Simply Jessica Marie

5 Tips for Using Styled Stock Photos for Shop Owners

Learning, SJM Shop, DesignJessica PeddicordComment

Alrighty y'all - it's about to be that time of year.

Black Friday weekend is upon us! Are you ready?

If you're a designer or shop owner, you may be finalizing last-minute graphics that you hope will totally wow your potential customers and make hem decide that they eed to purchase our products/services ver the countless others on sale this upcoming weekend.

How do you do so? 

Aside from ah-mazing products and services (which I know you have to offer) and charming copy - photos are what will really sell your designs. 

They're what is going to help your potential customer envision your product in their life, and feel confident in the quality even before they receive that holiday cheer filled package in the mail.

My not-so-secret weapon? SC Stockshop styled stock photos.

And lucky us - they're on sale through Friday!

sc stockshop semi-annual sale

coupon code: STOCKUP40 for 40% off!

I truly believe that my Black Friday Weekend sales have been so successful over the past few years because of the beautiful SC Stockshop photos I used to showcase them in my shop, in the banners on my home page, in my newsletter emails, and on social media. It's no secret that I love Shay's photos, I talk about them all the time! But today, I want to share my top tips for using styled stock photos for shop owners with you, so that you can love using them just as much as I do!

Shay is having a HUGE 40% off sale in her shop Friday, November 24 at midnight with code STOCKUP40 at checkout. She only has this sale twice a year, and one the images in her shop sell out, she won't be adding them back in! So if you see some pretties that would be perfect for your brand and shop, make sure to snag them today!

Custom Calligraphy Wedding Vows by Simply Jessica Marie | Top 5 Tips for Using Styled Stock Photos for Shop Owners | SC Stockshop

TIP #1 | SELECT STYLED STOCK IMAGES THAT ALIGN WITH YOUR BRAND'S AESTHETIC AND COLOR PALETTE

This one might seem like a given, but it is oh so important! Shay has such a variety of gorgeous images in the SC Stockshop, all with unique personalities and color palettes. While I might love some of her blue-hued images, I always stick to photos that have primarily pinks, greens, golds, black and white to stay on brand!

I believe that your imagery should always be as consistent as possible - especially the photos you use on social media. Your instagram feed should look like it is a direct extension of your website and shop, so using photos with props in your color palette is key! There's hardly a better compliment to receive than, "I knew that was your photo before even seeing your username - your images are always so recognizable!" That my friends is brand awareness at its best, and using cohesive color palettes with your styled stock images is a great way to start!

TIP #2 | ZOOM IN & CROP SECTIONS OF YOUR PHOTO TO GET EXTRA USE FROM ONE IMAGE

One of my favorite features of Shay's photos is their high quality. The resolution of her images is so crisp, which allows you to zoom in and use portions of one image at a tighter crop - which is perfect for detail photos of your shop products! Zooming in and cropping the use of one photo in different spots of the image allows you to also get more for your money, as you are technically getting multiple images from one overall photo! Shay styles her photos so strategically with beautifully placed props throughout the image, so often you can get up to five different cropped sections depending on the layout!

I clearly love this image - and used it consistently throughout my holiday designs! The full vertical image was perfect for my Nutcracker Watercolor Gift Tags Variety Set (which will be coming to the Lifestyle Shop on Black Friday!), to showcase all five designs in one image. I then zoomed in and used just the cropped upper left corner of the image for my Nutcracker and Clara Gift Tags Set, and used the middle right section of the image for my Nutcracker Gift Tags Set!

When determining which portion of an image to use for which products - think through the aesthetic that best matches the story of that particular product. For instance, my Clara design is much more delicate and feminine, so I wanted to use primarily dainty props in this image, focusing on the golds, hints of greens, and lots of white. The Nutcracker design is much more vibrant and has a slightly more masculine undertone to it, so the bold black and white gift wrap portion of the design balanced with softer whites and golds was ideal to visually tell the story of his character!

TIP #3 | LAYER DESIGNS AND USE ANGLES

While Shay's images are gorgeous, it is important to know how to use them with your designs to make your end result images look realistic! One of my favorite tips for doing so is to layer your designs and use angles.

Stacking gift tags on top of one another, or stacking a greeting card on top of an envelope, adds depth and interest to your photo. It is one of the best ways in my opinion to make your images pop and look lifelike! It takes the "flatness" out of a flat lay, and helps to tell the story of your product better. When a potential customer sees your greeting card stacked on top of an envelope next to a pen and some washi tape - it helps them to visualize how they would use your card to write a letter to a loved one, write their name on the front of the envelope, and then seal the flap of the envelope with some festive washi tape!

The same goes for the gift tags. Stacking them on top of one another (especially using a couple of different designs) like the Nutcracker and Sugar Plum Fairy near scissors and ornaments will help them visualize wrapping their gifts, adding the tags as the final touch - making sure to select the perfect design for each individual loved one - and tucking the gifts under their tree adorned with ornaments.

Using angles when orienting your designs layered on top of one another is just the icing on top of the cake when it comes to adding interest and a lifelike nature! In real life if you are writing a holiday card or wrapping gifts, everything won't be picture perfect and straight. So, you don't want to have everything at a perfect upright or horizontal angle in your imagery, either! One or two pieces can be perfectly straight (like my Dancing Snowflake Ballerinas Holiday Card and Clara Art Print), but the surrounding details should have some sort of an angle to them.

Make sure that the angles make sense - for instance the envelope is oriented in a way that makes it fit perfectly tucked between the washi tape, pen, and ornaments. Using a variety of angles throughout your image, switching them up from left oriented to right oriented, will create an even more realistic design.

TIP #4 | USE DROP SHADOWS

Once you have layered your designs and added angles to certain elements, it is important to follow that up by adding drop shadows to your products! Drop shadows are the little shadows you see underneath my Sugar Plum Fairy Christmas Card and blush envelope. Without these shadows, the products would look flat and lifeless - and would blend into the white background of the desktop. Adding the drop shadows gives them more dimension, and helps them to fit into the image better! 

But, you don't just want to add a drop shadow that is from the preset of Illustrator or Photoshop. You want to ensure that the angle and spread/blur of the shadow matches the other shadows in the styled stock image! So for instance, when looking at the washi tape and the gift boxes in this image, I can see that the shadow is extending out to the left and down toward the bottom of the image. So, I mimicked that with the drop shadows I created!

It is much easier to explain using drop shadows visually - so take a peek at the video tutorial above for my exact steps about how to use them!

Top Five Tips for Using Styled Stock Photos for Business | SC Stockshop | Simply Jessica Marie Instagram

TIP #5 | INTEGRATE STOCK IMAGES WITH IPHONE IMAGES AND PROFESSIONAL IMAGES IN YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA

Remember back in Tip #1 when I shared the importance of your Instagram feed looking like a direct extension of your website and brand? Well, here's a snapshot of mine from last holiday season! All of the images either use my brand colors - blush, peony pink, fuchsia, magnolia green, and pops of black, white and gold - or tell the story of what I do - custom watercolor paintings, brush calligraphy, and wedding stationery. 

How do I achieve a good balance of those colors and visual storytelling? By integrating and mixing styled stock images with iPhone images and professional images! Having a mixture of a few different types of images throughout your feed creates interest. If you were to use 100% styled stock images in your feed, it would definitely be gorgeous, but would start to get pretty repetitive unless you owned all of Shay's images! In order to make sure that your styled stock images blend in realistically with your overall feed, sprinkling them in between other photos breaks up the repetition and encourages your followers to look at all of your images individually!

For instance, I used a lot of Shay's styled stock photos last year with my holiday launch and sales. More so than I normally do in non-holiday, launch, or sale weeks - because I wanted the focus of my Instagram to be about the new products, giveaways, and sale!

However, to make sure I was not being too repetitive, I sprinkled in an image from one of my November bride's weddings (Thanks Jessa from Love & Light Photographs!!) to celebrate their recent wedding, an image of a tablescape design from The School of Styling to celebrate Thanksgiving (Thanks Shay from Love The Nelsons!), and an image of me meeting the sweet Cami Monet at Remedy Coffee (I strategically wore a black and white striped top to match my Insta feed, and it just so happened that she was wearing one too, so we blended perfectly in with my brand aesthetic!). 

I also made sure to switch up the different types of styled stock photos I shared - making sure not to share the same image twice in a row. Using different layflat desktop images, upright desk images, and frame images together makes it a bit less obvious that you are using a styled stock image, yet again making the designs and images appear more lifelike in your feed!

I hope these top five tips for using SC Stockshop photos for your online shop have been helpful!! If you have any other questions about how I use Shay's photos to elevate my brand, shop, and social media, let me know! I'll either answer your question in the comments below, or do a video tutorial or another blog post if the question is more in-depth!

Thank you so much Shay for providing such incredible images for us to use, and to allow us to do business beautifully, as you would say! 

Please note: There are affiliate links in this blog post. However, I would still share this same post and recommend the SC Stockshop without being an affiliate - I truly believe in the business-changing power of her images!

3 Classic Cocktail Recipes to Make for Holiday Parties

Recipes, SJM ShopJessica PeddicordComment

It's officially November, which means that the season of holiday parties is upon us! Are you hosting a holiday cocktail party at your home, in charge of the drinks committee for your office holiday party, or looking to bring something fun to your annual Friendsgiving? 

Well, I've got ya covered! Here are three classic cocktail recipes to make for holiday parties that are sure to be a hit!

3 classic cocktail recipes to make for holiday parties

Classic Moscow Mule cocktail recipe | Moscow Mule watercolor art print by Simply Jessica Marie | SC Stockshop

photo by the SC Stockshop

classic moscow mule recipe

serves 1

INGREDIENTS

  • 1.5 ounces of Vodka
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh lime juice
  • 2/3 cup of chilled ginger beer
  • 2 large teaspoons of superfine sugar
  • ice
  • a lime wedge for garnish

DIRECTIONS

  1. Fill a copper mug three-fourths full with ice cubes.
  2. Add vodka, lime juice, and ginger beer and gently stir.
  3. Garnish with your lime wedge - and enjoy!
Classic Old Fashioned cocktail recipe | Old Fashioned watercolor art print by Simply Jessica Marie | SC Stockshop

photo by the SC Stockshop

classic old fashioned recipe

serves 1

INGREDIENTS

  • 1.5 teaspoons (0.25 ounce) club soda
  • 1 sugar cube or 0.5 teaspoon raw sugar
  • A dash of Angostura Bitters
  • 5 tablespoons (2.5 ounces) whiskey
  • 1 cup ice
  • 1 (0.5-inch-thick) strip of an orange peel
  • 1 (0.5-inch-thick) strip of a lemon peel

DIRECTIONS

  1. Pour the club soda over your sugar cube into a chilled cocktail shaker or pint glass.
  2. Using a muddler (or the back of a large spoon), gently crush sugar cube.
  3. Stir until sugar dissolves, about 20 to 30 seconds.
  4. Add bitters, whiskey, and ice, and stir until well chilled, about 20 seconds.
  5. Strain into a chilled double old-fashioned glass.
  6. Squeeze orange and lemon peels over glass, making sure oils fall into glass
  7. Either add a peel to your drink, or discard the peels, and enjoy!
Classic Hot Toddy cocktail recipe | Hot Toddy watercolor art print by Simply Jessica Marie | SC Stockshop

photo by the SC Stockshop

classic hot toddy recipe

serves 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 tablespoons of honey
  • 8 ounces bourbon, rye whiskey, or dark rum (rum would be my choice!)
  • 24 ounces boiling water
  • 4 lemon slices

DIRECTIONS

  1. Pour 1.5 tablespoons of honey in each of the 4 warmed cups.
  2. Add your choice of bourbon, rye, or rum (2 ounces per cup) and then add your water (6 ounces per cup).
  3. Stir until honey is completely dissolved.
  4. Garnish each cup with a lemon slice, serve, and enjoy!

So, which of these three classic cocktail recipes will you try this holiday season? 

classic cocktail art prints

If you love making the ordinary days a bit more extraordinary like I do, why not bring a little bit of it into your home decor?

Each month, I am releasing an art print from the 2017 Cocktail, featuring the cocktail coordinating with that month from the calendar! The art prints will debut during the first week of each month, making it the perfect way to toast to the start of the month!

These cocktail art prints would be the perfect addition to your kitchen or bar cart, darling! They will be right at home next to your ever-expanding copper mug collection and that gorgeous crystal decanter that has been passed down through the generations of your family! These art prints are available in 8x10 and 11x14 sizes, perfect for apartments and homes alike.


Please note: This blog post contains affiliate links for the SC Stockshop. I absolutely adore using Shay's amazing styled stock images to enhance my brand aesthetic, and would 100% still do so without affiliate links!

Simply Jessica Marie Watercolor Postage Stamps for Zazzle

SJM ShopJessica PeddicordComment

Y'all! I've been keeping SUCH a fun surprise from you for these past few months!! I designed two collections of watercolor postage stamps that I am now selling in my Zazzle shop!

Holiday Postage Stamps by Simply Jessica Marie | Watercolor Postage Stamps | Zazzle Postage Stamps | Photo by Callie Lindsey Photography

photo by Callie Lindsey Photography

THE HOLIDAY POSTAGE STAMP COLLECTION

Sending Christmas cards is a tradition I look forward to each and every year! I pick out the best photo to represent that year, and design the most cheerful card. But the joy of sending Christmas cards is more than just the card design itself, it's the ritual surrounding sending the cards!

I curl up in my biggest comfy sweater, pour myself a glass of warm cider, pop in the cheesiest holiday movie, and set up a holiday card assembly station on our coffee table! Individually handwriting the addresses of each of my loved ones makes me think back to the memories we shared together during that past year.

And topping the envelopes off with a cheery postage stamp is the icing on top of the sugar bread cookie! I know that every small touch, including my choice of postage stamp, will bring an extra twinkle of joy to the eyes and hearts of those who excitedly pull their stack of Christmas cards out of their mailboxes! 

Holiday Postage Stamps by Simply Jessica Marie | Watercolor Postage Stamps | Zazzle Postage Stamps | SC Stockshop Photo

photo by SC Stockshop

I created a couple of different styles within the Holiday Postage Stamp Collection: Colorful Classic and Nutcracker Whimsy. 

The Colorful Classic holiday postage stamps are perfect for both classic and whimsical Christmas cards! The designs include classic calligraphy Joy designs (in 3 different color options!) along with watercolor Christmas scenes - like a decorated living room and a festive Merry Christmas Y'all wreath design. All of these designs were a part of my personal 2016 Christmas card design, and I am so excited to share it with y'all!

Holiday Postage Stamps by Simply Jessica Marie | Watercolor Postage Stamps | Zazzle Postage Stamps | Photo by Callie Lindsay Photography

The Nutcracker postage stamps are perfect for Christmas cards, too! The Nutcracker is my absolute favorite holiday ballet (I used to go every year with my mom and sister, and hope to continue that tradition with my own family), which is what inspired this collection. I hope it adds the perfect dash of cheer to your holiday cards this year!

There are 20 stamps in total in the collection, so make sure to take a peek at all of them!

Watercolor Postage Stamps by Simply Jessica Marie | Watercolor Postage Stamps Zazzle Postage Stamps | Photo by SC Stockshop

photo by SC Stockshop

THE FRUIT & FLORA POSTAGE STAMP COLLECTION

These watercolor Fruit & Flora postage stamps would be the perfect addition to preppy, classic Southern weddings - whether for save the dates, wedding invitations, or social stationery like shower invitations and thank you cards. Of course, they would be the perfect way to add charm to everyday snail mail as well! I hope that these watercolor postage stamps help to brighten the day of everyone who receives your stationery in the mail!

There are currently 10 beautiful stamp designs in this collection. I'll be adding more designs to this collection next year, so if there's a flower or fruit you'd like to see added, leave a comment and let me know!

I'D LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU!

LEAVE A COMMENT AND LET ME KNOW...

Which postage stamp design is your favorite? Are you already planning your 2017 holiday cards? If so, I hope one of these designs is a perfect fit! And if you're just now beginning (or if you're like me, and you'll get around to them next month...), I hope these designs spark inspiration for a fun new design you'll create/order this year!

Engagement season is also right around the corner, and I hope these delicate floral designs are the perfect addition to your wedding envelopes! I began these watercolor postage stamps when one of my stationery couples requested designs to match their stationery, and hope that these postage stamps coordinate beautifully with your designs too! (I think they're way cuter than what's available from the post office, but of course I'm a bit biased!)

PS - Did ya scroll all the way to the bottom? That's okay! I designed two new collections of watercolor postage stamps, and you can view them by clicking the buttons below!


Please note: There are affiliate links in this blog post. However, I would still share this same post and recommend these brands without being an affiliate!

How to Use Smart Objects in Photoshop | A Stationery Tutorial

Design, LearningJessica PeddicordComment

Earlier this week, the SC Stockshop launched a new stationery styled stock collection with four new fall colorways. And of course, they're gorgeous!

How to Use Smart Objects in Photoshop | A Stationery Tutorial | Video Tutorial by Simply Jessica Marie for SC Stockshop

If you've taken a look at the new collection, you'll notice that each photo comes in a set of 3 total files that you'll receive! 

In your set you'll receive:

  • One image with invitation paper styled in
  • One image with no paper and negative space
  • A Photoshop file containing smart objects for easy design insertion over top of the blank paper.

And that has led a lot of us to ask - what are smart objects and how can we use them?

How to Use Smart Objects in Photoshop | A Stationery Tutorial | Video Tutorial by Simply Jessica Marie for SC Stockshop

Truthfully, before the SC Stockshop stationery set launch, I didn't have much experience with smart objects! But when I opened up my first Photoshop file from their new collection and realized just how easy it was to use these smart objects - I was FLOORED! 

So of course, I knew I had to make a video tutorial showing y'all just how simple it is to use smart objects in photoshop to showcase your stationery designs! Seriously - the video is only about 5 minutes long, and it really took me a minute or less to actually create the photo! So. Simple. 

Watch below to see what I mean!

I think my favorite aspect of these smart object photo options is that the shadows cast from the paper are just so realistic! I always create drop shadows in Illustrator when I use styled stock images without smart objects (you can watch a video tutorial about that here!), but this is even more realistic looking!

I also love that I can simply use the PDF file of my stationery (remember to hide any crop or trim marks first!) rather than having to create a clipping mask of the design! Less steps needed = more time saved.

Once you've finished adding in your stationery, remember to save your file in your preferred file format! I love .png files, but you could also use a standard .jpg!

After you have your file saved, you can use it to:

  • Showcase client proofs (my couples love getting to imagine how their designs will look once they're in real life - even before we send them to print!)
  • Share the designs on social media (no worrying about having to style your own photos before you get the photos from their wedding weekend!)
  • Grow your online portfolio (these photos are SO realistic looking that they can seamlessly blend in with your portfolio!)

So friend, which photo(s) will you grab? The new collection is full of such beautiful neutral palettes that are perfect for using with a variety of client designs. There are only 10 of each photo available, and a lot of them are already almost sold out!

Here are the photos I personally bought:

 

 

I cannot wait to see which photos you grab and the gorgeous designs you display! Have a question? Comment below and I'll be happy to help!


Please note: There are affiliate links in this blog post. However, I would still share this same post and recommend the SC Stockshop without being an affiliate - I truly believe in the business-changing power of her images!


The Perfect First Anniversary Gift for the Year of Paper: Custom Calligraphy Vow Sets

SJM Shop, Weddings, Lifestyle, FeaturesJessica PeddicordComment

How do you find the perfect first anniversary gift? There can be a lot of pressure added to that first gift to showcase your continued love for your sweetie! Add the fact that it "should" be a paper gift for your first anniversary - how do you find something "paper" that is still nice?

Well friends, I have a fun solution for ya! Enter: Custom Calligraphy Vows.

Earlier this summer, the sweet Emily of Southern Weddings reached out to me about calligraphing the vows she and John exchanged during their wedding ceremony for a shoot they were going to feature on the SW Blog. I loved this idea, and I love Emily, so naturally I said yes!

Thank you so much to the sweet and oh so talented Callie Davis of Nancy Ray Photography for capturing these gorgeous photos of Emily and John's custom watercolor brush calligraphy vows!

Custom Watercolor Brush Calligraphy Vow Sets 16x20 by Simply Jessica Marie Featured on the Southern Weddings Blog and Photographed by Callie Davis of Nancy Ray Photography
Custom Watercolor Brush Calligraphy Vow Sets 16x20 by Simply Jessica Marie Featured on the Southern Weddings Blog and Photographed by Callie Davis of Nancy Ray Photography
Custom Watercolor Brush Calligraphy Vow Sets 16x20 by Simply Jessica Marie Featured on the Southern Weddings Blog and Photographed by Callie Davis of Nancy Ray Photography

Your vows are the sweetest words you will ever exchange to one another as a couple, and they lay the foundation for your marriage. Throughout seasons of life, it is important to let those words of love and endearment continue to leave a mark on your heart and guide your thoughts and actions. Custom watercolor brush calligraphy wedding vows are such a gorgeous way to both serve as this daily reminder and to create heirloom pieces you can display in your home and pass down through the generations!

Custom Watercolor Brush Calligraphy Vow Sets 16x20 by Simply Jessica Marie Featured on the Southern Weddings Blog and Photographed by Callie Davis of Nancy Ray Photography
Custom Watercolor Brush Calligraphy Vow Sets 16x20 by Simply Jessica Marie Featured on the Southern Weddings Blog and Photographed by Callie Davis of Nancy Ray Photography
Custom Watercolor Brush Calligraphy Vow Sets 16x20 by Simply Jessica Marie Featured on the Southern Weddings Blog and Photographed by Callie Davis of Nancy Ray Photography

I can't thank Emily enough for these sweet words! 

"The vows turned out more beautifully than I could have imagined (thank you, Jessica!), and they feel like the perfect artwork for the spot where we lay our heads. I love being reminded of our promises first thing in the morning and last thing at night!"

Custom Watercolor Brush Calligraphy Vow Sets 16x20 by Simply Jessica Marie Featured on the Southern Weddings Blog and Photographed by Callie Davis of Nancy Ray Photography

Have you been looking for a way to turn your vows into sweet heirlooms? I would love to design a set of custom calligraphy wedding vows for you, friend! Visit the Custom Watercolor Brush Calligraphy Vows Set listing in the SJM Wedding Shop to read more about the vow set details and how to commission a set of your own! I cannot wait to read the sweet words y'all exchanged (or plan to exchange!), and turn them into beautiful artwork for your wedding day or home.

PS - Husbands, these make wonderful anniversary and holiday gifts, and are sure to earn you major hubby points!

PPS - Love these darling gold frames as much as I do? They are from the amazing custom framing company, Framebride, and the SW ladies have an amazing offer just for their readers! Head to the Southern Weddings Blog to read more and receive your code to save! These frames are Framebridge's classic gold Richmond frame, for reference!