I don’t know about you, but I have the hardest time showcasing things I have sewn for myself. My options have always been either the self-timer on my camera – which involved a lot of running back and forth. Or asking my husband to take photos of me, which equated to him taking about 5 minutes of photos, and asking if we were done yet. As well meaning as my husband may be, neither one of these options were ever very appealing.
But once I took on the challenge of Project Sewn, I knew I needed to figure out how to step up my game. Below is a photo from a post I did this past Winter for the easy faux fur vest. I still cringe over those pictures. What had I done wrong? I was following all of the ‘guide to better blog photos’ advice. White background, good natural lighting, nice camera, etc. But ick.
Glamour shots – I needed to figure something out, and fast.
The number one thing I have been asked since I started Project Sewn is how I manage to get such good photos of myself.
Let me start off by saying that I am by no means an expert. But here is what I did to get from the above Sears Studio circa 1970’s portrait, to today’s Project Sewn photos.
The key is to add all of the advice you have gotten for taking good photos of your sewn outfits, and merge it into self-portrait shots. This means you will need to already know about good lighting, neutral background, etc.
Photography for Bloggers by Vanessa of LBG Studio is a great resource.
I have also found a boatload of information over the years on sites like:
If taking good photos of your finished products is something you aspire to, I highly recommend you follow all of these bloggers. Some of them have posted entire Series dedicated to the subject, and they are all fantastic.
But now merging that information into taking a good self portrait?
Here is what I did…
1. Research, research, research.
I started to look at some of my favorite blogs that regularly post self-portrait photography of their hand-sewn items. Bloggers like:
What were they doing in their photographs that always caught my eye? How were they posing?
I then went on Pinterest, and looked at professionally photographed magazines. What Style photographs was I pinning? What did they look like, and where were their model locations?
2. What was I doing wrong?
I then looked at my own photographs to dissect what I was doing ‘wrong’. Number one, while photographing your product, or a child, in front of a white wall may work – photographing myself was not. I needed to get outside, into more of a natural setting.
Do your hair woman!!! I know this may sound bad, but when you watch Project Runway – one of the clips they always show is the hair and make-up stylist. Why? Because you need an entire package to sell the look. This may include accessories.
What items did I use to help me?
- My camera. Thank you Captain Obvious. I have a Canon EOS 60D, and still have yet to read the manual. I could do so much more with it if I would just put forth the effort to learn all of its amazing features, but for now ‘auto-focus’ seems to be working just fine.
- 18 – 135mm lens, the most versatile and best bang for your buck, in my humble, non-professional photographer opinion.
- A camera tripod. A pain, but way better than trying to find just the right amount of books to leverage my camera on.
- A camera remote. Once I found out that I could buy them on Amazon for $15, I was sold. The very best purchase I have ever made when it comes to blogging photography.
Timing is Everything.
You will find this tip in every other professional photographers post, because its the truth. The time of day you take a photo can be the different between a great photo and a washed out, horrid one.
Try to take them shortly after sunrise or before sunset. The lighting is softer, and you don’t get harsh looking shadows.
You need to get over your self-confidence issues.
This is a big one for so many of us, me included. It is hard getting out there and taking photos of yourself. You feel ridiculous, and may have to deal with people doing or saying silly things, and looking at you funny. Just remember why you are doing it, and know that you are going to be so much happier with your end product. Furthermore, 50 years from now you will be so thankful that you did. You won’t be an old lady wondering why there is only 1 or 2 photos of yourself from the good old days. Take back the camera!
If this is still a big issue for you, I highly recommend taking those sunrise/dawn photos! Way less people out and about.
Location, location, location.
One of the hardest parts of taking these photos is finding the right location. Something that will still be pretty, or at least neutral, without distracting from your finished sewn product. There are loads of blog posts on this subject, and I recommend you look more into:
- Neutral backgrounds that really help YOU stand out
- Rule of thirds
- Vanishing Points, or other objects that will point to you in the picture
The one thing they always asked in Project Runway was ‘what kind of woman would wear this’. I thought about that with each of my looks. I wasn’t going to take sundress photos in a cold place, but rather – somewhere that I could envision myself ideally wearing that Sundress. I wanted to set the scene, in a way.
But please be safe.
I also found that many of these locations, like cool distressed walls, were in the more rundown parts of town or other areas that might not be desirable for a single female to find herself. Use your good judgement and common sense.
Take a million photos!
Don’t go if you only have 5 minutes to get a shot. Wait until you have an hour, then take a million. Do a million different positions and poses, over and over and over again. In different areas of your location, with the camera facing different angles. Get creative! Remember the poses you saw and liked, were they touching their ear? Looking at their toes? Looking pigeon toed? Facing to the side? Do it! Even if you think you ‘got the shot’, take a few more. You want to have 150 photos at least to sift through. Seriously. You may have gotten it the first time round, but until you get home and are looking at them on your computer screen, you won’t know.
Don’t forget the Details.
One of the things everyone likes to see are the details of your hand sewn product. Don’t forget to zoom in on the gorgeous finishing detail work you put so much time and effort into creating! Show us the sleeve, hem, buttons, etc. We want to see your handmade creation in all its glory!
I do all of my photo editing in Photoshop. And even from there, I will head to PicMonkey to get some of their filters. For those of you proficient enough in Photoshop, that step is unnecessary – but I find it easiest to dabble in both. And yes, I use wrinkle reduction and will even airbrush myself sometimes. If my photo is going to end up all over Pinterest, I want to look good gosh darn it! Learned that lesson once the hard way – ha!
But just by following those simple steps, I was able to make a drastic difference in my self portrait outfit taking.
And as scary as it may sound, I actually had a lot of fun! After about the 3rd time in front of the camera, I started to loosen up. I didn’t feel as silly or awkward, it was freeing in a way. And I now love having these photos of myself. Photos that weren’t taken at a wedding, or family BBQ with me in my bathing suit scarfing down macaroni salad, but good photos. Ones that I can look back on when my boobs are hanging down to my ankles and say, not only did I make that – but dang I look good. ha!
I hope that by letting you know the steps I made to make a difference in my selfies, it helps and encourages you to get on out there in front of the camera! Be sure to come back tomorrow for my final look at Project Sewn, I can’t wait…
Happy Memorial Day weekend everyone!