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