Friday, April 1, 2016

Getting the shot: Stylist Photographer Teamwork

After years of working at New England Home with the most talented photographers in the country, I was really honored with this tribute from photographer Jim Westphalen in New England Home’s ten-year anniversary issue.
While I was touched by Jim’s words, I know it’s really the teamwork of photographer and stylist that makes it all come together. Here are some of my favorite photographs for the magazine, and each one has an interesting back-story.
I love styling breakfast scenes—stacks of plates, cut cantaloupe, a newspaper, coffee, and a dreamy bunch of hydrangeas. Little things like the arrangement of the chairs are important in the layout. You can’t believe how photographers and stylists play with chairs! With its dappled light and Jim Westphalen’s dream-like focus on the tabletop, this simply styled scene became an artful image.

Some room’s cause greater challenges than others like this room in a Lake Champlain VT house.  The vertical architecture of this room was so amazing but the furniture was pushed together awkwardly, and needed rearranging.

It took some quick thinking to rearrange the furniture and rug, then bring in the cool chairs with the British flag motif. The balance of light captures both the interior and exterior lakeside setting.

My favorite room to style in any house is the kitchen. I like to create the feeling of something culinary happening without it being messy and too distracting. It’s a balance that is hard to achieve. While photographer John Bessler was getting all technical lighting issues figured out, I ran around moving props, bowls, cutting boards, food, and flowers. The placement of everything is crucial to create a balance that feels right.
Once John and I agreed on all the props, John focused on the lighting. John made everything sparkle; the beautiful light and the reflection on the floor and ceiling are no accident. Styling does not go very far without beautiful lighting.

My favorite styled shots feel as if someone is in the middle of doing something and just walked out of the room. I worked with photographer Rob Benson on this gorgeous Vermont timber frame home. I knew from the scouting shots that we needed to dress-up this informal hang-out room, so I brought all the accessories along with me. Imagining myself reading magazines with my morning coffee, I created the organized chaos you see.

It was at the end of a perfect summer day when I styled this house with photographer Laura Moss. We were winding and not even sure shooting this simple porch was worth it. Though a charming space, the table and chairs alone were not as interesting compared to the rest of well decorated home. This is where styling really made a difference. 
For fun I started working on the table to make an impromptu setting. I cut the zinnias and gathered grape tomatoes from the immense vegetable garden to make a loose centerpiece. I grabbed plates from the kitchen with casually placed napkins and cutlery. 
The open screen door added a suggestive note (imagine how different it would be with the screen door closed).
When Laura put her camera on the scene it didn’t take long for us to all fall in love with the shot. Her beautiful inside outside lighting captured that quintessential summers eve!

Here I set out to create a unique idea for a garden inspired centerpiece: After an initial sketch was approved by my editors, I headed out to gather all the right props to style the idea. Photographer Michael Partenio and I have shot hundreds of floral projects together. I loved the way he romanced this project with luminous light that brings the project to the foreground, and the background fading away to soft focus. 

 Styling is about making art. For me it’s the push-and-pull of many object until it’s just right. The photographers lighting gives the room, and the props, their form and illumination, which is the real dealmaker.
I’m fortunate to be able to work with the many great photographers that work for New England Home. I'm already planning many of my summer assignments for 2016, and I look forward to all the challenges and beautiful images we will be creating.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Style a Festive Easter Table - KIds Only!

Easter candy, Easter eggs, bunnies and baskets: This holiday is one for kids. The Easter table is a special place you can have fun.

Below are some simple ideas I created for the kid's table that you can easily recreate to make a Happy and Festive Meal!

Use double stick tape to attach crepe-paper-daisy-petals to a dyed egg.  Cut a long strip of petals from a white crepe paper party roll then wrap around the egg.  Place the egg in a jellybean filled terra cotta pot that you can find in your local crafts store. Paint the pot a pastel color. 

There are so many fun cupcake liners available. Place them in an egg cup with an added pipe cleaner handle glued to the sides.  Fill with jelly beans.

This project takes time but you will get lots of praise for the hard work. The small terra cotta pots are filled with a baked brownie cake with a crumb topping. Yes, you can bake the pot right in the oven.  Remember to use Pam!

The stem is a wood shish-kabob spear (painted green) that is pushed into the bottom of the chocolate  egg.

I made the daffodil by wrapping the foiled chocolate easter egg with yellow crepe paper.  Wrap egg to make daffodil cup sqeezing paper at bottom around stem.   With small scissors cut a strip of 5 petals first and then wrap it around the stem at bottom of cup and tape it to hold in place.
Tape green crepe paper leaves to short wood sticks and push into cake.

Have a Happy Easter Celebration!

All projects designed for Good Housekeeping Magazine. All photos by Michale Partenio.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Made with Love Valentine Vase

It's time to create something special for someone special! 
At the super market his past weekend I saw glorious miniature roses with Valentines Day written all over them.
This pint size vase is perfect for mini roses and easy to make from a deck of cards. A fun idea I designed and wanted to share for the special queen or king of hearts in your life!
To make this King of hearts vase you'll need:
7 cards of your choice
Clear tape
Hole punch
20" of 1/8 ribbon, twine or string
1 glass jigger to sit inside to hold water (hey, a jigger makes a nice gift too!)
Miniature rose plant from supermarket, cut rose stems to arrange in vase.
Fold card evenly accordion style as shown. First in half, them fold sides inward in half again. Make sure folds are as shown. Repeat with seven cards.  
* Crease folds well back and forth so they are sharp. You can also use an xacto knife to score.  It will work either way, but the xacto knife gives you a really sharp fold.
Use a hole punch to make one hole in the bottom center of each fold. 4 holes per card.
On back side of cards, starting right above the hole punch, tape all seven cards together attaching  edges.  Cut away the excess tape on the top edge.  When turned over it should look like the picture above right.
Now run the ribbon twine or string through the holes.
Tape the two end cards together on outside so you  have a finished circle!

Place the jigger inside and pull the ribbon to close bottom, knot and cut.
Voila! fill with flowers, candies or some little gift!