One thing I didn’t factor in when I started ClothSpot was having my picture taken. Instagram had barely been invented when we began – and ‘putting myself out there’ was really not on my agenda.
I know how naïve that sounds. Social media has evolved since, to the point where fronting a small business of this type is impossible to do without being photographed. And believe me I tried really hard to avoid it.
I know I’m far from alone in feeling that way but like many of us I’ve learned to put up the best ‘front’ I can.
Mouth on a stick
As a child I was never shy. ‘Answering back’; ‘operating mouth before brain’ and ‘showing off’ were my top three sins. At school I was just plain ‘gobby’; unsurprisingly I found my second home in the drama club.
By my early twenties that had changed. Although still never hesitant to speak up, surrounded by people seemingly far more able to promote themselves than I ever could, I’d discovered that I was happier behind the scenes running the wardrobe department than on the stage.
My first ‘proper’ job reinforced that attitude as I was repeatedly instructed to ‘keep my counsel’. Necessary advice as it happens (really, it was…) but over time I found myself being urged to shout about projects, present papers and convince people to get on board with new ideas.
There’s a big difference though, between getting people behind a project that you’re convinced is a worthy cause and putting your actual physical self up for inspection and evaluation. Apart from the insecurities most of us have about our appearance, those childhood instructions not to ‘show off’ are pretty deeply rooted by now.
Learning to show off again
I don’t live my life on social media but I love being inspired visually. In recent months of no museums or galleries or shops, Instagram has been such a lifeline. It seems rude not to try and give as well as get, and movements like #sewover50 have encouraged so many of us to share and gain confidence from doing so.
That said, none of this is straightforward. My generation didn’t grow up posting pictures of ourselves everywhere; social media is something we’ve learned consciously. And I do worry about the mental health impact of living our lives so openly. I’ve learned to be social and to put myself ‘out there’ but despite being vocal, by nature I’m an introvert and like many of you, treasure my private ‘hinterland’. Neither do I want my face to be the only face of ClothSpot and we’re working hard to find ways of doing that.
However this is my business and I know that I can’t share my enthusiasm and passion for what we do, without showing up and (occasionally) showing off. Which is why I was so relieved to see the ‘Touch Your Hair: and other tips for aspiring models” post from (newly-rebranded) Closet Core Patterns last week.
In the post, Amy from CC runs through the different poses that Heather Lou has adopted in their various patterns and blog posts. It’s all very tongue-in-cheek – but actually really helpful. Things that sound odd (touch your hair!) can somehow make a picture more spontaneous.
Putting my modelling where my mouth is
I thought I’d try out some of her suggestions in my shoot for last week’s Ogden Cami Kit launch. We’re in the process of upgrading our photography kit at ClothSpot. It’s an ongoing process rather than a revolution and a big part of that process is learning how to use the equipment, whether in front of, or behind the camera!
Taking pictures of myself (or having them taken) is easily the most stressful thing I do at work. It’s what I enjoy least, and yet it’s something I know is so important for what we do. I know lots of you also post images on social media and that others are (understandably) nervous about doing so. Either way, do take a look at the Closet Core post – it’s really reassuring to see that we all struggle sometimes and get things wrong. But also that with a bit of practice, we can get things right, and be visible – without being told off for showing off. And who knows – we might start to enjoy it!
How do you feel about having your picture taken and putting it out there – is it something you’re comfortable with? And if you do, have you any other tips? Here are my interpretations of the Closet Core suggestions – plus a few of my own…
Suggestion 1: Work the garment
This one’s all about showing how the garment works, or using its features in some way.
Suggestion 2: Touch your hair
Suggestion 3: Shoulder peek
Suggestion 4: Use a pocket in an unnatural way
This made me laugh – it’s amazing how easy it is to get pockets wrong in a photograph!
Suggestion 5: Flash yer guts
Made a garment with a fab lining? Show it off!
Suggestion 6: Use handy props
I made this one up myself. So proud.
Suggestion 7: Dance it out!
Suggestion 8: Pretend you’re leaving
Not before time
See you soon!