Labor Day was a few weeks ago. Unfortunately it wasn't a great "last day of summer" as it was a rainy day with bad storms, so I decided to stay indoors and shoot these photos. Ana Luisa, a jewelry brand, was kind enough to send me these earrings and necklace, so I centered the shoot around these pieces. The heart on the jewelry reminded me of a playing cards, so I decided to incorporate those into the shoot. I also got inspired of a photo of Brigette Bardot in the 1960's playing cards and smoking. The combination of the rain and Lana Del Rey's new album playing in my room made me really get into this shoot, so I spent a good chunk of the day trying to bring my vision to life.
Lately I've been changing my approach to how I take my photos and share them on social media. It's no secret that the Instagram algorithm can suck, and over the summer I felt like my engagement was low, and it made me not want to post or even taken photos as much. I'm starting to feel inspired again though, so I have been brainstorming ideas for shoots. However, I've begun to change my approach more as I move forward with these ideas. In the past, when I was trying to get to 10k followers on Instagram, I posted almost every day. I would post "filler photos" of things even if I knew they might not perform as well, just because I figured any time I would post was a new opportunity to gain followers. Now I'm trying to post fewer, more impactful posts, rather than posting something every day just for the sake of it. I've always tried to post with intent, but I've started embracing carousels and Instagram stories to really tell a story, rather than posting just one of photos.
I also want to continue adding as many of my photos to my blog and cross promote on Pinterest as well. Instagram is still fun, but to me, it feels like it's beginning to loose its momentum a bit.
Jewelry: c/o Ana Luisa
If you'd like to check out the brand, you can find their website here.
Beret: old; Dress: Dolly and Dotty
1. Open the photo in Snapseed.
2. Go to the grainy film tool. I always use filter X05. Turn the style strength down (I turn it down anywhere between 35-65, depending on the photo) as well as the grain to 0.
3. Go to the tune image tool and adjust the saturation. I usually turn it up to about 30.
4. Go to the curves tool and select red. You can see where I moved the line to for this photo, but you can adjust depending on the photo. I like adding red because I think it makes the photos warmer and more vintage looking.
5. Save a copy of the photo, then open it in Afterlight.
6. Go to the highlight tone tool, select red, and adjust to about 25.
7. Select the grain tool. I usually like grain 01 and turn it down to about 30.
8. Select the dust tool. I usually like Dust 1 here, then turn the effect down depending on the photo. For "mood" type photos like this one, I keep it higher, I have it on 70 here. Outfit photos I usually lower it to about 30.
9. Select the light tool. Light leak 11 is my favorite. Rotate the effect if needed and turn it down to about 40.
10. Select the contrast tool and increase to about 25. Save the photo.
11. Lastly, open the photo in Instagram.
Before + After!
If you've been following along with my blog and Instagram for a while, by now you probably know I shoot the majority of my photos with the help of a tripod. My most recent tripod shoot was last Saturday when I took photos in this lemon dress from Smak Parlour. I ended up taking the photos outside of a bodega in West Village. The bodega was right by a traffic light, so every time the light turned red, cabs and cars would pile up at the light, which meant people stared at me from inside their vehicle. Some people looked pleasantly amused, some people looked at me like I was straight up crazy. I inevitably get stares whenever I shoot photos alone with my tripod, but I probably looked even crazier for this particular shoot because I had two lemons as a prop and kept tossing them in the air.
People often tell me they can't believe I shoot alone or say they'd be embarrassed to take photos by themselves, so I decided to write a little post for some tips if you're thinking of shooting outfit photos alone.
start in an isolated location:
I've been shooting photos with a tripod for about 2 years now. At this point, I'm immune to the stares and comments I get from people who pass by, so I feel pretty comfortable shooting in bars, restaurants, cafes, etc, but when I first started, I was pretty self conscious. The first shoot I did alone, I shot in front of a wall near my apartment, so there wasn't much foot traffic. I definitely recommend choosing quiet locations to get started, then slowly work your way up to more populated spots.
invest in a sturdy tripod:
When I first decided to start shooting photos by myself, I bought a $12 tripod off of Amazon. I didn't want to spend too much money on it because I wasn't sure how much I would actually use it. Well once I got the hang of it, I loved shooting with a tripod. I would carry it everywhere with me because it was so lightweight and came in a convenient drawstring bag I could easily throw over my shoulder. It was great, until I broke my camera TWICE, because I knocked into the tripod and it tipped over while my camera lens was extended. Now I have a more heavy duty tripod, it's a bit more annoying to carry around the city with me, but I have more peace of mind knowing that my camera is secure while I'm shooting.
allow for extra time:
Unfortunately, shooting alone takes extra time. If someone is with me to take the photo, I can easily get a good photo in less than 5 minutes. But with a tripod, getting one good photo can take at least 10 minutes, sometimes more. You have to set up the tripod, experiment with the shot, like where you're standing, what you want to be in focus, etc, run back and forth to check how it looks, then once you get the shot, take the tripod down. If I just need one outfit shot, I usually try to give myself at least 15 minutes to shoot with the tripod. If I'm shooting photos for a full blog post, it can take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour.
self timers & remotes:
I use a self timer to actually take the photo. For full body shots, I set the timer to a custom setting that gives me a 10 second warning, then it takes 10 shots. For portrait shots, I put it on the self timer setting that takes one photo after a 2 second warning. For this setting, I start by already standing in front of the camera before I click the button to start shooting. My camera isn't compatible with a clicker, but that's another tool you can use to help take photos by yourself. I also recently discovered the Canon app I use to download the photos off my camera also has a feature where you can see what the camera sees from your phone, to avoid the running back and forth to see what the shot looks like.
don't worry what people think:
Even though I've been shooting with a tripod for 2 years now, I still get embarrassed or shy from time to time. What helps me get over it is reminding myself to not care what others think, but that can be easier said than done. My boss at work always talks about "the spotlight effect", where you think everyone is thinking about you, when in reality they're not. True, someone might walk by and think what you're doing is strange for a second or two, but I guarantee 30 seconds after they walk by, they've completely forgotten about it. Reminding myself that them thinking I'm weird is just a fleeting thought helps me feel less self conscious.
If you'd like to shop my dress, you can find it here:
Dress: c/o Smak Parlour
Bag: Sun Jellies
Location: West Village, Manhattan
I shot these photos for a campaign for Winc, a subscription based wine company. To give you a bit of background about how collaborations work, there is always a campaign brief with visual inspiration and requirements of do's and don'ts for the post and caption. Some brands are very specific with what they want, with strict requirements of how the photo should look or a word for word caption (which are usually the types of collaborations I turn down). Other brands are more lenient and give the content creator more creative freedom.
Shooting for a campaign is fun but can also be a bit nerve wracking because you usually have to submit your post for approval before it goes live on your social channels, so there's always a chance your work could be rejected. I always reread the campaign brief and requirements before I go out and shoot to make sure I'm getting what the brand is asking for. There are a lot of BYOB restaurants in Hoboken where I live, so I thought one of them would be a great backdrop for this campaign, to get a vintage, Sophia Loren inspired, Italian vibe. I was happy with the photos and video I created, but then I decided to take a look at the tagged photos on Winc's Instagram to see what other people were posting.
Almost every influencer's post I saw looked very similar, either them posing in their kitchen or under their Christmas tree with the box of wines they received from Winc. Suddenly, I started worrying if the brand would accept the content I submitted. I only featured one bottle of wine from the box, not all four. They never said all four bottles had to be in the photo, but that's what everyone else did. The brand also asked me to submit a video to post on my story. My video was more inspirational to set the mood, rather than informative, such as an unboxing video or me talking to the camera about Winc. Ultimately, the brand approved everything I submitted, but it got me thinking...
Are influencers even influential anymore?
The term influencer was coined because that's what influencers were, influential. They gained a following because there was something about them people liked, whether that was their style, personality, photography, etc. Now, being an influencer has become a career choice and people are quitting their full time jobs to peruse being an influencer. Being a "microinfluencer" myself, I know how much work goes into content creation, so I 100% respect it as a career. However, like any career, I don't think it's just something you can decide to be. It's something that takes practice, natural ability and a point of view. But now it feels like people who set out to become an influencer are taking a cookie cutter approach and thinking if they do x,y,z, they will in fact be an influencer.
Social media critics often say the influencer bubble is going to burst. While I agree that Instagram will not always reign as king, I don't think influencers are going anywhere anytime soon. Nowadays, people are watching more Netflix than they are cable, or spending more time watching YouTube tutorials than they are reading magazines. Traditional forms of advertising like TV commercials and print ads are dying out, so it makes sense businesses and brands are turning to social media to advertise. As a consumer, I've discovered brands or bought a product after seeing it on Instagram, which proves influencer marketing works. Sponsored posts don't necessarily have to be the most creative or entertaining to be effective (how many times have you seen a stupid commercial on TV, yet the message of the commercial sticks with you). However, I think influencers should strive to truly influence and inspire their audience, rather than just following the status quo. After all, you'll never influence the world by trying to be just like it.
Beret: JJ Hat Center; Top: J.Crew: Scarf: Fred & Lulu; Earrings: Vintage
Location: Johnny Pepperoni's (Hoboken, NJ)
“Little darling, it’s been a long, cold, lonely winter.”
January and February have never been my favorite months, but since I started blogging, I’ve become even less fond of them. These two months are always the most challenging for getting good photos. The days are shorter, which means less natural light, freezing cold temperatures, which makes it harder to take photos outside, and in general, the gray skies and melted snow just make everything look drab. Even though I usually prefer to take my photos outside, during the winter I don’t really have a choice but to photograph indoors. I know a lot of bloggers just take photos inside their apartment or house during the winter, but I prefer to match my outfits to my surroundings to really tell a complete story, so I usually scout out a very specific location for each outfit. Below are some tips that I use to find the perfect location.
keep a list:
I am constantly wandering around NYC, so whenever I walk by a location I like and think could work for photos, I add it to a list I have saved in my phone. This list includes all types of locations, from bars and restaurants, to a vintage sign or an interesting door. Whenever I get a new piece I want to shoot, I consult the list to see if any of the locations could be a good match.
Sometimes when I’m putting together an outfit, I’ll immediately get an idea for a specific type of location, say for example, a candy store. If I don’t have a specific candy store in mind, I’ll then go to Yelp, and search through to see what locations are nearby, and what would be the most aesthetically pleasing or match my outfit the best.
Yelp is great for getting an extensive list of a specific type of location, the only problem is, a lot of the photos usually end up being of food and are often not very high quality. If I feel the location I found on Yelp might work, I then search the location on Instagram, and see what photos come up there. There you can usually see more specific spots within that location that would be “instagramable”. You can also get a better sense of the lighting, how spacious the location is, etc.
Before you head out to a location to shoot, see what their hours are, and arrive as early as possible. I shoot almost all of my photos by myself with a tripod, so arriving early usually means less people there looking at me like I’m crazy. The less people around, the more comfortable I am shooting, and the better the photos will turn out. Less people around also means less opportunity for a photobomb from someone in the background. If you have someone behind the camera, they can maneuver around people easier, but that’s not possible with a tripod. Theres been many times I’ve tried to shoot in a crowded location, say a street in NYC, and people just walk right through my shot, which is super frustrating.
If you’d like to shop my sweater, you can find it here:
Sweater: c/o Joanie Clothing
Collared Shirt: Forever 21; Skirt: Forever 21: Shoes: Bait Footwear; Beret: Target
Location: Lucky’s Famous Burgers (Lower East Side, NYC)
I studied fashion in college, where we learned about color, symmetry, proportion and other design elements that make a garment "successful". It sounds silly, but I apply the same things I learned about designing a piece of clothing to my Instagram feed. For me, color in particular is one of the most important aspects of creating great imagery and curating an aesthetically pleasing feed. Many people think using the same filter is all it takes for a consistent feed, but it's important you shoot the right colors in the right locations as well. Below are some tips for a consistent feed and photos that pop.
•utilize complimentary colors:
I am big on utilizing complimentary colors in my photos, which are colors that are opposite on the color wheel. If you need a refresher, the complimentary color combinations are as follows: red and green, blue and orange, and yellow and purple. I feel a lot of bloggers go the monotone route when taking photos. For example, if they're wearing a primarily pink outfit, they'll place themselves in front of a pink location. I personally prefer to find a location that is opposite of my outfit. These photos are a perfect example, since I'm wearing an orange sweater in front of a blue wall. The neon orange sign in the background perfectly ties the whole photo together since it coordinates with the sweater as well.
PS if you'd like to shop my sweater, you can find it here:
•stick to one color palette for your feed:
My Instagram feed is mostly primary colors (red, yellow, blue). I also have neutral colors, like brown and black, in there as well, to tone it down and add to the vintage feel. In general, I make sure whatever photos I'm posting fall into this color palette.
•stick to the same color tones:
In addition to utilizing the same colors, stick to the same tones of those colors. For example, I usually have a lot of red pops in my feed. However, there are so many shades of red, from bright cherry red to burgundy. Some reds are cool with a blue undertone, others are warmer with a more orange undertone. I personally usually aim for a more red-orange in my feed.
•balance out photos:
If you do find yourself wanting to post a photo of something that is a color outside of your usual palette, find a way to balance out the photo. For example, in my last blog post, I was wearing a pink dress, but I hardly ever have pink in my feed. However, I think the photos still worked overall because of the background colors, there was a good amount of brown and blue, two prominent colors in my palette.
•ignore the rule of 3:
I know a lot of bloggers follow "the rule of three", when they post three photos of the same color in a row, or strategically place the same color photos so they make a diagonal or a triangle. I don't follow this rule, because it's too time consuming and honestly will just drive you crazy trying to get everything so precise. It's nice when my photos happen to align that way, but in general I just make sure my photos have the same feel and flow nicely into one another.
•use the same filter:
Using the same filter every time you edit really helps to give your photos a consistent feel. I'm thinking of doing a tutorial on how I edit my photos, as I get a lot of questions about what apps I use and how to get the vintage effect, so stay tuned for that if you're interested!
Sweater: c/o Joanie Clothing
Skirt: May 68; Collared Shirt: Forever 21; Bow: Claire's; Shoes: LF/Life
Location: Joe's Steaks (Fishtown, Philadelphia)
This past Saturday, I went to the movies and saw "Call Me By Your Name" (which was good and I would recommend seeing it). The movie takes place in 1980's Italy where the main character, a teenage boy, spends his summer days reading, writing and listening to music. This aspect of the film made me nostalgic for the days before social media. It made me realize how much time we waste mindlessly staring at our phones and how easy it is to pick up your phone and start scrolling through apps out of boredom. While I love creating content for Instagram and my blog, and I have no plans to stop doing that, this year I want to be more intentional with my time on social media. I want to avoid falling down the rabbit hole of hate stalking frenemies on Instagram or reading poorly written Facebook articles. So here are some tips I've already began implementing to limit my social media screen time.
•unfollow accounts that no longer inspire you
By now, you are probably aware of the "follow/unfollow" method a lot of Instagramers use to gain followers. If you're not familiar, a user will go through and follow a bunch of accounts, hoping they will follow back. Then they go through and unfollow anyone who did not follow them back. I've ended up following a few bloggers this way, bloggers whose style I do not like at all. Every time their posts would come up, I would get a little annoyed, or ask myself, why am I following this person? I decided to start cleaning up my following list, and make sure I'm only following accounts whose content inspires me. It's not worth it wasting your time looking at images you do not enjoy, especially just for the sake of a few extra followers.
•mute instagram stories
I started muting certain people's Instagram stories a few months ago, and will continue to do this in the new year. I've muted a bunch of friends who I've grown apart from, because I was constantly getting FOMO sitting home on a Saturday night and seeing them uploading story after story all hanging out together. I've also muted some bloggers, not because I don't enjoy their stories, but because they were just posting too often and I was wasting a lot of time watching them. The beauty with muting Instagram stories is you are still able to watch them if you go to the persons profile, but you're not tempted to keep clicking to see their next story every time their little icon pops up in your queue.
•turn off notifications
I don't use Facebook much, it's not a platform that I post content to or interact with friends on. The main reason I keep it around is because it is a way I find out about events happening around the city. However, if I see I have a Facebook notification, I'll end up mindlessly scrolling through the app once I open it. I turned off notifications, so I am opening the app less, which is less opportunity for me to waste time on it. I've also unfollowed a bunch of pages, such as Elite Daily, Glamour Magazine and E! News, pages that are constantly posing click bait articles, which I would waste so much time reading when I was bored. With less temptation and opportunity, I will hopefully end up spending less time on Facebook in the new year.
•schedule time for activities that don't include your phone
One of my goals for 2017 was to read more. While I did finish a few books, I didn't read as much as I would have liked to. Often times I'd find myself bringing a book along somewhere I might have free time to read, but then end up scrolling though Instagram instead, merely out of habit. To get myself in the habit of picking up a book rather then my phone, I am going to schedule time to read. I am going to try to plan to read every night before bed, instead of staring at my screen until right before I go to sleep. Hopefully this will help me stop using my phone as a security blanket and find more fulfilling outlets for filling my time.
I hope these tips were helpful if you also want to become more intentional with your time on social media. What are your goals for 2018?
Dress: c/o Karina Dresses
*I am wearing the "Ruby" dresses from the Resort 2018 collection, which will be available on Jan 12th
Beret: Target; Shoes: Franco Sarto
Location: Pardon My French (East Village, Manhattan)
A few days ago, I stumbled across an amazing article entitled “Social Media Sickness”. You can read it here, http://leblow.co.uk/social-media-sickness/ and I highly recommend you do because it is incredibly accurate. In the article, the author calls out all the cliches we see across Instagram nowadays. While reading, I noticed a cliché she mentioned in her article present in these photos: that “looking to the side, right foot forward, tippy-toed” pose. When I first started taking photos for social media, I never naturally posed like this, but I began to notice other bloggers posing that way, and I started to mimic their body language. Although I try to create unique content and look outside of Instagram for inspiration, this article really emphasized how formulaic social media has become.
With 2018 fast approaching, I'll be reevaluating my blog and Instagram to see where I want to take things in the new year. I know one thing I'll be focusing on is trying to break away from the cookie cuter Instagram mold so many of us have fallen into and create imagery that (hopefully) will actually inspire my readers and followers.
If you’re interested in shopping my dress, you can find it here:
Dress: C/O Smak Parlour
Beret: Top Shop: Tights: Hue; Shoes: Franco Sarto (bought at Century 21); Purse: Vera Bradley
Location: West Village, NYC
It's hard to believe 2017 is almost over. Like most years, this one flew by. While most people make resolutions for themselves at the beginning of each year, I prefer to set goals. In my opinion, resolutions tend to have a negative connotation, like "stop smoking" or "loose weight". Making blanket statements like these also don't offer any time frame to accomplish the goals you want. Here are some tips you can use to set goals for yourself to make you more likely to reach them.
Write Them Down:
This seems obvious, but just writing down the things you want to accomplish makes it more likely for you to achieve them. It's easy to make a mental note in your head, but you can easily loose track of your goals by not writing things down somewhere. Make a list on a note in your phone, or do it the old fashioned way with a pen and paper, whatever works better for you.
Categorize Your Goals:
Break your goals down by category. I categorize mine by career goals, financial goals, blog goals, and personal goals, but you can break it down however works best for you.
Check in with yourself every few weeks or months to see if you're on track for meeting your goals. And remember, it's ok for your goals to evolve over time. A goal you set for yourself 6 months ago might not be important to you now. For example, one of the goals I set for myself at the beginning of 2017 in regards to my blog was to join an affiliate site (such as like to know it) to monetize my blog. However, after reevaluating my blog and Instagram this year, I realized this goal does not make sense for me. The point of my blog and Instagram is not to push product on people, so why would I join an affiliate site? Just because I saw other big bloggers using these sites, I felt like I should be too, when in actuality it's not something I even wanted. Which brings me to my next point
Don’t Let Society Define Your Goals:
Don’t set goals for yourself based on society’s timeline. Everyone is different and grows at their own pace. Especially with social media, its so easy to feel inadequate compared to our peers. But the new year is a great time to reflect and think about the things that are most important to you and what YOU really want out of life.
I hope these tips were helpful and got you thinking about what you'd like to achieve in 2018. Check out my latest Instagram post, where I’m giving away all the products featured in this post to help you stay organized in the new year!
If you're interested, you can also shop my heart sweater here: http://www.tobi.com/product/52634-tobi-heart-on-my-sleeves-sweater?color_id=71544
Planner, notebooks and pen: C/O Graphique de France
Sweater: C/O Tobi
Collared Shirt: Forever 21; Skirt: UO; Tights: Hue; Sneakers: Vans (bought from Madewell)
Location: Schnackenberg (Hoboken, NJ)
I took photos of this plaid dress from Smak Parlour this past Sunday, and unfortunately it was one of those days where nothing seemed to go right. I originally wanted to take photos outside of Katz Delicatessen, a famous deli in NYC. Although it was early in the morning, there were lots of tourists constantly going in and out the door, which would have made things a lot harder to get some good shots. They were also doing construction next door, so all the scaffolding really took away from the iconic vintage sign outside the restaurant. There is a vintage inspired coffee shop not far from Katz, so I decided to try that location instead. But once I arrived, I discovered they were closed, even though they should have been open according to Yelp. At this point, I decided to throw in the towel and told myself if I saw a cool location on my way to brunch, I would stop. A few blocks later, I stumbled across Beauty and Essex.
I had been to Beauty and Essex before, but for some reason it never dawned on me that it would make a good backdrop for photos. It is a speak easy style bar and restaurant, where you enter through a Pawn Shop. It was sort of a happy accident that I stumbled across this location, because the colors of the signage actually coordinated perfectly with my outfit. By this time though, it was almost 11:30 am, which means people were lining up outside for brunch and groups of people were strolling down the street, which made it hard to get some good shots, especially since I only had my tripod with me instead of a friend or photographer.
I can get frustrated with myself very easily when it comes to my blog and Instagram. I constantly find myself wishing I had more time to shoot photos, an #instagramboyfriend to help me, or a better camera. It can be hard to time manage between a full time job and creating content, but I try and do my best to balance between work, play and social media. Whatever your side hustle is, here are some tips to help you manage your time.
Take Advantage of All of Your Free Time:
Everyone is different, some people are more creative and work better at night, others are more productive first thing in the morning. I naturally wake up pretty early, so I’ve tried to take advantage of this lately, and go to bed earlier so I can wake up a few minutes before my usual alarm and shoot photos before work. This way, I don’t have to cram all my photos in during the weekend. Fitting in smaller tasks when you have a few hours of free time during the week is a good way to spread out your work load.
I keep several lists in my phone to help me prioritize and save time. For example, I have one list of locations around NYC that I would like to shoot at in the future. Having a list of locations saves me a lot of time brainstorming or searching for spots. Sometimes these locations also inspire me or help influence my outfit. I also keep another list of every product I receive or buy and want to shoot, that way I can visualize how much I have to shoot, and what order to shoot them in. Writing things down is a great way to prioritize and keep you from feeling overwhelmed.
Remember Why You Started:
At the end of the day, I try not to take blogging and Instagram too seriously. Yes, I see other full time bloggers and think I’d love to be where they are one day. However, that’s not why I started blogging with the intention of doing it full time. I started because I wanted to take inspiring photos that express my style. I’ve collaborated with so many brands I never thought I could, so I try to keep things in perspective and look at how far I’ve come, rather than beat myself up about not growing at a quicker rate. If your side hustle is a hobby like mine, remind yourself this is supposed to be a fun venture, not a source of stress.
P.S. If you’re interested, you can shop the dress I am wearing here:
Dress: c/o Smak Parlour
Saddle Shoes: Bait Footwear
Sunglasses; Foster Grant (vintage)
Location: Beauty & Essex (Lower East Side, Manhattan)