Styling tips from Heather Bullard at The Academy France.
The past two days we have spent learning fundamentals from Heather. Really, the essence of the workshop. After the first lecture I left feeling incredibly defeated, frustrated, and really like a failure…and that’s OKAY. I continuously tell my cheer girls that if you’re not feeling frustrated or challenged, you’re not growing or learning.
After the lecture, I went back and looked through old photos that I remember feeling proud of – I can't believe that I would have ever thought it was “good” work. I sat and processed this for a while and decided that these feelings were actually a sign of growth, another step forward in the creative process. What a beautiful gift Heather had given me!
This was very humbling, and allowed me to reflect on my immaturity with gratefulness. I have years of learning and growth in front of me that are sure to be full of greatness.
I have dreamt of becoming an editorial stylist since I was 12 when I started my own magazine in middle school - I spent hours and hours designing and covering my walls with pages from spreads that inspired me. But just like one doesn’t become a chef overnight, one doesn’t simply call themselves a stylist. The past two days have opened my eyes to how much I have to learn before I have the skill-set to book jobs. Of course, I didn’t come here thinking I was at the point of booking jobs, but much of what Heather taught us knocked me down a few pegs. Again, in a great way.
I loved Heather’s tips on photography – especially her thoughts on styling faux pas. For example, over-styling, intersecting lines, unrealistic settings, and contrived styling.
The photo above was with the help of Heather - I was feeling a bit uninspired and she suggested shooting en masse. It was the perfect thing to spark my creativity and help with composition. I ended up really enjoying this shot. I might tweak the placement of the far left piece, and Heather suggested cropping the dead space under the bench out. Overall, I am happy with this and am excited to continue practicing.
and...Not great styling
The first photo is an example of intersecting lines - see how the knife intersects the subject (DIY cleaning solution)? This is often done with lamps and vases in window lines, etc... The far photo with the daffodils is a great example of contrived styling. There isn't flow or life within the photo - the perfectly folded linens don't make sense - and who would put a bottle of soap on top of a napkin? The other two photos are examples of over-styling and forced styling: why are there pieces of greenery strewn about? Is that realistic?
After working on styling, we were treated to one of the most incredible dinners about 20 minutes from the chateau. Heather told us that the restaurant we were dining at is her favorite restaurant in the area, and it did not disappoint. We spent hours enjoying each other's company laughing and drinking fabulous French wine. It has been such a special week learning and growing with these women. I am feeling so inspired and recharged to continue creating.
I think I will end this post with the quote that Heather ended her presentation with. It is one of my favorites, and I think you will enjoy it too.
“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”
― Ira Glass