I got into a conversation with my dear friend Rosie about photographs on blogs and social media, and it got me thinking…

Do I need to plaster pictures of myself all over my blog?

This is not meant to be a backhanded slam against anyone – it’s an honest question. When I post about a pattern that I’ve made, as you all know, I tend to take lots of construction pictures, and usually end up with front, back and detail shots on Shelley, my dress form. I don’t get many shots on me for several reasons. First, the only photographer I have at home is my husband, who is the greatest guy, but who surreptitiously snaps 4 shots, then hands me the camera and says, “There, I think I got a good one.” Usually they all suck, so I revert back to Shelley. I haven’t got the patience to set up a tripod and timer, and I can’t bring myself to arch my back and shove my butt out, or cross my legs and look up at the sky or down at the back of my shoe. That’s so not my style. Unless I just stepped in something, in which case the look on my face as I look down at my shoe isn’t something I want to splash all over the internet. OTOH, it would be nice to see pictures of my garments actually modeled by me, so you can see the fit on a real body rather than an idealized mannequin.

Also, are you interested in all those construction shots? Do they help? I post a lot of them on Instagram as I go along, so if you follow me there (@gorgeousfabrics) you can see works in progress. Should I continue to post them here, too, or is that overkill? I view this blog as a way to teach, but is that of interest, or do you just want to see the finished product? It’d be less work for me.

I dunno, maybe I just need another cup of coffee.

Happy sewing!

38 thoughts on “Preferences…”

  1. Skaapie says:

    The one thing I like about having construction pics on the blog, is that it is far easier to search for in the future. E.g. if I search for StyleArc Kate dress, it is way simpler to read that one blog post than scroll through Instagram.

    As far as pics on you vs Shelley, of course it’s nice seeing an item on a real person, but totally understandable if a photographer isn’t available.

    Finally, I am super appreciative of the effort you put into documenting all your makes. It helps me be a better sewist. But if it becomes tedious/too much work, take a break. The world continues spinning just the same. 🙂

  2. Nancy Morris says:

    Please post the construction photos here. I don’t have time to follow Instagram as well as FB and blogs. I already spend way too much time with my phone in front of my face. I have always been satisfied with your photos on Shelley although when I picture you it is always in your red evening gown!

  3. Nyssa Jayne says:

    I don’t like the act of taking photos of myself for my blog — i feel like a dork, I’m not naturally camera-ready — but then I thought about the photos that I find most valuable when reading sewing blogs, and it includes photos on the person who intends to wear the garment. For me, that’s where any fit concerns can be shown. (I have a dummy but she’s quite a different shape to me). I blog so that I can keep learning, so the pictures are valuable there. I tend to stick to around 3, one of the front, one of the back and one of the side, although there’s every chance I might add in others, depending on what I’d like to learn.

    What I’ve started doing is stockpiling finished garments, so I take photos of 3 or 4 outfits in one hit, which takes some the sting out.

  4. Laura says:

    I do like to see a finished garment on a real person because that truly shows the final product. Fancy poses aren’t necessary, nor are 16 shots of the same garment in different cute poses. I understand the problem with getting good photos–I’ve never had much luck trying to take pics myself. Construction shots a great if you want to share something useful– you have a good instinct for what that might be. Don’t forget how many new sewists might benefit from what you know. I don’t do Instagram–I already feel I’m swimming in social media, and don’t have a smart phone, so I’m not ready to add that to the stuff I look at every day.

  5. Joan Collins says:

    Please continue the pictures. Keep doing things just the way you are doing them. I enjoy your posts tremendously and the fabrics you sell are “Gorgeous”.

  6. Karen says:

    I love the construction pictures, but I also love the pictures on a real person. I often choose to make a particular garment because of how good it looks on the person who made it. A picture on a dress form helps and I am grateful for all the information you post, but a do think a picture on you would be great.

  7. Barbara J says:

    The construction shots are very valuable. I do follow you on instagram and see the pictures there but they are easier to pin from the blog for future reference. Your tips have definitely improved my skills.

    As for the modeled shots, I’d love to see some of those gorgeous gowns you made this year on a person but if it doesn’t work for you, we understand. Your quip about your husband’s photo skills made me laugh. My husband does the exact same thing, takes a few pictures in rapid succession, never changing his position or angle, and all the pics invariably suck! It’s the one thing that has kept me from starting a blog!

  8. Angela says:

    I, too, don’t follow instagram… LOL, I started an account but I already spent too time with electronics so I peek at it about twice a year. And, pictures of the garment on you are nice to help see how the garment looks on a real person, but if you can’t – don’t sweat it. Even if it looks great on you, it might not on me so that isn’t a huge deal for me. I love the construction photos you do put up though, I’d pick those as the most important.

  9. Nakisha says:

    I’m with Laura. I don’t think it’s either or — no photos on the body or fancy posed photos. I take photos with my iPhone, a tabletop tripod and a bluetooth remote. I know they aren’t fancy but that’s not my purpose! Heading into fall/winter, photos are harder because of lighting. Ahhhh.

    Anyway, I am always pro-blog. IG is fine but I like reading blog posts. I even think I’m starting to be “over” Instagram. I’ve already deactivated Facebook. That’s another tale for another day though 🙂

  10. Jennifer says:

    I do like having finished garment shots on a real person, because so often that best illustrates what someone is describing when they are talking about not liking a particular garment overall or just a particular feature. I also really like having construction shots, and it seems like that is often a rare quality. I only use instagram for family stuff, if I followed all the blogs I read on instagram too I would never have time for anything else! I also really like that a blog post pulls together a bunch of thoughts about a garment in one place…”e.g. this part was a pain but worth it in the end” whereas it seems instagram would only be the first half of that. I don’t mind finished shots that cut off people’s face, which some people use as a way of getting around photos they don’t like. I’m looking for the garment, not the person.

    I have stopped reading some blogs where there only seem to be lots of finished, highly styled shots of the garment, in which you can’t really see the garment at all because of the stylized poses. They’ve almost become more fashion/style blogs than sewing blogs. I’d rather poses which actually show off what the blog is talking about. Some people manage to do both amazingly well (e.g. Erica B). I find it frustrating when a particular garment detail has a paragraph or two devoted to it, but no picture. OTOH, I only have time to sew a few garments a year, always for my completely un-picky six-year-old, and don’t have a sewing blog, so it’s easy for me to talk the talk, but I’m never going to walk the walk.

  11. Anne says:

    I find it 10x more useful when people have a photo of the garment on themselves, even if their pose is stiff, it is taken as a selfie with a mirror, etc. Dress forms are such an idealized shape, and 99% of the time I find the garment looks much different on a real person. That’s the case even if the person is a 5’10” model with perfect proportions!

    I prefer construction shots be in a blog post. You could always just embed your Instagram photos within the post too, that way you avoid having to upload everything twice.

  12. sally says:

    I would love to see your garments on a real body. Dress form pics only tell part of the story.

  13. Tina Spear says:

    I love your blog! I don’t do Instagram so, for me, the pictures here on the blog are appreciated as your blog is where I learn the techniques you are wishing to teach. Please continue to post the construction pictures on your blog:). As much as I would like to see the new garment you finished photographed on you, I realize that is hard. I too, like you, don’t like posing for the camera in all those ways many people choose to pose. It’s not me either! So I understand it is difficult to get pics of the garment on you. The second best is pics on Shelly – which I am able to get a good enough idea from her rather stiff self (haha). In fact I had McCalls 6996 for quite some time but was so inspired to make it after your post. And mine turned out wonderful too! (wish there was a way I could send you a pic) So thanks for taking the time to post all those construction pics as well as all the wealth of information you have shared through your construction notes.

  14. Monica says:

    Yes, please continue with the construction shots! While I have been sewing for over 44 years, I continue to learn by viewing how other sewers construct their garments. Love your blog and website.

  15. JustGail says:

    Since I only read blogs and forums, unless there’s a link to IG/FB posts I’ll never see any photos, so PLEASE keep posting them here! And I like the usually more verbose commentary that goes with blog photos as compared to IG posts. As to finished garment photos, as long as Shelley is close to the real you, I’m fine with that. I don’t normally wade through blogs that have many shots of the same garment with minor variations in cutsie pigeon-toed I’m so shy I can’t even look at the camera poses. Exaggerated poses are not useful unless you are trying to show a particular success or fail with fitting or sewing.

  16. Sue says:

    I find your construction shots valuable and really appreciate seeing the finished garment being modelled. However, I also understand the amount of work involved and the difficulties of using a husband as a photographer, so I’m grateful for whatever you have the time and inclination to record.

  17. Mermie says:

    I love construction photo’s and cannot stand the twee pigeon toed pose while looking down at shoes.
    Keep on doing what you’re doing!

    1. JS says:

      Pigeon toes and duck face on amateur models. I can do without.

  18. Annette Untalasco says:

    Ann, Yes continue to post on your blog. Construction photos are really helpful in showing a technique that you are describing in the text. Photos of you modeling the garment is helpful to see the fit. Photos of the garment on Shelly are helpful but not the same as on a live model.
    I do understand the photographer dilemma. Mine takes the photo at least 30 or 40 feet away, with me taking up 30% of the space and the background/foreground taking 70%. Just not useful and forget explaining good photo shots.

  19. Bernice says:

    I very much appreciate the construction photos and all of the information that you share on your blog. I do find it helpful to see photos on a person rather than dress form, but definitely understand why that is not always possible.
    I intentionally don’t have an Instagram account. I enjoy reading blog posts.
    Thanks for all that you do!

  20. Kathryn Barnhill says:

    It is difficult to evaluate a style unless it’s on a real person and construction photos clarify what you are saying
    They are very helpful
    Thank you for the effort

  21. Dorothy Sabourin says:

    Please continue to post your construction pictures! You are an inspiration to many and your construction methods are always helpful. Please also continue to post pictures of the finished garments on Shelley as well as yourself – both are helpful. As always, thank you for your spot-on musings and for sharing your wealth of sewing knowledge.

  22. Meg Allen says:

    I like the construction pics here. I’m a dynasaur and don’t do Instagram. Pressinatrix and I are close in age, I think. I wouldn’t be posting pics of myself contorted in faux poses for any reason, I think. But, do as you please. This is YOUR blog and I respect this. Thanks for publishing your blog, however you do it!

  23. sewsy says:

    Please continue with the construction pictures Ann. They’re very valuable to so many of us. Also, did you see that there are two Paco Peralta patterns on Vogue? Wowsers!

  24. JS says:

    Good topic. One of the reasons I’ve held off from creating a blog is I’m not interested in posting photos of myself and many readers do seem interested. On Sewing Pattern Review, a common request for reviews was more photos on an actual person.

    Although I appreciate it when women put up photos of themselves in garments they’ve sewn I don’t think it’s mandatory. Showing it on a form should be enough. I feel especially uncomfortable when women are wearing only muslins that reveal their underwear. It’s no accident that most of those photos are by women and gay men. Most straight men simply won’t make themselves vulnerable in that way and I think they’re right.

    Construction photos are always helpful.

  25. Kansas Sky says:

    Love your blog, love all your photos. I don’t look at Instagram very often—- just not enough time. I hope you continue your construction visuals because I learn so much from your posts. THANKS SO MUCH for all your time and effort. You are deeply appreciated.

  26. Ginger says:

    I like seeing the construction photos on your blog. While I think garments are fun to see on a person, I understand that is not always possible. Dress form photos are good too.

  27. Denise Babin says:

    I adore the construction shots and can’t be bothered to go to Instagram. I would be happy to see the occasional “on the body” shot, just “me from the front”, “me from the back”, good enough to show how it looks on a person. You don’t have to hold yourself like Naomi Campbell, as I never walk around like that so that sort of pose doesn’t show how the garment will fit on an actual person doing actual standing. The sexy poses are for making ugly clothes sellable, if you ask me.

  28. Ruth Gregory says:

    I love your blog and all of your photos. I appreciate your efforts to share your talents with those of us who read your posts. I have read every post you have ever written and often refer to them for information and inspiration. As a full-time college faculty member, I do not have time to keep up with Instagram. I do hope you continue as you have for as long as you possibly can. I look forward to seeing the lovely creations you share. Even when I do not have the time to sew, I am continuously inspired by your blog. Your blog has taught me about taking the time to learn to fit myself in patterns. Thanks to you, I have sewn some garments for work that I am proud to wear because they fit better than anything I can buy from retail stores!

  29. In my opinion, photos are never overkill in a blog post. Construction photos are especially useful for readers who could use a little more guidance on making a particular pattern. I always learn a lot from your posts! I often do a Google Image search of a pattern I want to make, and it’s useful to see the finished garment on several different bodies and in different fabrics. I understand that there are many factors that go into deciding what photos to share, though. I’m not confident about my blog photos, but they’re the best way I can share my finished garments, which I’m proud of, so I go for it.

  30. Martha says:

    I appreciate your blog and all you do here. The garments on Shelley are nice, but I would love to see the clothes on a real person. I could sew all day for a mannequin. Sewing and fitting for me is more challenging. Then again I think we all understand that you are limited in photographers. I am amazed at bloggers and their willingness to share their sewing goodness. Thanks for that.

  31. Jorja says:

    I love your blog. I sewed many years ago in the required home economics class during my high school years but didn’t appreciate all that I could become through sewing. As an older person looking to create and find this form my first love, I appreciate the teaching aspect of it. Always helps me learn.

    I completely understand about the self portrait pics. Whatever you choose, no complaints. I just appreciate your dedication to help the home sewist become better.

    I don’t personally follow instagram so my vote continues to cheer on the blog.

    Have a joy filled day!

  32. I agree with Laura and others. I enjoy construction details because I want to learn, even at age 72. I also get impatient with 16 twee photos as it becomes narcissistic, and I want these young women to take their hands out of their pockets so I can see details. Boy, I’m glad I got that out of my system.

  33. Re: outfit photos. If you don’t enjoy it, and you don’t think you’re getting good results, don’t worry about it. It’s nice to see how clothes look on people, but ultimately, you need to enjoy blogging if you’re going to keep doing it, and if taking outfit photos is a drag, you won’t.

    Portrait photography, especially when you are both the model and the photographer, is hard. Here’s all the work that went into one relatively straightforward shot near my house ( ):

    — Put on makeup. This is not straightforward because makeup that looks overdone in person looks just right or even understated in photos. In this photo, the makeup doesn’t stand out. In real life, the lipstick made me look like Crazy Goth Woman.

    — Convince husband to drive me out to a nearby school and wait out in the cold for more than an hour so nobody mugged me in the dark.

    — Figure out where I should stand and where to set the camera up on the tripod so that the framing looked right.

    — Set up the light stand, the flash, and the softbox, and play with the orientation so that the lighting looked good.

    — Fiddle with the camera settings and flash power so that there was a good balance in the way the background and foreground were lit.

    — Take several hundred shots with different poses and expressions to be sure a handful of them would look OK.

    — Pack all my gear up.

    — Sort through the several hundred shots until I had maybe 10-20 that were acceptable.

    — Edit the 10-20 keepers in Lightroom.

    — Decide which photo I liked the most. Done!

    All told, this one photo represents at least 5-6 hours worth of work and 2-3 years of learning and practicing photography. I enjoy the creative/technical aspects of photography just as much as sewing, so this is fun for me. If you don’t have the interest, it’s fine to focus on the sewing. That’s what I read your blog for, after all!

    1. Oh yeah, let’s not forget, between the camera and the lighting kit, maybe $1000 worth of gear. This stuff is not cheap.

  34. Wendy says:

    Like so many, I appreciate the construction and real body photos. And I love what you said about the posers with the arches back etc.–thank you for not doing that!

  35. Lisa says:

    Please don’t change a thing you’re doing on your blog….it’s wonderful! I really appreciate all your work even without real body photos….I refer to your blog frequently….you’re one of my top 5 favorites! For me, it’s about the sewing (techniques, construction and more) with or without real body pictures; some of the sewing blogs that have real body photos are way over the top ……I’m most interested in the sewing and construction aspect ….. I really appreciate the effort you put into your blog and hope you don’t change a thing! I’ve been sewing for 40+ years but still learn something new from your blog all the time….. Thank you for all you do…. I’m not a blogger but I read yours faithfully….I purposely don’t do IG, so I’d be very sad if you went that route….

  36. Jancarol says:

    Please continue with pics, so helpful. Also such a sweet face!

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