Thursday, May 17, 2007

photo realism

(exerpt from the Nurses Guide to Beauty Charm and Poise: on loan from Becktress)

Ever since I have been blogging there have been " conversations" about real life versus blog life portrayals and the apparently magical lives of our favorite craft-stars.

Last week (I think it was last week) everybody's darlin', Alicia P from Posie Gets Cosy wrote about the difficulty in 'Having her Picture Taken'. Yesterday my best craft pal Michelle called me and was lamenting the same crisis. Both look great in their pictures, as far as I concerned... But they were both....concerned.
Angelina, (easily my favorite "cut the crap" blog personality) is famous for posting "truth in advertising" pics of her home/ studio has also posted some great pictures of her beautiful self and some salty self depicating humor on the side!

And here i am, slathered all over my me me. What a dork.

Recently I was asked: "aren't you ever embarrassed?"

It is true, that Michelle refers to my posing and prancing as shameless (with a gleam of pride in her eyes..)
and I never thought I would be my own pretend fashion model when I was nearing 40. In fact, I really started sewing these vintage patterns because I was not liking my aging body ( especially in photographs) and I thought some less skimpy clothes could be just the ticket.
I loved the look of the vintage patterns, always bought vintage clothes when I could find them and the new fabrics were so bold and pretty and I wanted to share what I hoped was something that other crafters might get a kick out of. Since I really hadn't much serious sewing experience at all, I figured it might be a real adventure. Ideally, getting other like minded seamstresses to go along for the ride, so we could share our tips and tricks while we built fantabulous wardrobes.

Inspired by the sewing and wardrobing books I was finding in "thriftland" and how they really expected another level of sewing skill for the average woman of the mid-century, it made me believe that the skills were totally possible to acquire.

After I finished my first project, it became clear that the best thing about the garments were, they were made to look "right" on me. They really looked lackluster on a hanger... and didn't fit my dress form (my reliable stand-in is not my size, sadly.).The main thing I was learning , and the thing I thought was important for any other "new seamstresses" was the fitting.

Reality began to set in.

Oh My God. I have to have my picture taken... from many angles.

For many women this is a bigger challenge than they usually admit, even to themselves. I know very few over the age of 15 who go looking to get a snapshot taken. I have never really thought of myself as great looking or even really cute. I didn't date much in high school and boys literally made fun of my looks. ( And, No Mom, it wasn't because they were intimidated. They thought I was funny looking.) So, I was not really jumping up and down to loose my blog-o-nimity.

But I believed in the project.

The one thing that kept me on track was actually my old theater training.I had always been cast as a character actor, never the ingenue, so I got into character. I kept in mind I needed to "sell it" and if I was embarrassed, you all would be embarrassed for me... and well, that isn't "fun reading" is it? So I basically "decided" to not be embarrassed.

Thank God everyone was So Nice. It is amazing I am not a conceited egomaniac at this point. But I do try to never buy my own hype.

In the interest of not making anything look to easy, you should know:
I have Jacob take zillions of pictures... usually at least 20 or 30 per outfit. I only post the most flattering. I am only human.
I studied old "poise" books about "how to stand".
I act goofy because deep inside, I really am, and the serious pictures are Horrid.
Daylight eliminates wrinkles (from a photo perspective).
Action shots are usually cuter and make your thighs look smaller.
Skirts are also good for that too.
Always try to look up ( it removes chicken neck and undereye circles as well as makes your eyes look bigger and brighter.)
Always stand with one foot in front and the weight on the back foot. Verrry Slimming.
Weird angles help too. ( But not always..)

I also have dieted and exercised a bit since this started, thinking of that line from Fight Club where Ed Norton is voicing over:
" Fight Club became the reason to cut your hair or clip your nails short."
whilst I applied Crest White Strips or hair dye.

"What Would Tyler Durden Do?"

My New Vintage muses: Mary Tyler Moore, Audrey Hepburn, Tyler Durden and Auntie Mame

But You Know, I love this project. Not because of my photo sessions, with which, I have had some serious fun, but because
I Love Sewing.

Sewing is a series of "Tah-Dah" moments. Every time you finish a sleeve and turn it right side out, get the collar straight, finish the seams. There is for me a tremendous pleasure in constructing something complex and detailed from a plan and flat yardage. I am so excited every time I finish something, be it a whole garment or installing a zipper. Pressing in those seams, I am fulfilled.

So if I ham it up, posing my life away, just know it is just chutzpah smoke and mirrors.
Real life is just fine too.
But you can find that anywhere.

And there will be a new New Vintage Project ready to go Tuesday.

I was busy cleaning out the craft cave, see?

(sorry for the appearing/disappearing in bloglines kids... blogger is tweaking me out today.)


Wende said...

I think your photos are fabulous, and I'm ever so glad you have the moxie to pose for them! You are darling, but it gets weird being in front of the camera. I spend my time behind it--it seems the better my photography gets the more uncomfortable I get about being in the picture.

Anyhow, this is an amazing project of yours and I look forward to seeing more, more, and MORE of darling YOU!

Blaize said...

I really really really like the wall color of the craft cave. And the feel of it, even in the "before" pictures, because it shows an active mind at work. My favorite.

carolyn said...

As I read this post I AM thankful for real women with real things to say and yes, paris should serve her time in jail. But it dawned n me that vntage fashion are rally made for women's bodies not that of an aadolesent boy. Monroe wore a size 14! So Bethany you go girl...keep having fun and do apologize for having fun in front of the camera. We're looking at your smile and what you made not your shoe size! and yes, we'll be at the faire on Sunday.

freefalling said...

Great post! I can relate to the the whole 'having your photo on your blog' thing. Even though I've only been blogging a month, I started off thinking I wasn't good enough, attractive enough to post my photo - I don't know what it was. That lasted all of 7 posts then I thought - "bugger it - who the hell am I writing this for? It's for me - this is me - so here I am". And strangely enough, I feature prominently in my own life!!!
Anyway, who is this Angelina you speak of - the link won't work.
And.... have you had a chance to see your doppleganger at
I know you'll love it.

Frizz said...

I absolutely LOVE the photos you share. They are fun and wondeful and you look adorable in all of them. All the joy you get out of sewing shines right out of the pictures. Please keep posting. I look forward to visiting and seeing what you come up with and seeing you there too is part of the fun!

June said...

What a truly thoughtful posting. Everything you said is much of what runs through my mind about having my picture taken. I'm self-conscious, afraid of my own aging body, and so on and so on. My husband says that photos of me come out nicely when I just relax and leave my ego out of it. That's not so easy to do when you know you're the picture's focus and people will "see" you once you've posted the picture. In terms of your photos on your blog, I think they are fun, that you look fabulous, and you've given me courage to start allowing my picture to be taken more--okay, I admit, only bits of me in the picture but I'm getting there. Thank you for writing about this today. Maybe we all should just say to heck with it, we're all beautiful just as we are--whether tall, short, skinny, ...voluptuous (grin), or whatever.

capello said...

i heart your cave.

and hey, more power to ya. i can't stand to have anything below my shoulders photographed for fear there are more than ten fat rolls down there.

Amanda Button said...

Well of COURSE It is all about's your blog and you can pose with poise if you want to! And you *should* be shameless!!!! We, the audience, love it, and you! Anyone who has Auntie Mame as a muse is a-ok with ME! :)
You have been a HUGE inspiration to me (and so many others too, i'll bet), in my quest to sew things that are not hideously unflattering like so many of the current styles. Seeing you "make 'em and model 'em" lights that fire under my butt to keep trying! Keep rockin' those great photos! I wouldn't want it any other way!

laeroport said...

Oh my god I Love Love LOVE your photo shoots for the vintage wardrobe. They are sooooo fun! And anyone who has ever seen Auntie Mame will know instantly that you are playing the part, my dear. And you play it so well!

I have a deep and abiding affection for all things vintage and recently hit the motherload on vintage patterns sized above a two, so I'm hoping to carve out some time in the near future to try a vitange pattern of my own.

Keep up the wonderful work. :)

Sarah said...

I adore your cheesy action shots! That's what originally drew me in to your blog. That and all the wonderful things you were modeling, and your hilarious commentary. It's nice to have a patient photographer as well.

Thanks for the photogenic tips, I know I can definitely use those!

Sonya said...

Can you offer a posting tutorial? I am one to make fun, I am only now making peace with head shots. The full body, whoa. That's when I will need the patented Green Kitchen Gorilla Pose.

Daphne said...

man oh MAN are you awesome.

(I don't understand one bit what Paris has to do with this post!)

thanks for being my newest role model!

Angelina said...

You know, I never minded having my picture taken before I broke my hip. I am now beyond self conscious (because of the weight gain).

I am trying to get over it. I love your photo shoots, they are charming because you are having fun and are dressed up. I actually do like the pictures that Philip took of me recently. I thought I would hate them but I was having fun too and there's just something about enjoying one's self that brings out the best in them/me/you/us.

I loved this post. I also loved Michelle's photo shoot post. She looked wonderful and I sat there thinking: I want to look as good as she does.

Sharon said...

I love your photos as much as I love seeing and reading about what you're sewing! And I sure wish I had someone that would take photos for me for my blog...I keep trying to not cut my head off while I run to get in place in front of the camera that is rapidly counting down the time on the timer. And thanks for the great photo tips...I'll try anything to look a few pounds slimmer.

futuregirl said...

Bethany - Email me! I forgot to bring my email addresses with me. Duh!

Deb G said...

I just want to add my 2 cents-I love your photos and the clothing you are making. Lots and lots of fun. Keep it commin'.

Vanessa V said...

Okay. Let me first say, you are so refreshingly real. I love that about you. Secondly, don't you find that the weirder or stranger or dorkier or more made fun of in school that you were, the cuter and more intelligent and more interesting you were later in life. Like, after highschool? Like, now? Okay, let me say, no matter what poses your are doing, you are beautiful woman. Period. And, I can see the fun of it all and the sillyness lurking in your eyes, no matter how serious you look. I love the photos! Keep em coming. For me, I think the only reason photos of ourselves are hard to look at are because we can not come to terms with who we have become. I know that I for one, find that challenging. The flat chested small girl, now has big boobs, not huge, but big in comparison to what they were at even 24. That is the first scary step for me...The rest is, pretty scary too actually...And, I think looking at the photos is the only way to actually get ourselves to make whatever changes we want. But, I can't say that I am handling any of it with grace...So, hand the poise books over...
You are the best!!xxo,V

sulu-design said...

I've read this post, oh... six or seven times now. I thought it was about time that I finally comment. I love your take on looking at yourself, on making for yourself. I wish I could sit down with you and a cup of coffee for a couple hours. You point of view and sense of humor are amazing.

Katie Greenwood said...

Well I'm sure enjoying every photo! :-)

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