The project that refused to be photographed.

Look, I take some pride in my photography – I’ve got an older but capable DSLR, a couple of lenses, a great tripod, and lots of time. I’ve been trying to improve over the last year in particular, experimenting with settings and venturing further form how to take pics when I can. But sometimes, everything just fails and it’s really disheartening!

Behold, the project that refused to be photographed (nicely).

Take 1: Golden hour, check. Beautiful setting, check. Oompaloompa orange skin and overexposed? Check!

collage 1

Take 2: Sun has set, I’m walking back to my car… realise I forgot to take any pics with the layers shirts I brought along… take only a handful of pics because my data card is full, and of course – they look great! I guess I should have posed in the mechanic’s parking lot all along?

Collage 2

Take 3: After trying to edit the overexposed/blurry/orange pics from the river, I decide to go out and reshoot. Sun made me orange, so hey, this cloudy day will be perfect for making the fabric colours pop, right?

Collage 3

Wrong! I really don’t understand why these pics cam out so dark and heavily shadowed… and then, of course, it beings to rain and suddenly pour! I sprint to the car.

Take 4: It’s pouring rain so hard that I sit in the car for 20 min before it lightens enough to dash into the apartment. While I’m waiting, I take some detail shots and DSLR selfies (not an easy task!) and what? I look kinda gorgeous, if I do say so myself. In the car, in the rain, with blue eyeshadow. Where was the magic earlier?

collage 4

(Side note – that bracelet was all brass-coloured until I painted it with nail polish. I’m a little obsessed with jewelery makeovers right now!) 

Take… what are we at now… 5!  I described myself in an interview recently as having “steely-eyed determination”. When the going gets tough, I double down and keep stubbornly trying. It’s not always a good idea. This leads to me asking Jamie to take pics for me on our balcony, still with rain pouring down outside. Unsurprisingly, most of the pics are dark except for this one detail shot of the terrible bodge job I did when I put the bands on too loose at the arms. Thank goodness that is saved for posterity! ;P

Collage 5

Lest I sound like a horribly negative person – we did get one shot together and swoon, it makes me happy!


Now in the end, I got a few great shots, and enough passable ones I could have blogged… but putting so much effort in for so little result really sapped my spirit! The frustration is really that I don’t understand what went so wrong – I thought I was doing the right things! I can’t even think of much to say about this dress – it’s from GlobeTex, it’s a Mission Maxi, I added a yoke, the dress came out slightly tight. Woop woop.

Fear not, though… when the camera gives me lemons, I’m making lemonaid! (Remember that steely-eyed determination thing?) I’ve decided to reach out to bloggers with great photography and get inspiration for a blog series I’m calling the Better Pictures Project. Because perfection doesn’t have to be the goal, but dammit, I WILL get better at predicting and problem-solving with my camera. More on that to come!

What’s your success rate with blog pics? How often do you retake photos or just not blog because things didn’t turn out? 

38 thoughts on “The project that refused to be photographed.

  1. Lovely dress btw, I don’t think it’s too tight, just sexy! Re photos: I try to get my wife to take pics, but she generally makes me end up looking like I’ve got a pinhead, or cuts off the bottom of the pic, which annoys me. I sometimes try the horrible ‘take your own pic in the mirror’ and sometimes try to do the timer shots that my quite basic camera allows. No tripod, so that usually involves lots of back and forth and try try try again. Overall, most of the pics are vile, but meh, I post loads of wonky ones anyway. Perfectionist? Never!


    1. Truth be told, I’m wearing a Spanx-like thingamajig under the dress – otherwise the rayon is *just* clingy enough to not be the most flattering. I”m hoping now that i’ve worn it around all day it’s stretched out a smidge and will be perfect next time! 😉

      Getting someone else to take pics can be hard! I start worrying that they’ll get bored, and that their pictures won’t be what I want… I definitely prefer a tripod and remote! I envy people who make the mirror-selfie look easy – I always have a dirty mirror and huge piles of laundr on the floor behind me, so it’s not the most glamourous!

      I’m with you though – any pics are better than no pics. I would just love to have good pics instead! 😛

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It is! Turns out those Classic bras work really well under slight racerbacks like this… not so well under my normal clothes though! ;P I’m definitely enjoying my cloned bra more… I’ve got the pattern all ready for an altered version, but ugh, I’m too lazy to start a 4 hour project!


  2. Your pics are fab and you do indeed look gorgeous in your car shots. I love your dress. This is the “80’s” fabric isn’t it? I completely loved that when I saw it on your haul video. You are one fast worker!
    Do you have a photo editing program like Photoshop? or even GIMP (it’s free and just as good for the basics)? Also, since you have a DSLR you could shoot in RAW and then you can edit it before it even gets to your program by adjusting the levels (are they called “curves”). I think in Photoshop now you can even add in “light” from different angles but I am such a technophobe that managing to crop and adjusting the brightness are about my limit. You could also use a silver/gold reflector, they are not expensive, and even if you are by yourself could just angle it off something towards you when the light is lower. Sorry I don’t have any *really* good tips. I mostly take pics on my phone these days. 🙂 Xx


    1. Yes, that’s the fabric from the haul – I felt like I should sew up one haul video’s fabric before I posted the next video! 😛

      Things I don’t have but now want:
      -to shoot in RAW
      -a light reflector

      Do you know if GIMP runs on a mac? I’m going to look into it… I think a reflector is a good purchase, especially for winter when I’m taking pics inside. I’m not sure I’m ready to go out into public with a reflector – my brain says that’s a step to far, for no good reason! 😛 Thanks for the suggestions!!!

      **edited: Oh, and don’t bash your phone photography! My dad is a keen photographer and he actually gave me his DSLR (Loaned, but heaven forbid I ever have to give it back) because he only ever uses his phone! He gets gorgeous shots with it! 🙂


    1. Thank you! I always feel like a fabric is “right” for me when it turns out I have a bunch of things already that match it!


  3. The dress looks great… I love it with the turquoise bolero. I so get the arggh factor. I got my dslr in Jan, and I’ve been slowly learning. It’s frustrating when the pictures don’t reflect the quality of your sewing. My last post my husband took pictures, using settings I don’t use when shooting myself at all, and the pictures were way better. I think most of it is that it’s just hard to get good self portraits. Having a remote has made things easier for sure, which I’m sure I picked up after seeing someone’s blog.


    1. I love my remote too – I don’t know how people manage with just self-timer!
      What settings did your husband try? Do tell!!!


      1. He shot at 55mm on my tripod using my 18-55mm lens on auto focus. I like to have more control over the focus, so I always set it manually, but I think ultimately, it’s just easier to focus when you’re behind the silly lens. We had perfect lighting that day, so I know that was a factor.


  4. Nice dress :-). I really feel your photo dilemas – my camera is gubbed and my phone is rubbish so im waiting to get a better camera and using my boyfriends phone currently, less than ideal 😦


    1. I was just saying in a comment above that my dad is a keen amateur photographer, and loves his iphone camera so much that he gave me his DSLR! Maybe I can get him to do a post for me about what camera apps, editing tools, lenses etc he uses – because let’s face it, I think a LOT of people are using camera phones most of the time these days! 🙂


  5. I’m glad you posted about photography issues. I’ve been sewing a lot lately but not blogging my makes because the photos of me wearing my finished garments make me sad. I was focusing on how my body and face have changed due to the natural course of aging and how badly I look in my photos (puffy, tired, etc.), which I know isn’t exactly what you’re talking about. However, your post just reminded me that if photos aren’t coming out the way I like, I should try something different – lighting, different angles instead of straight on, get outside (may not be ready for that one), etc. Some things, of course, I can’t do anything about, but it’s nice to be reminded to think about different external factors. Also, your car photos really are lovely. 🙂


    1. Half my brain is screaming, “WHAT? Your face is lovely just the way it is!” and half my brain says, “Yeah, I think we’e all gone through times like that!” I really do think taking a ton of photos is helpful – like really, a ton. And good light and angles make such a difference. (OMG, I accidentally took and auto-sent a picture to my husband a month ago as I was lying on the couch, and it was the most hideous Jabba-the-hut fat rolls yuckiness. It really made me cringe.) For my upcoming blog series, I’m going to have a series of little homework assignments for myself about applying photography tips from some great bloggers – maybe you’d enjoy joining in too for a little push! 🙂


  6. Great idea! I’d love some photography tips… sometimes mine are pretty decent and sometimes crap. I usually blog them anyway, but ideally they’d all be nice.


  7. Damn! I love this dress and the layering tees, too! I’m coming to burgle your closet! I don’t take stellar photos except when my make is on Mrs Singer. Go figure. I like your photos and laughed at your Oompaloompa comment. You take great photos! Plus, you look like one sexy lady in your car pics 🙂


  8. HAH!!!! I loved this post. I admit to not stressing myself out about photos. I’m rarely able to get outside and do the glamour shots thing, anyway, but I read on someone else’s blog (Kathy Sews?) that she simply shoots and uploads to the blog — no editing. I’m sure she picks the good ones, but my takeaway was to not stress over my photos. Always doing the best I can, but never worrying too much about it.

    In other words, I’m 100% useless to your project. :-p I think the dress turned out well and many of the photos are great, too. I’m actually more interested in how you manage outdoor shoots by yourself — do people stare? Make comments? Ask questions? Etc.


    1. Outdoor (well, out in the public, not in a backyard_ shots are quite new to me – I’ve been trying to build up my confidence! I’ve found one part with some good locations that is quite quiet – I definitely don’t have the confidence to take pictures in a busier place! Most people seem confused but on one person has ever stoooed to ask!

      As for editing – i’m totally with you and Kathy! The thing is, I do edit my pics if they’ve trned out poorly. I used to spend almost an hour getting pics edited for a post… and then I started using a better camera and taking better shots to start with, and now 90% of my photos are unedited. (For example, the “bad” pics above are actually edited to make them as nice as I could, and the “good” pics above are totally untouched!)


  9. Hey. I’m still really new to the sewing community, having spent the last 3 years learning all about photography and Photoshop 🙂 My work is at

    May I suggest you check out the “creativelive” and “phlearn” websites. Both gave me invaluable training and phlearn, in particular, has a huge amount of free photography content.

    Your shots are great however, you may want to invest in a reflector for fill light (and a reflector stand, if you’ve no one to hold it for you) as it will substantially improve your exposure issues, and they’re really cheap to buy (something that can not be said about most semi/pro photography equipment!)


    1. WOW! You take such cool pictures!!!! I will definitely check out both of those websites, and I think a reflector is definitely on my wishlist now. Thanks for your advice!!


  10. I almost never retake photos. Which is evidenced on my blog:) I wish I had more time and determination to improve, but when it comes down to it, I’m a sewer, not a photographer. If people want stylised, fashion shoot photos on their sewing blog, they’ll need to go elsewhere:)

    I think you always look fab- love the fabric haul video too. You guys still get far better deals where you are than us!


    1. You are in Australia, right? That seems like the most expensive place to live. Everytime I look at Tessuti prices I am horrified!

      I think your pics do a great job of showing your clothes and personality too. I’d always rather people posted whatever pics they can instead of worrying about pics and not posting! That just seems silly.


  11. I’m keen for this series – I mostly don’t stress my photos, just use what I’ve got, but I’ve been a little dissatisfied with them recently so I’m interested in tips for better 🙂
    I also love this dress with the layering tops – the colours are amazing!


    1. I hope you enjoy the blog series! I’ve enlisted some of my favourite bloggers for help, and there are even going to be little monthly homework assignments that i’m hoping other people will try out along side me, so we can all have fun and up our photo game! 😉


  12. I totally love the golden hour photo!
    I do try for evening light and I always take photos of the garments without me in them as well as with me in them. If I look like a world weary witch (a frequent occurrence) then I just use the photos that I’m not in. It’s not ideal as you can’t get any impression of fit but sometimes my desire to chat overrides my desire for photographic perfection.


    1. Hahaha! “My desire to chat overrides my desires for photographic perfection.” <– YES TO THIS!!! Although never once have I looked at a picture of you and thought, "Wow, she looks like a world-weary witch." 😛 (Which is, frankly, a good lesson about photography – we are our own harshest critics!)


  13. My sis is a pro, so I’ve basically given up on taking any photos myself. (I do an amateur job at color-correcting them myself, though, usually just brightening them up a bit.) And now that I’ve found a serviceable white wall in my house, I don’t try any new locations. Basically, I’ve invested the minimum to communicate a garment looks like on me! But I do appreciate good photography on other blogs, so I’ll be following your series with interest.

    If it makes you feel better, my photography teacher in college said that 2-3 good shots on a 36-exposure roll of film is a really good rate of success!


    1. 2-3 out of 36? Ouch. But yes – it takes a lot of trying to get anything good!
      Does your sister take your pics for you? You always have great shots!


    1. Thanks, doll. The fabric is great, isn’t it? I’m always happy when i find a print that has almost all my favourite colours in it! (This one is tragically lacking pink…)


  14. I try not to stress about photos, but I definitely don’t blog anywhere near everything I make. I’ve been enlisting the help of one of my kiddos to take iphone pics lately, and that’s been much easier than the self-timer! Fortunately our house is surrounded by a forested area, so I’m less limited by time of day (or trying to get location shots). To be honest, if I had a well lit indoor space I’d never bother to set foot outside. As much as I appreciate the mood created in outdoor/location shots, a no-distractions white wall is ideal for seeing all the details in a garment. I look forward to your photography series though!


  15. Oh the dreaded blog photo!
    First off, cute dress! I really like it paired with the tees as well. You are gorgeous in those car pics!! Holy!
    I kinda do the same process for taking pics every time. Sunny day. Morning light. Back lit. If I can get my son to take the pics I count myself very lucky. I’m at ease in front of him and he has the best success with fewest shots taken. I’m sure he just doesn’t want to take a long time to get the pics so he listens to my requests and tries to get what I need quickly. He always makes sure that the camera focuses as well. Nothing worse then opening the pics to find them all out of focus! I also use a 50 mm lens and adjust the AP ( I think that’s what it’s called) depending on how bright it is outside. I use trial and error and NEVER take notes on this. I should. If I get 4 decent pics I’m happy. I can never get good indoor pics. Ever. I’m looking forward to this series!!


  16. I very seldom retake photos (only if they’re just too dark… it always seems to be an odd hour when we can both find the time!). So I just go with whatever dark/ghost skin/bad hair day photos I get on the first go! We also do them in about 2 minutes so it’s click click click done… not always the best way to get a good shot!


    1. You take pictures in TWO MINUTES??? Oh my gosh. I guess that’s possible with a real live photographer – my first 2 minutes are usually trying to get in focus and in frame! 😛 You always have such a big grin on your face that you look fabulous in every post.


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