Instagram Stories: Secrets of a Prop Stylist

Kira Corbin creates sets and still-life vignettes with poetic compositions and compelling relationships

Portrait courtesy of Alice Gao.
Portrait courtesy of Alice Gao.

Kira Corbin has an affinity for objects. A vase of wildflowers, a wood-framed mirror, and stacks and stacks of handmade ceramics are just a few of the enticing items that populate the feed of the Brooklyn-based prop stylist, who has worked with everyone from Jonathan Adler and Tiffany & Co. to Starbucks and Airbnb. Yet her priorities are firmly in check. “I have so many lovely items that I enjoy and would be sad to lose,” says Corbin, “but ultimately things aren’t where it’s at in life.” See how the so-called “professional hoarder” helps make images to remember.

Instagram Stories: Secrets of a Prop Stylist
Instagram Stories: Secrets of a Prop Stylist

THE JOB

“I’m a prop stylist, which means I bring all the stuff to a photo shoot and set it up for the photographer. My job is about sourcing and curating items before a shoot to fit the right mood, then arranging and composing those items on set. In a recent Instagram post I wrote, ‘You know, stuff. It’s what I do.’ That pretty much sums it up.

It’s very much like how you can’t define what makes good or bad fashion sense. You try to make all these rules—‘No black and navy! No pattern on pattern!’—but then someone will do it in a way that really works. Maybe the only rule is that being yourself and going with it is requisite for good style in any category. Your style gets stronger the more you hone it.”

THE SECRET

“For me, styling is about channeling something soulful, so forcing objects into unnatural positions doesn’t do it for me. Like the dramatic beauty or accessories photos you see on a reflective surface—where they’re all upside down flying in the air and precariously balanced against each other. I think it’s because I’m just not passionate about it.

What do people want to know? You might be surprised to hear that on food shoots, you generally can eat the food afterward. Yes! Food stylists aren’t faking things these days—it’s all about natural, real deliciousness.”

Instagram Stories: Secrets of a Prop Stylist

THE AESTHETIC

“I love modern, boxy, airy spaces that are built and furnished with materials that lend texture and warmth, so they don’t feel too stark or clinical. My dream home would be a super-modern black box with tons of windows in the middle of the woods. Which is nothing at all like my current living situation, but a girl can dream.

I try to decorate only with things I truly love, and I have so many handmade gifts from friends that I cherish. But I can’t think of anything I couldn’t live without. That might be weird to hear from someone who makes a living as a professional hoarder. Things are just things: they come, they go, they break, you lose them, you find more. Good people and relationships are where it’s at.”

Instagram Stories: Secrets of a Prop Stylist

THE STRATEGY

“For me, Instagram is about sharing small daily moments when I’m feeling inspired. It’s more spur of the moment. Sometimes I’ll post several days in a row, and sometimes I get too busy and stressed-out. But otherwise there really isn’t a master plan. My only Instagram rule is that if the photo isn’t pretty, I won’t post it. I’d say the best opportunity it’s presented has been a neat new way to network. I enjoy the platform, haven’t gotten bored and fallen off the wagon, so I’ll just keep going as long as it’s fun.”

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