Custom Style

Sewing that's Retro, Geek, and Chic

Tag Archives: photography

A Custom Style Christmas

Every year, my husband and I design our Christmas cards using a simple photo that always involves our dog.  I usually come up with the concept and he helps me execute it.

This year was the first year we’ve had Wensley for the Christmas card, and we weren’t sure he would be as easy to photograph as our last Jack Russell, who was an old pro at our crazy photo shoots.

Well, Wensley was amazing, and I managed to get the exact photo I wanted by take 7 or 8!  Lots of treats were given (so he was well paid) and he had so much fun playing the new “game” that he wanted to keep going long after we called it quits.  (I think 100 photos is more than enough, dog.  But thanks!)

UPDATE 10/17/13: This card is now available for sale in my Zazzle store. Can be customized.

So to my online friends whose physical addresses I do not have for sending cards, here’s a virtual version of this year’s card:

Card Front
I tied some red ribbon around our green storage ottoman to use as the “gift” prop.

Photo Inside Card
Wensley stands & sits on our ottoman all the time because he’s not allowed on any of the other furniture, so this was an easy shot to get.

Inside message:

Merry Christmas!  from the Wilkersons

“Oh, that birth forever blessed,
When the Virgin, full of grace,
By the Holy Ghost conceiving,
Bore the Savior of our race,
And the Babe, the world’s Redeemer,
First revealed His sacred face
Evermore and evermore.”

                        Of the Father’s Love Begotten – hymn stanza 2

Card Back
We usually use a funny photo or outtake on the back, but we decided on something normal this year because it was the first time some of our friends & family would be seeing our new pup.

And here are two of my favorite outtakes that were not included in the original card:

“You want me to do what? You’re crazy.”

Most people know JRTs are fast, but here’s some proof.

Have a wonderful Christmas holiday, everyone!

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Costume-mode: Resistance is Futile.

Hooray, it’s my first real rant post!

Roll sound, speed, mark and… Action!

As a costumer, I’ve been trained to have a critical eye when it comes to costumes & clothing on stage & camera. The more time you spend in a costume shop or on a film crew, the more details you start to notice (in all aspects of a production) and taking note becomes second-nature.

It’s a habit that can be annoying and hard to turn off – just ask my poor husband.

Me: *groan*

Husband: What?

Me: Nothing.

Husband (pushing pause): What.

Me: The actor’s tie-knot keeps changing position from shot to shot – it’s distracting.

Husband: Have you even heard the characters’ conversation?

Me: Umm… sort of… no, not really. Could you… rewind it a little?

Husband: *groan*

Yeah, it’s not always easy to just let entertainment be exactly that – entertainment. Work-mode is always running just below the surface. (Eep, I’ve become a costume drone!)

I really dislike black fabrics or anything dark without texture. On camera, the shadows disappear and you just see a dark blob. Because they look so striking on camera, deep blacks are usually reserved for well-lit funeral scenes. And if black clothing is used, it’s in limited amounts and is usually a soft black.

Meanwhile, gleaming white is usually too bright (or hot) on camera, and it seems to glow and pull the focus to the white object. This is why I am usually compelled to dim the white a little with a slight brown or grey over-dye – like the tea-dyed lace for my 1912 Princess Slip. (In the business, this is known as “tech”-ing it.)

Large high-contrast prints (especially black & white ones) can look like home décor and usually overwhelm the wearer.

Small high-contrast prints (like bright pinstripes) can look like they are vibrating, especially in HD. Would somebody please advise the evening news anchors about this?

I cringe when I see groups of matchy-matchy outfits (think family Christmas photos of everyone in the same silly sweater & jeans). Coordinating is good, but it’s best to keep everyone different enough to share focus (or make one person stand out to force focus, if that is the point of a scene).

I could go on for days with the little do’s and don’ts for dressing someone for camera, but I’ll just say that there are times that my costuming skills can also help when planning for photos. Since photography is just non-motion film, a lot of the same conventions still apply. (I like to think that my aversion to white-white also helped Camille’s wedding dress photograph so well for her nighttime wedding.)

This brings me to another side effect of being a film costumer (theatre costuming is similar but there are subtle differences): my professional training bleeds over into my view of everyday fashion as well. My closet is full of outfits that reflect my costuming preferences, and I dress for “the part” depending on circumstances & events.

I’m currently working on a personal sewing project with the goal of redoing my blog banner and possibly my avatar. I’ve had the general concept in mind for over a year, but I’m still working out all the details.

I had an orange fabric with white polka dots picked out for a retro dress, but I decided to do a screen test with it and another orange fabric with smaller dots. (My costuming instincts were raising red flags about my first choice, so I had to make sure.)

My two fabric options – both orange with white polka dots.
Original choice on the Right.

I took a few photos of both fabrics draped over a chair in the setting I plan to use for my photo shoot, and then I could compare them on the computer screen more objectively.

Screen tests of the fabrics in my chosen (sneak peek!) photo shoot location.

After seeing the fabrics on screen, I changed my mind about my fabric – I liked the smaller polka dot better in the setting. The orange disappears on my original choice and doesn’t stand out from my bright blue fridge and chartreuse walls, especially as a smaller photo. I want my dress – not my fridge – to be the focus of my banner (even though the icebox is really cool and eye-catching).

Conclusion from my screen test: the fabric I ended up liking better was one I thought was a little too bright in person but it looks amazing on camera and from a distance.

Now if I could just decide if I need to fuss with toning down the overall brightness of the fabric just a little, I could cut out my 50’s style dress and start building… There’s that dang costumer-mode trying to take over again!

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