stage as a way to organise all your ideas in the one place so you know which concepts to prioritise during the shoot.

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Step 2: Get your shopping list together and organise your props

Most photo shoots will require you to purchase some special items to help bring your stories to life. The planning process and moodboarding can help you identify which colours and items you want to feature in your image. Purchasing props doesn't have to be an expensive exercise and often you can rely on items that you already have at home or even in your pantry to help accentuate your images

Jinny likes to put an extra personal touch on her shoots by making a lot of her own props. These cupcakes and donuts in the image above are decorated to complement a tropical and safari themed party kit. To get this effect you don't have to be a whiz in the kitchen, in this next image you will also see how Jinny has cut out some monstera leaves out of paper which is a simple and clever way to add some serious tropical vibes without much expense.

Decorated donuts turn into cute little beetles - perfect for a Safari themed party!

Decorated donuts turn into cute little beetles - perfect for a Safari themed party!

Using inexpensive paper cut outs to complement a Tropicana themed party kit.

Using inexpensive paper cut outs to complement a Tropicana themed party kit.

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Step 3. Clean and flatten out backdrops

A lot of vinyl and paper backdrops are stored rolled up so it is important to start flattening them out prior to your shoot so that they are nice and flat before you start. This is also a good time to do an equipment check and make sure that your camera batteries are charged and that your memory cards have enough room to complete the shoot. There is nothing worse than being in the middle of a set and have to stop to recharge or back up your shots.

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4. Get all the items per shoot together in one place

Before you start the shoot you should get everything you are going to need out and ready so that you can make the most of your time on set. With many of us relying on natural light you may not have long in your well-lit area of choice so making your all your items are out and ready to be photographed is vital to ensure all of your shots have consistent lighting. 

If you are a natural lighting enthusiast (aren't we all?) you might want to read Jinny's tips on 'How to take whimsical photos using window light' for some great tips and techniques

With four different Party Kits to shoot it was extra important for Jinny to have everything out of the box and ready to go. You can see in the images above how she grouped all of the kits with the appropriate props ready to be shot. Below is the finished shots with a mix of Party Kit items supplied by the client and props that Jinny sourced or created herself - it's the perfect way to show potential party planners how good their event could look!

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Step 5: Style and snap your heart out 

Now that everything is all organised and ready to roll all you have to do is get creative and have fun! To get the most out of your shoot time make sure you have eaten and are well rested - unfortunately you will need to save some of your energy for cleaning up and editing your photos.

Jinny has put so much work into this shoot behind the scenes and the images she created are so clever and unique as a result

Finished shot for Tropicana themed Party Kit featuring hand made props and decorations

Finished shot for Tropicana themed Party Kit featuring hand made props and decorations

How much work do you put into your styled photo shoots? Are you the type of person who likes to plan each shot out in detail or do you like to wing it and create as you go? Let us know how you like to work in the comments below.


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!

The key challenges Creative Industries are facing in 2018

Whichever way you look at it, creativity is a commodity. In the distant past, artists, poets, playwrights and musicians had to rely on the patronage of wealthy aristocrats to scrape a living. Or better yet, to have been born into wealth themselves so that they could indulge their creative urges without having to worry about where their next meal was coming from.

Over time it became easier to be professionally creative. Entire industries erupted around talent in the 20th century, allowing people to earn a crust by expressing their imaginations. And like any job, you would expect to be paid for any work you did.

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Modern Times

Then came the internet age, and suddenly everything changed.

Words, images, music, video footage; anything and everything can be uploaded, shared, distributed and consumed online. And while this level of access is an amazing thing in many ways, the value placed on creativity has plummeted as a result.

Value Proposition

With so much content flooding the internet every second of every day, the idea of any creative endeavour being valuable has been eroded. What’s more, freelancers have shot themselves in the foot to a degree by agreeing to work for free just to get their foot in the door. The promise of ‘exposure’, no matter how minor, can be enough to lure newcomers into underselling themselves, and in doing so leaving everyone in their industry worse off.

This has the added consequence of meaning that creative work is something that only people from privileged backgrounds can afford to get into. If you’ve got bills to pay and an empty bank account, working for free for months or years until your career gains momentum is not an option. Are we heading back to the days of creative people only coming from the upper classes, or needing the support of benefactors?

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Taking the fight to clients that do not pay freelancers is tough, but some people have stepped up to the plate. The Sh*t List is a great example, allowing creatives to name and shame the companies that have let them down to act as a warning to others.

Why pay someone to design you a logo, create compelling imagery for your ad campaign, or come up with a cool concept for your article when you can appropriate some existing content from the web?

Ok, so the word ‘appropriate’ is a fancy way of saying ‘steal’. And theft is all too common, with brands of all sizes being guilty of purloining the fruits of someone else’s labour.

More worrying still is the trend of the ‘race to the bottom’, which basically means that with so much competition in the freelance marketplace, people are being forced to work for lower rates of pay. Add in expectations of working for free in exchange for ‘exposure’ and the whole climate can seem thoroughly toxic at the moment.

So let’s delve into these issues a little deeper and see if there’s a light at the end of the tunnel for people who want to earn their keep with the things they create.

Brands With Light Fingers

The story is a familiar one for people who work in the creative industries. You capture a great photo or develop an intriguing project which you then share via your social media platform of choice. Instagram and Twitter are two of the biggest places to get your work seen, so they also tend to appeal to those annoying ‘aggregators’ who are on the lookout for fresh content to snatch and pass off as their own, or re-post with a minor credit.

If your post takes off, it will attract their attention and can quickly be disseminated globally. Reddit can fuel the fire and bring even more morally dubious individuals and brands into focus. Soon you’ll get other people alerting you to the fact that they’ve seen your work ripped off elsewhere, or stolen wholesale to generate likes and engagement while not earning you a penny for your trouble.

Some people, like photographer Max Dubler, choose to take action when their work is used without payment. But the screenshots of conversations with the people who run the accounts responsible for the repurposing make depressing reading. Many are shocked at the idea you should even charge for sharing content you didn’t create, if the account you’re using to do so is associated with a brand or monetised in any way.

This leads into the next biggest issue; companies feeling like they can afford to underpay freelancers, ignore their invoices altogether or even ask them to work without getting cold, hard cash in exchange.

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Muddy Waters

This dilution of the value of creativity is being catalysed by the sheer number of different sites which urge freelancers to sell themselves to the lowest bidder.

From Fiverr, which makes being creative pay less than minimum wage in most developed nations, to Tribe, which forces creators to come up with content before they have even found a client to buy it, the industry is being brought to its knees by marketplace culture.

So what can you do about it? Well firstly, stop selling yourself short. Don’t work with clients that refuse to value your skills. Only sign up to freelance sites that pay fairly and never ask you to produce content speculatively.

We made the decision from day one that Creatively Squared will never ask anyone to work for free, nor will we pay in exposure, likes, products or anything else that doesn’t pay the bills - it's a core value to us and a central part of our manifesto.

Believe in yourself, but don’t be naive about the realities of the creative industries.

The top 5 apps to animate and bring your Instagram stories to life

With all the constant changes happening on Instagram, finding creative ways to engage with your audience and share your message has become more important than ever before.

Launching in August 2016, Instagram stories provides users with the opportunity to share photos and videos that disappear after 24 hours. With the new highlights feature, Instagram users also have the option to add their story to a highlights section under their bio, making it visible until the user decides to delete it.

There's no doubt that Instagram stories have become a powerful way to engage with your audience. Using Instagram stories helps you appear first (in the stories section) when people open the Instagram app providing you with additional ways to grow your business with on-brand images and video. With this big opportunity, it's important that you're using Instagram stories to your fullest abilities. This means not just using stories for a token 'new post' update but exploring how you can share an engaging story with your audience.

Instagram stories provide a way for you to share a peek behind-the-scenes of your business and an additional way to share your brand's message. Users love this type of content as it helps them get to know the people and inner workings of your brand. Combining this behind-the-scenes content with some creative flair will have people tuning into your stories every day. So, how do you add that creative flair to your stories and stand out? We've listed 5 apps below that are making it easy to add some creativity to your Instagram stories.

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1. Adobe Spark Post

Have you seen those Instagram stories with beautiful animated text? Chances are they used Adobe Spark Post to create their story. With this app, you can add animated effects and text to your photos. With sizing especially for Instagram stories, you can simply add the text to your photo and select animation. This will turn your photo into a 4-second video. The Adobe Spark Post app is free for iOS and desktop.

To create your story, open the app and press the green + sign at the bottom centre of the screen. From here, you can choose an image or solid colour background. Size your image for Instagram stories, double tap the screen to add text, tap effects and add animation, and press done to save your creation. From here, you can go to Instagram stories and post your saved content from your camera roll.

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2. Hyperlapse

If you have a video that needs to be smooth and stabilized, Hyperlapse will turn you into a video pro! You can record a time-lapse or convert videos from your camera roll up to 12x speed to smooth out any unstable video footage. If you're recording video from within the app, make sure you record in portrait mode for Instagram stories.

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3. Canva

Lots of people use Canva on their computers but their iOS app also packs a powerful punch. Create beautiful images for your Instagram stories with the templates on the Canva app. To make an Instagram story, start a new project that's 1080 x 1920 pixels. From here, you can upload your own images, use one of Canva's free images, or a paid image (all paid images are $1).

Once you've picked your image or template, you can edit the image, add design elements like lines and shapes, and overlay text. One of the best things about using Canva to create images for your Instagram stories is that you can save your designs to use them as a template for future stories. You can also create more than one image in each project which means you can download your images and upload them to Instagram without going back and forth between the apps - a big win!

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4. InShot

A key challenge with making attractive Instagram stories is that the videos and images get cropped to fit the vertical aspect ratio of the app. With InShot, you can customize the aspect ratio of your images and video for Instagram stories. While the app is free, you will need to pay a few dollars to remove the InShot watermark.

Select the 9:16 option to create content for your Instagram stories. You can then upload your own images or video, add text, animated emojis, stickers, filters, music, voice-overs, effects, and edit the video speed.

The InShot app is free on iOS and Android.

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5. Cut Story

With Cut Story, you can edit video for your Instagram feed and Instagram stories. The app allows you to edit a 15 second video for Instagram stories, with video lengths for other social media platforms also featured on the app. To edit your video, you just need to select your desired video length, add music, and upload your finished video to Instagram stories. You can also edit a video for your Instagram feed (60-second video) with this app.

While the app is free, you will need to make a small in-app purchase to remove the watermark logo and add music.


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Is it ok for brands to share your content on Instagram?

Photo by  Brooke Lark  on  Unsplash

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

It is widely known that is it not ok for brands to just google image search a photo for their next marketing campaign so why should social media images be any different?

We recently published an article called ‘Regram rules: Is ok for brands to share other people’s content on Instagram?’ discussing the correct and legal practices for brands to use externally sourced images.

Now we want to discuss the other side of the coin for all the creators of original content out there. As photographers and creatives it is important to know what your rights are and when the legal and moral lines are being crossed.

Who owns your content?

Sharing images on social media does not compromise your copyright, you still own the image and only you get to decide who gets to use it.

Brands who wish to repost your images must seek and obtain permission from you prior to posting otherwise they are infringing on your copyright and Instagram’s terms of use.

Tagging a brand in your image or using a branded hashtag does not constitute consent for them to share your image, they must still get your permission to share. Occasionally you may wish to indicate to your audience where a certain item in your image came from and you should feel safe to tag any brands you photograph without implying that it is ok for them to use your content.

Legally is it ok?

Instagram’s terms of service have their rights covered and it is worth having a quick read over their basic terms of service. The platform is not liable for copyright infringement and the responsibility to seek correct permissions for sharing content is passed onto the brand or individual account holder.

Instagram is very clear in their Copyright F.A.Q section that they are committed to helping users protect their individual copyright and that they do not permit the submission of content that infringes the intellectual property rights of others.

According to Legalvision if the creative work is not being posted and passed off as their own then brands can share other people’s content without directly violating copyright laws. The distinction between whether reposting social media content infringes on copyright or not seems to be made between what is considered ‘posting’ and ‘sharing’. Although with Instagram not coming with an actual share function this statement quickly becomes very murky and potentially confusing for brands and creators.

Copyright law differs according to the country where the images are reproduced or shared and there may be some ‘fair use/dealing’ situations which allow people to use your images under certain circumstances. Common examples include: criticism, commentary, news reporting, teaching, education, and research. Once again this is all outlined in the Copyright section of Instagram’s Help Centre so if you have any further questions it is well worth the read.

Photo by  Brooke Lark  on  Unsplash

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

Morally is it ok?

Whether you are a professional photographer or a hobbyist content creator, it can feel nice having a big brand regram your image and sometimes it can generate some great exposure for your account. However for many content creators, recognition and exposure is not enough and unfairly infringes on your copyright.

As content creators we spend years developing our skills and invest lots of money into our equipment. It can be disheartening when businesses and other accounts use our work without seeking permission or providing proper compensation.

For many businesses, Instagram is an extension of their marketing strategy and by sharing your content they are using your images for their own self-promotion. This leads many content creators to feel like they are being taken advantage of and that their work should not be used to market brands for free.

It is ok to apply your own moral guidelines to whether you allow brands to reshare your content online. There are many different scenarios in which a brand or business may wish to post your content on Instagram and each use should be assessed individually. If brands are sharing your images without obtaining your permission with the intent of furthering their own brand, it is ok for you to question it even when properly credited.

What can I do if someone shares my image without permission?

If brands are repeatedly sharing your content without permission your can report the violation to Instagram by filling out the Copyright reporting form. Instagram states that they will disable the accounts of those who repeatedly infringe other people’s intellectual property rights.

While the distinction between ‘posting’ and ‘sharing’ can be a little murky within the platform, it is very clear cut if the content is being shared outside of Instagram. If third parties are using images sourced from Instagram in a commercial context outside the platform you may wish to seek legal action as this is likely a direct infringement on copyright law.

A photographer named Max Dubler famously contacted every brand that had regrammed his content asking for payment. In his article  “No, You Can’t Use My Photos on Your Brand’s Instagram for Free,” Dubler explains why he charges for-profit companies a fee to use his  photos because they are making money off his work.

What can you do to prevent copyright infringement?

While there is nothing you can do to prevent brands misusing your content, there are some things you can do to make it easier for them to obtain permission or to protect your intellectual property. You can place a copyright symbol or a watermark on your content and ensure that you don’t post the full or high-resolution versions anywhere online. Simply adding your email address to your Instagram account may make it simpler for brands to ask for permission and give you the opportunity to discuss compensation.

If have read Instagram’s Help Center and still have further questions about your rights when it comes to copyright and intellectual property it may be worth seeking proper legal counsel in your country of residence.


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