How to Take Flattering Photos for Your Fashion Blog
This was supposed to be an outfit post.
It isn’t, though, because, out of the approximately eleventy-one thousand photos Terry dutifully agreed to take of this outfit, this was the only one that didn’t make me want to burst into hot, ugly tears at the sight of it. It’s no co-incidence that this is ALSO one of the only photos taken from the back (Note the “one of” in that sentence: there WERE other photos of my back, and honestly, my back looked TERRIBLE in all of them. Who even knew that was was possible?): when I looked at the ones taken with me actually facing the camera, I honestly couldn’t hit the delete button fast enough.
Now, I’d love to say that my reaction to these photos was purely the result of 3rd trimester pregnancy hormones (They were taken back in November last year, when I was at my hugest and most emotional…), but while that was certainly part of the problem, the main reason most of those photos looked so bad was that I’d totally ignored quite a few of my own self-imposed rules for taking flattering outfit photos. I’m talking about things like…
Bright sunlight is not your friend. Actually, it hates you.
When you’re just starting out as a fashion blogger (And assuming you don’t have much prior knowledge of photography, because, if you do, why on earth are you reading this post, when you could be looking at photos of cats on Facebook or something?), it’s natural to look at a bright, blue sky, and think, “Oh, awesome, it’s SO bright out, that’ll be perfect for my blog photos!” It’s natural… but it’s completely WRONG. Like, could not BE more WRONG. Just wrong, wrong, WRONG.
If you want to take decent outfit photos, the first thing you have to learn is that the sun hates you. It really, really hates you. Honestly, just think of yourself as a vampire in this respect: and not the sparkly, Twighlight kind, either – an actual, ugly ol’, been-alive-for-five-hundred-years-and-it-totally-shows VAMPIRE. Imagine that you will literally melt if you try to take your photos in direct sunlight. Imagine it, and then DO NOT DO IT, or you, too, will end up with hundreds – perhaps even thousands – of photos in which you appear to be missing most of your facial features, with the exception of that vertical line between your eyes, which is now ALL you can see. GOD.
There are ways to take photos in bright sunlight WITHOUT looking like one of the Undead. It’s easier, though, to either find a nice, shady wall, wait for a cloud to cover that demon sun (HATES YOU! HAAAAAATTTEEESS YOU!), or just try again another day.
The photos that prompted this post, however, were actually NOT taken in direct sunlight. No, they were taken in direct contravention of Golden Rule # 2, namely:
Very gloomy days are not your friends either. Haha, you got no friends now!
If you read rule # 1, and thought, “Well, that actually works out quite well for me, because I live in the UK, and we hardly ever get bright sunlight here: all of my photos will be awesome,” well, I’m sorry to break it to you, but by living in a country where it’s overcast 98% of the time, you’ve basically just doomed yourself to a life of complete frustration. Seriously, I would move, if I were you. California is nice: you’d get awesome outfit photos there, seriously. Here, though? Here they’re mostly going to just be gloomy and dark, and when you look back at them, it’ll be like when the Dementors turn up in Harry Potter, and you’ll feel like you’ll never be happy again.
Or maybe that’s just me?
Anyway, I took these photos on a really dark, overcast day, and, honestly, I’m depressed just thinking about them now, I really am. There are some people who can really work those murky skies, and get photos that are moody and atmospheric from them: I, however, am not one of them, and if you’re not either, do yourself a favour, and wait until it’s a bit brighter out. (Not TOO bright, though, because then you’ll fall foul of rule # 1, won’t you?)
Even with perfect lighting, though, I’d still have hated those photos, because…
If you don’t love your outfit in the mirror, you’ll love it even less in the photos you try to take
Honestly, I didn’t HATE the outfit I was wearing that day, but I didn’t LOVE it, either. It was a just a bit, “MEH”, really, and the only reason I decided to take photos of it was because I suddenly realised I didn’t have a blog post lined up for the next day, and I was all, “Crap: better take some outfit photos, then!”
This was really, really stupid of me, though, because, really, there’s no point in taking photos of a MEH outfit when you’re a fashion blogger. Because, if your outfit is MEH, the photos will likely ALSO be MEH, and then all of your readers will be equally MEH. Can you guess how that’ll make you feel? If you guessed ”MEH”, then you guessed right – and I’ve written the word MEH so often now that I’m going to swiftly move on here, and assume I’ve made my point.
If you’re taking photos, you need to wear more makeup than usual, or you’ll look like a troll*
*By “you” I obviously mean “me” here. You do not look like a troll – please don’t hate me for saying that. I learned the hard way that photos tend to wash me out, and that, because of that, I need to wear a bit more makeup for them than I usually would, or I’ll look like a troll. On this particular occasion, though, I completely disregarded that rule, and hey, guess what? I looked like a troll! QUELLE SURPRISE.
You have to learn your angles
Could I sound any more cringey here? I doubt it. The fact is, though, knowing your “angles”- by which I mean learning which poses are the most flattering, and which ones make you look like Shrek – is an essential part of fashion photography and outfit blogging. Obviously, if you’re drop-dead-gorgeous, you can totally ignore this one, because you’re going to look amazing no matter WHAT. If you’re just a mere mortal, like the rest of us, however, you’re going to want to learn what looks good and what doesn’t, and you’re going to do this by taking lots and lots of photos – and then taking a whole lot more.
By doing this, you’ll quickly learn to identify which poses work best for you, and which ones definitely DON’T. You don’t want to fall back on the same old thing for every single photo, obviously, because that’s just going to look weird, but if you know you always end up deleting the photos where you’re standing in a certain way, or which are taken from a certain angle, well, you’ll know how to save yourself the trouble by just not even taking them in future, won’t you?
(YOU will, anyway. I’ll probably just keep right on taking them, and then wondering why that creepy old woman from Insidious is in all my photos…)
Sometimes you’re just not feeling it. That’s when you should stay home.
As I mentioned above, on the day these photos were taken, I wasn’t really “feeling” it. I was tired, I was hormonal, I’d spent what felt like hours rifling though my wardrobe trying to find something to wear that made me actually WANT to take photos of it… I didn’t succeed in that respect, though, but I decided to go ahead and take photos anyway, purely because my weather app was telling me it would be the only dry day that week, I didn’t have any other posts planned (and was totally out of inspiration), and so I felt like I really SHOULD take some outfit photos, even although I didn’t really want to.
Honestly, though? I shouldn’t have bothered. With that particular set of circumstances all lined up against me, I was basically NEVER going to get a decent set of photos. I’d have been better off staying at home and working on something else, but instead I went out, and had myself a frustrating, and ultimately fruitless little time, taking photos of an outfit that really wasn’t worth the effort in the first place.
Don’t be me, folks. It’s OK to allow an outfit to go unphotographed if you’re not really feeling it: so I came home, deleted all but one photo from my memory card, and wrote something else, instead.
The world didn’t end, and the internet still seems to be functioning, so I’d say I got away with it, wouldn’t you?