When Live View Studios approached me to do a styled shoot for Cottage Hill inspired by still life painters Rachel Ruysch and Severin Rosen, I was both honored and intrigued. Still life art is not normally something I’m drawn to so I had to do a little research on these artists. I became completely fascinated by Rachel Ruysch, a painter who lived from 1664-1750, and focused her still life art on flowers. She became the best documented woman painter in the Dutch Golden Age and was clearly a woman who fit herself in a man’s world at the time. The more I looked at her work, I found myself being drawn into her use of shadows, lights and colors. It is as if her paintings jump off the canvas.
While I couldn’t relate as much to Severin Roesen’s story, I was interested by how similar these two artists were in their techniques, although separated by over 150 years. Although I wasn’t as drawn to his work as Rachel’s, I have an overall love and appreciation for all art which made me respect him as well.
I was so thrilled to work again with Live View Studios on this shoot. Styling a shoot inspired by paintings leads to interesting conversations regarding the use of light and shadows. Creating something with a camera is a lot different than creating something with a paintbrush. We focused on creating the same impact of abundance as the paintings despite using different mediums to portray it. It proved a very rewarding challenge that I was thrilled to be a part of.
Believe it or not, ‘styling’ is nothing new. Whether a wedding designer, editorial stylist, fashion stylist – all of these people who are creating a scene or a moment are exercising a creative talent that has been around for years. We can see this by looking to art, and today, we created this Cottage Hill Original inspired specifically inspired by still life art by Rachel Ruysch and Severin Roesen. Special thanks to Live View Studios, Michelle Wright Events and Amy Lynn Originals for creating this unique shoot.
One thing to understand is that styling is also not exclusive to creative professionals. A photographer will work with a stylist at a wedding to make sure the bride and groom’s wedding invitation suite is captured as beautifully as possible. However, how many times have you attempted to perfectly capture a fun brunch at your favorite restaurant before sharing on social media? Or, how many times have you rearranged your living room furniture? Or, perhaps most common, how many times have you gotten dressed in the morning trying to find a combination of clothing and accessories to best suit your mood?
It is natural to create and seek beauty in our lives. And anyone who has a Pinterest account has probably learned a few things on the principles of styling or design. For example, one of the most common ‘rules’ is the rule of thirds. If you are putting an outfit together, fashion stylists will tell you that the easiest success to an outfit is to wear three key pieces. Ever wonder how a belt can complete an outfit? That’s because it’s the secret third piece. Hanging photographs on your wall works best when they are collaged in odd numbers.
The rule of thirds also works in capturing a moment, meaning, you use one third or two thirds of the photograph for white space or content. You can see this method often in films. Pay attention to the next movie you watch and you can see how it applies.
When a designer sets a scene there are so many other aspects to consider like light, focus, content, support, direction, color, texture and pattern. The possibilities can be overwhelming, but that is where creating from a story or inspired by a feeling helps makes those decisions easier. And we think, the end results creates a much more intentional shoot focusing on a purpose rather than just the ‘pretty.’
Looking back on Ruysch’s and Roesen’s work, you can see they both used similar content, light colors and textures; but their work also exudes similar feelings based on their similar choices. Although separated by about 200 years, their work implies a sense of abundance that is nearly unrealistic with Roesen’s overflowing bounty of fruit and Ruysch’s floral arrangements designed in such a way it would have been difficult for the flowers to support each other so well. Overall though, their work feels abundant, brilliant, rich and touch fantastical.
Now observe the work of our amazing creative team. How does their work compare to those words? Don’t the photos look abundant, brilliant? Are there other words you would use to describe their finished scenes? What about their choices in styling principles? Do you notice how the light from the candles changes the mood of the entire piece? Did the color of the watermelon draw your eye? Or the delicate bend of a poppy pull you to what is on the table? Just take notice of the decisions made and remember, there are no right or wrong answers.
These same ideas of styling can be applied to your everyday life. Perhaps you can pull from Ruysch and Roesen for your next brunch photograph allowing some fruit to fall from your plate directing the eye to a pretty fork. Maybe you rearrange your furniture so the side table that typically holds a floral arrangement is showcased in the best light. Or, you add that third piece to your outfit that pulls it all together.
Overall, you want to remember not only will these ideas inspire beauty around you, but will help you more successfully share a message. How do you want people to feel when they see your social media feed, your home, your outfit, your wedding, your work? What is the intention behind it? Then, you can make clear decisions and create your own everyday masterpieces from there!