The Shoot Behind the Shoot

I’m often asked how I get my photos to look the way they do, so I decided to give you all a peek into where and how I shoot photos for G&G. In the vlog below, I explain the challenges of shooting and show you my backdrop…so you can see how cropping and an effect in Picnik turn this:

…into this:

Behind-the-scenes of a G&G shoot…

PS: Finally, I’ve found an easy-to-use, Flip-compatible video editor: Adobe Premiere Elements 9.


  1. Hey! Thanks for this video – it was great! Well done! It is good to see what goes on behind getting good pictures to post. I have not yet figured out how to use the timer on my camera. After seeing your video I am think I may look into it more. Thanks again!!

  2. Thanks for letting us into your yard V!! It is HUGE and so beautiful. Someday I hope to have a yard like that. This video was so much fun. I really enjoyed seeing the untouched version of where all the action takes place especially when compared to the final result. It’s so cool to see the entire process from the start all the way to the publish button. I don’t have a yard right now so when I take shots outside, my boyfriend and I try to find a park or quiet area of town. Everyone knows everyone here so if I were on one of the main streets people would stop and pullover and be like, “Brooke, what the hell are you doing?”
    Anyway, thanks so much for sharing this. You’re always a pleasure to watch and it’s so cute that your hubby joined in as cameraman. You two make a great team!

    1. Thank you Brooke! Your comment reminded me not to take my yard for granted. I’m so used to being in the burbs that I forget that others in apartments with no yards…or privacy…would love to have both!

      This cracked me up…”people would stop and pullover and be like, “Brooke, what the hell are you doing?” Love it.

      It was nice of hubby to shoot for me. I’ll have to let him know.

  3. Thanks so much, V.! It’s reassuring to know that behind your stunning photos, you face the same challenges I experience — the damp ground, light angles, weird utility items, the back-and-forth to camera to check results, etc. You deal with them patiently and get great results.

    I’ve learned how powerful a tool Picnik can be because of your previous mention, and I’m curious about your favorite effect recipe(s). Cross-processing? Orton-ish (my fav?) Boost, Vibrance? A mix of effects? I don’t want to copycat, of course — just want to play in ways I may not have already — because I haven’t come up with that Vahni’s Picnik look yet!

    Sorry if this reply is disorderly. I have a squirming three year old in my lap. She watched your video and said, “She wooks PWEtty! I want to see her again.”

    1. Hi Sarah. I DO face challenges, you can bet I do. Thank God for photo editing software. And on that subject, I often use a mix of effects, but there are a couple in your list above that are my favorites! I can’t divulge ALL my secrets or I’d have to…you know the saying! I will say there is one effect I use 9 times out of 10. But here and there I sprinkle in others depending on the look I want to create.

      Aw, your last paragraph made me smile…so sweet! Thank you!

  4. I absolutely loved this post: I’m strangely fascinated by how other people go about their outfit shoots, probably because it’s something no one I know in “real” life ever does. I’m always hoping I’ll see someone around town with a tripod and a camera, snapping away, but not so far. I can’t believe the size of your yard – what a great location!

    1. Amber, thank you my dear. I also love behind-the-scenes peeks, especially when it comes to fashion blogging. I wish more bloggers would bare their souls a bit in terms of their creative processes. Fashion blogs that are good often seem effortless and intimidating. If more people knew about the grit behind the glamour, I think they’d have a better appreciation for it, and maybe they wouldn’t beat themselves up so much.

  5. You are so generous with your knowledge…
    Did you buy the premium option????
    I will have a better look, when I am not surounded by people at your video.
    Un abrazooooooooooooooooo my dear, dear friend.

    1. Sacramento, thank you. I used the free version for a while, then ended up signing up for the Premium version. I am extremely happy with this software. It is easy and very versatile. Well worth the money, which is very reasonable.

  6. Great vlog- it was fun to watch you behind the scenes! As Cloud of Secrets says it is a comfort to know that you have faced the same challenges with taking outfit photos like many of us out there.
    Coincidently I was thinking of buying Adobe Premiere Elements 9 – I gather from the mention above that you are happy with it and you’d recommend?

    1. Hey doll, thank you! You bet I face the same challenges. I’m not a professional photographer or model!

      And yes, I really like Adobe Premiere Elements 9. It is simple and more important, it pulls raw video from my Flip video camera. I do recommend. I actually got my license for only $50 with a sale and a $20 mail-in rebate.

  7. You should NOT feel too chicken to shoot your photos in front of other people. Your photos are always so distinct looking and stylized… I would LOVE to see what you can do with some city-shots. I bet they would be spectacular. It doesn’t matter what editing program someone uses (or how easy it may be), the fact of the matter is the person has to have a good eye for the colors, effects and proportions in an image, which you do. That is a god-given talent of yours.

    Thank you for sharing your methods with us. If I EVER decide to bite the bullet and start doing outfit posts, this and your earlier posts on the subject will be my go-to tutorials 🙂

    1. Thank you B. I think if I had a photographer, the city shoots might be possible. Still, you have my brain working. There are some places nearby that I could still shoot in with some privacy. We shall see!

      I appreciate your kind words. I still don’t really even know how to use my DSLR properly, so I want to commit to learning more about it (and buying a new lens) in 2011. Baby steps for me too! Somehow I don’t think you’ll need my tutorials…you’ve kind of written the book on those yourself!

    1. Hey Katie…sometimes even switching rooms or angles in your own house can yield dramatically-different results. There is a famous blogger in Melbourne, Australia (Lady Melbourne) who actually shoots many photos in her home, but she’s very good at positioning herself in the light coming from her windows. Her indoor shots are beautiful!

  8. Oh, I wish I had a back yard or a front yard, or a yard (period)! But I live in an apartment and although it has a view of the sea, the balconies are high and it will only show if I shoot a portrait photo. That’s why I shoot most of my pics in front of a wall (boring, I know) and every chance I get I take some pics outside. At least I know my way around Lightroom (an imac photo editing software). Your pictures are lovely and your yard is so beautiful! :))

    1. Arietta, see my comment above. No yard doesn’t have to be an obstacle! But yes, photo editing does wonders for average photos.

      Thank you!

  9. Thanks for sharing. I really like your voice (and dialect) so watching your videos is a pleasure.
    I wish I could take photos outside, but my neighborhood is rough, so I shoot humbly indoors.

    1. Hi Rad…thanks for your comment! I appreciate your support and the compliment. Sometimes I wonder if I’m not boring people half to death with my vlogs.

      I totally understand shooting indoors. If I didn’t have the privacy I do, I’d be in too!

    1. Thank you Brianna! You’re lusting after my boots and I’m lusting after the classes you are taking. Can’t wait to see more!

  10. WOW!!! Awesome!!! Thanks for the vlog babe, your tips are invaluable
    You are definitely the master of blogging dear 🙂

    Keep in touch


  11. V, thanks so much for doing this! You’re so lucky to have such a beautiful big yard. Having grown up in cities all my life, the prospect of such a huge space all to yourself is mind-boggling to me! Also, I totally understand about not wanting to take pictures in front of people. I have a really hard time doing outfit photos because my house is full of people (so I end up taking them quietly in my room) and taking them outside will attract a lot of stares and a crowd of people, so I *long* for a huge, quiet yard like yours! 🙂

    Also, thanks V’s hubby for taking this video and letting us sneak a peek into where all the magic happens!

    1. Thank you Leia! I wrote this above, but I have to write it here too…your comment reminds me not to take my yard for granted! And I get the house full of people stuff. Sometimes finding a quiet space to shoot a vlog is practically impossible. I need a studio!

      I will pass the message to Hubby. Maybe if we stroke his ego enough, he’ll be willing to hold the camera again in the future!

    1. Hi Sarah, thank you so much! I’m kind of addicted to Picnik myself. I know the pros would think me a fool, but I don’t care. It works for me!

  12. Great vlog. I like how you show the behind the scenes of an outfit post.
    But seriously, I think you could record you reading a grocery list, and I would sit and listen. You are magnetic.

    1. HAAAA! The grocery list…I bet Hubby would beg to differ! I’m sure there are days he wishes I’d take my twang and take off!

      But thank you, sweetie. I am honored and flattered. I know you gravitate toward the colorful…thank God I’m not boring you all to pieces!

  13. Awesome post. I must say first that your garden/yard looks pretty huge. But the colour of the leaves on the trees really capture that Autumn feel beautifully in the video I noticed it was a nice dry clear day which again lends itself to some good photography.

    I saw you posted a tweet earlier today linking to a blog post about tips for outfit bloggers. Some of the things mentioned in that article I can see that you use in your photo process. In that article the author mentioned the importance of using an actual camera as opposed to a mobile phone camera or a webcam. Obviously if you have a DSLR which by the looks of it you do, your photos are going to be of a much higher standard, the same as having a tripod. I don’t tend to post outfit posts but it was still an interesting read.

    Thanks for linking to picnik that’s a piece of software/website that I never knew existed. I’m fortunate enough to have photoshop on my mac but if you’re using a computer that doesn’t have any photo editing software then it seems like a great alternative. I have found an amazing app recently for anyone that uses an android phone called vignette. I know you should always try and get a picture with an actual camera but the effects you can achieve are fantastic. I’ve read about a lot of enthusiastic photographers using it.

    The vlog was a nice insight into your photograph taking process I’m guessing you used elements to edit it? I don’t know what a Flip is but I generally use imovie to edit videos it’s pretty decent for basic video editing. Does that work with a Flip?

    1. Arash, what a wonderful comment. Thank you! I agree that the right tools do go a long way to creating amazing images. I’m still learning myself. My goal next year is to upgrade to a new lens, and actually learn how to use it properly.

      Picnik is a great tool for photo editing amateurs…especially those on a PC. And the phone camera apps coming out these days will soon rival even desktop solutions. Even the phone cameras are pretty good in a pinch…the photo in this post was shot with my iPhone, because that was all I had with me!:

      I’ve heard so many great things about iMovie but since I’m a PC girl, I went for Elements, which I did use to edit the video in this post. The Flip Video is a small HD video camera that I actually love…too, too easy to use and transfer video to YouTube or your PC. But if you want to edit, that’s a different story. Virtually no free video editors pull in .mp4 video. It has to be converted to .avi or .wmv first. Of course, I didn’t discover this until after I bought the camera. But Elements is great because it pulls straight from the camera and after editing, you can load straight to YouTube within the software. I don’t know if iMovie can pull in .mp4 files or not.

      Thanks again for your comment!

  14. i love this video!!! and your photo retouching is spectacular if i may say!!! really gorgeous.

    it’s great to see what you do with your tripod because i am venturing more into the tripod realm of doing things as well. especially now with the sunglass hut blog, i really can’t rely on my poor bf to drop everything each time i need to do a post. i finally got myself a tripod so yay! and i do the self timer thing as well, or i use my video camera and then just pull stills from there. unfortunately doing that means the photo quality is way less awesome. but if i’m strapped for time it’s pretty sweet.

    1. Thanks, babe! Yeah, I’m glad to see that tripod in your hand in your second Sunglass Hut post. While a photographer can capture so much more sometimes, sometimes it feels great to say that YOU did everything, from start-to-finish…hair, makeup, styling, photography, editing, etc. I know you’re going to be a wiz with your own shoots.

  15. Oh V, haha, you just cracked me up! “What the hell is that utility thing over there?” Loved the video- you were so personal and I felt like you shot this whole thing just for me. Fabulous, as always!


    1. Hi Joy, thank you. You know, after shooting photos of myself for almost a year now, I can tell you that practice makes perfect, and I’m still learning myself! Just have fun…that’s the number one thing to remember. It should be fun!

  16. Awwww V!!! I love you on video!! You are so cute!!! And I am so jealous of that gorgeous yard! My yard is seriously the size of a small box. Thats why I always have to go scouting around the city to find something cooler or else you would be really sad with my gross looking fence! HA!!
    I just got Adobe Premiere as well!!! I might be shooting you an email! Did you find it pretty easy? The last few videos I edited on IMovie which was pretty easy but it did take quite a while!
    Talk soon!!


    1. Thank you so much, Angela! You are a doll. Your photos are fantastic, so I’d say fooey on a yard!

      I so like Premiere Elements because it was affordable and is straight-forward. I’ve got neither the time nor the patience to deal with anything more complicated, so I’m happy with it. It was easy enough for me to jump right in; my only previous experience was with Windows Movie Maker.

  17. Hey there! Just got an amazing post full of advice from Kristy Elena about overcoming some new blogger challenges. She told me check out your site for resources that help new bloggers. I am slowly but surely getting more comments and followers so I am taking it one step at a time! Thanks for the photo tips I am going to keep that in mind!
    Also really like your purple boots…I have always wanted a pair of purple ones.

    Best wishes

  18. First of all, OMG that’s your YARD???? Wow.
    Second, I love your tutorials. I’m really really hoping my parents will buy me the cannon dRSL this year for Christmas, as I’d love to start taking some personal style shoots. This is really going to help me for sure. Unfortunately my yard consists of a walkway, so I’m not sure how I’m going to pull that part off!


    P.S. Love your boots!

    1. Hey Heather…yes, that’s really my yard!

      Thanks for your sweet comment. I’m glad you still find G&G to be informative and entertaining. I hope you get your camera too…I have to say that getting my DSLR made a huge difference in my photos, and I have so much more to learn. Don’t worry about your walkway…you never know where you’ll shoot. There are some bloggers who shoot indoors and their photos are also amazing!

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