photography tips For sewing bloggers
In light of being nominated for the Craftsy Blogger Awards, I thought it would be appropriate to explain how William and I take photos for Lucky Lucille. After all, it is an award for best photography on a sewing blog that we’re hoping to win! Before you say “hey wait a minute, she doesn’t even take all her own photos”, let me explain that I still plan, direct, edit, and blog my photos. Yes, Wil does a fantastic job of capturing my vision, taking direction, and pushing that button, but it’s still a team effort to do what we do.
Why do I care so much about photographing my sewing projects? Well, long story short: I got bored and frustrated with trying to take photos all by myself with no tripod and no remote. I also got bored with my sewing and with my blog when I only took photos in my sewing room or back yard. I wanted photos that told a story and had some depth. I knew my blog would never remain interesting to others if I couldn’t even keep my own interest with the content I was sharing. So I set out to change that and asked Wil to help me. I still shoot my own tutorials and garment construction photos, but any shot with me in it, Wil gets the credit for.
Basically, this is how we work: I sew a garment that I want to share. Wil and I drive around and find a location either on a whim, or based on some kind of plan for the shoot. I give Wil some ideas as to the theme or general feeling I want to convey with what I’ve made. I also tell him what “must have” shots I need in regard to garment details. Then I let him do his thing for a few minutes to warm up and check lighting. We both review those few warm up shots together and discuss what we like and don’t like. If I’m really having a hard time explaining the shot I’m looking for, I’ll actually have Wil stand in my place so I can take the shot I want and he can recreate it. About 100-400 shots later (yes we take that many photos for every shoot!), we’ll go home and I’ll start selecting and editing the photos I want to share here. Wil actually doesn’t get to see any of his shots until they’re live on Lucky Lucille, so he gets to see the story for the first time along with you!
So what does that all look like in practice? Well let’s break it down in photo form!
First I think about what story I want to tell with my photos. With my 1942 Sears reproduction outfit I wanted to portray a WWII farm girl, but sometimes garments don’t need a story as much as they just need to convey a feeling. For example: did we capture the brisk warmth of Autumn in this shoot? If you can feel the location through the photos, then we did our job. Think about your location and consider props to help you capture the story.
Wil usually does a great job of capturing my visions for the shoot, but sometimes I just don’t do a great job of explaining myself. So I’ll have him stand in my place, and I’ll take the shot so he can see exactly what I want! Obviously, taking blog photos with your significant other is totally different than shooting professionally! In a professional setting I wouldn’t be modeling and directing, and I would trust my photographer to capture what they envision as the best shots. But in this case, yeah, I’m going to ask Wil to stand in for me so I can show him how I want to look in my own photo.
When I use the term “edit” I mean downloading all 100-400 photos into my computer and weeding out the good shots from the bad shots. Bad shots are any photos that are blurry, have light that’s too dark or too blown out to fix, or shots where I’m blinking or making a stupid face (which is usually A LOT of shots haha!). After the bad shots are deleted, I go through a second time and pick the shots that really speak to me. The “speak to me” shots have depth, movement, focus (both literally and subjectively), and mood. I try to pick at least 10 to 15 “speak to me” shots to then import into Photoshop for further editing. Now, Photoshop gets a bad reputation because people tend to equate it with airbrushed faces and making people look 25 years younger. (First of all, I do not airbrush my face, and if I looked 25 years younger I would be a fetus.) Let me show you how I use Photoshop and then you can judge me accordingly…
By amping up the brightness, I have turned this decent shot into a “Wow!” shot. These are the photos that Wil gets compliments for, and yes he 100% deserves them, but again, it truly is a team effort.
If you’re on a budget, there are plenty of free photo editing tools and action filters you can use to help enhance your photos (utilize Google search!). You can also try Photoshop for free to get your feet wet before making the investment.
Another thing that’s important for sewing/craft bloggers is to take photos of your creative process. It helps you create more content for your blog by breaking your projects down in pieces, and your readers will really enjoy taking that start-to-finish journey with you.
Wil and I are not professional photographers. We’ve scoured the internet for tutorials and online classes to help us get better and we laugh at our failures along the way. Which brings me to my next tip:
When you take blogging really seriously, it’s easy to get all worked up about photos. I’m totally guilty of being a brat when the lighting isn’t right or I can’t seem to find the good side of my face. But at the end of the day, taking photos should be fun! Especially when you’re shooting with someone you care about. You’re at an advantage when someone you feel comfortable with is behind the lens, so relax and enjoy it! We definitely do.
*UPDATE – I won! Thank you SO MUCH to everyone who voted!! xoxo*
So with that said, William and I have been nominated in the Craftsy Blogger Awards for Best Photography in Sewing, and I think we deserve to win. If you found this post at all inspiring or helpful, please consider voting for us! The polls close at 1PM (MT) on October 28th. Click this link and scroll down to the second ballot box titled: Sewing – Best Photography. Click the vote button under the Lucky Lucille logo (all other options will dim), then enter your email address, and click the button to submit your choice (make sure the box is checked to vote in this poll!). If you have voted correctly, you will see a light blue image with a boys face that says “thanks for voting!”. You will also see the voting percentages. The winner is determined by number of votes, but only one vote allowed per person.
I don’t typically get caught up in awards and competitions, but it’s such an incredible honor for Wil and I to be nominated for our efforts and we really want to win!
We need your help.
p.s. We shoot with a Canon EOS Rebel T3 in case you’re wondering.