Happy Friday + Randomness


Happy Friday! Have you ever wondered how I set-up my shots whenever I share my me-made-clothes? You probably haven’t, but just in case…I place a mirror on a chair in the spot where I’ll be standing, and set the focus using my reflection. I then use a remote that has this awesome ability to shoot consecutively non-stop with a single push of a button. This is the brand I use, which was a bit of an investment, but it has given me zero problems these last two years, which was not the case with my first cheap-o remote. Sometimes I forget to switch my lens focus functionality to manual…this is when the lens tries to automatically focus as I’m moving about, resulting in my many, many (oh so many) blurry photos. My photo sessions usually last five minutes. Easy-peasy.

I’m in awe of the folks who scout out cool locations and have beautiful backgrounds, but you know what? This works for me, and it’s about the clothes and process for me anyway.

I’ve been thinking a lot about that tension between wanting to up my game and sticking with what is tried and true. I would love to create those gorgeous shots with palm fronds framing my outfit or a panoramic seashore backdrop with windswept waves or whatever, but the reality is that I squeeze in my sewing and photo-taking between running a small yet demanding household and attempting to make a career out of creating books and products and who-knows-what-else my brain is trying to concoct. I sew to learn and not to shoot highly produced photos (though that would be lovely too, and maybe down the line it will be possible for me to do so). In fact, because I’ve never put that much pressure on myself to have top notch photography, it’s the reason I’ve been able to sustain the blog for as long as I have. “This is the best that I can do given my current situation” and “Incremental progress” are my mottos.

A friend said to me once, “I wish I could start a blog, but everyone in my field is so critical.” I found that so curious. “But you’re not like that,” I said. It stands to reason that yes, there are critical people, but as my nearly four years of blogging has proven, there are far more kind people than critical ones. I’m a firm believer in reciprocation — if you put good energy out there, it’s nearly impossible not to get good energy back. It’s easy to find reasons to delay starting. What I’ve heard over and over is that folks seem afraid to start [sewing, painting, writing, a business, etc.] because they’re not sure they’re up to snuff. Of course I get it, and I’ve been annoyingly vocal about how I never feel up to snuff. That first step is always the hardest, but when taken, it’s like the unfurling of a surprise ball. Have you ever had one of those? It’s usually a long strip of crepe paper rolled up into a ball with prizes embedded between layers. The prizes are usually kitchy things like plastic toys or a sticker or maybe a piece of gum. The point is that it’s fun to see them plop out as you unwind the ball. I’ve had so many prizes these last three plus years!

Anyway, those are some random thoughts on a Friday. Have a delightful weekend, all!


22 thoughts on “Happy Friday + Randomness

  1. Haha. I love K’s non-haiku! On another note, I love your aesthetic. I never mind that your clothes shoots are unadorned because your clothes shoots are interspersed with your carefully composed shots of beautiful objects – like vintage thread spools – or your water colors. Also, your K photo shoots are usually action filled. So while one part may be plain and easy, the whole is beautiful and visually satisfying. I love your blog and I’m all for growing in areas that are satisfying to you – but not because you think you should. Even your shot to go along with his post was clever, interesting and beautifully composed! (Obviously a fan-girl)

    1. 🙂 I meant to have K create a haiku and plumb forgot!! Thank you for your sweet words Not Fancy Nancy (K used to devour the Fancy Nancy books a few years ago btw) — I do love the simple, clean aesthetic so it’s nice to hear that validated!

  2. Good morning, Sanae! We are finally see some light here instead of storm and rain. Hope it is the same for you.

    I really enjoyed this post. The first part about styling your photos – I like your shots. I would love to be able to do mine like that but I am struggling to find a blank wall with some light! Crazy. I think you are right that if something works for you that’s fine instead of trying to do what someone else is doing. When it’s time for a change, you will definitely find the way to do it.

    Have a lovely weekend.

    1. Hasn’t the weather been bizarre? The windstorms have been terrifying! We’re lucky with the light situation since we have lots of windows in our living room and I keep the walls bare (more out of laziness than anything!). 🙂 Hope you had a fantastic weekend, Melissa!

  3. Thanks for sharing your tips on taking photos! I can totally relate to the tension you described, but I love your philosophy on shooting garments — plus, I think your photos always look great! Setting up a photoshoot while the light is right and my house is clean and I feel OK with modeling (etc. etc.) is the biggest obstacle with capturing my makes, but I do love the ability to document my process and later, reflect on what I’ve made, so it’s worth it. I’m going to try your mirror trick and continuous shooting for my next attempt!

    1. Thank you, Jess! If nothing else, I’m getting a lot of practice! When I first started the blog, I didn’t know how to use the manual mode, and now it’s become a lot easier for me to make adjustments — I’m still a little iffy when it comes to focus and hence the continuous shooting…Your blog is beautiful and your photography looks absolutely lovely :-).

  4. Oh yeah, I’m always just looking at the garments themselves in your photos, so I’ve never minded the backdrop! It has its own aesthetic of simplicity, which is beautiful and totally works. Keep doing you!!!! I’ve learned from others to remember, “There is ALWAYS going to be someone out there better than me at _(blank)__, but the point is that I’m doing my best, having fun, and achieving my own standard.” I do my best not to fret 😛 although I wonder if it’s easier for me to do this because I’m naturally not a competitive person? I’m all about acceptance of wherever an individual is! I think that mindset made it easy for me to be a teacher with children. I would never think to compare one child/ student to another, why should I do that to myself and another adult???

    1. Brava, Jeannie! I used to declare myself a non-competitive person, but lately I’ve been examining that assumption of mine. I don’t think I ever consciously try to “beat” anyone at anything, but I’m definitely ambitious. There’s a lot I want to achieve, yet I also want to accept what I do/where I am right now — it feels very paradoxical!!

  5. I think your photos match the blog. Minimalist and to the point! I think the simple photography matches your aesthetic. As far as those fabulous ladies on the beach, I think it is because they live near the beach, it is already part of their daily routine. I love your blog posts and am glad you continue to share your makes even if the photos are less than perfect. I haven’t blogged in ages because I haven’t found a way to fit photos back into my day…
    You’re doing great! Keep it up!

    1. Thanks so much, Em! I’m a huge fan of minimalism and aspire to one day have my house really reflect my love of the aesthetic (right now, I’m staring at the piles of art supplies in front of me and the teetering mass of junk mail and books on the entryway sideboard/credenza). Who says you need photos for blog posts? I say, if the mood strikes you, blog away, photo or no photo! :-).

  6. I’m in agreement with your other commenters and friends:) I love what you do and how you do it. One thing I’ve noticed in the blog following I do, since I do not blog myself, is how bummed I feel when I begin following a blog and then it changes in a way I can’t relate to. I only follow blogs I love but many of them, especially sewing and making blogs, in recent times have changed so much the blog is barely recognizable. For example I was an avid follower of Colette patterns, and loved their patterns, although had to tweak them so much for fit. But their focus is different now than when they were younger, and I’ve lost interest. I definitely understand a blogger’s need to change as she/he changes interests and moves ahead in various ways and that’s the choice of the blogger but I now read only very few whereas before I was inspired and stimulated by several. The biggest thing I have seen is that the blogs that go commercial, with more than a sponsor or two, no longer seem authentic to me. And while I understand the need to do that, I can’t read the content in the same way.

    This leads up to why I love your Furoku concept, and why i’m such a an of your writing, your style, and your decisions. Keep on keeping on:)

    1. I’ve noticed the commercialization too, Annelieke, and I’ve felt sad about it as well. It’s one of the main reasons I don’t take sponsors (I’ve been getting more requests lately) and the reason I’ve kept the Furoku somewhat under the radar. I know that I’ll end up feeling the pressure to “perform” and until I figure out a way I can do things without compromising my own style, I’m taking it sloooooow. Thank you for your thoughtful comment!

      1. I would understand completely if you did take sponsors in future. I can think of SOOO many products that would mesh with your style. I think if a blogger can take sponsors without directly selling the products, or even referencing them, and just letting the products sell themselves with the fact that you accepted the sponsorship BEING the sales work, it could work if the product and you are the right fit. Maybe thats the key; the fit between blogger and sponsors.

        I’m just thinking on the screen here but for your blog, what I WOULD click on would be hand-made things from Japan, or Scandinavia, ((because those feel like you too) because you would know if they were good or not. Things you love because of their simplicity, authenticity, necessity in our lives, and that match your own lifestyle which you are so clear about when you write. When I click on a blogger’s sponsor it’s because I trust the blogger’s taste . So I know I’m not wasting my time if I take a look. 🙂

        Random thoughts on a random Monday. 🙂

        1. Great insights, Annelieke! I love the idea of sponsoring handmade Japanese and Scandinavian goods – that would completely feel natural for me. I have warmed up to the idea of affiliate links, which is all about getting a small commission for products that I recommend, which sounds like a similar concept to what you’re describing. I only recommend products that I absolutely love so it doesn’t feel fake in any way. Of course the percentages are quite small so I would have to greatly increase my readership probably…so many things to ponder! I’m actually starting to enjoy trying to figure these things out. Thank you!!

    1. Thanks Greta! I’m not sure that I’m doing anything special to keep the focus on the clothes, but I just do what comes naturally to me. It makes me happy to read your comment!

  7. I love your styling and your photographs! I have always admired the clean look to your pictures that allow your viewers to focus on the garment and construction rather than being distracted by anything else. It is one of the many things that I aspire to achieve in my photography. Sure, beautiful locations are wonderful, but ultimately it is about the sewing and the clothes, right? I love how you have your own style and stick to it.

    1. Oh, thanks Emi!! I love simple styling as well, so I gravitate towards less is more but occasionally I think, “Hmmm…maybe I should change things up at least a little bit and not be such a one trick pony?” 🙂 YOUR photography is gorgeous, especially with your latest Petit a Petit Family contributions!!

  8. Offline, if a friend criticizes my work, I lose confidence or feel that they don’t get me. If they praise it, I feel they’re being insincere. They can’t win.

    But online, it’s very different. Something about dealing with dispassionate strangers removes my stress about criticism. I know praise from strangers is genuine. If they’re critical, they’re not criticizing me personally because they don’t know me. I can easily write them off or step back and see if there are merits in what they are saying.

    …and if they really go over the top with criticism, I think of the Reggie Jackson quote that ‘Fans don’t boo nobodies’… meaning I must have some talent if I elicit that much emotion.

    Even though you use your real name here, does the distance of the internet help your outlook, too?

    Off topic, I assume you at least know Illustrator. Did you ever consider doing some art for Apps, games, and software? There are a lot more good independent programmers than good indie artists in that arena. Everyone rushes to learn programming but they forget that they also need to know how to draw. So I think artists do quite well.

    1. “Fans don’t boo nobodies” would make an awesome t-shirt! You know, it’s interesting about the criticism. I think now that I’ve gone through a few rounds of it in a very public way (after much hand-wringing, I’ve been told repeatedly to stop reading the Amazon reviews of my books), I’m not as affected. I have to admit that the criticisms have never been horrific, just mildly disparaging or more dismissive, if anything, so that helps. I’ve been thinking lately that the harder part is not to be excessively buoyed by the praise. Who doesn’t love a good compliment? I keep reminding myself that feedback is always a reflection of the person giving the feedback and has very little to do with me.

      Art for apps, games and software is an area that never even crossed my mind! Now I’m fascinated — if you know of anyone looking for my particular style, please let me know :-). Thank you for your thought-provoking comment as always, Paul!

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