When I first read yesterday's Links à la Mode intro by Jessie of Denimology, my first thoughts were “the community isn't going to like that.” But that doesn't mean that I disagree with what she wrote. Fashion is a visual art. If the human race would suddenly become blind tomorrow, it could with the rapture and all… what would that do for the fashion industry? Ok, if the Rapture came tomorrow, we'd have other worries, but I digress…
There were a few people who thought that imagery isn't important for a fashion blog. But I have to wonder, why is it not important to source beautiful imagery to articulate further what you write about? For any subject, it helps to create a visually pleasing place to surround your words. With fashion, it's utterly important.
Beautiful imagery provides:
- Credibility: Personally, I have a hard time believing someone has good fashion taste if they don't present images of clothes in a beautiful way. Even if I wouldn't personally wear the clothes. It shows that they value visual articulation, which, in my opinion fashion and style are arts that visually articulate expression.
- Sense of Professionalism: This may be another way of saying ‘cred' but do you read any fashion magazines with no images? How about magazines with terrible photos?
- Scannable Content: As much as we wish people would cherish every last word, truth be known, assume people on the web have ADHD and you have exactly 2 seconds to grab someone's attention. Do you think you can do that in a 1500 world chunk of text? If you can, email me, I'll hire you.. but then you probably already have a job writing 150o word chunks of text.
Tips on learning what makes a great image:
Beautiful imagery is important to me, and while it may seem like it comes natural, I have to say… nothing comes naturally to anyone. Some people may have what seems like an intuitive knowledge of what looks good, but I bet that along the road they have had a lot of help and a lot of encouragement to get that “intuitive knowledge.” My “intuition” came from taking art classes most of my life, and being a graphic designer for a decade. Makes me look like a slow learner now doesn't it? Yeah, I think so.
- Pick you heroes. Who are you favorite photographers? What do you love about them?
- Take an art history class, heck, go to the museum and take a tour if you don't have time for a class.
- Go to the public library, and look at the photography, arts, fashion and design sections. Go regularly.
- Look at images and see what is it that makes something appealing. Is it the color? Is it the composition? Is it the light? The subject? Really look at an image and dissect what it is that makes it great. I know this is vague, but I remember in college, everything was vague. But the one thing I remember from college was that it wasn't enough to like something or not like something, you had to say why you felt the way you did.
- Look at the images people pick as being beautiful, look at the images the people you admire like. What is it about them? Why do you admire a certain persons editorial skills? I'm not saying copy them, but in a therapeutic sense, it's good to have a grasp on why you react to another's editorial sense, and maybe your readers may benefit from seeing that in you.
Tips on learning photography:
Ok, I'm going to be presumptuous, and assume that if we blog, we are affluent enough to buy a computer every now and then, if that is the case, we should be able to invest in a decent camera. Nikon Coolpix makes an amazing point and shoot for about $115, that's cheaper than a pair of Jeffrey Campbell Litas. Take pictures, practice. When I first started blogging, I took crappy photos, but I kept practicing every day… and now I'm a little bit better, much more so than if I never practiced.
If you would like to take better photos, try here are a few cost effective ways to learn how:
- Reading photography blogs like Digital Photo School and read through the tips and practice.
- Take a class at your local community college.
- Lomo offers Lomography classes for affordable prices. Take one there (Lomos are so cool!) They offer really great ways to look at photography without getting to heady about it.
- Get a friend who is good with photography to give you a few tips
- If you have an iPhone, or iPod touch…install the Instagram app. I have to say it is amazing for taking quick photos and not being too precious about it.
Photography isn't everything:
You don't have to take photos, you can draw, collage, make typographic compositions, VIDEO… performance art pieces. The possibilities are endless! Just make sure whatever you put on your blog looks amazing.
Sourcing great images:
If you can't take great pictures, or you're not there yet.. no worries. That doesn't mean that it's time to pack up and call it a day. There are plenty of options and tools for you.
- Creative Commons images: Creative Commons is a license people give to their images that allows them to be shared freely. Look into the details of each images license to understand what you can do with an image.
- Public Domain: These images have no copyright restrictions are available for public usage.
- Fair Use: is a clause for US residents to use samples images and text for editorial purposes only. This clause is used a lot on the web, but look carefully into the way you are using the images and the laws applicable to you.
- Press images: If you have been sent an image by a PR to use in a post, you probably have the right to use it.
- Collages: Create your own images through collages: Polyvore is a great tool for this if you don't have a photo editing tool.
- I've been finding Looklet to also be a handy tool for putting together custom styled outfit images… it's fun to play with anyway.
- Partner up with someone. Do you know a blogger who creates great images, a friend who snaps great pics but doesn't want to be a blogger? Maybe start a photo sharing pool?
Perfection isn't everything:
I'm saying don't settle for less than amazing. But that's only because I believe in the blogging community's continual ability to generate amazing content. The fact is, amazing is not the same thing as perfect. Anything can be amazing, and perfection doesn't exist. All I'm saying is that aim for amazing, but don't get caught up in “perfection.” Over the years, blogging has been a process of just showing up and doing what's possible today, and it's pretty amazing what's become possible by doing just that.