Styling props …

I am not a professional stylist, nor do I pretend to be, but I do get many complimentary comments on my photos and I often get asked what my secrets are. I don’t have any secrets, but I have picked up a few things over the years that I’d love to share with you.

I like to use ‘props’, these things are not part of my everyday styling and decor of the room, rather personal items and living things that I add for some personality in my photos.

Firstly, don’t underestimate the power of having something ‘living’ in your photos, some flowers, greenery, a piece of fruit, a chunk of coral, even a tree branch … these addition will bring texture, colour and ‘life’ to your photos. You don’t need to make these items the focus of the picture, they are there to add another layer and give your photo some heart. I love using fresh flowers and palm leaves and you will find them in many of my photo’s.

I added some colour, life and vibrance to this photo of my enamel jug and cups (from Nouvelle Vie) simply by throwing in some lemons and strawberries.

The photo with the parrots would have been quite harsh with the dark colours and hard surfaces, the small sprig of flowers softens it and adds vitality.

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The picture of this chair (from Botticelli House), although quite a beautiful chair, would have been dull if it weren’t for the few cut palm leaves that add movement, colour and life.

For the ultimate in living accessories, try and get your pets in the shot, nothing brings a picture to life more than a cute, fluffy animal!

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I also like to add some personal items, it helps people make a connection with the images, I like to see images that look ‘lived in’ rather than staged for a show home. For instance when I’m styling a bedroom, I like to throw in a stunning straw hat, a statement handbag or a pair of reading glasses. For a photo with a chair, sofa or ottoman try putting a fabulous pair of shoes on the floor, think embellished sandals, striped espadrilles or killer heels. Books and magazines are also fabulous styling tools and you will often see them tossed on beds or laying on coffee tables, see this post about using books for styling.

This bedroom photo was styled to look ‘lived in’ and I think the personal items such as the coffee mug and reading glasses help to project that feeling.

Lot’s of you liked this photo of my rattan chair, I think it works because it has ‘life’ with the plant and flowers and the casually placed book makes it look real and lived-in.

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The personal items that are generally found in the space you are styling are the things to try adding into your photo, that way they won’t look out of place. Now, I’m not talking about leaving the remote control on your coffee table vignette photo, because lets face it, remote controls are ugly, but a pretty cup of tea or a beautiful candle would be right at home.  Also, you want to make sure your styling props are attractive, when I say pop a tea cup into your coffee table vignette, please choose your prettiest tea cup, not the one with tea stains and chipped edges.

These are some of my favourite props that you will frequently see in my photo’s and I move them around my home as often as I shower. My beloved Carolyn Unwin nude sirocco hat looks equally great tossed on the end of the bed as it does on my head.

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My T2 Tea entomology tea cup was a gift from a gorgeous friend, I love it and use it often to add a personal touch to photos.

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My Pijos espadrilles are classic and fun, they have a great summer vibe and they often pop up in my pictures, probably because I am always wearing them!

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Candles! I am not loyal to one particular brand, though I do love Ada and Darcy. I always have a stash of candles and use them constantly. I am currently lusting after one from Island Trading Co. The movement of a lit candle flame photographs beautifully and it throws a magical glow onto the rest of your photo (orchard pot from Jill Rosenwald, candle from Tommy Bahama).

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I also like to use sunlight as a tool for getting a lovely photo full of life. Take these two photos below, although they have beautiful subject matters, they are elevated to another level with the inclusion of streams of sunlight.

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Lastly, it is just as important as what you add to your photos, as what you remove or edit from your photos. As mentioned above, we don’t want to see your remote controls, nor do we want to see cardboard tissue boxes, dirty washing, dirty dishes or phone chargers. Yes, we all have these things laying around, ok, well I do, but nobody wants to see them.

I hope you have some faffing fun today and take some photo’s to share with me. Let’s hashtag #faffingfantastic on Instagram. If your not on Instagram (why not?) e-mail me your pics. I will feature my favourites in the next couple of weeks on my blog and Instagram.

Hayley x



  1. Catherine Lynn says

    Hi Hayley thanks for those wonderful tips re styling with photos. since I have put my palm leaves in my big pot/vase the room seemed to come to life so I know exactly now what you are talking about. I love looking at it all the time and as its near the dining table I get to see it nearly all the time. I love the sunlight photos you have also. They do indeed add another dimension to the photo and bring the shot to life. Will experiment on the weekend while the sun is still with us! Have a wonderful day! Nicholas my 3 year old has a runny nose so only 1 hour sleep today. He is so stuffed up, poor thing. Cathyxx

    • says

      I’m so glad you love your newly purposed pot, greenery makes a huge difference. Thank-you for your lovely words and constant support, much appreciated. I look forward to seeing your #faffingfabulous photos. It’s the season for runny noses, poor little thing, I hope he gets better soon. Hx

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