How to style... your cuppa

As our A/W 16 issue may have suggested, we love a good cuppa here at 91! So much so, that a mug of the hot stuff often creeps into our Instagram feed, and inspired our current hashtag project #91magazine_aquietcuppa. We've loved seeing all your cuppa moments over on IG, and we are looking forward to selecting our faves to feature in the next issue of the magazine. If you haven't joined in yet, or need some inspiration then read on - we are sharing a few tips and ideas for styling your hot drinks, and in particular flat lays in their various forms....

Image by  Caroline Rowland

1.  Keep it natural - What normally accompanies your cup of tea or coffee? A good book or magazine? A snuggly blanket? a biscuit? Style your drink alongside the items that naturally go hand in hand. Yes, it may be meticulously styled and set up to get the right light, but you'll likely still enjoyed your tea under that snuggly blanket afterwards! 

Image via  5ftinf

Image via 5ftinf

2. Get Creative - This isn't your 'i just snapped this over breakfast' shot. It's fun, creative and eye-catching. It is almost the opposite theory to our first tip; it is unexpected and not generally an every day scene. Found, foraged or thrifted items work quite well for this type of shot - food, flowers, leaves, shells or vintage curio. Think about colour, pattern and positioning, and just get carried away with creating a mini work of art! Philippa Stanton's Instagram feed @5ftinf is a great example of this. (pic above) 

Image via  A Joyful Journey  

Image via A Joyful Journey 

3. Style a meal time - using food in your shots always works well, so incorporate it into your cuppa pics and create a breakfast, coffee break or afternoon tea scene. The easiest and most enjoyable way of doing this is to actually make your meal or break time this beautiful! Perhaps opt for a weekend morning when you have the time to clear the table of daily life admin, pop some blooms in a vase, and select some pretty food and crockery to include. Use a photo worthy surface or lay a tablecloth, then shoot your pics before your breakfast date tucks in! 

4. Make your props relevant - a photo styling tip that has stuck in my head for a long time is about making your props relevant. Whether it's a cup of tea or a product you are selling, selecting props that are actually used in it's production make the scene more authentic. Scatter tea leaves or coffee beans, incorporate (attractive) packaging and include other tea making paraphenalia such as the teapot, strainer, teaspoon and sugar cubes. Keep your eyes peeled for vintage, design-led or handmade versions of these objects which you can keep in your prop box.

Image via  Decor Dots

Image via Decor Dots

5. Embrace simplicity and negative space - You don't necessarily need to fill every inch of your frame; opting for a serene scene which takes advantage of negative space can be just as eye-catching. Play around with the composition to find the most pleasing arrangement, consider the object spacing and don't be afraid to allow your crop to cut through some of the props.

Image via  @helloemilie

Image via @helloemilie

6. Use foliage and flowers - I wonder what percentage of Instagram images ever posted include flowers or plants?! Well they just look so blinking great don't they?! Tea and flowers are definitely a combo that not many of us would turn down, so they inevitably pair well in pics too. There are so many ways to incorporate your greenery or blooms - lay a posy or single stem flat, or in a vase, scatter petals or allow foliage to creep into frame - simply play around to see what works best. Plants and flowers help to bring life to your images and soften hard surfaces, and generally help to prettify everything! 

Image via  @newdarlings

Image via @newdarlings

7. Include yourself - Another way to bring life to your images is to feature yourself! Don't worry if you are camera shy - I'm talking hands and (nicely pedicured!) feet - although of course seeing the faces behind IG accounts is always welcome! A hand stirring in the milk, or cradling your warm drink adds a human element to your images, plus you get to show off that lovely new nail colour you've discovered! 

Here is a little list of suggested props - you'll probably have most things around the home anyway, or you can keep a little box of items specifically for styling purposes: 

  • nice cups / teapots
  • books and magazines 
  • spectacles
  • lovely crockery and cutlery
  • scissors
  • blankets
  • tea leaves / coffee beans
  • tea and coffee accessories - tea strainers, spoons etc
  • trays
  • candles
  • pretty food - cake, pastries, fruit, etc.
  • foraged items - foliage, pinecones, shells
  • plants / flowers 
  • thrifted items - vintage linen, old photos and postcards, crockery

We hope you might feel inspired to get involved in our hashtag project, and you may well see your image in our S/S 17 issue due out in May! If you'd like more cuppa eye candy, then pop over to our dedicated Pinterest board...