Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Our Summer Kitchen {Haven Recap And Photo Styling Tips}

{Just a warning, this is a really, really long post! Hang with me!}

At the Haven Conference, I had the awesome opportunity to hear from Kevin and Layla of The Lettered Cottage. Yes, I was totally starstruck : ) Kevin and his business partner Josh from Shoot Fly Shoot Photography gave a session on the basics of how to use a DSLR. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I have taught myself during the six months I've had my Canon Rebel, but there was also a lot of good information to be reminded of. One thing they discussed was using a tripod and timer to take the most crisp images possible. Luckily for me, I had just gotten a tripod for my birthday a few days earlier, so these shots of our summer kitchen were the first ones I tried out my new toy on.

Unfortunately I was so excited about playing with the tripod that I forgot the number one rule in interior photography- turn off the lights. So these images have a lot more shadows on them than they really should because I didn't notice our overhead light was on. And that's why practice makes perfect : )

Layla was super sweet and helpful, and her pointers on photo styling were awesome! I've included my notes from her talk here, but all these ideas are Layla's, not mine, so I really can't take any credit. I tried to put several of them into practice for this particular shoot. I hope they're helpful to you too!

Top Five Photo Styling Tips
{from Layla at The Lettered Cottage}

1. Think in 3D
- Think about perspective and creating depth.
{tip} Shoot with the direction of the floorboards to draw the eye through the room
- Create a visual journey.
{tip} Think about every step, from the front of the photo to the back.
- When shooting closeups, don't forget about the background.

2. Group Things in Odd Numbers
- Accessories and collections should be in odd numbers, rather than even.

3. Use the Rule of Thirds
- A photography trick for what's most pleasing to the eye. Google it for more.

4. Use Contrast and Color
- Layer smooth and rough, shiny and matte, dark and light.
- Tell a story with color.
- Pop the same accent color from side to side and top to bottom (Pottery Barn is great at this).
- Give neutral palettes energy with contrasts and textures.

5. Add Life and Movement
{This was the one that was most helpful to me, and that I tried to incorporate into this shoot}
- Drape a towel or blanket across something.
- Use people or pets.
- Flowers or plants are a MUST.

Aren't those helpful things to think about? There was so much information to take in at Haven, I'm not sure how I'll remember it all! It did help me realize that I don't think I want to make money from my blog. There was a lot of discussion about blog advertising, working with big brands, sponsorships, etc. I think right now I would like to focus on earning income from my etsy shop and The Cottage, rather than from my blog.

That being said, I would like to grow my blog. I love making connections with readers and other bloggers. There were tons of tips on search engine optimization and things like that to help you grow your blog, so hopefully I can begin implementing many of those.

I have a confession from Haven...I was totally starstruck and din't talk to any of my favorite bloggers. The first people I saw when I walked in were John and baby Clara from Young House Love. {John and Sherry were the keynote speakers and they were awesome!} I just smiled and passed by. And I was in a room practically alone with Miss Mustard Seed, one of my idols, and I sort of fled the scene. Totally sissy, I know. And I took a class from Kevin and Layla, but never went to introduce myself. Needless to say, self confidence is something else I'll be working on from here on out : )

I did meet several very sweet girls and got tons of business cards of new blogs to check out. I even met the sweetest friend who was also from Kansas, and we got to hang out together for a good chunk of the conference. {Hi, Brooke!} She doesn't have a blog, but she's a fabulous DIY-er with tons of creativity and an eye for style. It was so fun to get to know her while we were there!

Overall Haven was a great experience and I learned a ton! If you'd like to go to Haven or a similar event, my advice is to bring a friend. Unless you're ridiculously outgoing, it's easy to get lost in the midst of all the gals chatting and hugging and laughing. But it has wonderful information and resources you just can't get anywhere else, so I highly recommend it!

Whew! Are you still reading? If you are you deserve a prize : ) I hope the styling tips and Haven recap was helpful to you. Now tell me, what have you guys been up to lately?

{live beautifully}


  1. Great perspective! Great post! Great pics!

  2. Haven, I'm hearing everybody talk about it, I feel really left out. Maybe next time.
    Sounds like you had a great experience. I think I would be totally star struck as well. But I'd also be star struck if I saw you :)
    Thanks for sharing Layla's tips. I'll have to remember those next time.
    Your Kitchen looks great. I especially love the tea cups in the wire basket. Ok I'm done. sorry for the super long comment.

  3. Anonymous6/26/2012

    Great tips! :) I love your style and your blog. :)

  4. Your photos look beautiful, Courtney! And thanks so much for sharing Layla's tips. I will definitely be following them as I try to improve my photography.

    Take care,
    Carolina Country Living

  5. Gorgeous pictures! Hey girl, I've been following your blog for a long time and it's great, so is your photography! Don't think for a moment that there weren't some bloggers at Haven saying, "Wow, there goes Courtney, she is so creative and a really great blog too!"

  6. Hey girl!
    I can't believe I got a shout-out on your blog!! You sure do know how to make a girl feel special, ha! I am so thankful to have met you in ATL, and hope the rest of your trip was a blast. We definitely have to keep in touch, especially considering I have been bragging to my sisters about my new designer friend who offered to help out with the wedding programs :) I thought of a few more questions for you too, so I might email ya this weekend... Hope you're having a good week!

    P.S. This comes as no surprise to me, but your blog is fabo, and I'm loving your etsy shop too!

  7. Wow these are some really great tips- thanks so much for sharing!

    I also wanted you to know that I have given you a Liebster Blog Award over at my blog. Don't feel obligated to play along...but I thought you might enjoy this.

    Anna (Navarre Charm)

  8. Omg Courtney! usually my eyes start glazing over when I click onto a long post.. but I have hung on every word you have typed. You have made everything sound so easy and I am hugely inspired! is hugely a word??
    I can't believe you held back at the event... your blog is up there with the best!
    Having said that I think I would have been slightly intimidated as I am new to blogland and probably would have just made like a sponge and absorb anything I could.
    Bec x

  9. What a great post Courtney! Love the photography tips! I am definitely going to implement them!! I have come a long way, but have a long way to go, too!

    Your photos are so lovely. Like a breath of fresh air! Thanks so much for sharing!!
    Have a wonderful Friday!

  10. Hey Courtney!
    Thanks for the sweet words! I just published a post about my Haven experience too. I was SO nervous about going, and thought surely I would run out of the room when they handed me the mic. I'm so glad you enjoyed my little part of our session....I really hope we can meet each other next year! :-D


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