Candice Beaty Unwraps the Art of Photo Styling at Condor Chocolates
My favorite part of my job is the brilliant creatives and fellow University of Georgia alumni I meet. Even better is if I find ways to work with them. Last week, I had an amazing morning with a couple of my guide2athens interns learning to make truffles with Chef Peter Dale of Condor Chocolates. I recruited my friend and master stylist Candice Beaty to lend some advice to my student photographer Hanna Friedlander for the blog post she was creating with classmate Katy Underwood about chocolate making. The entire process was a great experience for our group of Georgia alumni and students!
Candice graduated from UGA in 2012 with a degree in Education. She taught elementary school for a few years and began working for Chancey Charm as an intern and then in a full-time position as a wedding planner and event designer. She recently launched her own company which she said is a “mashup of photo styling meets product art direction meets wedding planning and event design.”
I asked Candice to share her insider styling advice with The Southern Coterie to help the novices out there up their game.
Do you have any go-to props?
I use these gorgeous marble bowls and little circular coasters that I use almost every time. It is amazing the difference in a photo when there is a little bit of height added or a little dimension. Sure, I love blueberries just spilling out onto a table top, but when you bring in just the tiniest little addition of color, or the detail of the lip of the bowl… it seriously transforms a photo.
And ribbons, it’s the wedding planner in me, I just love ribbons. My favorite company is Adorn, Mandy is a ribbon goddess. The ability to add softness and texture to a photo with a pop of color … sigh … I want more now.
Give us a rundown on what is in that treasure trunk.
You want the list? You know I have a list!
steamer / iron
safety pins / clips
bobby pins / straight pens
duct tape / regular tape
double sided tape / painters tape
super glue / hot glue gun
lighter / matches
hammer / nails
nail polish remover
cell phone charger
sharpies / pens / pencils
tide to go pens
string / fishing line / floral wire
My most used items are definitely these three:
I use my steamer every single shoot. It makes such a difference when linens and napkins are clean and pressed. It is so hard to photoshop out creases, so a touch of a steamer solves that problem. I also use paper clips a lot especially when shooting flat lays. It is so easy to put a paperclip on a surface and then lay a product on top of it to keep it from rolling or moving around. Goo Gone is my saving grace, there is quite literally NOTHING that spray cannot handle or wipe clean. So thankful for those inventors!
What is the tool you can’t style without and why?
SCISSORS!!!! I mean seriously, think about it, loose ends on fabrics, items that need to be opened, creating clean lines, I mean seriously, can YOU imagine a world without scissors?
For those who do not have a natural eye for these things, what tips can you give that can really improve abilities to style shoots?
I like to pick a focal point and work around it. If I wanted to instagram my guacamole from Taqueria del Sol (this has happened many times) I will keep the green pop of color close to the center of my frame and then I will add items around it. My white napkin or the silverware won’t take away too much attention since they blend in with the white table tops, so those can be strategically placed slightly off to the side of the bowl. The chips are necessary, since the story wouldn’t make sense to just be eating guacamole with a fork (well I do that, but normal people don’t) so maybe I will have the chips halfway coming into the frame, so you know they exist, but they aren’t taking up the photo. Drinks are hard to shoot top down, so I probably will choose my shorter margarita glass instead of my taller water glass to have peaking out close to my utensils. Ultimately the photo has to make sense, you don’t ever want something to look too staged or not genuine.
What things can’t be taught?
Gut feelings. You just can’t teach someone what looks good and what doesn’t.
Relationship building. I feel incredibly thankful that my genetic DNA creating in me a go-getter, happy-go-lucky and conversational personality. I think that this industry needs relatable people who can get along with anyone and who utilize their relationships to create mutually beneficial projects. 99% of my photo shoots are with people who know me or who I have come in contact with before. I love that investing in people and taking time to genuinely appreciate the talent around you, can lead to some of the most fun projects. Those relationships and rapports are so vital to continue in this industry. People have to want to spend an afternoon with you if they want to hire you. So thanks Mom and Dad for my loquacious and energetic disposition! (editor’s note: Her mom and dad should be proud because she truly does have a sunny personality that makes her a joy to work with on projects and I love spending an afternoon with her!)
Do you have a “styling style”?
Oh goodness, that’s a tough one. I definitely air on the side of minimal, less items in a frame can more of a statement. But I also LOVE “beautifully messy” I think there is a way to include many items in a shot while still looking organized and focused. So… mashup of minimal + messy? Sounds oxymoronic … maybe that should be my styling style!
How is styling food different than product? What considerations do each require?
Food is more a featured item. You want to showcase the food. Your focal point on the camera will be the texture, the ingredients, something drool worthy. Maybe take a piece of the cake and showcasing it on the fork, to show the depth of the layers or the different flavors involved. When you set up a food shot, you want the food to be the main character, the other items in the shot have to come in 2nd place. You shouldn’t have utensils, napkins or other elements competing for the attention that is solely the foods.
With product you want to tell a story. You would never just shoot a product with nothing else. You have to give it context, maybe a scene, maybe include other items you would use with it, maybe show the product being used or being incorporated into a daily routine. You have to make the viewer of the photo WANT the product, so how can I showcase it in a desirable way?
Explain considerations (style tips or objectives) you used for The Love List Valentine’s Gift Guide shoot.
With these shots, we had one or two products in each frame to focus on. So I didn’t really have a lot of side props needed for these shots. Instead, I created a really fun splatter painted black and gold backdrop, this way the product was the only “showstopper” but there was a fun and filled background to keep the photo interesting. Also, all the colors really popped against the gold paint. What was also unique about this shoot was that we had to have the products in mind, if a product is more of a luxury brand or maybe preppier brand … we have to make sure we represent it accordingly. Funky and unique shots are better suited for companies whose instagrams or websites already showcase that style. We have to make sure we are going according and respecting the brand.
Explain considerations (style tips or objectives) you used for the shoot we did with Chef Peter Dale to showcase Garden & Gun’s Oyster Stew.
Gah. One of my most favorite and yummy days. This shoot was about a process that led to the world’s tastiest result. We wanted to showcase how the recipes were created as well as the finished product. The subjects changed from photo to photo, maybe I am directing Cheri or Peter on how to stand so they could be seen best, or maybe it was having Peter tilt the spoon at a certain angle so that we could see more of what he was stirring … there was a lot more personal direction involved, compared to when I am just physically moving product as I please.
Bear with me as I try to describe this: Another fun way we tackled shooting the soup was when we really wanted to showcase the finished bowl of goodness with all the ingredients, I piled up all the hearty and bulky ingredients in a big pile within the soup and bowl … then I gathered a spoonful of the soup with the chunks of goodness, and set it on top of the pile, that way the soup bowl looked full and you could see the entire outline of the spoon and didn’t miss the ingredients involved.
Explain considerations (style tips or objectives) you used for the Condor Chocolates shoot we just did with Peter Dale and my guide2athens interns Katy and Hanna. (clearly you and I like working with Chef Peter Dale who also is partners in The National and Seabear Oyster Bar)
This shoot was another process shoot. We wanted to make sure we captured moments of the life in truffle making without staging anything. We wanted it to look natural and blended throughout all the images. This just takes a lot of photo direction, making sure that photographer Hanna knew what moments to capture, pointing her at the different angles to go about shots. We didn’t want to interrupt the flow of Condor, really just be a fly on the wall, but it helps to have two sets of eyes to make sure that little moments weren’t missed.
Candice is a tender hearted person and I feel blessed to have gotten to know her better. She shared her favorite quote by Leo Buscaglia – “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” And that’s the note she wanted to leave us on. “Let’s not forget that we have an impact in this world, that our “smallest acts” have more power than we think,” she said with her infectious grin.
For recent posts by Cheri Leavy – click here