Until I started fashion blogging and taking photos of myself every week, I didn’t realize how many things there are to think of to get a good photo. Oh, I knew not to cut someone’s feet off, or their head. At least I knew to try not to do so. For years Hubby complained about my photos. Hence the reason that most of our travel shots look like I visited Australia or the Yukon or the UK on my own. After one unfortunate travel photo too many, I became the perpetual subject, and never the photographer.
But since I’ve been blogging, I’m getting much better at taking photos. My landscape photos have really improved, and even the shots of myself are getting better. Through trial and error (lots of error), I’ve learned about framing a shot, about trying to get the best natural light, and about adjusting the camera angle so that my head doesn’t look too big and my feet unnaturally tiny. That’s one tip I learned from fashion blogger Catherine Summers who writes the blog Not Dressed as Lamb. She’s a trained photographer and I’ve learned a ton from her helpful posts on how to take good photos. Learning to look at the background of a shot has been the most frustrating lesson for me.
When I look back at old photos of myself on my blog, I cringe at the background details I’ve missed. Clothes draped where they shouldn’t be, extension cords snaking across the floor, or Hubby’s big white and yellow buckets that he uses on the deck to catch drips from a leaking eavestrough. The worst shots, and the funniest, are the ones with a tree growing straight out of the top of my head. In particular, one small dead ash tree behind our front-yard fence. For a whole summer I blithely, and unknowingly, posed for photos sitting in one of our Adirondack chairs on the deck with that darned tree perfectly centered behind my head. I have no idea why I didn’t notice that right away, but I didn’t.
Fashion blogging can be complex. Certainly more complex than I knew when I started. Some fashion bloggers have assistants, or family members, who take photos for them, and people who do their editing. Or someone who is at least another eye, to tell them that their hair is sticking up, that one pantleg is stuffed into their boot, or that they have a tree in the middle of their head. But when you are your own team, the whole team, sometimes there are too many things to get right.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not complaining. I don’t want someone else taking my photos. I’m too shy for that. I’d feel like a prize idiot doing some of the things I do in photos with someone watching. Even Hubby. But I’m not at all shy when it’s just me, myself, and I. And so I learned early on to check after a few shots, about my clothes, my smile, and my hair. The background stuff took a while longer.
Besides I don’t expect to look like a fashion model. I care as much about “thinking aloud about clothes,” to quote Linda Grant, and writing about them, as I do about taking photos of them. More actually. Planning my wardrobe, editing and culling, making lists, shopping to fill niches, and philosophizing about why I’m wearing what I’m wearing are far more interesting to me than posing for photos.
But since yesterday when I ventured out into the frigid sunshine to take a few blog photos, I’ve been thinking about the whole idea of fashion blogging, and taking photos for a post. And how winter adds one more wrinkle to that pursuit. One more peril. Especially when you live where I do. During a pandemic. And after a substantial snowfall.
Yesterday I wanted to see if I could spin a very old sweater, and an even older scarf into a reasonable winter outfit. This charcoal, heathered, chunky-knit turtleneck has been with me since the nineties. But since I retired, I’ve only worn it on winter road trips. When my hair was still blonde and brown I’d begun to think it was too dark for me. That it didn’t suit me anymore. But I’ve been really liking black and dark greys with my new silver hair, so yesterday I thought I’d dig it out of storage and give it another try.
I pulled my old sweater on with my black pull-on Liverpool Glider jeans, my newish Ugg winter boots, white Uniqlo ultra-light down jacket, grey AllSaints cross-body bag, and an old scarf that I found when I dug out the sweater. I love this scarf. And I clearly remember buying it at Holt Renfrew back in 1998. That’s the year long trouser skirts were big. Remember those?
Trouser skirts were styled like men’s trousers at the waist, with a zippered fly, belt loops and pockets, and they fell in a long column from the hips almost to the ankles with a huge slit in the back. I wore my skirt with a charcoal and white striped button-down shirt, wide black belt, chunky boots, and this charcoal woollen scarf. The scarf is not a knit; it’s made from woollen fabric like a man’s scarf. It has black embroidery and a black beaded fringe. I remember that trouser skirt outfit so vividly. I felt very swish, striding down the hall at school in my long skirt and boots. Thank goodness for that slit because I have long legs, and I do tend to walk with purpose. Ha.
Anyway, I liked the mix of black and grey and creamy white in this outfit yesterday, and I was sure it would be great for my next foray out into the world, whenever that is. I was excited to see how it would look in photos.
Let’s just say that yesterday’s photo session was a little fraught. First it was getting on for 3:00 o’clock by the time I went outside. Hence the sun was low in the sky, and had totally abandoned the front yard. Shots on the deck were in the shadow of the house and too dark. Shots on the front lawn were in deep snow so my boots disappeared into the white stuff. I tried holding up one leg and fell over, and my tripod almost fell over too. It seemed using the waterfront with the frozen river as a background was out. So I decamped to the back yard.
Besides the driveway and our street, Hubby’s logging yard, where he’s been splitting wood for his woodpile, was the only place at the back of our property where the snow wasn’t over my boots. The sun cast weird shadows when I posed on the street, including the shadow of my tripod. And the bright yellow “dead-end” sign over my shoulder wasn’t that photogenic. Cement blocks were propped next to the shed, cars figured largely, and telephone wires crisscrossed the sky. Somehow the camera became tilted when I’d moved the tripod, and my feet looked unnaturally tiny in a few shots. Then the wind picked up and tousled my hair, but I was so frigging cold by then I didn’t care.
I scuttled around to our back door to get out of the wind. My hands were freezing, but I knew I should check to see if I had any decent shots at all before I went inside. That’s when my phone shut down. I guess it thought it was way too cold to be taking photos. So I gave up and retreated to the warmth of the house.
Later when my phone was working again, I saw that I had two decent photos. One of which had that stupid yellow sign over my shoulder. So really, one decent photo. And with no where else to go to take photos because of lockdown. And little motivation to go back outside in the cold to try again, I settled for what I had. You see, that’s one thing I’ve learned from fashion blogging. I have to settle for photos that are as good as I can make them. And be happy with that. And I am. Usually. Ha.
I will say that I am very happy with my new outfit combination. That old sweater really came to life when paired with my white down jacket. I have decided I have plenty of “good” chunky knits that I don’t want to ruin by wearing them around the house. And since over the years I have sat in cars on winter road trips for hours and hours in this sweater, I might as well wear it around the house. So it now has a place in the pile of sweatshirts and fleeces I wear in the winter at home. This might be construed as my upping the ante with my WFH wardrobe. Not that I have a work from home wardrobe. Since I don’t work anymore. Unless you count blogging. Which I don’t.
I don’t count blogging as work since our financial stability would not be affected at all if I quit. I do make some money from my affiliate links. Enough to pay for my hosting fees, and for the tech help I now get from Brandon and Tim. But blogging, fashion blogging or otherwise, is never going to make me rich.
It does, however, enrich me in so many other ways. In the sheer fun I get from writing about whatever is on my mind. In being able to yak to you guys about clothes and books and travel, and even to whine a little from time to time. And in meeting through the comments, and sometimes in real life, a wonderful bunch of women who have become a community.
Not to mention the personal satisfaction I get from having from learned so, so much since I started back in 2014. Including how to take better pictures. So much better in fact that I am now mostly in charge of our travel photos. Although, to be honest, Hubby still does take a lot of photos of me when we’re travelling. Partly because I ask him to take a daily outfit shot now. It’s amazing how valuable outfit shots are when one is planning one’s packing for the next trip.
But let’s go back to that one unfortunate photo taken by me, back in the day. The one that ended my photo-taking for quite some time.
It was 2003; we were in Australia, and I ruined what should have been a perfect photo. We were touring an underground mine and Hubby wanted his photo taken with a life-size statue of a miner wielding his pickaxe in one of the tunnels. He had the intention of standing beside the statue, draping his arm companionable across the miner’s shoulders. Like they were good mates.
We lagged behind the rest of the group to get the shot. We had to hurry before the tour group got too far ahead of us and we were left in the dark. After all, we were underground. Hubby had to clamber over a pile of loose rocks to get to the statue. And when he was close behind the statue, actually very close, almost hugging it, trying to turn around and not fall on the rocks, I precipitously clicked the photo. When we received the printed pictures a week later, he was furious with me. In the photo, Hubby looks as if he is in an amorous clinch with the miner. His head is turned toward me with a startled expression, as if they have been caught in a compromising position, as if they were… uh… a little more than good mates. Ha.
That was the last vacation shot I took for a very long time. We still laugh at that… well, mostly I laugh. He’s still a little miffed that I ruined his perfect picture.
Oh well. He’ll get over it. Sooner or later. 🙂
What are you wearing as your WFH outfits, my friends? Whether you work from home, or are just at home, like me. Do you live in sweats? Or have you upped the ante?
P.S. My old grey chunky turtleneck is no longer available. I mean, it is over twenty years old. But I liked these ones below, a couple of which are on sale.
P.P.S. The clothing links in this post are affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking my link, I may earn a commission. Except for the Uniqlo link. That’s just FYI.
Linking up with Catherine and #IWillWeartWhatILike.