Photo Styling with Ginny Au

April 11, 2015

All Images
Jennifer Hagler Photography

By Buffy York

Lately I have found myself signing up to do things and not having a clue what to expect and certainly not being able to predict the outcome.  For example, this little blog thing I have going.  When I started blogging I had no clue the amount of planning and time and effort it would take just to do one post.  On days that we are shooting recipes, I have often thought I am doing the jobs of a full magazine staff, from creating the shopping list to photo styling.  While I am a professional grocery shopper, photo styling is not my strong suit.  I happened to run across a post on The Nest’s Instagram feed about a photo styling workshop taught by Ginny Au that would take place in Birmingham. I decided to broaden my skill set and sign up for the class.

I coaxed a few of my friends into taking the class as well and we showed up at The Nest on one of those crazy cold “Late Start” days we had in Alabama back in March.  Again, not knowing what to expect, we cruised in to find ourselves surrounded with professional photographers, wedding coordinators and magazine stylists from around the state, and one of our classmates had flown in from Chicago just take Ginny Au‘s one day workshop.  As if I wasn’t aware yet that this was not your average class, Ginny started to speak in her perfectly cool British accent.  Ginny is a big deal and it was all coming clear that I might have been slightly out of my league when she started telling us how she is a super selective wedding stylist who only works with 3 or 4 brides a year to set the tone of their weddings.  Typically these are destination weddings, and by destination I am not talking about a Sandals resort in Jamaica.  Most of the weddings Ginny styles take place across the pond, and as you can see from her style in the photos above she likes to keep things simple and elegant, yet deconstructed.

After an hour or so of Ginny sharing her styling philosophy she broke us into groups and charged us with styling our own table setting and invitation suite as well as working with a model.  Ginny challenged us to break out of our comfort zone and leave perfection at the door.  Using linen table cloths and napkins and handmade silk ribbon from Ginny’s own company, beautiful flowers and the most amazing collection of props, my partners and I worked to create the settings for the photographs above.  I could not begin to tell you the process of what we created, other than to let you know there was lots of moving things around and lots of trial and error.  Overall it was an amazing day and I am so glad I was a part of it.  I hope you enjoy the photographs above as much as we enjoyed styling them.

One of my partners was Sidney Bragiel who is a prop designer and photo stylist for Celebrate Magazine.  Sidney also blogs at Sidney the Stylist, and after spending the day together, laughing at ourselves and drawing inspiration from each other, we decided to each blog about our experiences.  Check out Sidney’s post here.  

Refined Campus Living with Dorm Decor

April 7, 2015

All Images
Jennifer Hagler Photography

By Buffy York

Let’s face it.  The typical dorm room is ugly.  Most have concrete walls, stone floors, and mostly resemble a jail cell – most are in need of some dorm decor.  How can a new college student thrive in such a sterile environment?

Alison Gorrie and Kate Phillips, co-owners of the newly founded Dorm-Décor, have gone to long lengths to find the solution.

My oldest daughter, Elinor is heading to The University of Alabama next year and happens to be a Campus Rep for Dorm-Decor.  She wants her dorm room at Tutwiler to be a slice of home.

Since I’m not a decorator and don’t have the time or the energy to go to multiple stores to fulfill my only daughter’s dream of a refined dorm room, we went to the Dorm Décor showroom in Birmingham, Alabama and did the deed in one stop and one hour.

While we were there, I also knocked out all of my graduation gift shopping.  Check!

When I went to Alabama 30 years ago, I found my dorm decor in our attic.  I ended up with a peach covered comforter, mismatched sheets, a torn quilt, and a pillow that no one else wanted.  I was secretly jealous of the girls who had matching comforters, rugs and ESPECIALLY curtains.  We always hung out in their room, not mine.

Dorm Décor has everything a graduate needs–including bedding, bath, seating, windows, cubbies, lighting, rugs, and accessories. It truly is one-stop shopping.  They also offer delivery to your dorm room for many universities including Alabama and Auburn, so you don’t have to lift a finger!

Their flagship product is the cubbie collection that no tiny dorm room can go without.  The cubbies are custom handmade shelves that can be put over a desk or the bed to add more room for the budding scholar.  And they aren’t just for the girls–they have a “man cave” for the guys that Alison says is wildly popular.

Elinor and her roommate Emily chose the white cubby for over their desk, along with some adorable flower string lights to hang around it for a little pizzazz.  To complete the desk area we choose a bulletin board  and of course the all important mirror.

Next Alison showed us a huge wall of fabric swatches for the bedding and luckily Elinor and Emily both liked the “spa” medallion fabric for the headboard.  Alison recommended a coordinating fabric for the custom, very long bedskirt and a white ruffle comforter.  Since no one would get any sleep on the tiny, hard dorm mattress , the girls went crazy over the mattress topper that Alison spent years finding.  This is no egg crate–it looks like a sleeping bag and feels like heaven.

We added a huge, soft lambskin pillow and a smaller velvet turquoise one with a monogram (they will monogram just about everything).  We loved the velvet fabric on the pillow so much and were thrilled to learn that we could get drapery panels to match!

To cozy up the concrete dorm floor we choose the “So Edgy” rug–a woven brown and white that looks sort of like sisal but is ultra soft.  We also liked the Ultra Plush Zebra Rug in turquoise and taupe.

Sheets (guaranteed to fit the dorm mattress) and towels were easy picks and quite affordable.

Since all of this can add up quickly, we “registered” most of our selections on the Dorm Décor website and just purchased the basics for now.

Don’t have a graduate?  Dorm-Décor has something for everyone looking to spruce up a bedroom.  Most items can be ordered for any size bed.  I found myself wanting to completely re-do my 12 year old son’s bedroom while I was there!  I also have my eye on the ghost chair for my home office.

If you do have a graduate or graduates to honor with gifts head to dorm-dé or contact Elinor Anthony, Campus Representative at

Register below by using the rafflecopter to enter to win a $50 Dorm Décor Gift Card!

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