Monday, October 24, 2011

Style Blogger Confidential!

 I've noticed over my time as a reader and author of style blogs that there's a nice little controversy over 'how to get the most truthful picture' of an outfit. Should you 'pose' or not, what about camera angles, showing your face, etc. Most people who hold very strong opinions in this discussion seem to feel this way because of two ideas. The first is that they want accurate 'feedback' (from other's eyes or their own) on how the outfits looks. Does it flatter their physical form? In order to accurately judge you need to have an accurate image to work with. They feel that exaggerated poses, cropping part of the body, etc. will distort the image. The second idea seems to be that it is possible to get an 'accurate' image of how all outfits look on all bodies via still photos. This second idea appears to be related to a belief that it's important to be 'honest' when presenting your physical image in a photo.

Some of these beliefs are moral or philosophical positions (that you should present an honest image of yourself in photos) and some are practically provable (the camera never lies). Cameras 'see' objects in their own particular way. They record some things and not others and thus are constantly editing. We've all had the experience of certain colors looking very very different in a photograph than in real life. As it turns out, cameras are performing similar but more subtle distortions on all the objects in our world.

This does not mean that photos can't be wonderful tools for evaluating aspects of our appearance. I think they are a god send! But my personal belief is that it's important to keep in mind that cameras and photos are one tool among many - mirrors, friends, video. Seeing as we can't view each other in real life to judge our various 'OOTD' pix against the outfits in real life, i thought i'd post a video for you to compare to some stills of the same look.

 To help you understand what i'm talking about, i'll tell you what i did. I used my regular little camera to take a few run of the mill still photos. Then, i took two video clips using the same camera in the same position.  Finally i switched back to still photo and took some detail pix.  This camera isn't a video-alone cam, so the sound is weird (i've no clue why the sound of the radio goes up and down) and the re-focus as i move toward and away from the camere isn't lickety-split.  I did not download the biggest file possible to YouTube, so a bit of clarity is lost.  But not enough to influence what i'll point out to you next.

Compared to the still camera pix, the video downplays the pearl necklace and plays up the waist. Looking at the still photos I'd be tempted to call this a 'waist-surrendering' look. But when i'm on the move, the top moves as well and showcases the waist. The earrings and chain belt move a lot in real life and the video catches this (of course the still camera cannot - unless i really slowed down the shutter so these items blurred). Also, the video captures the glasses sliding down my nose, me pushing them up, me making faces, radio continually on in the background.

Is one of the media 'more accurate' than the other? I can't say. Probably both together give a better feel of how this outfit looks on me. I will also note that other types of clothing (very floaty fabrics for example) will 'look' much more different in still photos than they do in real life. I hope this post gives you a little more insight as to how you can use different techniques to evaluate your own looks. Also, maybe it gives you a feel for all the information you might be missing when you only have a single still picture by which to evaluate an outfit.

re: my hair. i've been growing it out a bit, thinking about trying an a-line bob.....but after seeing pix and video from my earlier, shorter look i'm cancelling the bob (which has never worked in the past) and going straight back to my earlier, much more glam look STAT!!!

Top: Cubism
Belt: Betsey Johnson
Skirt, necklace, earrings: own design
Sandals: Aerosoles


  1. This was a very interesting post. I've thought about the different poses for showing off my outfits, but never different mediums.

    Usually, I do straight forward, straight-on to the camera poses because I really am show-casing the clothes, not my posing skills. And I've heard this is boring for readers, but I can't help but think that people are there for my style, not to see how many different ways I can angle my body.

    I will change my pose if it shows off the clothes better, but that's about it. I hope I'm not boring people but for me, straight to camera just seems to show the clothes best.

  2. I'm in total agreement that "the camera doesn't lie" is the bunk. Had read a wonderful scientific article about this but could never find it again. :(

    I loved the video - you're so slinky! Doesn't come across in the still photos at all. Makes the utilitarian aspect of some of your clothing that much more intriguing, though. How does someone slink in engineer boots? I'm waiting for the video. It'll be an education. Please, please do take one.

  3. ah! I'll correct myself. Now that I know what I'm looking at/for, I can see the slinkiness in the posed photos.

  4. Definitely not a waist surrendering look as your beautiful waist in clearly visible. I really like this look on you!

  5. Hi Gracey! i'm glad you found this thought-provoking. to me, it's just a personal choice. there's no right or wrong. altho you're not as 'straight to the camera' as some! Audi, for example, does the. same. exact. pose. for every single outfit. but then she's very interested in documenting her outfits and having a 'baseline' from which to judge.

    hi Vildy! i know, i'm shocked anyone still thinks that!

    "...slinky..." - you're cracking me up! tho i am more on the looser-limbed 2nd comment: now i am thinking some of my 'posing' might look less 'posed'. my hands are always up near my face because i'm pushing up my specs or fiddling with my hair ;) i'll have to make that video - i love a dare!

    Welcome Sylvia! Thank you! you know, the video surprised me - i've only seen this top in the mirror and in still photos, where i couldn't see much of a waist. And 'from above', where the view of the waist is obscured. seeing the video gave me a different outlook than before.

    Happy Day!! steph

  6. I think the camera distorts - whether it's video or still, it's an impediment between the object and the observer.

    That's one of the beauties of photography and video, in my opinion: it isn't a lie, it's an interpretation.

    Having done a few of the OOTD shots myself, I see a huge difference between the way I look in the shot and the way I see myself in a mirror. It's that old Observer Effect, I suppose.