Blog, Workshop

Learning how to take beautiful styled instagram shots with Carole Poirot

Last year, having seen Carole Poirot’s lovely images on instagram and read her genuine and engaging posts, I wanted to know more. She doesn’t blow her own trumpet, she doesn’t need to, her images do it for her. All the photos on this blog post are hers, shown here with her permission. She works as both a professional photographer and stylist in England and France.

Carole runs small workshops teaching the basics of using a proper camera, without it just being on an automatic setting. To be honest even automatic had to be better than my iphone images. I duly booked onto one of her courses. It was to be me and another half dozen people. At the time Carole was using different locations from which to run her workshops and this involved her travelling around laden with props, camera, food and equipment. That is the life of both photographer and stylist, and it can get a little wearisome and fatiguing at times.

To go off at a tangent, my youngest brother became seriously ill, and I needed to be at his side fairly constantly that year, so I had to wait before I could attend one of Carole’s courses.    She offered to give me a one to one day’s tuition at her home, which is incidentally full of fabulous props.

I set off on a wet, rainy, dark winters day feeling both excited and nervous, also I suspected my camera wasn’t working properly. Carole is a brilliant host and on arrival presented me with  delicious coffee and croissants. We went through the vital things you need to know when using a camera on a non-automatic setting. She showed me on hers and then I tried using my camera. I was correct the camera wasn’t working.

         *Note to self 

Check your camera before attending a photography and styling course.

For lunch, Carole had made one of those hearty soups you need on a wet winters day. She had developed and cooked a super delicious gluten free cake that we tried out at tea -time. This not only gave great eating opportunities but also plenty of shooting ones too.

As the workshop progressed Carole explained various rules of styling, light composition etc. she also showed how to manipulate and enhance images on the computer. We discussed styles of images shown on Instagram. At that time her dark moody shots were being much copied, so being ahead of the field she had moved on to lighter images.

It was a fascinating and informative day.  for anyone attending her workshops Carole provides fulsome and very useful notes.

Just as an after thought, if you can’t get to one of her courses Carole has a brilliant web site

It is full of beautiful photo’s recipes and much much more. The piece she wrote last year on photographing flowers is exquisite and extremely useful.

I know that one of her ex attendees now runs styling workshops at £150 a head, so Carole’s course is a sound investment.


Top tips from expert stylist – Hannah Bort

You might have a natural talent, or it might not come as easy. Either way, good styling is simply a must! Super-talented stylist and creative director, Hannah Bort, is an industry figurehead, working with design brands including Fritz Hansen and Graham & Brown, plus retailers such as John Lewis, Marks & Spencer and Harrods. Here, she highlights six things to consider when planning your shoot…

1. Set clear objectives

Deciding on a clear ‘look’ from an early stage will inform the imagery you want to take. If you’re not sure where to begin, often outlining what you don’t want will help you focus on what you do like. Many stylists continually curate extensive moodboards made from tearsheets or on sites like Pinterest, categorising by theme, colour, trends etc. These can be an invaluable source of inspiration when you want to springboard some initial ideas.


2. Consider the basics

What are the images going to be used for? Who is your core customer? How many images do you want to take? Do you need different crops, portrait or landscape formats for each image or are you shooting to specific dimensions, e.g., banners for website use? Will you need to hire props? If so, you should factor this cost into the budget. Do you want models? In which case you need to allow time for castings and consider schedules dependent on their availability.


3. Location, location, location

Depending on the type of aesthetic you are trying to achieve, you’ll need to choose between shooting at a location house or venue, in an outdoor environment or in a photography studio. All have their merits and limitations. If you opt for a studio-based shoot, for example, you may want to work with a set builder to create tailor-made backdrops. Location choices are also greatly dependent on budget, so outline this early on to determine what is realistic.


4. The right photographer

Think clearly about the style of imagery you want to achieve and find the right photographer by looking at websites and portfolios. Do you want reportage style or are you looking for someone who specialises in food photography or portraiture? Do they favour shooting with natural light or is their work mostly studio-based? Have a meeting with them in advance so that you can talk through lighting ideas and the mood of the overall shoot – they can then bring the appropriate kit with them on the day. Remember all images need to be available in high resolution when going to press or being printed. Photographers can help you with crops, work with a retoucher (or do it themselves) and supply you with the appropriate file sizes.


5. Time is money

Set a clear budget before you start planning a shoot and be realistic about what is achievable. Costs can include a photographer, stylist, set-builder, model, location, prop hire, courier, image retouching and even lunch. You also need to allocate the right number of days. Things don’t always go to plan and shoots can easily fall behind. In those instances you might consider reducing the overall shot count to avoid incurring further fees.


6. If you’re unsure, hire a stylist

From initial briefings to planning, consulting, pulling together moodboards, hiring props, organising couriers and location logistics – we can do it all and help alleviate some of the stress of planning a shoot. A good stylist will understand the needs of his/her client, the market they are targeting and translate this into a creative vision in line with your brand’s ethos.

Hannah_Bort_Stylist_Creative_Director_PDF-8.jpg / @hannah_bort




Blog, book review, Book Reviews

The Grown up Guide to looking Fabulous STYLE FOREVER by Alyson Walsh

Being great fans and followers on Twitter of  That’s Not My Agewe are delighted that Alyson has written this much needed book for generation FAB (fifty and Beyond) Packed full of wisdom from those in the know about style trends, looking after your body and mind as well as favourite places to go, the book is small enough to carry in your bag and precious enough never to lend to anyone.

Advise on proportion is given by none other than the late professor Louise Wilson head of MA Fashion at Central Saint Martins. We are shown how to wear colour without looking like a crazy lady and the art of layering without looking frumpy.

Dr Sam Bunting, Harley Street based dermatologist is quoted as saying ‘Take a healthy approach to skin care making the most of you best feature is far more important than having a face full of filler. I may regret saying that, as I’ll do myself out of a few clients’

Six beauty experts tell you which are their best ever products.

As Alyson says ‘That’s not my age allowed me to start a conversation about grown-up style. To share advice and ideas, to meet FABulous women, and most of all, have a laugh. I did sometimes wonder if I was having a midlife crisis on line, but gone are the wobbly ‘is this it’ days of my mid-40’s. I am my age and I’m happy with that. I strongly believe that you don’t have to have youth to have style. That is not about age, but mindset.’

  This book continues the conversation with Alyson’s favourite role models industry experts and women who have inspired her with their attitudes and achievements.

A must buy at £12.99 from hardie grant  books.