Welcome Lydia Toll to Style Tastemakers today! If you don’t already know who this girl is, you’ll be happy to discover her here. Her photography and styling is gorgeous!
ST: Hi Lydia! Lets start by you telling us a little about yourself and your background.
LT: I’m a born and raised Minnesota girl, and I’ve always had a creative bent and a wearer of many artistic hats! I’ve dabbled in many forms of art and love trying new things. From a young age I traveled quite a bit and through that discovered my first love, photography. In college I ventured out to New York for school, studying Intercultural Studies and Community Development, which is another area of passion for me. I had continued to pursue photography, and worked under a few photographers while living out in New York. I learned so much through doing that. It was really invaluable experience. I started shooting a lot of portraits, weddings, and engagement photos, and from there got into styling and more product/brand photography kind of by chance. I love the challenge of styling and photographing something that is new to me, and figuring out the best way to capture it. It is invigorating and life giving to me.
ST: How did you get into styling?
LT: Styling came about a little bit by surprise for me. I’ve always had an eye for detail, composition and balance thanks to photography, but until about 3 years ago I had mostly photographed people and events. Madelynn Furlong of Wideeyedlegless approached my sister and I to do a shoot for her, which led us to work with Lisa Hackwith of Hackwith Design, and from there we began connecting and working with different brands and startup businesses, shooting and styling their product. It grew really organically and was a fun change of creativity that I’ve thrived on. I love the challenge of taking some dishes or linen goods lets say, and styling them in a way that shows off their beauty, adding other props in to compliment and present a pleasing layout. I’ll try different things, move things around, add in a little bit greenery or flaked salt, take out a bowl, and change things around until I feel its right. A lot of it is pretty intuitive, and has been developed over time and experience. The sky is the limit when it comes to styling, and I often use my own personal style along with incorporating that particular brands style and showing off the product where someone without experience or an eye may not know quite how to capture the product best. Styling and photography really do a lot for a product and its success, and having a consistent look and brand goes a long way when marketing a product.
ST: I love how all of your photos tell a story and blend so well together. How do you keep your Instagram feed so cohesive and beautiful?
LT: I gravitate towards an earthy color palette which helps keep things consistent, and even if what I may be styling or photographing may have a variety of looks, I find the beauty in it and try to document it staying true to my style. Styling is not always as beautiful as it looks, it often means five different messes all going on at the same time, or redoing something three times until you get it right, and moving things around until it has that organic, effortless feel. You also don’t have to post everything you style or shoot. People want to see consistency, and if your work is too all over the place people don’t know what to come to you for. Its important to analyze your personal style and pinpoint what is at the core of it to keep it consistent. I do aim for my photos to tell a story and inspire, and share beauty that can be found in every new day, so when posting I try to make sure it lines up with those things.
ST: That is so true. I definitely gravitate more towards a person or brand that gives me consistency. I like knowing what to expect from them. So, how has your styling changed over time?
LT: I think it’s pretty normal for a persons style to change over time, but you often reach a point where you have identified some core values when it comes to style and taste, and those often remain through minor style changes. At least I did. My style used to be pretty crafty, DIY and not as cohesive. My styling has changed in that I appreciate and lean towards a cleaner feel, still incorporating “mess” which I think gives a more real look and approach to styling. I like to see a little bit of grit and imperfectness, and always gravitate towards earthy colors and objects; whether that be pears or greens, linen or wood, I have found my place with warmer styled photos, darker tones and strategically placed statement pieces.
ST: Who’s work inspires you?
LT: I’m inspired by a lot of people and things. I’m constantly finding inspiration from my surroundings, even if it seems like there is none to be found, if you look hard enough I guarantee you can find it. Beth Kirby of Local Milk has been a longtime inspiration to me, she keeps a very consistent style while her styling of props, food and beautiful objects is always on point. Parker Fitzgerald inspires me to think differently about documenting things, and has inspired me with his floral styling and Overgrowth series. I’m often just inspired by the product I’m shooting. I’m a visionary when it comes to styling and photography, and often come up with scenes or a way I want to style something pretty instantaneously. I’ll run with it, and from there add in or take out things, and tweak as necessary. I’m not a minimalist in a modern sense, but sometimes less can be more, it really depends on what you’re working with. I still experiment a lot with lighting, angles, and color palettes that work well together, but the core of my style remains pretty earthy and natural feeling. Travel is another thing that inspires me. I take away little pieces of inspiration from the places I visit. My appreciation for things that are well worn and imperfect grew upon learning about wabi-sabi in Japan, the cobblestone streets of London and the cottages in the Scottish countryside and tea served in chipped cups and saucers inspired my old soul and appreciation for timeless and simple styling. There’s so much to be inspired by, and you are the one that gets to decide what you let change you. Its a pretty amazing thing, really.
(PHOTOS: LYDIA TOLL)