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How To Take Your Own Outfit Photos

by Josh Johnson

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“How do you do it?” is a question I’ve been asked countless times. Today I spill the beans.

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It’s something that’s definitely been a learning experience and yields more bad photos than it does good, but it gets better every time I do it. I have no formal training in photography, and I’ve self taught myself pretty much all I know from trial and error or googling how-to articles. Thank God for Google though, seriously. Originally when beginning this adventure I figured I could find friends, family, whomever to take my outfit photos. Well, I was partially right? I could find friends to do it, but it was always around their schedule and if they weren’t a photographer or familiar with what I was wanting I found that most of the photos I didn’t/couldn’t use. After some googling I came across How to Take Your Own Outfit Photos article on Heart IFB, which is a great resource if you haven’t used it before, and the rest is history.

The equipment needed to take your own outfit photos is pretty simple actually. I use a tripod, remote, and my Canon SLR. There are a million and one tripods to choose from, and I’m more than happy with the Promaster tripod I picked up at my local camera store. My biggest piece of advice with a tripod is to get one that has a level on it. Otherwise you’re going to be playing a guessing game trying to figure out when the legs are actually even, it’s harder than it sounds trust me. You can easily find out what remote works with your camera by visiting the manufacturers website. I use a Canon EOS Rebel SL1, it’s incredibly functional and lightweight while yielding great photos. It may seem simple enough, and getting everything set up really is. Taking the photos however.. is the challenge.

1. Use both auto and manual focus, big thanks to Delightfully Tacky for this tip

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As you can see from the above photo getting things in focus is sometimes tricky. What I’ve learned from partial trial and error and reading other tutorials is to use your auto focus to set a point on a wall, street, or wherever you’re feeling inspired to shoot at. Once focused on that location switch to manual focus. This will keep the focus on the point you selected. Because once you step into the frame with auto focus on your camera will readjust because you’ve been added to the frame. This will save you a TON of time, but you’ll still need to take a few test shots to make sure you’re landing in the focus spot you’ve selected and the lighting is good to go.

2. Learn to use your camera

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Speaking of lightning.. the auto setting on your camera will be the death of you when taking your own photos. If it’s not, it will certainly take you a good hour or so to get a few good photos. That’s the hardest part about taking your own photos. You can’t see what you’re getting, until after you’ve already posed and fired away. You can’t tell yourself to readjust to fit into frame or to take a few steps back so that your shoes aren’t cut off or even see that the camera didn’t adjust to the lighting you’re in. Take some time to learn about ISO, Aperture, and Shutter Speed if you’re going to take your own outfit photos. It’s worth the time. If you’re not a big Google search wizard just switch that camera to manual and shoot a friend for a couple of hours to get a feel for what you’re working with. It will be a HUGE help when you’re standing both behind the camera and in front of it.

3. Know what poses work best for you

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I’m sure you notice that I almost always look over my shoulder in photos. This is a sure fire way for me to know that I’m going to like the photos, and that I won’t be making any wonky faces that will ruin the photo. When squeezing in outfit photos between work/fun/friends I try to keep it as short and sweet as possible, and this helps me do that.

4. Get used to weird looks

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Living in Louisville I don’t really have the luxury of being able to find an quiet street, park, or building that often. It’s something that definitely takes getting used to. People will stare, people will ask what you’re doing, and yes people will even take photos of you taking photos of yourself. But at the end of the end I’ve just started to laugh about it. The guy I’m currently dating actually saw me taking photos of myself several months ago, and I received a Facebook message from him about it. True story.

5. Take LOTS of photos

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Like I said prior, you don’t know what these are really going to look like until you’re done. So take as many as you have time to take. You’ll thank yourself later, even if you’re cursing yourself in your head while taking them. Most days that I take photos I don’t head home until I have between 200-300 photos. Out of all those photos there’s several of me in the same pose, looking the same way, but not all of them are in focus or have me in frame. From all those photos I usually end up using 4-5 photos. I’ll repeat, take a lot of photos.

6. Take detail shots

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Detail shots are a great way to break up a post and show of your favorite accessory or shoes. When shooting detail shots I always flip my camera to shoot landscape instead of portrait. It’s much easier to get close up shots whenever your frame is wider.

7. Hide your remote

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Nothing fires me up more than getting home and noticing that some of my favorite shots have me holding the remote in my hand. Lucky for us guys we usually have pockets on everything, and I just put my remote hand in my pocket to hid it. Another secrets out! Yes, that’s why I always have my hand in my pocket. Gotta work with what you got after all.

8. Check your photos before leaving location

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There’s nothing worse than getting home and realizing that all yours shots are out of focus, too dark, or you hate the background. Checking them while you’re still on location allows you to be able to reshoot the whole look, or reshoot the bits you weren’t a fan of.

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9. Learn basic editing

Take an online class in either Photoshop or Lightroom. It can seriously make a huge difference in what your photos look like. I need to take my own advice here. I use Lightroom, but don’t understand half the functionality. I relish the moments I get to work with photographers for that reason. Their editing is always SO much better than mine, but hopefully I at least dress better than them?

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10. Stop being your own biggest critic

We all have bits and pieces, some of us more so than other, of our bodies, faces, or hair that we don’t like. Don’t spend your entire editing process picking those bits apart. You’ll take the fun out of all of this. If you don’t like what you see in the photos remember it for the next time you shoot. Make sure you don’t sit or stand like that, do something different with your hair, or maybe wear a shirt that doesn’t fit like that one did. But most of all remember that the models, celebrities, and yes even some bloggers out there are photoshopped to the moon and back. That’s why they look the way they do. You’re beautiful just the way you are.

Anyways.. hope this simple how-to was helpful, and I hope I didn’t talk to much. I tried to answer all the questions I had/still have without being too wordy. Also wanted to take this time to say that I’m going to start a new weekly series on here called “Tuesday Tips.” If you have any questions, concerns, or comments that you’d like some advice on shoot me an e-mail, and I’ll be sure to include them in the series!

Stylishly Yours,

Josh Johnson

The Kentucky Gent