Photography Basics: Easy, Fool-Proof Considerations for Making the Most of Your Photos

Photography Basics: Easy, Fool-Proof Considerations for Making the Most of Your Photos

ayumi
They say a photograph is worth a thousand words. This could not be truer for anyone who runs a small business whose sales rely on photographs of their products or services — which, in the age of Instagram, applies to nearly any business. The photos you use on your social media channels or website can make or break a sale, and are not only forms of expression, but become representations of your business. Like any art form, photography is subjective and there are no right or wrong ways to take a photo, but by following some technical basics when using a camera, you can affect a photo’s mood, the story it conveys, and the tiny details that can help a photo go from good to great.

Today, studio potter and still-life photography enthusiast Ayumi Horie is joining us to share some of the easy-to-overlook technical camera basics that can impact a photo. Inspired by her own passion for photographing the art of making pots (which she documents on Instagram), her approach focuses on still objects in real-life contexts. Whether you use a DSLR or an iPhone, her tips are helpful for beginners, business owners who rely on product photography, or anyone who wants their photos to tell a story or convey a message. –Sabrina

VIEW MORE

Life & Business: Adrienne Arieff

Life & Business: Adrienne Arieff

adrienne_Life&Biz

The start-up story for so many entrepreneurs and business owners begins with: I just started and figured it out as I went. Though starting a business can be scary, this truth is also liberating and encouraging, and certainly proved to be for Adrienne Arieff, whose business launched out of many late-night Craigslist searches, backed by pure determination. Adrienne is the Managing Director and Founder of Arieff Communications, a PR, marketing and social media firm which has been transforming lifestyle brands into household names for decades. In addition to running a successful company with offices in New York and San Francisco, she has also penned three books, runs a business mentor program for 20-somethings and teens, and is an Advisor to UniversalGiving® and Accountability Council. Though her path to self-employment wasn’t a straight one (before AC, she worked as an Editor for Vogue, in-house at Burberry and at UNICEF), she attributes the sum of all of her life’s experiences to her continued success. Today, we’re thrilled to have Adrienne share some of her background, insight and wisdom into the world of business and self-employment. –Sabrina
VIEW MORE

D*S Essay Contest: $500 Prize

D*S Essay Contest: $500 Prize

60e01e2c745a9a6b4080d3ecbc868f58
After last week’s essay about finding a quieter version of myself, I started thinking about how I was much more interested in hearing other people’s voices and stories these days than my own. So I thought to myself, why not open up the floor to all of you to share your experiences and memories on Design*Sponge, just like our team does every week?

This summer, from now until August 15th, we’ll be accepting YOUR own personal essays related to the idea of HOME. These can be personal stories of decorating, moving, what you’ve learned from living with someone else or special collections you’ve been building over the years — any topic or theme that connects to what HOME means to you. The only rules? 1) It needs to be your original writing 2) It needs to come with at least one photo of your own and 3) The maximum limit is 2,500 words. Please note: your essay may be published on Design*Sponge, so please do not submit writing you do not want published.

We can’t wait to hear from all of you and listen to what YOU have to say and learn from your stories. And, to encourage anyone who may be shy about sharing their voice online, we’ll be awarding the top 3 essay-writers (which YOU will vote for!) with a $500 prize. So write away and send your essay to SUBMISSIONS AT DESIGNSPONGE DOT COM (Subject title “Essay Contest”) by August 15th, 2015. xo, grace

*Image above from Matt and Rita’s home tour.

Copenhagen, DK City Guide

Copenhagen, DK City Guide

Copenhagen, DK City Guide
Melanie Haynes grew up listening to her grandfather’s romantic tales and memories about his time spent in Copenhagen when he was in the Royal Navy. Coming from the little girl who, at the time, had an imaginary pet unicorn, she remembers how “it sounded so magical!” Though she was born in Kent, England, Denmark’s capital has been Melanie’s and her husband’s home for the past decade — and the place they’ve raised their five-year-old son. Melanie works as a freelance communications specialist and enjoys exploring the city in her off-time, blogging about her findings and working on her book about how to have a positive relocation experience, which she knows a thing or two about firsthand. To her, home is where the heart is, and Copenhagen has full grasp of her heart for the time being. Today, she’s thrilled to share her take on this vibrant city, bursting with culture and diversity. –Sabrina

VIEW MORE

A Stylist’s Small Space in Southeast London

bedi

A Stylist’s Small Space in Southeast London

My lease doesn’t allow me to repaint. I knew when I signed it that I’d have to live with the dark, yellowish-green walls, hoping that there’d be a way around it later. After living in the building for two months, keeping a clean, decorated space, my landlord let me know that painting my apartment would be okay with her. It was the best news. My rooms are now intentionally light or dark, but not dingy yellow. It just makes things easier (and potentially prettier) when landlords can trust that their buildings will be left in better condition than when first leased.

When stylist and photographer Carole Poirot, her boyfriend Bill and her son Dylan started looking in their current neighborhood, they were only finding rough, expensive places. Their 900-square-foot flat wasn’t much different, but the natural light and location gave it an edge and they have embraced the apartment and what it could be. “Knowing the limitations of a rental property, my main goal was to make it feel like home,” Carole says. She brought the flat to life with space dividers, plants and details that fit within the restrictions of her lease. “Renting in the UK can be difficult as landlords will often not allow you to change anything or even let you hang up pictures that might require nails,” Carole says. “However, after a few months we started to gain our landlord’s trust and were allowed to repaint, which was great as the whole place was painted in horrid magnolia with the exception of the kitchen, which was terracotta!” Carole’s home is a reflection of her and the people she loves, as much as a rental can be. The family has created a lovely, airy place, partially with the earned trust of their landlord. —Lauren

Photography by Carole Poirot

 

VIEW MORE

The Snug New Jersey Home of an Imaginative Duo

The Snug New Jersey Home of an Imaginative Duo, Design*Sponge

The Snug New Jersey Home of an Imaginative Duo

When you call 475 square feet “home,” it’s almost guaranteed that you will be making compromises of some kind. Ruben Hughes and Sarah Nguyen, however, weren’t phased when they first stepped foot inside their one-bedroom home in West New York, NJ. Sure, the limited counter space and storage are a bit of a thorn in their sides, but the proximity to the city, a killer view, abundant morning light and heated bathroom floors made up for that. “We wanted to find a place that would allow us to escape the craziness of the city,” Ruben says. It looks like the two got just that.

When he isn’t holding down the fort as a Global Community Manager for Gap, Inc., Ruben can be found traveling the world and working as a freelance photographer. Without a doubt, his jaunts have influenced his style, and he often brings back inspiration to incorporate into their ever-evolving home. Ruben’s not the only creative mind in the house — his girlfriend Sarah treks to NYC daily to attend design school. Needless to say, these two both have great eyes and it shows in their apartment’s furnishings. When it was time to decorate the space, they relied heavily on their favorite shops Blu Dot, Schoolhouse Electric & Supply Co. and Herman Miller. The couple hoped for a “modern space that mixed the highs and lows,” and I think they have most certainly achieved that. Enjoy! —Garrett

Photography by Ruben Hughes and Veronica Olson

 

VIEW MORE

A Santa Cruz Victorian Fit for a Queen

Sneak Peek: A Singular Santa Cruz Victorian Fit for a Queen, on Design*Sponge

A Santa Cruz Victorian Fit for a Queen

As the owner of Stripe Design Group and two auxiliary decor stores in Santa Cruz, CA, British expat Suna Lock enjoys the city’s Victorian architecture, which she feels is reminiscent of her beloved London. The voluminous rooms and high ceilings of this 1877 Italianate home are situated within walking distance to downtown, as Lock often misses the hustle and bustle of her former urban life. Many of the older houses in this region are carved up into apartments, but the original layout of this one is still intact. After moving in a decade ago, Lock further opened up the space by knocking out the wall between her kitchen and dining room to further integrate the two areas, while staining the floors black, choosing a saturated paint color palette, and selecting unique Mexican tiles for each individual stair. Lock resides here with her children, Thomas and Erica, as well as her love Josh, who joined them two years back.

The designer set out to have guests and residents alike feel immediately comfortable upon entering her home, in contrast with the building’s austere exterior. One interesting fact about the place among many — little alcoves line the walls leading up the stairs. Lock learned from her chimney sweep that these recesses are called “coffin corners,” and are designed so that if somebody were to pass away upstairs, that person could be carried down without scratching the walls. Thankfully, nobody has ever departed in the house, but the family does find this unusual feature useful for moving larger pieces of furniture up and down the stairs!  —Annie

Photography by Tommy Parker

 

VIEW MORE

#DSFloors and Best of the Web

#DSFloors and Best of the Web

Screen Shot 2015-06-25 at 6.09.19 PM copy
All week I’ve been hanging around the floors of our house, distracting our dogs while Julia works on her first-ever solo cookbook shoot (!!) at our house. I’ve wrestled with them on carpets as they tried to sneak turkey meatballs from the shoot table and laid flat on the stone tiles outside trying to make them stop blocking the shots with their tails — so I’ve had floors on my mind. Naturally, I thought it would be the right time to devote our next #HashtagChallenge to FLOORS! Whether they’re made of ornate tile patterns, beautiful aged wood planks, modern tufted rugs or anything else in between, look down, snap a picture and share yours at #DSFloors! We’ll pick our favorites and share them here on DS and on our Instagram feed, too (your feet don’t have to be in the shot if you’re feeling shy!). Until then, here’s wishing you all a wonderful weekend from our little corner of the woods upstate! xo, grace

Screen Shot 2015-06-25 at 6.08.55 PM copy
Screen Shot 2015-06-25 at 6.09.25 PM copy
Image sources above, top to bottom: Whitney Leigh Morris (@whitneyleighmorris), Laurel Autumn (@laurelautumncabrera) and Serena Abraham (@lifestyledbyserena).

bestofweb

bestofds

Cornmeal-Crusted Chicken with White Barbecue Sauce by Rebecca Lang

Cornmeal-Crusted Chicken with White Barbecue Sauce by Rebecca Lang

chix
As a southerner, I’m 99% sure that a deep and abiding love for fried chicken is hardwired in my DNA. I know exactly how I prefer my fried chicken (heavy on the crispy bits, with a side of soft yeast rolls and honey for dipping), but I’m an equal opportunity eater when it comes to different fried chicken recipes. So when I heard from Rebecca Lang about her new cookbook devoted entirely to fried chicken recipes, I listened.

Fried Chicken: Recipes for the Crispy, Crunchy, Comfort-Food Classic, is Rebecca’s new book and it’s chock-full of recipes that are perfect for picnics, barbecues, weddings (why not?) and everyday weeknight dinners. While looking through the book I decided to go outside of my comfort zone and try something different than my usual “no sauce” or “red BBQ sauce only” tendencies. Rebecca has a recipe for “Cornmeal-Crusted Chicken with White Barbecue Sauce” that looked amazing, so I asked if we could share it here today and thankfully she sent it over! If you need something truly delicious to make for your summer weekend, I can’t think of a tastier recipe. This reminds me of July 4th and watermelon and fireworks like nothing else. Thanks so much to Rebecca for sharing this recipe — you can check out her new book and order online at IndieBound or anywhere else books are sold online. xo, grace

bookcov

VIEW MORE

In the Kitchen With: Marcella Kriebel’s Avocados in the Half Shell

In the Kitchen With: Marcella Kriebel’s Avocados in the Half Shell

Avocados-in-the-half-shell
Given summer’s gift of ripe avocados and juicy tomatoes, I thought these very simple recipes for avocados in the half shell with red quinoa salad and salsa roja would be perfect for this week. They are from illustrator Marcella Kriebel’s Mi Comida Latina cookbook. Mi Comida Latina is not only special because it is impeccably printed in large format on beautiful stock — it is also special because of the mission of its publisher. Burgess Lea Press is a new traditional trade publisher specializing in books of high quality from chefs, restaurants and farms, with 100% of after-tax publishers’ profits donated to non-profit organizations that address hunger, farmland preservation, culinary education and other food-related issues, chosen in collaboration with each book’s authors.  Marcella chose Adelante Mujeres in her native Oregon as a beneficiary for her book. Upcoming beneficiaries for other books include Edible Schoolyard Project (California), Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture (New York), The Vetri Foundation for Children (Philadelphia), and Urban Roots (Minnesota). —Kristina

Why Marcella loves this recipe: Avocados add a great richness to a dish like very few other fruits or veggies do. For example, when a salad doesn’t call for meat, I still desire something that lends more substance, and find that avocado is often the answer. I also must say that avocado green happens to be my favorite color! Color plays a big role when I paint, but it’s also really important when I cook, as well!

VIEW MORE

Our Favorite D*S Kitchen Makeovers

Our Favorite Kitchen Makeovers, Design*Sponge

Our Favorite D*S Kitchen Makeovers

When I first graduated from college, I was the design assistant for an interior designer at a small firm. We mainly did kitchens and baths for new homes and renovations. I made renderings, calculated cabinet specs and picked out countertops and color palettes nonstop. Kitchens are not easy or quick. A lot of months and money go into most. Thankfully, I don’t have to make them over anymore, but I have such an overwhelming sense of respect for anyone who makes it through a kitchen remodel – big or small. Over the years, we’ve featured some really incredible transformations and designs in our Before & After column. These are some of our favorite D*S kitchen makeovers to date, and these beautiful spaces reiterate to me that all of the hard work is completely worth it. —Lauren

VIEW MORE

Home Ec: My Top 6 Tips for a Happy, Healthy Home

6 Tips for a Healthy, Happy Home, Design*Sponge

Home Ec: My Top 6 Tips for a Happy, Healthy Home

For the past 20 weeks, we’ve been celebrating Home Ec on Design*Sponge. From tips about cleaning and saving money to tutorials on fixing broken things (or dying plants) at home, we’ve gathered a great collection of trusted home ideas that will help you get through everyday bumps and breaks at home.

We started our first week of photoshoots for our new book, so this will be our last Home Ec post for a while. I thought a lot about what would be a nice way to close this column, and I kept coming back to the way I’ve learned to live at home and what makes me happiest and calmest when I’m here. So today I thought I’d share my happy home “tips” that I live by to get me through stressful moments, and quick-fixes around the house that I believe in fully when it comes to decorating. Hopefully they’ll come in handy if you ever need a little pick-me-up at home. xo, grace

unnamed

This post and the Home Ec section are brought to you by Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day. Visit the Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Home-Grown Inspiration section featuring 20 DIYs, including seven from Design*Sponge!

VIEW MORE

A Relaxed Bungalow in Portland, Oregon

A Relaxed Bungalow in Portland, Oregon, Design*Sponge

A Relaxed Bungalow in Portland, Oregon

Freelance photographer Jaclyn Campanaro and her cat Cece moved into this 1920s-era home less than a year ago, but their style already touches every nook and cranny of the Portland, OR 2-bedroom. Having been all too familiar with the tradeoffs that come with studio living, Jaclyn was eager to use her new, larger house as a backdrop to indulge her vintage-loving side. She relied heavily on Craigslist, family heirlooms and a few favorite local shops to bring her vision of a “relaxed, uncluttered space,” to life. A 1,500-square-foot bungalow that “supports the natural flow of daily activity by being organized and having a place for everything,” was another guiding principle behind all of her design decisions. To prevent her vision from being compromised, Jaclyn even took things into her own hands when it came to a few of her home’s pieces. An IKEA-hacked dining table and a DIY TV stand are just a couple of the one-of-a-kind solves she’s concocted.

Her home’s robin’s-egg-blue paint job, storied accents, and sense of zen are all worthwhile in their own way, but Jaclyn’s humble gratitude for being able to simply own a home is what sticks with me about this tour. It’s what she loves most about her space. Sometimes I find myself slipping into a bigger, better, brighter mentality and forget to be grateful for what I have. I’ll be sure to remind myself of Jaclyn’s point of view whenever I am feeling a bit perturbed about the quirks of my own space, and I hope it inspires you all to do the same. Enjoy! —Garrett

Photography by Jaclyn Campanaro

 

VIEW MORE

Studio Tour: Amy Hamley of Redraven Studios

Studio Tour: Amy Hamley of Redraven Studios, on Design*Sponge

Studio Tour: Amy Hamley of Redraven Studios

In the Pittsburgh workroom of redraven studios, inky splashes of navy, rose, and 14 karat gold stain handmade dinnerware crafted beside candy-colored nuggets of glistening porcelain jewelry. Since 2008, Amy Hamley has designed these sentimental keepsakes that capture fleeting moments in her own life and she turns them into contemporary objects for others to enjoy. Her Canyon Series tabletop line takes inspiration from family travels by reflecting the color palettes of national parks at sunset. Hamley’s adventures are shared with her husband Ryan, whose rural Pennsylvania background influences some of his wife’s additional work by establishing a direct connection to living memories. Around his family farm, the couple finds items such as retired horseshoes, antique bottle forms, and an extensive collection of arrowheads to cast in porcelain. By taking inspiration from the past, Hamley creates mementos steeped in context for future generations.

Redraven studios operates out of a 1,500-square-foot space shared with Stak Ceramics, nestled along the bank of the Allegheny River in the Sharpsburg section of the city. When they moved in about a year and a half ago, the trio of artisans built the wall shelving, work stations, and updated the electrical panel to accommodate three kilns. The heat generated by several ovens firing at 2,200 degrees lends the room tropical temperatures year-round, though domestic roadtrips are always preferable. —Annie

Photography by Janelle Bendycki, except where noted

VIEW MORE

DIY Ladder Shelf Shoe Storage

DIY Ladder Shelf Shoe Storage

DIY Ladder Shelf

We’re all living such busy lives — rushing around, trying to find extra pockets of time to become more and more productive. One of the methods I use in an effort to save myself time and hopefully get jobs done quicker is keeping everything where I need it. It’s as simple as keeping pencils on my desk, makeup by the mirror and shoes close to the door, not hidden away in a closet somewhere.

Although this is a great system for shaving valuable minutes off the time it takes to carry out everyday tasks, it does mean that unless I take care to plan storage solutions creatively, we can end up in a mess. Storage needs to be both functional for its everyday use and beautiful to allow it to be placed in an optimum position.

I love the raw appeal of pine. It’s also a fantastically quick and easy material to work with using household tools. I had the pieces pre-cut (to the specifications listed in the materials list) by my local DIY store, making this DIY even faster to put together. Perfect for saving a little extra time. —Fran

VIEW MORE