26 September 2015

Blogging Lessons - How to Take Your Own Outfit Photos

When I was planning to start my own blog, a big concern for me was how I would capture my own outfit photos independently, without needing the help of someone else. Of course many of the high-profile fashion bloggers seem to have their pictures taken by a patient boyfriend or husband, who just happens to be a professional photographer! Friends and family members may also be called upon to act as photographers and capture outfit photos. While this has its advantages, it's not possible for all bloggers to have this kind of assistance, so it's a really helpful skill to be able to capture your own outfit images single-handedly, as well as being rewarding creatively. The prospect of taking my own pictures outside was intimidating to start with, and I know it can be nerve-racking for others too. With that in mind, I've compiled a helpful guide to taking your own outfit photos independently, which draws on the lessons I've learned along the way. Hopefully this will help to demystify the process. While I'm not a professional photographer by any means, and there are things I'm still learning, I find it a positive thing to be able to take my own pictures, and there's a sense of pride when I get it right. Once you know how to capture your own images, the process becomes less daunting, and you don't need to wait for someone else to be available to take your pictures for you. Read on for my main insights.

A remote control is your best friend

There are some fashion bloggers who produce great images using their camera's self-timer feature and a camera tripod alone, by composing the photograph first then getting themselves in frame. I've seen lots of excellent images captured this way, but I decided this was not the right option for me, as I find it harder to be calm and composed in pictures when I'm rushing to get in frame, and I'm not the most graceful person. When selecting a DSLR camera, I opted to get a model which could be used with a small remote control, with the camera mounted on a tripod. (Not all cameras have a remote control facility, so make sure you check this.) This makes it possible to control the shutter release of specific DSLR models from a distance, in my case, the Nikon D3300, which is the camera used to capture all the images on my blog.
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The beauty of a remote control is you can get into position, then activate the shutter release once you've framed the shot, and the remote control is small enough to be subtle. (As you can see in the two images above, it is there but it's not very obvious and can be hidden in your palm). This also means you don't have to rush to get in frame, giving you a calmer demeanour.
The Witching Hour
Invest in learning

Once I'd decided to invest in a DSLR camera and the various accessories, I realised I would need further guidance on how to operate the camera and derive the best use from it. I made the purchase from Currys, and luckily they offer a beginner's lesson as part of their Knowhow services. During this session, the camera was set up fully and prepared for my use by an expert, and all the basic features explained. I also had the chance to ask further questions. For those who are less technologically-inclined, or just want to make sure they're getting the most from their camera, it's always worth making an effort to take some sort of lesson, or in my case a one-off session in person, to give you added confidence. At an earlier stage before I'd created my blog, I also took a course online to learn more about taking photos for a blog. This was the Indie e-course offered by Elizabeth at Delightfully Tacky, an accomplished long-time blogger and professional photographer. This equipped me with lots of insider tips about blog photography and in particular self-portraits, and I've drawn on this knowledge many times since.
Left my Heart in Tokyo
Make a checklist before you go out

Once your fashion statement is complete, the last thing you want is to get outside and realise you've left an important item at home. Always make sure you have a memory card in the camera and check how many images you have remaining. It might seem obvious, but remember to charge the battery beforehand. I also take a second camera battery which is charged and ready for use. This is especially important in cold weather, as freezing temperatures can cause the battery to lose its charge, so you need a spare one which has been kept somewhere warm, like a coat pocket. I ensure my camera and tripod are each in their protective bags. I take a spare battery for the remote control too, in case it starts running low while I'm out. This is similar in appearance to a watch battery, and is fairly small. Always take a test shot before you go out, to make sure the camera is operating as it should. Remember to check the weather forecast too. Paying attention to the finer details before you go out will prevent frustration later, and ensure you get the best results from your photo session.

Use interesting angles and a range of poses

When you're taking pictures, try to capture a good variety of images, so you'll have plenty to choose from later on, and take a mixture of portrait and landscape photos. It's not unusual for bloggers to take 100+ photos, in order to get 10-12 strong images to be used in the final blog post. When it comes to posing, I like to keep things fairly simple and not too complicated. Most people feel more comfortable when they are turned to the side slightly, rather than facing the camera squarely, and this helps to create a more flattering angle as well, as demonstrated in this image.
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Start by taking full-length shots from different distances. Don't be afraid to move yourself or the camera to get different depths, and capture better light. Once you have enough full-length shots, make sure you take some detail shots too, capturing accessories like jewellery, or sunglasses, or a close-up of a garment or intricate hairstyle. Any part of your outfit which you especially like and want to highlight.
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You can face the camera directly, or look off into the distance if you're feeling camera-shy, as shown in each of the examples below. When it comes to images taken in profile, you'll notice that some people prefer one side to the other. It's all about finding what makes you feel comfortable, and in time, it will come more naturally. In winter, I take more pictures indoors, but in front of a window and turned to the side, so the images aren't back-lit.
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Sometimes trying something different and slightly unconventional can make for a more interesting photo. For example, the image below was taken when I was having technical problems with my tripod. It wasn't holding the camera still in a horizontal position and was causing it to turn on its side. I decided to try out something different and put myself in the corner of the picture at an angle, to see if I could capture any images I could use from the photo session, and this was the result.
Saturday Adventure, A Willow Tree, and Pink Sequined Hearts
Be safety-conscious

Remember to take all reasonable measures to stay safe while you're out taking pictures. While it's fine to seek out quieter areas to capture your photos, don't go to places which might be unsafe or too deserted, and where possible go during the daytime, which is of course best from a lighting point-of-view as well. While you're out in public spaces, you're allowed to take pictures. But there are some situations where photography isn't allowed, for example in some museums and galleries, on private property, and on the London Underground (for security purposes, they say). Be prepared to use your common sense and judgement. Avoid standing in precarious positions or taking risks in pursuit of the perfect selfie. Also, if you're lucky enough to have the use of a car, you can always throw your gear in the car and be prepared to drive off, if your instincts tell you to. You might prefer to stick to familiar places initially, until your confidence improves.
Keeping my Composure
The final edit

If you take care to compose your pictures well and capture the right details at the time, it will reduce the need for editing later on. Even so, I find it's usually necessary to do some level of editing. For me that means improving the light balance, or cropping or straightening an image. I don't edit any more than that, or make changes to my appearance in pictures, but I do make the images clearer. For example, I improved the light balance in the close-up below to remove shadow from the face, as it was a cloudy day and the natural light was quite dim. For all my editing I use the Picasa in-house photo-editing software, which allows me to make changes quickly, and is free. Though it doesn't offer all the same features as a more advanced program such as Photoshop, I find it meets my needs for simple edits.
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That concludes my blogging lesson in capturing your own outfit photos! I hope you found it helpful and will put the tips to good use. Remember you don't need to have model looks or be the most photogenic person in the world to capture great self-portraits. Don't be discouraged if your pictures don't turn out the way you intend them to at first. The key is to persevere. Even professional photographers don't get it right the first time, so don't be afraid to be creative, and above all don't give up!

9 September 2015

Stepping Out

I'm very happy to return to blogging with this set of images taken a few days ago. The floral print top is from the V & A Collection by Oasis (Part 2), which features lots of covetable pieces showcasing real art prints. Although it wasn't my intention to invest in any new summer pieces at this stage of the season, I just adored this top when I saw it, and I'm hopeful I will wear it on many occasions. However, judging from the early autumn we seem to be having here, I may have to wait until next year to wear it again. This seemed like a good enough reason to capture some images of it now. I also donned my faithful embellished combat trousers, and ballet pumps.

I hope you're enjoying the inbetween-y weather and having a good September so far. Stay tuned for an exciting blog post later this month, which will offer lots of helpful hints on taking your own outfit images!

Have a fabulous day and hope to see you very soon. Lots of love Saba xx

Top - Oasis
Trousers - Asos
Shoes - BHS
Hair clip - gift from a friend (similar)
Bag - Amazon (similar)
Necklace - Vintage, Ebay 

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