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Photography Tips Sewing Blogs

sewing blogs
I am running the risk of sounding cliche again – just like I did when I published my tips for sewing bloggers – but I think that the way seamstresses photograph is different from fashion, food, and mommy bloggers. Sure, in some ways we’re similar but our differences are great enough that I think it’s worth calling out. I’m not going to talk about ISO, shutter speed, or aperture because frankly, I don’t know much about the technical aspects of photography and I spend a lot of time on YouTube watching tutorials. This post is more about the philosophy of photography when it comes to sewing and how I think of taking photos when I am documenting a sewing project.

sewing blogstip 1Because of Instagram and the iPhone, everyone is a photographer and everyone is a lazy photographer. A photograph with the perfect composition, like this oneΒ by Henri Cartier Bresson, is no longer sought after and anything goes. Shots of what we’re eating, where we are, and selfies are okay. I’m not saying photography has taken a turn for the worst – it’s simply taken a turn and a sharp one. There’s another dimension to photography now that is similar to taking photos while traveling. When I visit home, New York, or wherever, I capture the little details – the barista at Starbucks, my shoes, the airport, my hair dryer lying on the floor. All are boring photos but each tell a snippet of the story of my trip. I think of each photo as a post card telling me where I was at that particular moment so when I look back on them a month, a year, or two years later, the memory is vivid.

Yes, Valerie and Brandy create gorgeous photos of my projects but you don’t have to have professional photos to document a project. Sewing blogs can have good photos too! In addition to the images Valerie takes, it’s important for me, and I hope you too, to take photos of the project along the way. My muslins, the presser foot, the thread, the three quarters finished garment – all can be shot from varying angles and light, they can even be crappy quality, because that’s not what matters. What matters is that it tells the story of the garment when you’re thirty, forty, or sixty-years-old. Also, these are the shots that your readers want to see. They want to know that you go through bumps and turns and experience obstacles throughout the course of a project because you know what, they do too!

tip 2 This relates to the previous tip but looking at the gestalt, or the whole/sum of the parts, is important. When I took figure drawing at SCAD, I was not allowed to stand closer than arms distance to the easel. Why? The professor said that students concentrate too much on drawing the eyes, the mouth, the neck, and the chin perfectly that they forget to step back and look at the whole picture. Does it even look like a person? Most likely, if the student was drawing a few inches way from the easel, the figure looked like a martian, or Bill O’Reilly. So when I’m taking photographs of the details of a project, I step back and think about the whole story I’m telling. I want to capture the first fit, second fit, and third fit and I don’t want to leave out part in the story because if I do, it will be fragmented and incomplete.

sewing blogstip 4 To create a story, lots and lots of photos must be taken. When Valerie, Brandy, and I collaborate, hundreds, and I mean hundreds, of photos are taken. From the front, from the side, with Valerie’s camera, with my camera, and with our iPhones – all of us shoot all the time. We take impromptu shots and posed shots. We just shoot! After, and over the course of several weeks, we edit, choosing the photos that we like the most, that capture the garments best, and the photos that highlight the details of the garment beautifully. If a story is to be told, how many chapters do you want it to be? In my opinion, when it comes to fashion, there can never be enough. So just shoot! You can edit later.


  1. Reply


    Photography is at the top of my list for things to improve upon as far as blog land goes. I never really got into it like a lot of my friends did, I had way too many other hobbies to focus on. These days, though, I’m realizing that I need to find a way to take decent photos of my projects if I ever want to do them justice. So I’m making it my goal to figure out how to make things look good with an iphone until I can get a good camera.

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    Carlee McTavish

    Great post! I’ve been debating in my head whether or not to take a bunch of photos of my progress right now (I’m out of muslin stage and into making my mad men dress), but I’m always unsure if I want to show the progress before the garment is done or not. I think this may have convinced me. If not, to show my progress now, then at least to capture the photos to use for when I reveal the final dress.

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    I’m in the process of trying to decide between upgrading my camera or my sewing machine. My birthday is next month, and I want to make it a birthday present to myself. I firmly believe that you do not have to have top of the line equipment to create beautiful things, but it’s nice to treat yourself from time to time. πŸ™‚

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    I’m interested in how you’re exploring ideas of blogging from a sewing perspective, lots to muse on. And your point about the little moments is a really good one. Since sewing blogs are often about the process as much as the end product, photographing that aspect makes a lot of sense.

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    As a brand new blogger I really, really appreciate reading your thoughts on these topics. I keep telling myself it’s all just for fun, but already I’ve been feeling some doubt about what to post about, what is too boring and minute, and so on, and it’s led to me not posting anything… which I also feel bad about! You’re very encouraging πŸ™‚

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    I, for one, am quite thankful that in-progress shots are more accepted in the sewing blog world, or I wouldn’t have had anything to write about since October! Though improving my photography for the blog is a definite goal of mine, and I think it’ll be a lot easier to do so once I’m in my new space.

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    Photography is one thing that I have really been wanting to improve on my blog! No more bad i-phone pics! This is great advice though, and I always love your shots!

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    Pauline Guillet

    That’s a very interesting post and something about I often wondered myself. I try to take the best pictures I can of my finished garments but I am very bad at commenting the creation process (as I mostly forget to stop to take pictures). That is one of the things I really do want to improve. Thanks for sharing!

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    Elle C

    This is one of (if not THE) my favourites posts of yours. I will definitely be taking some of your advice. Thank you! 😎

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    Becky Stets

    I need to get better at photographing the “in progress” parts of my projects. It’s hard but these are some good tips for me to think about the next time! Thanks:)

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    I’m sick of my crappy pics. They do nothing to show the story of my sewing. I’ll use your shoot loosely and generous idea to tell the story better. Thanks:))

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    Roel Bobis

    Camera is such a very nice technology for now its very good idea to write an article like yours that was very good i have a camera store australia http://camerasky.com.au/ i need to write some blogs so i can boost my sales in my online store atleast i have a idea now thanks for you.

  13. Reply

    Ruffles And Ribbon Boutique, Kimberly Calderon

    It is amazing how many photos actually take place behind the scenes to get a handful of good ones!! πŸ™‚ There’s a lot of work that goes into every single shoot!! I always end up with several funny blooper shots too!! Especially when kids and pets are involved, LOL!

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