style: on photography

January 24th, 2011

I get asked all the time about the photography on Sugarlaws, and I’ve been sort of hesitant to post about it for a single reason:

It’s so dorky. 

Because, see, I’m not one of those lucky-duck bloggers who has a professional photographer for a boyfriend/fiance/husband.  When Chad has a Saturday where he doesn’t have to work, he’s not particularly interested in braving the elements to take 600 photos of me in different outfits (he’d rather play Starcraft — go figure).  You guys all know that my friend Kristen pitches in when she can, but the fact is that busy people in New York have schedules that don’t always bend to the demands of fashion blogging.

So, here’s the secret.  I wind up doing most of the photos myself, with my beloved Canon SLR on a sturdy tripod.  And there are a few core strategies that I use for every single one of my photos:

  • Light: I try to always use natural light because it’s much less work — the colors and shadows look realistic, without the need for a lot of expensive lighting equipment.  I generally like the light to come from behind me when I’m taking photos of myself, and from the side when I’m taking food photos.  I don’t use reflectors, but I try to never take photos when the sun is blazing down — a little bit of cloud cover or a translucent window shade does wonders to minimize some of the harshness of natural light.
  • Exposure: Related to light, but different.  I like to set the exposure higher when I’m taking photos of people — it evens out skin tone and just generally makes the light exceptionally flattering.  You can do this on an SLR or a point-and-shoot in manual mode, just set the exposure to +2/3 or +1.  Do a shot or two and take a look at them on the camera — depending on the available light, I sometimes expose them less than that.
  • Timing: I use a camera remote to take all my non-food photos, so I don’t have to deal with that terrible auto-timer 10 second delay.  My remote has a two-second delay, so I can start it and then move my hand so the remote isn’t in the photo (it slips in sometimes, though — you’ve probably seen it)!
  • Try, Try Again: Last, of course, I take a LOT of photos — for any given outfit or recipe, I’ll take between 30 and 100 photos from different angles and with the light coming from different places, to make sure I have something I like.

For the photo above, I used all these tips, and then used the CinemaScope setting on (love this site).  I think it turned out really well!

So… those are my secrets!  Next time you’re taking a family portrait or your own food and style photos, take a look at these tips and see if they help!

On me: Club Monaco shirt, gifted Club Monaco shorts, Jessica Simpson platform heels, H&M leg warmers, gifted Tory Burch bracelet, Calyco necklace (available in the Sugarlaws Boutique).

Tags: style

16 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Pearl (Crunch and Chew) // Jan 24, 2011 at 6:36 am

    All great tips πŸ™‚

  • 2 Gabby / Gypsy*Diaries // Jan 24, 2011 at 7:28 am

    I’m so glad to hear that I’m the not the only one struggling with outfit pics!!! πŸ™‚ You have a beautiful terrace to take pictures though… that’s something I miss greatly as I’m definitely not going to take pictures of myself on the street on my own… πŸ™‚ my next investment will be a tripod for sure! 

    You’re doing a wonderul job, your pics are always amazing.. and who knew you were using picnik??? seriously the first pic could be in a magazine…

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  • 4 Katy // Jan 24, 2011 at 9:41 am

    Gabby — Oh, I know.  There is nothing more humiliating in the world than taking pictures of yourself outside on a public street, I’m with you.  (Not to say that I haven’t done it, but it’s really no fun!)

  • 5 Susan // Jan 24, 2011 at 10:04 am

    I recently discovered Picnik as well. It’s definitely a blogger’s friend.


  • 6 Sara @travelsinheels // Jan 24, 2011 at 10:30 am

    Thank you for the tips! I have a new SLR camera and have been trying to improve my photography skills.

  • 7 VeggieGirl // Jan 24, 2011 at 11:13 am

    Thank you so much for sharing!

  • 8 Katy // Jan 24, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    Sara — Definitely play around with it!  It probably took me a year to work up the courage to take mine off automatic mode, but that’s what SLRs are for!

  • 9 Nicolette // Jan 24, 2011 at 1:18 pm

    Thanks for sharing… it’s nice to hear how others do it! I used to have a hard time with the boyfriend taking pics, but he’s getting betters. I do need to get the remote though, there’s never enough time to set, then run and pose in those few seconds πŸ˜‰

  • 10 Melanie's Randomness // Jan 24, 2011 at 2:08 pm

    You take beautiful photos. Thanks for the advice! I’m shopping for a good camera so I need all the tips I can get!!

    Melanie’s Randomness

  • 11 Bailey Yamamoto // Jan 25, 2011 at 3:04 am

    hahah Yep, and yep.. totally nodding all the way through… my remote was expensive….. UGH… have you considered getting a soft box for your other photos? It’s hard to always have natural light, right? 

    I love that first photo… it’s tres glam.

  • 12 Carmen Ordonez // Jan 26, 2011 at 3:20 pm

    Love this post. I can totally relate. I just bought a Canon SLR, so am trying to master the tripod self-taking pictures. The hubby too is always busy playing video games (Gears of War–lol) and before I would have my friend pitch in taking pictures.  Def. agree that taking pics. outside is the easiest. 

    Love your pics!


  • 13 Kasey // Jan 29, 2011 at 9:42 pm

    I LOVE that you take your own pictures with a tripod. I’m so impressed to know that the pics of you are actually taken with a tripod!

  • 14 mel // Jan 30, 2011 at 10:15 pm

    Great DIY photography!!!  I always find it hard for people to take pictures of me as well!

  • 15 Paris with Picnik | The Lipstick Cafe // May 2, 2011 at 11:42 am

    […] for the Android.Β  A new free online photo editing site that I recently discovered (thanks to Sugarlaws website!), is Picnik.Β  It’s super easy and fun to use and I love that it can sync with […]

  • 16 Paris with Picnik | The Lipstick Cafe // May 14, 2011 at 10:27 am

    […] for the Android.Β  A new free online photo editing site that I recently discovered (thanks to Sugarlaws website!), is Picnik.Β  It’s super easy and fun to use and I love that it can sync with photos […]

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