5 Tips for Styling Better Photos

For this week’s #FeaturedFriday, our friend Mandy of mandyforlenza.com is talking all about styling better photos for social media. Take it away, Mandy!

For small businesses and brands; a cohesive visual presence online is mandatory.  What you post on instagram and what you display on your blog or website, need to be aesthetically similar.  How do you accomplish this?  Well, one way, is to become more mindful of the photos you post on social media.  Working on more interesting photo composition and styling photos can make a huge difference.  Here are a few tips I cover in my mini course, Styling for Social Media.  These tips are a great place to start in cleaning house on what you post for the New Year!

Tip No. 1 – One of the most important actions you can take on the way to producing cleaner photos for social media is simply, use natural light.  No exceptions.  No flash, ever.  The coloring and clarity of your photos will be more realistic without interruption of overhead fluorescent or incandescent lights.  So, next time you’re taking a photo, hit the off switch on overhead lighting and rely solely on the natural light in the room.  A few pointers: If it’s very sunny, you may need to try to diffuse the light with a white sheet over the window.  Also, nothing happens 100% naturally, so be sure to play around with a few good apps like snapseed or afterlight and work on adjusting the exposure, brightness, highlights and shadows.  This will clean up the image and make it post-worthy!


Tip No. 2 – One of the first things I learned while studying Textile Design at FIT; odd numbers are more interesting in design.  I use this theory in styling everything I do today!  Therefore, when displaying something for a photo; whether it is flat lay of clothing with accessories, food dishes or even what’s in your make up bag, use the odd numbers are interesting rule.  One, three, five or even seven items will surely catch the eye of your viewer.


Tip No. 3 – The rule of subtraction, is what I like to call this one.  Basically, when you’re done setting up a photo, remove one item from the frame.  You will be surprised how easy it is to over style a photo.  An overcrowded image will leave your viewer’s eye wandering and not sure where the focal point is.  Be willing to take many photos, however, keep taking items out of the frame to lighten the visual load.


Tip No. 4 – You’ve heard it before but it is worth repeating and elaborating on:  Consistency is key. What does this mean in the world of social media imagery?  Let’s say your images are light, bright and airy using mostly white backgrounds and pastels.  Then suddenly your viewers are treated to a bunch of photos with a gothic undertone with dark backgrounds, just because you feel like it.  This is definitely not an aesthetic match to your previous work and will confuse your viewers.  Keep in mind they are following you because they like your visual tone.  Posting imagery that is completely off that path should be avoided.  After all, consistency is key to success!

Tip No 5. – Last tip and probably the most important:  Be original!  Although this concept is nothing new, for some reason brands are constantly re-gramming and reposting other’s creative work.  Even though it may be credited and even flattering to those you’re showcasing, you are sending mixed messages to your audience.  How, you ask?  You’re constantly trying to gain followers by showcasing your skills and knowledge in your field; however, when posting others’ work you’re suddenly telling viewers you lack the creativity to post original content. Another view to consider, in the short window of time you have to gain a potential customer, you spent it mentioning another brand in your post.  Hmmmm, not the best business plan, right?  So get out there and create some authentic content, just for you.  Need help doing so? Check out my mini course for only $20 here.


Mandy Forlenza Sticos spent 15 years planning and marketing social events in NYC. In 2013, she launched Little Vintage Rentals, which rents table top items and small décor.  Currently, she works as a creative director and stylist for brands and events and offers a mini course, Styling for Social Media for only $20 now through Jan 31 2016.

Why I Chose Not to Do My MBA

As a blogger, hustler, entrepreneur and hopefully all around girlboss, people ask me how I became inspired to create and curate a blog. People also ask “Annika, how do you possibly have the time to work a full time job and be building a brand”? Well, to be completely honest and transparent, I am really motivated to make this work because it makes me happy! I find so many times in life a big decision spurs creativity and passion. For me, this HUGE decision was surrounding the choice of MBA or no MBA.

The process of deciding not to do my MBA was a really emotional one. The whole thing took about six months or so for me to really realize what I wanted. I think this made me dig deep because for so long I had this concrete plan in my head of what I “should” do, which I kept telling myself was what I wanted to do.

In the plan I had set for myself I had come to a decision point, the point where the MBA prep would start. I did all the things I was supposed to do: did my research on schools, joined a GMAT prep course and booked my exam date. Throughout the entire process I found things to be almost painful. Looking back now this is so interesting because I if I am doing something like blogging, even if it is hard work and late nights . . . I LOVE IT and it actually GIVES me energy. Whereas when I was doing all this MBA prep, it drained me right out and actually made me question so many things!


My pivotal moment happened while visiting a good friend in London. She said, “Why do you actually want to do your MBA?. . . You don’t need it”. This struck me like a pound of bricks. At first I thought about the same old reasons like international experience and a good network (which she pointed out that I have a good start on and that those things can be achieved without the $100k price tag). It got me thinking about what the reasons were for driving me to go and spend a heap of money, consume a year or more of my life and take on some massive stress!

After some major inner searching I came to a root cause; I felt like having my MBA

. . . would make me enough and I would somehow be more worth it. . .

This was a troubling but liberating realization.

I realized for many years I had been doing things because I thought I should be, not because it was necessarily the thing that would bring me the most joy or passion. I took a step back and thought about what I really wanted:  Flexibility, an international life, and a creative business. These are the things that drive me, and things that inherently make me happy, why wouldn’t I take them into consideration? This is when the blog was born.

Maybe it is just me, but I would bet that there are many people similar to this. We put pressure on ourselves to be enough. There are, of course, the pressures that we get from society and many that we get from ourselves but there comes a time that you should just do it for you because it makes you happy.

Being a blogger who also works a full time job can definitely be a challenge at times! For anyone out there who is considering starting a blog or even for those who have and are looking for a few tips here and there I can share a few:

  1. Do it because you’re passionate! Like I mentioned above, if you’re not passionate, the tasks and time commitment will drain you.
  2. TIME BLOCK – You’re busy, we are all busy and yes, we all have 24 hours in the day (minus sleep and cocktail hour ;)) make good use of it! I love watching TV as much as the next chick but if you want to build a brand you better get your ass in gear!
  3. Network – I love to network. Networking supported me in my MBA research and in my decision not to do it. Networking is also so important (online and IRL) to grow your blog and your brand! Networking is how I met the FAB ladies @lipstickandmuffinmedia !

I challenge everyone to think about the passions and goals that you have. Are you taking yourself seriously and doing things for you?

Keep Hustlin’

Oxox Annika

Annika Friesen is a lifestyle blogger from Toronto, Canada. The blog Fernweh Society specializes in travel, career, fashion and girlbossin’. You may find her running around Toronto cell phone in hand and jacked up on espressos or sneaking off to the airport for a jet setting adventure. Annika lives with her other half Dustin and their frenchie Karlsson.

Follow her on Instagram @fernwehsociety