Our final Better Pictures Project inspiration is Rochelle from Lucky Lucille. I bet that when you hear her blog name, you can picture her style exactly – which is one of many things I find inspiring about her!
Rochelle and I started sewing and blogging around the same time, and met online through the Colette book sewalong in 2012. What I think sets Rochelle apart from the average blogger is how clear and consistent her “brand” is, from graphic design to fabric choices to photography. Within that Lucky Lucille “look” though, she is always experimenting and adapting. We managed to meet in person a few summers ago, I can vouch that she is as lovely and friendly in real life as she is in her posts.
When I first planned this series, I wanted to find out more from Rochelle about how she combines full-length, detail, and atmospheric shots to tell a story in her posts… but now that I’m reflecting on the full Better Picture Project series, it’s also her personal journey of finding a photography style that works for her which intrigues me!
You’ve blogged before about telling a story through your photos. (Part 1, Part 2) Can you give some examples of how you decide on props, location and styling?
I used to put a lot more thought into that stuff, but now I just make the best with what I’ve got at the time. I went without a car for most of last year, and I live in a rural area where walking places isn’t an option. Rather than venture out to fun locations like I used to, I found myself making do in my own back yard and around my house, and I’m happy with that. I will do a bit of “scene styling” to spruce up my limited space, like quickly rearrange small furniture depending on the lighting, or de-clutter a corner if it’s too distracting in the background. I often finish a project and photograph it that same day, so I do a lot of stuff on the fly. It’s a little bit “I woke up like this” and a little bit “I showered and cleaned my room specifically for the benefit of my readers” haha! Photos aren’t a team effort outing for me anymore like they were in years past. It’s just me, a tripod, and some whim.
I always feel so silly when I try to hold a prop or style myself differently, like ‘Who am I to try to be a fancy photographer?” Any suggestions getting over those fears?
Just do whatever feels natural. Sometimes a cup of coffee, a stack of books, or your patio furniture can become a prop. Or even just movement with your own clothing, like holding your coat or adjusting your skirt, that sort of thing. Interact with yourself and your surroundings as you naturally would and that becomes the prop, and also feels a lot less staged. It’s always going to feel a little silly when the wind blows your hair across your face and you go to move it and then realize if you hold that position it might look good on camera. No one has to know the wind stopped four shots ago 😉 …Oh! And cute animals! You can never go wrong with cute animal photos, and if they interrupt your photoshoot, I think they owe it to you to become a prop (ask my cats). Lucille must know she’s a blog dog because she’s constantly photo-bombing and holding poses. She’s a way better model than I am!
I love the way your blog post include a wide range of close-ups, progress shots, full- and half-length portraits. When you start a photo shoot, do you have a mental checklist of what variety of shots you want?
Depending on the project I will have a mental checklist for details to include, like if I’m particularly proud of a sleeve cuff or zipper insertion, I want to share that. Plus I think it helps keep things interesting, for myself and for readers as well, to have a wide variety of angles. I often sew a lot of basic, uncomplicated silhouettes that would be pretty boring to see from the exact same distance and perspective. When I start to feel like I’m taking my own mug shots then I know it’s time to move the camera and get a fresh perspective!
You use a lot of collages in your blog post. Do you have any rules of thumb when you make collages, and what tools do you use to create them?
I find it more visually pleasing when my photos and written content are aligned in the same width of space. Since my landscape photos are quite wide (900 px) it made more sense to put two portrait shots side by side instead of just centering one smaller photo in the middle (and thus throwing off my preference to have everything the same width) or, posting one portrait shot that was also 900 px wide. It would be a million pixels tall and you’d have to scroll and scroll to get to see the whole photo. That kinda breaks up the impact of what you’re seeing. I’m a real stickler for “flow” I guess. I use Photoshop to make the collages and they’re very easy to do – they’re just two portrait photos saved on a canvas that matches the dimensions of my landscape shots, with a little white space in between to break things up. Technically the two photos get saved as one.
Do you have any other photography tips and tricks?
The biggest game changer for me was investing in a camera that has a swivel screen! I can flip it out and turn it towards myself like looking in a mirror, that way I can see what’s in the frame and if my point of focus is where I want it. I currently shoot with a refurbished Canon60D, but if you Google “articulated LCD camera“ lots of options with similar features will come up. I also took some time to learn my camera on manual settings so I can adjust lighting and depth of field as I take pictures. Making adjustments in-camera really helps cut down on retouching time in Photoshop. I basically just use Photoshop to re-size my photos and to make my collages. I’ve been trying to keep the tendinitis at bay, and any time I don’t have to spend editing photos means more time for knitting and petting cats.
AREN’T ROCHELLE’S PHOTOS BEAUTIFUL????? I’m so inspired. I love the use of shadows – not everything is bright and overexposed, which I tend to want to do. I love how, looking at these photos, if feels like we might all just be hanging out a country house for the weekend (looking fabulous and always surrounded by pets and “I’m a crafty maker” merchandise. Please, can we have this retreat weekend that I’m imagining?) Rochelle’s pictures are crisply focused, and there is a lot of variety in her shots, poses and backgrounds. And I think she’s bang on the money when she talks about talking photos in a way that fits her lifestyle. A photoshoot doesn’t have to be fancy!
I’m not sure that I have a photographic style yet – but I’m looking forward to developing one! I’ve got a post coming up where I asked myself, “WWRD?”, aka. “What Would Rochelle Do?”
What inspiration do you take from Rochelle’s pictures and advice? I’d love to hear what you might try to apply to your own blog photography!
**As always, you can find the whole series of Better Pictures Project posts in my left sidebar, or at this link!