I don’t blog about blogging very much. I have lots of opinions about blogging, but they tend to go on my Twitter and never make it to fully-formed blog posts. (The real ruthless ones get saved for my little Twitter.)
One of the things I have opinions about is how blog photos are staged. I’ve gone through various phases of how I like to take photos of beauty products (and of myself). I use a purely white setup if I’m lazy, and I like using coloured paper, but paper gets ratty and picks up makeup marks easily, and is also Murphy’s favourite thing to shred.
I tend not to stage photos in the classic ~flatlay~—it’s just not me. Occasionally I’ll put a candle or something in a photo but truthfully, I feel like beautifully staged flatlays imply that I have a beautifully staged house full of adorable trinkets. The reality is more like a house full of crap that I shovel out of the way to clear the minimum amount of space I can take a good photo in.
I can never get excited about interiors ‘inspiration’ and minimalist design, as much as I’d like to, because it stresses me out wondering where everyone’s stuff is. Where are the car keys, the cables, the scissors, the cat toys, the bobby pins, the D&D dice, the spare batteries, the letter you have to remember to post, the washing that needs folding, the button that needs sewing back on, the pictures that need hanging on the wall still? (These are all things I can see from where I’m sitting.)
Writing for xoVain, we had to provide all our own images and no plain white backgrounds were allowed. That’s when I learned how handy fabric was as a photography background. All the Youtubers do it now, of course, with acres of sequined fabrics hung slightly out of focus behind them. My strategy is much more low budget!
At our old place, I duct-taped my backgrounds to the wall. The current arrangement is slightly more versatile and less damaging to the house I don’t own (but believe it or not, when we moved out of our old place the property managers didn’t even say anything about the obvious tape damage to the walls). 1/2 a metre of fabric, pinned to a cork board, hanging on the wall. Insert ring light, camera on a tripod, and me!
Here’s something you might not know about me: before I got heavy into makeup, sewing was my jam. I made lots of clothes and hoarded fabric the way I hoard skincare now. In fact for a while there I had a wee clothing label where I made and sold clothes; nothing I could do full-time, but it certainly kept me in spending-money throughout uni. I’m still a huge fabric fiend, just now I buy it to use as a background instead of to sew with. (I actually did a bit of sewing a month or so back and am tempted to get back into it, if only to recreate my expensive drapey dresses for less dollars!)
Anyway, fabric. I’ve discovered half a metre is plenty to get myself in front of for a photo of my face, or to spread out for product photos. The iron is permanently on hand, because every little crease will show in a photo. Polyesters and most synthetic fibres crease the least, which is handy because they’re usually cheaper, too, although it’s harder to get the good stuff—that is, cheap fabric often means shitty designs.
I like patterns. They’re more visually interesting and show the creases a little bit less. My favourite fabrics for patterns, perhaps unsurprisingly if you know anything about fabric, are from Liberty. You’ll know Liberty; they do the iconic delicate florals, but do some more lively modern designs too.
Buying fabric in person can’t be replaced, but given how expensive it can get here (like everything else, huh) I’ve started looking at online retailers too. This post is sponsored by Tissura, a fabric supplier based in Hong Kong who carry Liberty as well as hosts of other gorgeous fabrics. I hadn’t heard of them before they contacted me, but I’ve now got my eye on tons of other new fabrics… I think I’m trying to pretend I’m bored of the fabrics I currently use as backgrounds to justify buying more.
Do you care about how a blog’s photos are set up? What do you think of the ubiquitous flatlay—stunningly simple or stunningly boring?