On Being Lolita: Take a Picture

On Being Lolita: Take a Picture

I am neither handy with a camera nor good at posing for one, which causes certain difficulties when it comes to lolita fashion. There’s really nothing wrong with not taking pictures, as wearing the clothing provides the experience, but personally I like having something to look back on and share. Years from now, when I’m an old lady, I want to be able to reflect back on this time of my life with pictures to illustrate it better than my memory might. Maybe my nieces or nephews will enjoy seeing those “weird pictures of Aunt Alice,” too.

My camera is a point-and-shoot Sony that I bought when I started wearing lolita~ At 6 megapixels, it doesn’t have the highest quality. It also has very little in the way of options and settings; I moan my lack of white balance on a regular basis. (It’s the one feature I could really use to avoid the yellow cast of electric lighting.) Despite this, I still manage to get some very nice pictures with it and have only vaguely entertained the thoughts of replacing it.

Although some lolita are also photographers, not all of us are–but we’d still like to take nice pictures. It’s fun to get good shots to remember an awesome meetup; take clothing pictures to get more ribbons for your Poupée Girl account; share your outfits on Daily_Lolita or Daily_Ala_Mode; add more to your Flickr photostream; or just take pictures because you want to!

  • Use the highest megapixel setting. Smaller resolution photos will take up less space on your memory card, but they won’t look as crisp and clear. When you buy a camera it’s best to use it to its fullest extent. You never know when you might take a picture you REALLY adore, and it’s very hard to duplicate an image. Might as well take the highest-quality image you can, so you don’t regret it later.
  • Don’t use digital zoom. This might look nice when you’re staring at the picture’s preview on your camera’s screen, but it won’t look so nice when you’ve downloaded the picture to your computer and can see it with more detail! Using digital zoom reduces the number of pixels in your picture and thus the quality is poor. Move closer to your subject instead of thumbing the zoom dial.
  • Take multiple pictures of the same shot. A friend of mine is a professional photographer. When he takes a picture, it sounds like machine gunfire. He rapidly takes several pictures instead of just taking one. This is because even a second can make a difference–something especially true for pictures of people. Sometimes we make weird facial expressions, or cause a blur by moving, or the focus isn’t quite right, etc. Sorting through a few versions of the same picture provides a chance to pick the best one, instead of having to discard a pose and setting you really liked because your eyes are half-closed and your mouth is open.
  • Pay attention to lighting. Sunlight is typically the best option, and flash is usually the worst. Stepping outside to take your pictures, or standing near a large and sunny window, will avoid most weird colour casts or darkness. Too much light can cause glare or wash out pale outfits, so try taking pictures at different times of day in different weather conditions and get to know your sunlight. That way you’ll have a time in mind for pictures when you’re in dark clothing on a cloudy day, while also being prepared for getting the optimal shot of an all-white coordination when the sun is full-force. Always turn off the flash if you can, as it tends to distort colours.
  • Practice posing. This is something I am really bad at, but trying to improve! It’s hard to know what you look like when someone takes your picture, so give yourself an advantage by practicing beforehand. Prance around in front of a mirror to see what angles you like best. Does looking down give you a double-chin? Does placing your hands a certain way make them look HUGE? Now you know what to avoid! It looks silly if you always stand the same way in every picture, so make sure to try new things and give yourself some options.
  • Check your outfit. When someone asks to take your picture, pause for a moment to straighten your hairbow, pull up your socks, and make sure your petticoat isn’t slipping. (Of course, you’ll want to do this in a lady-like manner to avoid flashing friends and strangers.) A small hand mirror can come in handy for last-minute adjustments, although I usually use the closest reflective window or well-washed car!
  • Notice the background. A good picture–even if the goal of the picture is to share an outfit–shouldn’t have a sloppy mess in the background. Before you take a picture, stare through the viewfinder or at the display and notice what else is there. Your dirty laundry scattered across dingy carpet? A smear of dog poo on the sidewalk? Probably not the best place to take a picture, then. Find a better spot, or (if, for example, the lighting is only good RIGHT THERE) clean up or disguise the mess. Angle to avoid the dog poo; pick up the dirty laundry. It’s very easy! If you plan on taking pictures fairly frequently, it helps to designate a certain area as “the picture place”–and keep that spot neat even if the other areas are messy.

Unless you have a lot of skill, it can be very difficult to take a picture of yourself. Mirror shots–although a staple for most–are never as nice as those taken directly. The mirror bends the light, slightly distorting the image, and having the camera in the picture rarely looks as good as without. In this case, having a tripod is best–but if you can’t manage that or don’t want one, try finding a piece of furniture or stacks of books and boxes to bring the camera to the necessary height, and use the timer feature.

If you can convince someone else to take a picture for you, it’s always best to be courteous. At a meetup, it’s generally appreciated to “trade” picture-taking duties. If a friend takes a picture of me, I should at least offer to take a few for her. Give your friends (or acquaintances) the same kind of attention you’d prefer–pay attention to the setting, point out and adjust flipped-over bows or untied lacing, and take a few pictures of each shot so she has a few to choose from. It’s not fun to take lots of pictures for someone else to have them just brush you aside–don’t make your photographer feel unappreciated.

The same is true for loving boyfriends/girlfriends, family members, or others who take a picture for you and do you a favor but might not want pictures in return. Don’t give them a reason to feel resentful and unwilling to cooperate–show your thanks in another way. If they’re attending a meetup with you or just helping out while you’re at home, do what you can so they don’t feel like you only wanted them around to carry things and hold the camera. If you have suggestions or requests, asking is always better than demanding. And everyone appreciates being thanked, with words and actions. Personally, I try to repay favor for favor.

When we started living together, my husband was not keen on being my in-house photographer. He would groan if I reached for the camera, or conveniently “forget” it when we were going out for the day. It was a tiresome, boring thing for him. Now he has a much different attitude. Before, he felt criticized and unappreciated. I would ask him to take a picture, then ask for another because it “wasn’t good enough.” When we talked about it, I changed my method to let him know exactly what I didn’t like and why I didn’t like it. Instead of a vague assessment, I’d point out something specific like “this bow is turned over–I need to fix it” or “this angle is unflattering–can you try holding the camera like this?”

I also encouraged him to experiment or give direction. It’s not very fun to do something if you’re being forced, but it can be fun to do something if you have control. This led to our recent photos posted in the previous entry. I told him that he could pick everything; he selected my outfit, the location, and poses. I’d add my input sometimes, but given free reign he was much more creative than I would have been had I been telling him what to do. He had so much fun that he said he would certainly do it again. I’m looking forward to taking more pictures with him, so we can share our happy memories in the future~ ♥

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