A lot goes into a photo shoot. There’s the overall creative director; there’s the photographer; lighting team; models; hair and makeup; wardrobe; assistants galore. Someone runs out to get coffee. Someone’s always watching the monitor. Someone else is always watching the time. Is the music giving off the right vibe?
In all this, prop styling is easy to forget. But in a final image, props play a massive role. Take vitruvi’s Simple Moments campaign—it’s not just about styling diffusers and oils, but everything else that’s on display to make a vision come alive. Magazines open just so. Pancake mix dripping down a bowl. A drip of coffee next to a dirty mug. Keys thrown on the side table. Nail polish and gold earrings on the counter.
Props bring a shoot’s world into reality, and when it comes to Simple Moments, the credit goes to Marta Sanderson. The Vancouver-based prop stylist and florist (under the moniker La Bomba, which is opening a storefront in 2022) has an effortless design style, able to channel scenes in a way that feels authentic, easy, and subtle.
Via video from her home, she discusses her love of her craft, how she stays inspired, and how she carves out her own simple moments.
Why were floristry and prop styling passions you wanted to pursue?
I’ve always been a bit crafty in some aspects. I think I could have also been a makeup artist or something creative like that. When I was thinking about what I wanted to do, everything always came back to flowers. I started studying ikebana, which is the Japanese art of floristry. I was a producer for my entire career up until this point, so I’d always been organizing photo shoots and things like that in fashion, film, and TV commercials, and I was always wanting to be doing the craft rather than just organizing it.
For a shoot like vitruvi’s Simple Moments campaign, where it’s supposed to be lived-in and a little messy, how do you approach the prop design process?
What I do is I sort of just sit in the space as if I was that girl. I visualize it all in my head: what’s it like when I make a cup of coffee? I actually do spill a bit of the coffee when I pour it. Or when I make a piece of toast, it’s kind of messy—so rather than perfecting it and wiping down the surface, you keep it. Making pancakes, you’ve got the pancake batter dripping down the bowl like a real scenario. When you get home and you drop your keys in the key holder, what does that set look like? There are probably some shopping bags on the ground. So it’s trying to get the feeling down and bring that sort of warmth into it.
In terms of florals, what are your rules of thumb for how to make a beautiful arrangement?
Because I’m such a visual person, I have to imagine where the arrangement’s going to be viewed. So often I won’t pre-make things; I’ll go onsite and make them so I can get a sense of the scale of the room. I really just design for the space and design for the person.
With La Bomba, I want to do something unique and something people haven’t really seen before, or use materials that are different. It’s not just your typical arrangement that you’ve seen somewhere else—it’s got a little bit of something special.
How do you stay inspired when your job is to be creative?
I do lean into the seasons with what I can source. And I really like looking at what’s happening in interior design. It’s sort of floristry meets fashion.
What are some ways that you find beauty and joy in those simple moments at home for yourself?
Well, it’s a bit chaotic being a new mom.
So you need those moments even more!
In my bathroom I’ve got my little setup—my trinkets, my jewelry, and all my fragrances. When I’m in there taking a shower, I really take time to do some nice moisturizing and exfoliating. I slow down a bit in that moment, even if it’s just 10 minutes that I have the luxury of.
I have one of the vitruvi Move Diffusers, and there’s something about—in the chaos of the space that we have with our beautiful baby—I mean, I’ve been a working mom, my husband’s been working from home, it’s total chaos in our house. A simple moment I feel is once we clean the house and people are coming around, I put on the diffuser and I pick a scent that has a vibe of the room that I want people to come into, or for us to sit in. It’s so nice just to go that extra step.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.