Looking back . . .

by Carys - Stylist for The Prop Factory

Tuesday 3rd December 2019 12:58:44


This week I'm looking back to a photoshoot from two years ago at the very beginning of my exciting adventure with The Prop Factory! My first styled shoot when I joined the company was a winter tablescape in the lovely Italian garden at Deer Park Country House here in Devon.

The setup was simple and used just one of our rustic wooden farmhouse tables with a farmhouse bench on either side. Prop Factory Director Carmen had given me a brief to create a grand wintery tablescape dressing that included our two new dark brass effect metal urns. When I look back it's amazing to see how small scale our photoshoots, like this one, were compared to the full blown sets we now produce with a full team of suppliers.Deer Park was hosting an open day for wedding customers and this table in the garden was designed to grab the attention of potential customers looking for a creative eating arrangement. 

I remember that this photoshoot happened on an incredibly chilly day. The weather was very much like we've had this week down here in the West Country - frosty with bright, crisp sunshine. I could see my breath as we set up the table, moving it back and forth until it was perfectly centred within the Italian garden. At the time of my early shoots we weren't always able to collaborate with a tableware company or florist, especially for a small shoot where we wanted images to use straight away, so we generally worked with what we had.Fortunately we owned a good tableware selection to use for occasions like this. Carmen had gradually collected boxes and boxes of pretty sets of china to choose from. I could almost always find something suitable and, if not, a visit to local charity shops would solve the problem. I had fished out a few bits earlier in the week which I thought would work when layered up. I'd also found some burgundy velvet curtain material in the scraps box that would be perfect as a table runner. Although both Carmen and I had an interest in floristry, we have no formal training, so I found making the arrangements in the urns the most challenging part of the styling. All we had to use were a few bits of foliage we'd plucked from Carmen's garden and some cuttings from the woods surrounding Deer Park. The metal urns are deep and completely empty when you hire them.To create the lovely bouquets you see on the table we filled the bases with oasis before adding plenty of deep green Christmas tree foliage. We broke up the shape by adding pine cones and autumnal leaves and found some baubles that we attached to long sticks and poked in among the greenery. I was really pleased with the finished look and am glad to be able to share it with you as an example of what you can do yourself. This is a lovely idea to recreate if you also don't have a lot of experience of flower arranging.For a slightly different look, we also have enchanted urns that are very lightweight, but have been designed to look as if they are stone urns that have laid abandoned in a secret garden and become overgrown with weeds. They'd be amazing for a magical forest party!Whilst looking back over these images I suddenly remembered Carmen filming me for a 'how to dress a table' video to post on our youtube channel. Well, amongst the cold, and a slightly uncontrollable fit of the giggles on my part, we ended up with this: a short but sweet seven second video (with me nowhere in sight!)

We have since created a few more 'how to' videos but it's something we're planning to come back to in 2020.Back to table dressing, we don't stock these particular candlesticks any longer, but our industrial brass candelabras would work just as well. I nestled pine cones of various sizes along the velvet table runner. I love the contrast of the wood tones on the soft waves of fabric - it looked amazing through the camera lens and I was really excited to be using a decent camera for the first time since school. This is a skill I've had the chance to really learn since then and I now photograph and edit all our new props daily.We took a few other props along with us that needed new photos for our inventory. It was a great insight into how to capture the right shots for our website. Every company has its own style and its own ethos for showcasing its products. One of the things I instantly liked about the Prop Factory was their love of 'real' styling. All the props are captured at real venues to real scale and the rustic or vintage character of the props isn't hidden away but is embraced and captured as a sign of being well loved. Style of photography and location are, of course, important as well and we always like to give our customers a bit of inspiration by finding somewhere unique to take our snaps.

One of the props photographed that day was our giant evergreen heart frame. This has been super popular and we have since gathered lots of photos of it at real events that you can see on our website. We photographed it leant against a lovely rustic white garden bench to show you the scale and also to make a nice contrast with the foliage against the white paint.

Looking back, this photoshoot seems miniature in scale compared to the van loads we now take out and about. It's quite refreshing to look back and see how far we've come! There's something lovely about seeing just a few bits and pieces arranged simply but beautifully and it's never a bad idea to remind ourselves that you can create something quite fabulous on a modest budget. Plus you get the satisfaction of knowing you styled it yourself. 


Tags: Styled Shoot Styled Photoshoot Photoshoot Tablescape Winter Wedding Inspo Winter Wedding Inspiration Furniture Hire Garden Wedding Garden Party The Prop Factory Prop Hire Stylist Table Dressing Table Styling Brass Urns Looking Back Blog Weekly Blog Garden Party Decoration Foliage Heart Frame Italian Garden Tablescape Inspo