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on photography

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Photography plays an important role in everything I do professionally. My first internship in London consisted of me clumsily photographing products for an e-commerce site. When blogging wasn’t generating enough money, I worked as a photographer in Paris, photographing couples on their honeymoon or families on vacation in Paris. I spent a summer learning photoshop at Central Saint Martins. Photography and photo editing were always skills I clutched at. Fast forward to 27 and here I am still tackling them. It doesn’t feel right to call myself a ‘photographer’ but my profession, which is really an amalgamation of all sorts of skills,  demands that I do. I work freelance taking photos and I have for about 5 years now, so I guess, despite my lack of confidence, I am indeed a ‘photographer’. While I feel like a phony declaring that, I will go ahead and do so. In terms of the photos you see here on Frassy, I have an assistant who snaps me after I have set up the shot. I don’t work with any photographers because I know how to do it myself. When it comes to creativity, I have a hard time letting anyone else take reign. Precisely why I always shudder when a brand contacts me about a project that includes a photographer. The photos I share here are a huge component of my self’-expression and to have someone else take control of this content feels false to me. And with my brand new Canon in hand, I thought I’d share the collection of tips, insights and advice I’ve learnt in my many years of clicking away.

what camera, what lense?

I will always prefer 50 mm when it comes to my lense of choice. Not only does it give you a lovely depth of field, you can use it in low light or on grey days and still get a bright photograph. Canon offers 3 variations, each within a different price bracket. I have used all 3 over the years. There is the 1.8, the cheapest followed by the 1.4 and finally, the 1.2 – which is a whooping 1, 300 euros. All of these are good options, depending on what you can afford. I very recently invested in the most expensive, the 1.2 and it is the best purchase I’ve made all year. In terms of camera body,  I will always be a Canon girl, always. I am aware of the cheaper more compact cameras, in particular the Olympus Pen, which has become a somewhat trendy alternative. Following the hype, I did buy this camera a while back, but returned it to Amazon a few days later. Call me old-fashioned but nothing can replace the beauty of the beastly DSLR. They are big and heavy for a reason. They are reliable, quick and sharp with robot minds of their own that assess the light in a way that still leaves me in awe. I have owned the Canon 60d, Canon 7d and have recently replaced my Canon 5d mark ii with the mark iii (featured here in these photos).  I 100% recommend all of these models, again, depending on budget. They are all sturdy options and will take wonderful photos. Now I know these options aren’t exactly something to spontaneously order online, they are expensive, heart-wrenchingly expensive. But you know what else is heart-wrenching?  A life without the beautiful photo memories it deserves. Save up for one like I did with my recent upgrade, skip the Chanel bag and get yourself a good quality Canon. It might take months and months and months of saving but girls, I promise it is worth the price.


Yes, learn it! This software is incredible , learn the tricks and wave them all over your photos like a magic show. Best part? You can educate yourself, I did a summer course years ago but have since spent endless hours watching tutorials on youtube. All the photos you see on Frassy have been edited using photoshop, you can make all sorts of insane enhancements from lighting to smoothing your skin to adding a sunset or removing pesky pedestrians from your backdrop. I do all of those things and more. I find Photoshop is also beneficial for self-confidence, once you see what the software is capable of, you will soon see right through all the imagery you see in fashion magazines and advertisements.  Knowledge is power and photoshop is a great power to have! Also, a very good skill in terms of increasing your employability, particularly in the creative fields.

choosing a backdrop

I find people, and when I say people, I mean bloggers, really underestimate the value of photo location. I myself am very picky when it comes to location, both in my freelance work and blogging alike. Choosing well and taking time to find good spots enhances your photographs tenfold. Paris is easy because most of the city looks like a movie-set. Barcelona is beautiful too but the streets aren’t as well maintained, which means often, my assistant and I will walk around for a good half hour before we find somewhere that suits. I also go out of my way to shoot particular outfits in particular places, which can mean anything from driving at 5 am to a beach or hailing a cab across town to get some photos next to a set of old pillars I quite like. I am always on the lookout for new pretty places, it seems I have trained my assistant to do the same, as we will whatsapp each other iphone snaps we take walking past places in the city, as reminders to return for shooting. A good photograph takes time. Really it does. But when it all comes together, in blogging particular, it is thrilling. So be adventurous, seek out the prettiest spots wherever you live and be willing to go out of your way for the good locations. You must be dedicated, get up early, drive for an hour or wait around until the sun melts into the perfect light. These are the sorts of sacrifices I often make to get a photograph to look exactly how I imagined it in my head.



From posing myself or having other people pose for me, this is often the trickiest component of photography and definitely the one I get asked about most frequently. 8 years of blogging and I can safely say I am very comfortable in front of a camera but also quite good at making others feel comfortable too. I learnt this from photographing so many people who weren’t used to any sort of posing albeit in the form of the reverse cameras on their phones. It can be hard and so often it is embarrassing, I get it, believe me I do. There is something about a camera and it’s subject that make people on the street stare. I have no idea why. First of all, you have to ignore everyone else. You should do that anyway in all walks of life. But if you are posing, blank out anything around you and just act natural. Easier said than done, I know, I know. I have two ways around this. Firstly, movement. Walk across the frame, whip your hair around, jump – moving will allow to concentrate on the movement itself rather than what you look like or whose looking at you. It might take more shots to get the perfect one than if you were just standing still but the result will be far more natural and comfortable. Secondly, incorporate some props. Be looking at your iphone or sipping a coffee or walking your dog. Anything that comes second nature to you will make for a good photograph because you will be at ease. The best photographs, I find come when the subject is behaving normally, like they would if the camera wasn’t there. Don’t pout or imitate exaggerated fashion poses; you wouldn’t stand around normally like this, so why do it in a photograph? And finally, if you want to smile, make a wise crack at the photographer and then laugh at your own joke. This is way better than forcing a fake grin, which always looks quite creepy to me. My poor assistant has had to deal with a lot of weak humour in an effort  to get a ‘casual’ laughing shot of myself. If you are photographing other people, make the lame joke yourself, out of politeness they will probably laugh and you’ll get a lovely photo.


There are infinite ways to take a photo, the same shot can look entirely different from a switch up in angle. Be creative, experiment. Don’t like a street sign in the background? Shoot from a lower vantage point and avoid it entirely. My freelance photography projects are a workout in themselves, I’m squatting up, down and all around in attempt to find the best position to shoot the photograph. When it comes to my blog photos, my assistant almost always is sitting on the sidewalk, shooting low down is more flattering on my physique, making me appear taller and more slim than I am. Photography is not a sedentary art, you have to move ; circle 360 around your subject and location in order to find the best angle.

camera settings

I hate to say it, but you have to learn them. Shooting on automatic isn’t an option unless you want to be endlessly frustrated. While a good quality DSLR does have intelligence, you need to help it out by assessing the light and choosing very specific settings. I always, always shoot on manual and will switch up settings from ISO to aperture to shutter speed with the agility of a juggler. It took me a long time to get my head around all these different numbers but once I did, my photography became much easier. If you are going to invest in a quality camera, then you also need to invest time into learning how to maximise the ability of your equipment. And if you already own a camera, whatever kind, your life will be made much easier by sitting down for a few hours and learning all it’s settings. It frustrates me endlessly when I shoot with bloggers who own camera equipment I could never afford and yet they have no idea how any of it works. It seems such a shame.



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