The Great Egg Hunt of 2019: The eggceptional and the eggtraordinary!

Whilst a lot of us are still recovering from our chocolate comas, here’s a wrap up of our annual Egg Hunt! No calories included I promise, just puns!

Some super cute bunnies! Source: @judith.khlk via instagram

Some super cute bunnies! Source: @judith.khlk via instagram

Our wonderful guest host for the week, Chantelle from @minimarshmallows_mum, continued her very creative series #AdventuresOfEggward. It’s now etched in Creatively Squared yolk law...catch up on his past adventures here - Easter Inspired Creativity

We discovered that Eggward and his love Megg got their happily egger after and are now the proud parents to Yolko. This year’s Egg Hunt saw Eggward mix with some royal eggs and he tried his hand at some free range spy work. What eggventures will Eggward get up to next year I wonder?

Eggward getting down with the royal yolks. Source: @minimarshmallows_mum via instagram

Eggward getting down with the royal yolks. Source: @minimarshmallows_mum via instagram

Free range spying! Source: @minimarshmallows_mum via instagram

Free range spying! Source: @minimarshmallows_mum via instagram

These beautiful ‘cabbage’ eggs were shared by @laurajhnstn. The different colour gradient is achieved by soaking the eggs for different lengths of time in a dye created from red cabbage...genius! Laura has shared her full method in her stories, including the marbling and speckled effect how-to...jump over to her story highlights to find out more and discover her original inspiration for this eggperiment. I’m definitely saving this one for next Easter.

Getting crafty. Source: @laurajhnstn via Instagram

Getting crafty. Source: @laurajhnstn via Instagram

Our Egg Hunt challenge coincided with this year’s  Earth Day and Instagram’s own #WHPplanetearth challenge. This image from @myweekend_inspiration really struck a chord with me. Dana’s hands hold a beautifully decorated egg symbolising planet earth and a very poignant message:

“Earth is powerful, but fragile like an egg and if it breaks we cannot put it back together. So let’s take care of her. Let’s be better every day, for her, for us, for our kids and for future generations. Because yes, there is only one.”

The earth encapsulated in an egg. Source: @myweekend_inspiration via instagram

The earth encapsulated in an egg. Source: @myweekend_inspiration via instagram

What would a Creatively Squared Egg Hunt challenge be without some clever edits and these ones really cracked it!

Cuteness overload! Source: @vercitoc via instagram

Cuteness overload! Source: @vercitoc via instagram

Oh the quirkiness! Source: @griseldacarreras via instagram

Oh the quirkiness! Source: @griseldacarreras via instagram

Oh stop it! Source: @b4breakfast via instagram

Oh stop it! Source: @b4breakfast via instagram

To see all of the creative entries head to the #cs_egghunt2019 feed on Instagram!

So there it is yolks, our Egg Hunt is over for another year! Thank you to everyone who played along and may have consumed too many chocolate eggs in the name of creativity...we greatly appreciate your sacrifice. Don’t forget to check out this week’s Creatively Squared theme and get your creative on!

Happy faffing!

Marisa xx

@marisa.young












Some Easter prettiness. Source: @_hello_g_ via instagram









Easter inspired creativity: The adventures of Eggward

It’s the week leading up to Easter which means it’s time for our annual creative egg hunt! Whether you celebrate the Easter holidays or not, this creative challenge is a fun one for everyone to participate in. Any eggs can be your inspiration, no matter if they are made of chocolate or fresh from the farm. We just love seeing all the fun and innovative ways you hide and get creative with eggs in your images.

If you are looking for some inspiration for this week why not have a look at our previous blog post Easter Inspiration: We are Going on an Egg Hunt!

Our first egg hunt in 2017 sparked a fabulous and fun photo series starring ‘Eggward’ from Chantelle Marsh that we’ve enjoyed watching her build on each year when Easter rolls around. This series not only has some wonderfully creative images but the captions are also riddled with clever egg related puns making them wonderfully entertaining. We first met Eggward two years ago when he was masquerading as an acorn. Since then we have watched him find new and inventive ways to camouflage and even meet his soul mate.

“When Eggward heard about the  #cs_egghunt  over at  @creativelysquared , he quickly came up with a cunning disguise. Whether it worked is yet to be seen 😉Happy Easter Insta friends!  #AdventuresOfEggward ”

“When Eggward heard about the #cs_egghunt over at @creativelysquared, he quickly came up with a cunning disguise. Whether it worked is yet to be seen 😉Happy Easter Insta friends! #AdventuresOfEggward

We love a good creative series and this one ticked all the boxes - entertaining narrative, creative concepts and funny captions all rolled into one. In-fact Chantelle’s introduction of Eggward was so fun and innovative it inspired us to make our Easter egg hunt an annual event just so we could see what he would get up to next.

If you are new to our community and haven’t met Eggward yet here is his story so far - We have included Chantelle’s images (via @minimarshmallows_mum on Instagram) along with her original captions below.

Eggward is a true master of disguises, although some of the scenes he tries to camouflage into put him into some tricky situations.

“It was at this eggs-act moment that Eggward realised, disguising himself as another food item wasn't a well hatched plan!”

“It was at this eggs-act moment that Eggward realised, disguising himself as another food item wasn't a well hatched plan!”

Last year Eggward went looking for love although his attempt to infiltrate a hens night party was thwarted when he realized his attempt to blend in had caused him to stand out!

“As he felt all eyes on him, it suddenly dawned on Eggward that blue possibly wasn't the most discreet colour choice when it came to his disguise...”

“As he felt all eyes on him, it suddenly dawned on Eggward that blue possibly wasn't the most discreet colour choice when it came to his disguise...”

However he discovered he wasn’t the only gatecrasher at the event and when he laid eyes on Megg it was love at first sight.

“In an un-eggspected turn of events, Eggward discovered he wasn't the only one at the party with a questionable disguise...”

“In an un-eggspected turn of events, Eggward discovered he wasn't the only one at the party with a questionable disguise...”

Megg and Eggward are so sweet together, will we see a new addition in their family this Easter? I guess we will have to wait and see!

“As Eggward nestled in with Megg, he knew he was eggsactly where he should be. As for their future plans, who knows what they will hatch next? Maybe a new disguise? Or maybe something a "little sweeter" 😉”

“As Eggward nestled in with Megg, he knew he was eggsactly where he should be. As for their future plans, who knows what they will hatch next? Maybe a new disguise? Or maybe something a "little sweeter" 😉”

To see what happens next in the adventures of Eggward make sure you are following our Instagram challenge hashtag #cs_egghunt2019 and Chantelle’s instagram account @minimarshmallows_mum and hashtag #AdventuresOfEggward

If you love getting creative and a good egg pun or two then we would love to see you join in this week’s ‘Egg Hunt 2019’ challenge. See our challenge page for all the details on how to participate.

Celebrating three years of creativity

Happy Birthday to us! Over the last week we have been celebrating the third anniversary of our first ever creative challenge. Can you believe we’ve now had over 150 weekly challenges and over 30,000 entries? That’s a whole lot of unique creativity we have collectively sent out into the world. Whether you have participated regularly or simply admired the entries we want to thank you for helping to make our community so special.

We felt like we were special guests of honour at the most fabulous party ever last week. There were flowers, cookies, cakes and candles and we didn’t want it to end! Let’s take a look at some of the entries that really captured the spirit of the celebrations last week.

Image by @bubanahavajima via Instagram

Image by @bubanahavajima via Instagram

Image by @mycolorfulsquares via Instagram

Image by @mycolorfulsquares via Instagram

Image by @annies_craft_room via Instagram

Image by @annies_craft_room via Instagram

Image by @karenbakercreative via Instagram

Image by @karenbakercreative via Instagram

Image by @antiqrobiatul via Instagram

Image by @antiqrobiatul via Instagram

Image by @jennypuspita89 via Instagram

Image by @jennypuspita89 via Instagram

To see all of the beautiful images created for our 3rd Birthday Celebration please see the hashtag feed #cs_three on Instagram

While our creative challenges are for creating amazing images, we also read some beautiful captions and are so often moved and inspired by these thoughtful words. Here are some of the birthday greetings we received from creatives all around the world.

Happy 3rd birthday to one of the very best hubs here on Instagram. For 3 years Creatively Squared has been encouraging creatives to engage with each other, get artistic and get a little competitive. Special thanks for all your work to make this such a cool community.
- Aravis Dolmenna, United Kingdom

Image by @aravisdolmenna via Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/p/BvUjsA7Fv10/

Image by @aravisdolmenna via Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/p/BvUjsA7Fv10/

Joining the Creatively Squared community has not only given me creative confidence but I have gained real friendships with amazing like-minded people your kind words mean the world to me thank you.
- Karen Baker, Australia

Happy 3rd birthday! Forever grateful to have found this amazing and loving community. Here’s 3 sets of kisses to all of you. I hope one day we can all share a tea (well, coffee for me)  together. Thank you for connecting us all.
- Cezan Grace, Philippines

Happy 3rd birthday Creatively Squared! This community has inspired so much creativity for me and others over the past years. Thanks for the weekly challenges and continued support!!
- Alyssa Stokes, USA

Photo by Melinda Lee via Instagram  https://www.instagram.com/p/BvTuwaEHQIA/

Photo by Melinda Lee via Instagram https://www.instagram.com/p/BvTuwaEHQIA/

So glad I joined this community and got to know and befriended with creatives from other part of the world. The themed challenges have been so much fun. And it was even more fun when you started winning prizes!
-
Melinda Lee, Indonesia

This week, my favourite creative hub is celebrating 3 years of existence, so I want to thank the wonderful team for always being so supportive and cheering us on as we experiment and discover our creative niches. Without you, I wouldn't have found all the amazing people I met through your tags and I wouldn't have grown this much.
- Dorinela Hamamci, Turkey

It means so much to see so many tributes to the friendships, connections and inspiration found within this community. Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to get to know us and shares their creativity with us week after week.

We believe in the talent, innovation and creative passion of this community so much that we are building a platform to support our community members to build a professional portfolio and work with some of the worlds biggest brands. If this sounds like something you’d be interested in then we encourage you to sign up to join our team today!

Here’s to another great year of fun, friendship and boundless creativity.

Changing the Backdrop of Your Image With This Easy Smartphone Edit

While styling a creative photograph we tend to primarily focus on the foreground of our composition, however what is in the background can also have a big impact on the mood and context of your image. Not all of us have access to a wide variety of different coloured and textured backdrops in our home studios or local areas but that shouldn’t limit the creative scope of your photo.

In this tutorial I’m going to show you how to infinitely increase the number of backdrops you have for your images by superimposing new colours and textures underneath your photo. The best part is that you can do it all with your fingertips right from your smartphone! My secret to getting the most realistic results lies in a simple layering technique that will preserve any natural shadows that you had in your original photograph.

Here’s what you’ll need to start:

  • A photo of your subject matter with as close to white background as possible

  • Photoshop Mix mobile application

Original image photographed against a white wall

Original image photographed against a white wall

Step 1 - Photograph your subject on a white surface or against a while wall. You will get the best results if you ensure there is a good contrast between your subject matter and the white backdrop.

Step 2 - Edit your image in the app or software of your choice and get the backdrop as close to white as you can. Crop it to how you would like the finished image size and proportions to look as this will form the base of your image.

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Step 3 - Open your image in Photoshop Mix and hold your finger down on the layer icon and select duplicate to add the same image again over the top.

Step 4 - On the top layer, use the cut out tool to select the foreground of your image. It is important that you don’t select the shadows here and only select the subject matter itself.

Tip - Use the Auto tool first to grab most of the image and refine with smart selection tool. You’ll need to zoom right in and alternate between the add and subtract functions to make sure you are only cutting out the foreground of your image

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Step 5 - If you have soft or complex edges you can use the refine tool to help you seperate it from the background as best you can.

Tip- Use two fingers to zoom in and out and navigate around your canvas

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Step 6 - Now that you have cut out your item it’s time to add your backdrop. You can create a new layer and import the photo or image you would like to use.

Tip - You can search for free backgrounds and wallpapers on Google or download them from free stock image websites like Pixabay or Unsplash.

Step 7 - Hold your finger down on the layer thumbnails to change the order of them. Layer your background image to the back and select your duplicate image that hasn’t been cut out yet and layer it next with the cutout on top.

Select the blend mode Multiply

Select the blend mode Multiply

Whoops! Missed a spot

Whoops! Missed a spot

Step 8 - Select your duplicate image and set the blend mode to ‘Multiply’ this will blend the image on top of your backdrop and apply the shadows for the most natural looking results.

Step 9 - With the new background in place you may discover a couple pieces of your background that didn’t get cut out. The darker your back drop the more obvious the edges may be but you can go back and refine your cutout any time.

Step 10 - Once you are happy with your cut out and background selection you can export and save your image and you are done!

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How to Create a Simple Stop Motion Animation Using Your Smartphone

An easy way to add motion to your image is through creating a stop motion animation. This is when you combine a sequence of still images with gradually moving elements to create a motion video. Although technology is making it a lot easier to achieve this effect, the technique has actually been around for a very long time - I’m sure we are all familiar with the old school claymation show Gumby. 

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I have used this method before to animate a flatlay for our tea time challenge using a clock so I thought it would be perfect to try again for this week’s motion challenge creating some flying butterflies. An easy app to use for creating stop motion videos is iMotion*.

Flatlay backdrop for creating the stop motion

Flatlay backdrop for creating the stop motion

The clock hands I added to add the movement

The clock hands I added to add the movement

The feature I find most useful is the import function of this app where you can import your own sequence of images from your photo gallery and have the app stitch them together into an animated sequence.

The sequence of images with gradual movement I created for the stop motion animation.

The sequence of images with gradual movement I created for the stop motion animation.

I often use iMotion in the Creatively Squared Insta stories to create videos of our winners or grid features. There are other nifty features to this app like time lapse and manual filming to create the sequence but I’m yet to explore these features.

Tip: I have a little workaround where I create a series of images in the Photoshop Mix app rather than photographing each individual frame, the traditional method of stop motion. I use a consistent background image layer [generally my flatlay] and simply add overlay layers. This means I only have to edit one version of the background image which makes it much more time efficient for me as a lot of editing often goes into my flatlays.

 

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To create this image I photographed the butterflies in a few different flying positions and cut them out using the Magic Eraser app on my phone. If you want to use existing assets found online you can also download image cutouts called png files that have transparent backgrounds. To locate these online just google what you are looking for followed by the file extension png.

 

The different butterfly images I used to add motion to my animation

The different butterfly images I used to add motion to my animation

You then simply import these images into iMotion in the sequence you need them to be in. You can change the speed of the video by using the slide bar and select how many frames you want chosen per second. Once you are happy with the speed and sequence, press export and save to your photo gallery and voila, you’ve created a stop motion video!

All the still shots I created that became each frame of the stop motion

All the still shots I created that became each frame of the stop motion

I would love to see you create a stop motion video or two for this week’s challenge.

Happy motion creating!

Marisa xx

*iMotion is only available on iOS but alternative android versions are available.





How to Create Animated Images Using Simple Video Overlays

Have you ever wished you could bring your still photo to life after you’ve taken it? Thanks to mobile technology, creating moving images, animations and cinemagraphs is easier than ever and accessible to anyone that has a smartphone. There are lots of different ways to add movement or special effects to your photo but the simplest way is by enhancing it with video overlays. These animated overlays will bring a cinemagraph type effect to your photo right from your mobile phone.

After a quick online search I discovered that there are lots of different smartphone apps on the market that you can use to bring your image to life so I downloaded a few to try out. For this road test I am comparing three of them and applying the filters to shots from my personal camera roll to see how they work on real life photos. I’ll be reporting back on how easy they are to use, the best and worst features of each app and also the cost of use. It is important to note that while these apps are free to use and come with a selection of supplied overlays, to remove the watermark, increase export size or quality and unlock additional overlays does often require in-app purchases.

Note- the animations have been saved as GIF files for compatibility with this blog and as a result have been compressed and lost some image quality.

Lumyer

Lumyer is a basic app that will add fun, animated overlays to your videos and still images. Creating a ‘Lumy’ is relatively simple, you select the video effect you’d like to add to your image and then place it in the desired area of your image and scale and rotate to fit. There are not a lot of editing options or ability to mask or soften the edges but you can adjust the opacity of the effect if you want it to blend more naturally into your image.

You can access over 300 different effects and the app offers 35+ free ones to experiment with. As well as photographic effects there are a lot of fun selfie add-ons and seasonal themed overlays. Here are some of the best free ones that I tried out:

I love the icy feel these floating snowflakes add to this image I snapped in Norway

I love the icy feel these floating snowflakes add to this image I snapped in Norway

Some gentle cloud movement to add to the balmy feel of my holiday snapshot from the Bahamas.

Some gentle cloud movement to add to the balmy feel of my holiday snapshot from the Bahamas.

They have some fun free selfie add ons like this one, sunglasses and flower crowns.

They have some fun free selfie add ons like this one, sunglasses and flower crowns.

I tried to add a free steam overlay to my coffee cup but unfortunately it looks more like smoke.

I tried to add a free steam overlay to my coffee cup but unfortunately it looks more like smoke.

I purchased an additional bird overlay at a cost of AU$1.49 and didn’t realise that it also came with sound effects which was a nice bonus!

In this image I have combined the flying birds overlay with the free moving clouds download that I adjusted the transparency of for a nice natural effect.

In this image I have combined the flying birds overlay with the free moving clouds download that I adjusted the transparency of for a nice natural effect.

Pros

  • Ability to save Lumy as a live photo or gif

  • Easy to share as an MP4 straight to Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp

  • A few great free filters

  • Some video filters include sound effects

Cons

  • A lot of the overlays are a bit cheesy

  • You can only combine two filters in the free version

  • Exported file is small at only 640px

  • It costs AU$5.99 to remove the watermark

  • Vertical image format not supported yet

  • No masking and limited editing features

Get it at: lumyer.com | Free (with in-app purchases) on iOS and Android

Werble

Werble works on the same basic premise of Lumyer but has much more sophisticated features for placing and editing your overlays. This app also offers multiple layers which allows you to overlay many different effects which are simple to reorder and edit as desired. The tool menu gives you the ability to change the proportions, colour and speed of your video effects - just to name a few.

I found the Starter pack and free overlays to contain a great assortment of animations to experiment with and the packages of additional effects available for purchase seemed like reasonably good value - some of them bundles of 100 for AU$10.99. I also liked that you can watch a video previewing all the effects prior to purchase so you know exactly what you are getting with each pack.

I was able to mirror the same cloud effect onto the reflection in the sand and adjust the opacity.

I was able to mirror the same cloud effect onto the reflection in the sand and adjust the opacity.

I adjusted the colour of these petals to match the exact shade of the cherry blossoms in my photo.

I adjusted the colour of these petals to match the exact shade of the cherry blossoms in my photo.

I purchased the Coffee themed animations and effects pack for $3.99 which came with 23 different effects (much better value than the $1.49 per effect pricing with Lumyer) and also the Sky pack which came with 17 overlays. These effects were great to add onto photos I already had on my camera roll and I could definitely see myself using them in the future.

I love this particular effect for adding some movement into this coffee cup.

I love this particular effect for adding some movement into this coffee cup.

I combined some steam with a fun coffee top overlay to fill my mug in this image.

I combined some steam with a fun coffee top overlay to fill my mug in this image.

In addition to adding video overlays you can also add some movement to your original image using the Pulse tool. I found this to be a bit hit and miss but perhaps after a bit more experimentation you would be able to get some good results.

Pros

  • Sophisticated export options

  • Unlimited layers

  • Easy to drag drop layer order

  • Extensive layer editing options eg. blend modes, colour, lighting

  • Share straight to a multitude of social platforms

Cons

  • Couldn’t find a way to save original files to edit or export later on

  • No layer masking

  • Costs $6.99 to remove watermark

Get it at: werbleapp.com | Free (with in-app purchases) on iOS and coming soon to Android

Story Z

Story Z is a multifunctional app that enables the user to add motion and ripple effects to animate their original images as well as adding their own and supplied video overlays. However, for the purpose of this blog we will just be discussing the video overlay features.

One of the clear advantages of this app is the ability to mask your layers which allows you to apply the video overlay on just a portion or the background of your image, resulting in a much more realistic effect.

In the overlay feature the free effects are a bit more limited than what you get with the previous two apps but the bundles are the among the cheapest with a pack of 5+ for $1.49

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To get this effect above I searched for ‘free storm cloud video’ and downloaded one to my phone. I then overlaid it using the ‘Motion’ feature of the app which enables you to add your own video effects. Using the eraser tool I brushed out the sky in the background and adjusted the storm clouds video underneath. Being able to add your own video elements allows for a lot more creative freedom and you can shoot your own video assets as well as using any free resources you find online.

Pros

  • Layer masking with smart brush and erase features

  • Supports multiple image sizes and formats

  • Sophisticated layer masking

  • Can add your own video effects

  • No watermark on exported images (provided you watch an ad)

Cons

  • Limited number of available video overlays

  • You do need to watch some ads but that’s the trade off for a free app

  • Can only export video at 1200px unless you purchase premium app

  • Editing tools seem to only apply to the original image and not the video overlays

  • Can’t create looping effect with added video

Get it at: storyzapp.com | Free (with in-app purchases) on iOS and Android

The Verdict

If you have no experience and don’t want to spend a cent you can certainly obtain some great free video effects using the apps mentioned above. Matching the right image with the right filter can be a bit of an art but it is a great starting point for creative experimentation. There are of course limitations in the assets available both in app and online but you will still be able to exercise your creativity and create some great moving images using what you can download or shoot yourself.

There is not much of a learning curve required to use any of these apps, a basic understanding of layers and masking will help but there are enough video tutorials and resources around to help you if you need it. Luckily most smartphone video and image editing apps have similar functions so once you know how to use one you should find it easy enough to navigate and operate others.

Have you tried any of these apps or anything like it?





7 steps to style the perfect vignette

A great way to showcase your favourite pieces and add style to a space is by creating a vignette. A vignette, simply put, is a grouping or arrangement of items, usually on a shelf or a table.

It can sometimes be difficult to get that ‘perfect' balanced look when styling a vignette, so I thought I would share a few of my tips and tricks, that I have learnt along the way, to help you create a fabulous arrangement.

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1. Inject some personality

To avoid your vignette looking too staged, add in some personal items that reflect your style and personality. I will often include beautiful perfume bottles, jewellery, loose pearls or even a bag or clutch purse.

2. Hunt & Gather

I find it helpful to have already assembled a selection of items that I could use, like plants, candles, vases and books within reach of the area I am styling and then I cull as I go.

Stacking books or magazines is a great way to add height to smaller items

Stacking books or magazines is a great way to add height to smaller items

3. Play with height

A very important tip to remember is to make sure you vary the height and scale within your vignette, this allows the eye to travel freely over the display and create visual interest. Stacking books or magazines is a great way to give smaller items height.

Start adding items that are different heights & shapes

Start adding items that are different heights & shapes

4. Odd is best

Grouping items in odd numbers, especially in three, is far more visually pleasing to the eye than grouping items in even numbers.

Adding the hanging greenery to the pot creates more layering of heights

Adding the hanging greenery to the pot creates more layering of heights

5. Avoid clutter

Remember, less is more! Stand back & review the pieces you have chosen, do they work well together, does everything flow? If you feel your vignette looks to busy, try swapping out or eliminating a few items until it works.

6. Play with texture

Mix various textures, tones & shapes together to make your vignette really pop.

Use pieces that reflect your personality & style. I absolutely love this Chanel snowglobe & gorgeous black marble candle from Burn Baby Burn Candle Co.

Use pieces that reflect your personality & style. I absolutely love this Chanel snowglobe & gorgeous black marble candle from Burn Baby Burn Candle Co.

7. Be you

Have you ever brought an entire outfit that you saw on someone and tried to recreate that exact look on yourself, only to have it miserably fail? No matter how hard you try, you will never master something that isn't your true style. So embrace who you are & surround yourself with things that you love. I guarantee you will have way more fun creating a space if it reflects your true style.

Try adding a framed print or photo to your vignette.

Try adding a framed print or photo to your vignette.

I am so excited to be guest hosting this week's ‘Black’ themed challenge & look forward to seeing your vignette styling & featuring your amazing entries.

🖤 Em xxx

The finished vignette - height, texture and personality!

The finished vignette - height, texture and personality!

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

You can see more of Em's beautiful photos on her Instagram account @stilettos_and_bricks and visit her website stilettosbricks.com

Ceiling height photography: How to capture the perfect 'on the bed' style flatlay

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Have you ever been scrolling on Instagram and seen an image like the one above and wondered to yourself ‘how did they actually take that shot?’ If you have pondered this exact question, you aren’t alone. The logistics of getting your camera high enough to take in what appears to be a whole bed can be a little puzzling and not everyone has access to drones, tripods or 6ft tall Instagram husbands to help them out.

We have the wonderfully creative Eszter Csáky from Instagram account @handmadeglamour sharing her secrets to indoor aerial snapping so you’ll be able to take your flatlay game to new heights. Luckily the trick to snapping from the ceiling is easier than you think and you’ll be able to achieve it at home just by getting crafty with some basic household items.

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1. Find a box or some cardboard

Any size will do to begin with as you can cut it to fit. In this case, this small one was already nearly the perfect dimensions for an iPhone which is what you’ll be using it to hold.

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2. Open it up and cut to size

Cut off the sides of the box and any excess parts so you will end up with a long straight length of cardboard.

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3. Measure it to fit your device

Measure the width of your phone and mark it so you know where to fold the cardboard

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4. Fold the cardboard 

Fold the sides in so that it will cradle your device and apply some tape to the tabs so that you can attach it to the ceiling.

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5.  Attach it to the ceiling

Use the tape (or your adhesive of choice) to stick the cardboard box to the ceiling and place your phone inside it with the camera facing down

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6. Use a remote timer to take the shot

If you are getting in the shot yourself and the 10 second timer isn’t long enough to get into the right position you can use a remote for your smartphone iPhone camera  (Note - You can purchase these bluetooth smartphone camera remotes for under $10 online!)

7. Take your shot!

You are now ready to start snapping your ceiling height photo - how easy was that?

Behind the Scenes: Getting Creative with Amy Shamblen

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Hey, Amy Shamblen here! If you follow along on my Instagram (@amyshamblen) then you know that I LOVE color and typography! I’m super excited to let you in on a little behind the scenes on how I created this week’s Creatively Squared challenge #cs_trickortreat. From inspiration to the final image, here’s my steps that I use for all my images!

  1. Sketch it out

When it comes to brainstorming, I like to write random words down that come to my head on whatever subject I’m creating around. Since this week was Trick or Treat, some quick words that came to mind were pumpkin, candy, spooky, and ghost. Since I love color and sweets, obviously I had to go with candy!

I always start with a rough sketch of what I want to do beforehand. I like to incorporate typography into a lot of my work; I was a designer before a photographer and love the merging of the two worlds.

I decided using the challenge name would fun, so I started looking at some typefaces to gain some inspiration. Since I decided to go with candy, I knew that I would need a lot of it in order to bring the idea to life. The thought of lots of tiny objects instantly reminded me of those I Spy books, which was a big source of inspiration, too.  

Once I found a typeface I liked, I sketched it out and refined it until I got a pretty good rough to base my photo on.

2. Gather props!

Or in this case, LOTS of candy! This is definitely the fun part. I wanted something in a pink color scheme, so I picked out lots of candies with pastels. I avoided chocolate since I felt it would stand out from the rest of the bunch and become a distraction.

I made sure I got candies with lots of size variation. The bigger pieces are great for filling in big spaces, and the little ones are perfect for finishing off the edges of the letters.

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3. Lay them all out

Easily the most time consuming part, ha! I keep my sketch off to the side when I start organizing my candy. I first start by separating the big pieces, the long pieces, and the small pieces so they’re easier to locate when I need them. To add a bit more Halloween spirit into the mix, I also used some little bones and spiders from the craft store.

Once they’re organized, I fill in the areas that have lots of space. In this case, the T’s and K were my starting point. I wanted to try something fun with the candy buttons, so I rolled them up and held them in place with some tape.  

After the large areas were finished, I started filling in the spaces with the smaller pieces. I try to find the natural places where something may fit best. For example, the top left of the “R” was a perfect place to put the square piece of licorice. A lot of this process, though, is trial and error to see what works best.

4. Shoot!

Once everything looks pretty good, then it’s time to photograph! I know that it won’t be absolutely perfect at first, but stepping away and looking at it in the camera helps aid what edits to make.

I always use the lights in my studio as opposed to natural light. That’s how I can get those crisp shadows. It also allows me to have complete control over the lighting situation because let’s be real—Ohio isn’t the most ideal place for consistent sunshine. I also use a white bounce card to fill in the shadows of my subjects.

After I touch up some areas that looked a little off, then I capture the final image and get ready for editing.

5. Bring it into Photoshop

I always capture my images in RAW and import them into Adobe Bridge. From there, I can quickly rate them from 1–5 stars and choose the best one. Then, I open up the best image into Camera Raw and play around with the color saturation and luminance to really make them pop.  

I then bring the image into Photoshop. From here, I start fine tuning the image by moving around the individual pieces. Often, there’s a lot of extra space that I can condense by bringing some pieces closer together. This helps form more cohesion within the image. If there’s a lot of extra space, sometimes I duplicate some pieces to help fill in the voids.

Once everything looks fabulous, I crop it down to a square and export it at a web resolution for Instagram!

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Thanks so much for following along on my behind the scenes! I hope you enjoyed it and are inspired to create some fun images of your own!  


Amy is the guest host of our 'Trick or Treat' photo challenge this week (October 29- November 4)

Find out how you can participate here - Creative Challenge Entry Details

You can see more of Amy's beautiful photos on her Instagram account @amyshamblen


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