knitography

LEARNING TO LAUGH AT YOURSELF; Part 1 of the Knitography Series

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This is Part 1 of my Knitography Series. In 2017, I made a resolution to take better photos of my designs, and together, my husband and I got serious about photographing my designs. Right up front, you should know that I am NOT a professional photographer. Neither is my husband. We are a DIY photography team. I have learned a lot since I made my resolution, and I want to share some of that knowledge with you. The upcoming posts will have more detailed information about the equipment and software I use, the poses and angles that flatter your knits, how I style my knitwear, and more. For this post, I'm keeping it light. Consider this a happy introduction.

Over the years, I have learned a lot about self-publishing, but the steepest learning curve has certainly been the photography. I am NOT naturally comfortable in front of a camera. Just the opposite. On photoshoot days, I am wound up so tight that I snap at everyone. (Sorry, family, Mommy has to look good today, and since her natural state is 'frizzy-headed stretchy pants,' Mommy is stressed.)

Here's the thing...to take better photos, you need to do a lot more than just learn how to use your camera. You have to learn to LIKE YOURSELF IN FRONT OF THE CAMERA. I can't afford to hire models for my photoshoots; I'm a budget-concious-lady (okay, I'm cheap). Plus, I think it is useful to be the face of your own brand (more on this in an upcoming post). Overcoming my photoshoot dread has been the greatest improvement to my brand. The best part, I can prove it, AND tell you how I did it.

This week, the Urban Ballerina Collection got a MASSIVE update. Before the update, there was new sample knitting, and grading, and reformatting, and tech editing...AND there were photoshoots. Lots and Lots and LOTS of photoshoots. Hundreds of photos, and outfit changes, and makeup, and bobby pins. (I use an average of 25 bobby pins in my photoshoots. It usually takes me 3 days to get them all out of my wacky curly mane.)

Since this was an update to previously published patterns, I can give you a quick illustration of what I've learned since I resolved to improve my photos. Here is a series of photos from the Urban Ballerina Collection. The BEFORE photos were taken in 2015. The AFTER photos were taken just last month. All of these photos were taken using the same camera and lens.

BEFORE

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AFTER

BEFORE

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AFTER

BEFORE

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AFTER

BEFORE

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AFTER

Okay, I'm no Jared Flood (we all bow down to the king of knitography), but I think I've learned a lot since I made my photography resolution. Here are my simple tips for getting more comfortable in front of the camera:

1) Have a judgment-free photographer.
I enlist my husband to take photos of me. His only feedback during photoshoots is that I look "sexy" in every shot. It's not true, btw. I don't know how anyone can look sexy in 5 degree weather whilst modeling mittens in a t-shirt and shivering like a naked eskimo, but my husband ALWAYS tells me I look sexy. That kind of positive reinforcement gives me the confidence to power through photoshoots. If your significant other isn't great with a camera, find a friend who loves you, one of your kiddos who makes you giggle, or get a really awesome camera remote. Remotes don't judge, and neither does this guy:

2) Know what you want BEFORE you get in front of the camera. This can be tricky. I think the easiest way to do this is to practice the poses you want to see in your photos in front of a mirror right before the photoshoot. This gives you a chance to see what looks right AND feel it in your body. It also allows you to fuss over your garment until it is laying just the right way (something that takes me an inordinately LONG time). You WILL feel silly modeling in your mirror. I know I do, but it really helps. I understand if you want to lock the door while you play dress-up in your bathroom. No judgment. Or better yet, bring your 5 year old; she is a PRO at practicing poses in front of the mirror!

3) Warm up.
I start every photoshoot by making a series of ridiculous faces at my husband. I started doing this behind the camera to get my kids to laugh when I was photographing them, but then I realized that I was smiling more because of it. It's so hard for me to smile in front of the camera. SO, I started making crazy faces as a warm up. I look ridiculous. I feel ridiculous. BUT...I'm not as stiff in photos after I laugh and I usually get some fun photos out of it. This ridiculous face is "Hey, GIRL!"

4) Have a theme song.
Music makes me smile, so I regularly have a dance party with my girls right before a photoshoot. For this photoshoot, I rocked out to I'M ALL ABOUT THE BASS by Meghan Trainor. NOTE: Mama's got hips, and she's not afraid to use them.

5) If you don't believe that you look awesome, PRETEND that you look awesome.
Motherhood has taught me the power of pretending. It works for SO MANY THINGS! For example, I used to be SUPER freaked out by bugs, but then I had daughters. I didn't want to pass that irrational fear onto my kids, so I started pretending that I wasn't afraid of bugs. My oldest daughter wants to be a scientist, so she catches EVERY bug she can find (#momkarma). When my daughter catches a grasshopper, I squirm on the inside, but I hold that bug in my hand while she describes its every feature. Honestly, after 30 years of bug-phobia, I'm not scared anymore. I use the same power-pretend for photoshoots. I squirm on the inside, and then pretend I'm Cindy Crawford. No one knows I'm rocking a Cindy-pretend but me (and now...you.)

6) Be prepared for surprises OR buy yourself a wind machine so nothing surprises you.
In absolutely EVERY photoshoot I've done in the last year, something unanticipated happens. Sometimes the back drop falls down for no reason. Sometimes my kids wonder through photos dressed in crazy costumes.

During our last photoshoot, it suddenly got SUPER windy for 10 minutes. These little surprises add some flavor to the photos.

7) Don't be pregnant in your photos if you hate being pregnant.
If you love being pregnant, you should document that craziness. You are a magical unicorn, and there simply aren't enough photos of your rare beauty. If, like me, you felt like a whale without water, then stay far away from the camera. It's expensive, and I don't want you to punch your cameraman, which I very nearly did in this photo.

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I hope that some of these tricks help you on future photoshoots (Okay, the last one might be a little niche. How many angry pregnant knitters are there at any given time?). Also, please send me your tips! I have only just begun on my knitography adventure, and I have so much to learn!

Keep your eyes peeled for Part 2 of the Knitography Series!