By Janet Alexander.
Resource Magazine is taking a step out from behind the lens to take a look through the eyes of a prop stylist.
For the past twelve years, Brice Gaillard has been working as a prop stylist in New York city. Originally from Jacksonville, Florida, Brice credits her southern roots for the comfortable aesthetic of her style and growing up in her creative household for an appreciation and love of art and design. Brice’s professional prop styling started twelve years ago, working as a junior editor styling and writing stories for interior design and architecture magazine Homestyle six months before it eventually folded. Brice realized that her favorite part of what she did was prop styling. She quickly progressed from assisting on photography shoots to doing them herself, freelancing for House Beautiful magazine, among other publications, by pitching stories to write and for which she’d style the articles’ accompanying photography. Brice explains how vastly different the industry is now compared to the early days of her career. “I’d fly out to the location with the photographer and had carte blanche. Now, magazines are very specific about what they want, and often even have a shot list prepared with a list of what to include.” Nonetheless, Brice takes great pride in the responsibility and creative license she bears in every job she does. “I consider what I do art; I am creating a picture.” Brice emphasizes how collaborative the process is between stylist and photographer to make the picture, especially since there’s no “cover bonus” equivalent for prop stylists.
Over the years, Brice has also witnessed a drastic change in the prevailing style of her business. “When I started out I walked into quiet, clean, Martha Stewart; everyone talked about editing out and paring down.” As of five to seven years ago, a single question has come to be slogan of prop styling, “where’s the humanity?” When it comes to interiors, the overall feel of an image should be, “as if someone had just walked out of the room,” Brice says. Spaces are now expected to look live-in, yet remain polished, appealing, and editorial, or a Brice describes, “make everything look a little bit prettier than it is in real life.” To this end, plants, flowers, and a coordinated color palette of three are the hallmarks of achieving a hyper-real domestic living sense.
Brice’s process is intensive, applying a critical eye and careful attention to her choices. No two jobs are ever exactly alike. Looking at pictures of a space, Brice takes note of what’s missing or needing to be removed before consulting a trusted group of companies from which to buy props and commission designs. Before even setting foot on a shoot location, Brice has already developed multiple options and refined her ideas through a series of drafts. Once on-set, each shot takes about an hour, which frankly, I don’t want to believe is true. “It feels like a puzzle, bringing in the elements to fit together.” Currently, Brice contributes to Coastal Living, Better Homes and Gardens, Traditional Home, and coming up in May, a new DIY magazine, called Refresh.Ultimately, Brice says that the greatest challenge to making an image is making it work.