This post was originally published in November 2012, it has been revised and updated.
This post first appeared on Because of Jackie in March 2014, it has been updated and revised!
One of the biggest and best part of a blog in most instances are the photos you use. Quality, size, and the placement of your photos are all part of the aesthetic of what you are trying to show on a daily basis, so it matters how they look. I happen to be a personal style blogger, so most of my photos are outfit shots. For my photos I almost always take them myself with a tripod and my Canon Rebel. It’s taken me some time to come up with a system that works for me, as well as a way to troubleshoot issues that come up. I don’t have a regular photographer who takes my photos for me, and I don’t have the time to wait till the “magic” hour of photography. My husband can sometimes fill in and help, but this can be a real hassle, because when we are all out together on the weekends we have the kids, and blog photos aren’t our top priority. Hashtag style blogger problems. Ha!
Four steps to taking better photos with a tripod and timer:
1) The first thing you have to do is gather up your equipment. My biggest investment was my camera. I bought my camera off of Amazon a couple of years ago and love it. I have the Canon Rebel t3 (I bought it refurbished), and use this lens exclusively for outfit photos, (it shoots with great detail and I love it.) I researched long and hard for a camera that had a timer on it that could also take continuous photos (more than one at a time) on the timer setting. This is so important!
You will also need a tripod. I have had several really cheap versions, but found they broke down really quickly. (Perhaps because I carry it in the back of my car all the time and toss my groceries on top of it each week? Hmmmm.) I invested last Fall in a more expensive one at a local camera shop that I really like. It has a lifetime guarantee and is really sturdy. It was worth the $100 investment!
2) When it comes to camera settings I find that I like to use it in the manual most often, and shoot with the continuous shot timer. Like I said above, one of the main reasons I chose a Canon over a Nikon is that it has the ability to take continuous shots on a timer. This is important because I can set it to take up to 10 continuous shots on a timed setting. When I stand behind the camera and focus it on a background (and then dash to my spot and pose), it will then take a bunch of photos in one burst. This makes it quicker and easier than taking one photo at a time and increases the odds that I can get four or five good photos in the whole batch. On a typical shoot I will take probably 70-100 photos to get the four you see in a blog post. On a good note, the amount of continuous shots I take means an actual photo session may only take 5-10 minutes.
As I mentioned, I also almost always take my photos in the Manual mode when I am by myself. I adjust the lighting (ISO), the White Balance (typically to auto), and the Aperture (how much the background is blurred), and take a couple of test shots to see which works better. It depends on the time of day, but I most often take my photos around 10am in a shady place that has reflective light somewhere, so it doesn’t take me long to find the right settings and start shooting. I also have my camera set in Raw mode, which takes sharper, clearer photos, without the camera manipulating how they turn out.
3) Location is an important detail for great outdoor photos. I have a couple of different go to spots around town that I use, depending on weather and time of year. In the Summer I have a ton more options, and in the Winter I have much less. I personally don’t like anything indoors, or anything that has distracting things in the background. My favorite places are spots that have a texture in the background, like a brick wall or a distressed building. The point for my photos is to show the detail of an outfit, so keeping the background simple is key. I also like that once I have shot in one spot often enough, I don’t have to fuss with tripod placement. I can just set it up quick, focus on the background, set the timer, and jump into the shot.
Another thing I like to play with is the angle of the shot. I like to position the camera to show an angle or a focal point, which sort of tricks the eye into focusing on a single spot. For example, if I’m shooting in front if a wall or building I will angle the camera and tripod so it’s at an angle instead of shooting
straight on. I think this adds interest to the photos and keeps things more fun. The one thing that I have to do in manual setting is shoot with a background that the camera can focus on. The camera needs it to autofocus on (no open air shots, or street views), because they come out blurry. I used to have a remote to do these shots, but it broke and I find I can do without it just fine.
I’ve been doing my own photos for a couple of years now, so often when I look at places I try to see them from a photography standpoint. I have a couple of tried and true spots that always work, so I switch between those a lot, and other times I notice certain places as I’m driving by and keep it in my head for another time. I’m a big fan of a cool, distressed wall (clearly), old barns, and colorful buildings. There are a lot of great places where I live that are really fun for photos and I (luckily) haven’t run out of spots yet.
3) The most embarrassing part of all this is running into people while your taking your own photos in a public place. I find that acting like you should be there is the best defense, and most people just walk right by without caring. I just smile and act like this is totally normal and say hello and carry on. Very few people stop to ask what in the world I am doing, and they are often gracious enough to not blink when I tell them I have a style blog. I almost always have at least one kid with me when I do my shoots, so they sort of act like a buffer, too. They also act as my assistants, carrying my tripod around and acting as stand ins for test shots. The side effect of all this is that my daughter can NAIL a fashion blogger pose in three seconds or less.. Ha!
4) The time of day is also important when taking good photos, though it doesn’t have to be at the magic hour (an hour after sunrise or before sunset.) I don’t know about you, but I can’t fit my life around this ideal situation, so I have to find ways to make it work. The best defense for me is to take photos in a shaded (but not too shaded, if that makes sense) spot. Standing in direct sunlight never works and creates really bad shadows that even the best editing can’t get rid of. I like to take my photos in the mid morning, usually around 10am, and find a sidewalk or side of a building that isn’t in direct sunlight works best. I often take a couple of tests shots from different angles to find the best lighting spot before setting up my tripod. I adjust the ISO on my camera to add or dim down the brightness and then take my photos.
Lastly, when I edit my pictures at home in PicMonkey, I can adjust the lighting a bit more to make the photos look better exposure wise. I crop them to the size I need and make them all uniform and ready to be uploaded into my blog post.
I’m not an expert by any means, and I’m still learning daily, but taking my own photos is actually easier than having them taken by somebody else because I know what I want to show and what I’m looking for. I like having control over what I’m producing, and now that I have a system of sorts I find that I can do a photo shoot pretty quickly.
Tell me, do you have any questions I can answer about taking your own blog photos?
℅ Tuluarosa Dame top
Each year around this time I start getting a little (okay, a lot), excited for festival season. Coachella in particular is something I love, but not JUST for the music. I adore the style that festival season brings to the forefront. I mean, I think we all know me pretty well here, right? I’m a boho, eclectic style kind of gal when the weather gets warm. Throw a kimono, anything fringe, and turquoise jewelry at me and I will be your slave. Seriously;) So watching photos and footage of what folks are wearing at music festivals is something that I spend a bit more time on than I want to admit.
Something that I find myself pinning a lot of on my Style Inspiration page on Pinterest lately is off the shoulder tops. I think they have the perfect vibe for the laid back look I crave in the summer. This Tuluarosa off the shoulder top from Revolve is perfection. I like that I could wear it two ways, finding that it looked fun with the sleeves pulled up, as well as completely off the shoulder as it is meant to be (and with my new fave fringe vest.) I think clothes should be FUN, and they can also be anything we want them to be. My prefect vision for this top would be over my fringe bikini, with cutoff jean shorts and simple sandals. Airy white tops are just right for the warmer months, and make me think off all things awesome (like a cold Summer Shandy on my back deck, sandy toes, and slightly sun kissed shoulders.)
Do you here that Summer? I’m ready for you. Sigh.
Tell me, would you wear an off the shoulder top? How would you style it?
Old Navy tee; J Crew shorts, old (similar); Target boots, old (love these fringe ones!), and hat (similar); Zara necklace, old (deco pool collar!)
Last week a few of my friends and I
escaped the sticky clutches of our children got the awesome chance to go tubing down a river while drinking warm Pinot Grigio out of plastic bottles at 10am.
Don’t judge me, it was AWESOME.
Besides talking about men (always), kids (always), an upcoming passion party (ha!), and other such nonsense, a question came up that stumped us all.
What are TEN things that you want for yourself?
This sounds innocent, right? And easy? Think again. This list has to be completely about you. Not dreams you have for your kids, or anything that screams to do list, or dates you want with your husband. What do YOU want to do? Sometimes as a mom and a wife (who stays at home and can sort of get sucked into ONLY being a mom and wife most of the time), this thought process is hard. Even though I honestly don’t mind this most of the time. I hardly ever think about what I want to do. So I’m challenging my mama (and non mama!) friends to come up with TEN things that they want to do, either right now or ten years from now. Can you do it?
1) Go to Lucky Fabb again, either in NYC or L.A.
2) Have a (lot’s of) girl’s weekend. And possibly meet some fabulous ladies I have met online, and reunite with others!)
3) Connect with a local photographer to expand my photography skills, and also to collaborate on better photographs (goodbye, tripod!)
4) Create a viable income for my blog and be a self sustaining/self employed woman (working on it;)
5) Continue to work out and find ways to push myself more so I can be stronger/healthier.
6) Visit the Italian Riviera, and also Greece. And Ireland!
7) Work as a writer, both for my blog and other publications.
8) Give away/sell everything I don’t love or absolutely need. Less is more. I still have unpacked boxes from my move a year ago. CLEARLY I don’t need this stuff.
9) Learn to spend more wisely when it comes to clothing and accessories, and find what is truly me. (I’m currently filling out this worksheet HERE.) This is not about being someone else, but about being less impulsive and more targeted with how I spend money/buy things.
10) Be fearless in what I am scared about, (like trying blonde hair!) Life is short, wear the red lipstick to preschool drop off;)
Tell me, what are some things that you want for yourself?
P.S. Due to a demand of YOU asking, I’ve decided to make this a link up! I can’t wait to read your lists!
Asos top/dress (similar); Target jeggings (loving this option, buying these next!); J Crew outlet jacket, old (similar); Kohl’s bag, old (similar); Avon necklace and Zara necklace, layered (similar, similar); Sam Edelman shoes.
A couple of years ago I was at the pool with my two kids for playgroup. They were about one and two years old, and at that point in time being at the pool with them was anything BUT fun. I would throw my bag(s) and towels on a chair and never sit the entire time, until I left (exhausted), maybe an hour or two later. One day another mom came in, a friend of mine, and she was all by herself. Her kids were a little older than mine and happened to be at summer camp that week. She waltzed in all alone with nothing but her towel and a book and I remember saying to her, “it must be nice.” I said it with a smile and a passive aggressive tilt of my head, but felt pure jealousy in the depths of my
It must be nice.
Is this the most hated phrase, ever? I’ve said it to others and had it said to me. It makes me cringe. I get it now, more, because I have a couple of days a week where my kids are both in school and I am free as a bird to do as I please. It’s amazing. For a girl who had two kids in 17 months, survived several deployments where it was just me taking care of my kids, and went several years with little sleep, this time is awesome. If it hadn’t been hard I don’t think it would have been as rewarding to send them to school and have time to be me, this mythical person that was all but non existent for the past six years. My friend that had the day off years ago had earned her alone time, yet I gave her the “it must be nice,” routine and tried to make her feel bad for not being overworked at that moment like I was. I wanted to be the person who was the most busy, the most tired, and mock the ones who seemingly weren’t. Anyone else not doing exactly as I was must have had it easy. Or so I thought.
What I neglected to see was that my friend had been there (and had it a lot harder from a deployment status), yet I felt at that moment that there couldn’t possibly be anyone else who had it as hard as me that day. See, I think there’s a feeling today that a lot of times we want to make others feel bad that they don’t have things harder than us. We want to show them that compared to US, their lives are easy. I’ve had this happen to me a lot in my life. There’s always someone that is more sick, more overworked, has more kids, and has more issues that me. They want to show us that their misery is worse than ours at any given time, and that our lives are a cakewalk compared to them. They want to look at your life and make snap judgements and assume things. I get it. I’ve been the giver and the receiver of this “you have it so much easier than me” notion, and it stinks.
I’d like to think that I’ve grown up a bit from that day at the pool. I realize that all of us are in different seasons of parenthood, so to speak. There’s the season where it is a lot of work and little to no benefits (0-2 years); the season where all of a sudden your kids can dress themselves and no longer need diapers and can be somewhat reasoned with (3-9 years); and then you get into the later seasons, where older siblings can babysit and there is little need for riding herd like the earlier days (though I haven’t been there, so don’t quote me on this, ‘kay?)
I happen to be in the season where things just got a little easier. It happened last summer when my youngest turned four, and I am so thankful for it. I can take a nap when I feel like it, I can sleep in on the weekends (they can operate a remote!), and trips in the car and daily life is just a bit more enjoyable than it has been. I truly enjoy this season because it is a relief to move from pure childcare to what we do now. I love seeing my babies as real people, watching them develop into who they will be someday. It’s fascinating. I get to guide them more and manage them less. There are so many more teachable moments where life lessons can be taught in tangible ways and I love it. This season is a good one, but it doesn’t take away from my joy of where I was. I just didn’t know how hard it was until I got out of it, and now we struggle with a different type of hard, like bullying and self esteem and being kind and honest.
I think it is so easy to look in from the outside and judge one another. We make snap judgements and look for ways to say, “but she has THIS, so there’s no way her life is as hard as mine,” or, “I work/stay home, therefore they would have no idea the work I put in.” We are all hard on each other and I think it just takes all of us (including me) stepping back a little and trying to envision life in their shoes. We don’t know the backstory of those around us that often. The mom at the pool with no one around her may make you envious, but what has she been through to get to that point? What have you been through to get to your moment of enjoyment? Let’s celebrate a little more and judge little less. Judge less and be happy more, because you just never know what someone has been through where they are right now.
Tell me, what season are you in with your kids/life? Do you think there is an overuse of the phrase “who has it harder?”
Target plaid shirt, boots (similar) and tee; Zara pants, old (similar); Asos hat; gifted necklace (similar.)
One of my favorite things to do when getting dressed is to mix up some patterns. I think it is such a super simple way to look unique and fun without a lot of effort. By the way, the majority of my looks that I love are those that require little effort. I don’t get a lot of time to get ready in the morning (maybe 10-15 minutes, max?), and I like to be comfortable. I generally have an idea of what I want to wear most days because when I do have a moment I put outfits together in my closet and hang them together. This helps eliminate me standing in my closet half naked thinking that I have nothing to wear and I hate everything in here meltdowns. This outfit above I thought of on a whim one day and it’s been hanging out just waiting for the right day to wear it. And did I mention that comfort is key with me, too? I refuse to wear tight things or anything I need to pull on, or something I can’t hang out with my kids in. My shirt is flannel and looks equally good with yoga pants at home or a pair of black skinny jeans and Hunter boots. I have it in two colors and it’s on sale now online if you’re interested;) The pants are stretchy as well, which is key in every pair of pants I own these days. Stretch fabric is my friend.
On to pattern mixing! I know for most people pattern mixing can be a little intimidating. I started small when I was trying this out at first and then gradually became more comfortable throwing bolder prints together. I think anyone can pull of this look in different ways, you don’t necessarily have to wear a plaid shirt with camo pants. When it domes to wearing patterns together there are three things I think of:
1) Black and white prints can go with any other type of print, they sort of act as a neutral. For instance, I think a striped black and white top looks great with a floral skirt, or any color printed pant like camouflage or striped, and also looks great with other black and white patterns, like polka dots. Leopard is another pattern that I think mixes with everything.
2) If you have two patterns together, try “grounding” the look with black accessories. I did this with a basic black hat and boots. If I wear a striped cardigan over a patterned dress, I try to wear black tights and shoes to balance the whole look out.
3) Start small. I realize wearing tons of patterns together isn’t for anyone, so why not try a simple floral top with a polka dot scarf? I also love wearing a plaid coat with a buffalo check scarf, this creates a fun look on the outside that I can wear an all black outfit underneath and still feel fun.
Don’t be afraid to try new things and mix and match things on your closet. It maximizes what you have and let’s you wear more of what you currently have without buying new things. I’ve had these camo pants for a couple of years now and I get a lot of wear out of them. When you do shop for something new, look for interesting prints and patterns that can be worked into what you already have in interesting ways. It’s these little details that make an outfit less boring and more interesting to the eye, even if your Grandmother may look at you like you’ve lost your mind (and
most likely possibly your husband as well.)
Tell me, are you fearless when it comes to mixing prints or more cautious?
Also loving this RED coat!
I wasn’t planning on making bad outfit posts a recurring theme here, but they are bound to happen
every three days from time to time and why not show them to the world, hmmm? Looking at these pictures I think what strikes me the most is that I wasn’t comfortable in it from the get go. I rushed to get out of the house and threw this on and knew (I knew!) that I didn’t love it, but when your husband and kids are waiting for you in the car you must go with the bad feeling sometimes. Let’s break the look down, shall we?
1) I originally wore this outfit a couple of weeks ago, sans jacket, and posted it on Instagram HERE. I loved it them and felt cute. I had worn a longer gray tank under the sweater instead of the white one here and I think it looked better. More funky and less expected? I think the jacket throws the look off, too. It is too princess-y (is that a word?) and not fun enough for this look. I would probably try my gray, faux fur jacket instead.
2) Ugh, my hair. I had done it and straightened it and left it like that, but I prefer a bit of a wave with my clip less curling iron and feel like a bit of a soccer mom (though, I technically AM one) with it parted on the side. So, add some waves, maybe even a hat and I would like this better.
3) Also, must not wear these sunglasses, they make my face look weird.
What do YOU think is wrong with this look?
P.S. I should do a link up of crappy outfits, too. I’m hoping I’m not the only one that has them;)
Zara sweater (old, similar); Target jeans and bag; Logo tank; Converse sneakers; c/o Alex and Ani bracelet (obsessed!)
Every woman over the age of 12 has had a bad experience (or 10) at the hair salon, right? Rarely have I been to the hairdresser in the past 15 or so years where I have left happy. And my one “happy” visit cost me $200 in highlights. They looked awesome, but I cannot justify spending that much money on my hair every two months or so. Then (then!) there are the visits where I go and explain what I want and bring pictures and expressly say what I don’t want and walk out with something horrifying and drive home crying. I may have even thrown a hairbrush or two in a tantrum. (Don’t judge.)
What I’m trying to say is I’m tired. Spending $50 for a trim or more on a hair color that I’m not happy with is a waste to me and I’ve begun avoiding the hairdresser like the plague. Part of it has been because we moved and I don’t have a hairdresser here, part is pure laziness and cheapness, and part is having a pair of haircutting scissors at home and a willingness to experiment a little on my hair with box color. I’m not gonna lie, I have messed up on my hair in the past, really badly! Last spring I sort of over corrected a hair color and fried the ends and had to cut off a good five inches at home. Luckily the clavicut is in style, so we’ll go with that reason for the new cut;)
I guess I’ve sort of come up with a system of sorts for coloring and cutting my hair and I’ll share it with you (at your own risk, of course!) Let’s begin:
My hair is mostly one length with minimal layers, with some shorter, face framing layers up front. I start with clean, straight hair and part in in my usual spot (the middle.) I separate my hair down the back and pull it forward over my shoulders on each side so all my hair is in the front. I then trim the ends that are pulled forward with my scissors. This isn’t about making it perfect and even, there may be shorter or longer bits, but I like my hair a bit imperfect and find that trimming my hair this way works. You can also have someone trim straight across the back if you want and do the front yourself, but I typically trim or cut mine impulsively and do this when I’m alone. I use my fingers as a guide when trimming and cute a little off at a time to gauge how I’m doing. Its better to cut a little less off as you can’t undo it once it’s cut (trust me!)
I have a couple of ways I color my hair currently. My default is to do an all over darker brown color. I like Feria Shimmering Hair Color in Espresso. If you have color treated and/or damaged hair I would suggest dying your hair lighter than you want as it will hold more color. For instance, I like a dark brown color, but when I have bleached my hair a lot dark brown turns black on me, so either apply the hair color on your roots first and then in the last five minutes or so saturate the ends and your hair won’t be darker in some areas, or choose a lighter color and apply all over.
All dark, using Feria Shimmering Hair Color
Now when I want to do an at home ombre I have a two part system that works pretty well. For my hair I use Feria’s Ombre kit for medium to dark hair to start. I mix up the formula and pull my unwashed hair over both shoulders like I am cutting it. I don’t like the brush they include and instead use my hands (with gloves) and saturate the ends of my hair only with the bleach. It’s up to you how high up you want to apply the mixture, I do about 3-4 inches of hair. I use this technique for applying the bleach and I think it works better than the brush!) After I’ve finished I wrap the ends in tinfoil and leave it in for 30-45 minutes. I check it a lot, starting at about the 20 minute mark, wiping the bleach off and seeing how light it is getting. When my hair is all dark I have to leave it on longer, but if I am lightening it more I leave it on less. Once my hair is about where I want it to be I rinse it out and blow dry it. At this point it will resemble a strange orange-y color and is truly frightening. Feria didn’t take into account that people with dark hair can’t use bleach without a toner after, so you may cry if you thought this was supposed to look amazing after this one step.
The second step in home ombre is to tone your hair. This balances out the reddish tone and creates a lighter, blonder look as the final result. I have gone two ways with this final step: choosing a light ash brown or the dark ash blonde all over hair color. The light brown will initially make your hair look one color, but washes out and creates a pretty blonde color after a week or two. The dark ash blonde creates the ombre look right away and the ash neutralizes most of the red in darker hair (important!) Last week I used Revlon Colorsilk in Dark Ash Blonde and was pleased with the results. I apply this color only on the ends that I ombred, not to my whole head. I apply it with my hands and leave it in for 25 minutes or so and rinse it out. I also find that as time goes by it rinses more and gets blonder and looks really nice. My hair was really dark this time I did the ombre, so my ends are not as light as I want them. It currently looks redder on camera than it does in person, but it’s will get there. I’m giving my hair a rest and will repeat this process again in a month or so. My end goal is the color below.
At home ombre, using Feria and Revlon Colorsilk
Lastly (!) I have to touch up my roots every month or so due to a heavy volume of gray hair growing in at an alarming rate. My fave product for this is Root Touch Up by Clairol. I buy two boxes as the one doesn’t have enough product to cover all my roots. I mix up the product and paint it on my roots only with the little brush they include (which works well) and leave it in for the time it says. When I rinse it out my roots are all dark again and if I have ombre ends this doesn’t affect the color there, only on my roots. I love this product because I can do it at home and it is cheap enough to do monthly.
If you have any questions for me, leave them below and I will answer them!
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This time of year I love wearing all gray and black, with strong patterns mixed in for fun. Leopard is always a big obsession (this coat, I’m still dreaming about it…), as is anything buffalo printed or tribal. If you follow me on Instagram (@becauseofjackie) you are usually bombarded with my daily shopping/browsing life and see what I’m lusting over right now. Personally, I think Target has some awesome jackets right now (I purchased this plaid one and this pink one yesterday!) I’m also slightly obsessed with finding the perfect backpack. Something about a bag, slung over the shoulder 90’s style just screams fun to me. Plus, it can look cute with my gym gear or sitting in my shopping cart at the grocery store. This one HERE has my name on it.
Also, it’s snowing today, so I’m already listening to Christmas music. Don’t judge me:)
Gifted faux fur jacket (similar); Zara top (similar); Asos jeans; F21 boots (similar); Target hat and sunnies; Windsor store necklace (similar.)
My mom bought me this jacket for Christmas last year and I’ve struggled with working it into my wardrobe ever since. The no brainer option was to wait until something fancy came up and throw it on over a cocktail dress, but since I’m still awaiting my invite to the Met ball (insert sarcasm here) I figured it was time to get creative. And by creative, I mean wear it over jeans and ankle boots and drop my kids off at school. Problem solved! My lifestyle is very casual 99% of the time, so any variation of clothing that I can wear with jeans to dress it down is a must for me. I love the mix of dressy and casual (sequins and tee shirts are a fave, as is leather and denim), and now I can happily add faux fur jackets into my daily mix. I’ve also been lusting over this leopard one from Zara. Talk me out of it, please?
Speaking of cold weather… we dropped my dad off at the airport this past Monday and afterwards stopped into a fireplace, pool table and hot tub store (any thoughts on where the idea for the combo came from?) for a completely unrelated fireplace issue and accidently bought a hot tub. Oops. See, my husband has been begging for one for years now and we saw one on the way out and decided to go for it. Which is sort of unusual for us as we aren’t spur of the moment spenders and all. Soon, that pretty little princess will be sitting on our back deck, bubbling away while we relax and enjoy the light up drink holders (and dodge snow banks in our bathing suits.)
I can’t wait:)
In case you are curious (aren’t we all?!), you can read about how we manage our money HERE.
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