“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)
While I was home for Easter two weekends ago, I stopped at Stewart's to snap some photos in this dress from Emily and Fin (btw, isn't it so cute? I'm definitely planning to live in it this summer). I grew up in southern New Jersey, and had driven past Stewart's once or twice while in high school, but this was my first time actually stopping by. I thought it was just a stand where you walked up to order, but it is actually an old school drive in, where the waiter comes up to your car and attaches a tray to your window to serve you food.
My sister helped me take these photos, and while we were there, we received a lot of questions from our waiter about what we were taking photos for, as well as confused looks from those eating in their cars. When I first started getting into Instagram and blogging and taking photos of my outfits, I would be embarrassed if people would stop and look at me. But luckily I have become more confident and better at not letting other people's looks affect me. This is partly due to the fact that social media and the blogosphere has blown up in the last couple years. Especially in NYC, people don't think twice about people taking photos. Everyone is so desensitized to seeing people being photographed, so those passing by are less inclined to stare. And like anything else, practice makes perfect (well so to speak, because I'm nowhere near perfect). I am no expert, but I wanted to share some tips for taking your best photos possible, especially if you are on the shy side like me, whether you're a blogger or just want some Instagram worthy photos.
Find a Quiet(er) Location:
This can be extremely tricky in NYC, but if possible, find a quiet place to shoot. Not only will you be more confident if there are less people around, but it will allow you to be more focused. Having to constantly stop to let people pass by on a busy street can be distracting and take you out of the moment.
Work With a Photographer You Are Comfortable With:
I've had lots of people take photos for me and the person behind the camera honestly makes a difference how the pictures turn out. When you're not entirely comfortable with the photographer, it can show in your face or body language, which doesn't make for the best photos.
Fake It Til Ya Make It:
If you're still uncomfortable, just remind yourself that the sooner you get a good photo, the sooner you can stop. Again, you don't want the fact that you are feeling shy or embarrassed to show in your photos, so put on a confident face, even if you have to fake it.
Whether you are a blogger or not, I hope these tips help you to be more confident while taking photos. I wanted to start blogging years ago, but I was too embarrassed to take photos in public and was worried I would come across as narcissistic. But style is a way for me to be creative and express myself, and eventually I decided not to hold myself back just because of what other people think. You should never stop yourself from doing something you are passionate about because of the opinions of others.
Dress: c/o Emily and Fin
Bag: Mint Market, Necklace: Principessa Venice; Sneakers: H&M
Location: Stewart's (Burlington, NJ)
April marks the one year anniversary of my blog. While I am certainly no expert and still have a long way to go, I wanted to share a few things that I've learned in the past year for any other bloggers out there.
Invest in a Camera:
In the beginning I couldn't (and still can't) afford to pay a photographer. At first, I worked with friends and acquaintances who owned professional cameras and graciously helped take photos of me. However, it was often hard to coordinate schedules or take and edit the pictures in a timely manner, especially because I work a 9-5 full time job. So I decided to get my own camera. It's just a simple point and shoot Cannon, under $500, and easily fits in my purse, but it takes sharper images than my phone. You don't need a crazy fancy camera to take good blog photos, but I definitely recommend investing in some type of camera because it has been a huge stress relief not having to rely on others to create content for my blog and Instagram. Which brings me to my next point...
Create Your Own Content:
I like to keep my Instagram feed as close to real time and organic as possible. I'm personally not a fan of going out and shooting a bunch of outfits at once, stockpiling the photos, and then sporadically posting them later. I want every photo I post to be purposefully and I try to avoid sharing old photos just for the sake of posting. However, I used to just meander around New York City, hoping I would stumble upon something insta-worthy, and that also fit into my feed. While this isn't impossible living in a huge metropolis like NYC, I honestly used to get stressed out and felt pressured if I couldn't find something good to post.
I've finally accepted the fact that there's no shame in sometimes planning ahead and creating your own content. In fact, that is the only way to be truly original and stand out from the sea of bloggers. Anyone can take a photo of the Empire State Building or a cool mural in Soho, but it's the truly unique photos you create yourself that will set you apart from the crowd. Planning ahead also allows me to be more present and live in the moment when I am out, instead of just focusing on finding something to take a photo of. In my opinion the best Instagram feeds are a healthy combination of both planned and spontaneous posts.
Find Your Own Voice (literally):
Opening up and making myself vulnerable through writing is something I've always struggled with. Because of this, I used to play it safe when it came to the writing aspect of blogging. Everything from my Instagram bio and captions, to my blog posts, were super cliche because I didn't want to put myself out there too much. For example, my first few blog posts were very short and strictly about what I was wearing in the photos, which really doesn't need an explanation. I never gave any thought to my Instagram captions and would just type the first thing that popped into my head, which was usually something super generic and cliche, like "happy friday" or "weekend vibes". My Instagram bio read "fashion and style blogger" which is extremely unspecific in today's saturated industry.
In the beginning of the year, I analyzed my Instagram to see what was working and what wasn't, as well as refined my personal brand a bit. After doing so, I finally feel like I have a voice as a blogger and an overall stronger point of view. I am definitely putting myself out there more, which can be scary, but taking risks is the only way you will ever achieve success. I still have a lot of growing to do, but I have definitely learned a lot about blogging in the last year.
I hope these realizations were insightful to any fellow bloggers. What are some things you've learned about blogging?
(Notebook C/O Graphique de France)
Yesterday I had a lovely afternoon in Brooklyn with Diane, a fellow blogger (@snapshotfashion). We brunched at Allswell on Bedford Avenue and then wandered through Williamsburg and took a few photos together. Diane and I initially met via Instagram, and then she reached out to me a few weeks ago about meeting up in person. I'm so glad we did because after chatting all afternoon we discovered we had a lot in common, even aside from blogging!
Making friends in your twenties isn't always the simplest thing. Social media has made it easier to meet more people with similar interests as you because it provides us with the ability to connect with those we may not of otherwise crossed paths with in real life. Although, we have access to a larger pool of potential friends through social media, it can be intimidating to ask someone to meet up outside of cyberspace. So, I decided to come up with a few ideas for meet ups you can organize for like minded girls (or guys) like yourself, if you are looking to take your social media friendships from your phone screen to real life.
Brunch + Photoshoot:
If you are also a blogger (or just want to take some cool photos, because let's be real, who doesn't want a new profile picture for all of those social media accounts?) take a cue from Diane and I. Grabbing brunch before taking photos is perfect because it gives you a chance to chat a bit and get to know one another before jumping in and taking photos together. Plus, it's a great excuse to try out a new brunch spot!
You know those items in your closet that technically don't have anything wrong with them, but you're just sick of wearing? Gather them up and organize a clothing swap with other girls who live in your area and also have a similar style to you. You'll satisfy your shopping itch, without spending any money, and meet some cool new people so it's a win-win-win. (Bonus idea: if you are a fashion designer/sewer/DIYer like me, you could also organize a fabric swap instead. If you're like me, you definitely have some extra yardage of fabric laying around that you'll most likely never use again.)
Attend a Store x Blogger Event:
Almost every week I see bloggers posting about events they are hosting at various stores or spaces around NYC. I love attending things like this, because it's a great way to meet other people with similar interests as you, but sometimes it can be nerve wracking showing up alone. Asking a few of your social media friends to go with you is perfect because it's very likely they are equally as interested in attending this event and you don't have to worry about showing up and not knowing anyone there.
Hopefully these ideas inspire you to start connecting with people in other ways besides through a phone screen. Do you have any other suggestions of cool ways to make new friends as a twenty-something?
Top: Mint Market; Skirt: Urban Outfitters: Tights: H&M; Shoes: Bus Stop Boutique; Purse: Nordstrom; Scarf: Fred and Lulu
Location: Williamsburg, Brooklyn