It's an absolute thrill when you find a piece of vintage clothing that fits oh so perfectly in your closet. There's something a little romantic about it, no? It's almost as if this item, manufactured decades ago, was predestined to eventually end up in your hands. Yes, I'm aware of how filmi I sound... Clearly I watch too many Bollywood movies.
Back to my point - I want to share a mini guide of my favourite vintage finds and where in London I picked them up from.
This particular trench coat that I'm wearing in this set of photos was found a few months ago at one of Mile End Vintage's pound sales. As the name suggests, nothing is over a pound (£). Yes, that's right - £1. It's a damn steal for a garment in such perfect condition. I've seen commercial vintage retailers sell clothes in far worse condition for upwards of £20. Stay clear of those places, folks. Although you do have to manoeuvre quite a bit through a sea of clothes during the special sales, it's totally worth it when you find pieces like these.
Also located in Mile End is 2nd Time Around, where I found this vintage Burberry leather jacket, probably made in the late 1800s as it carries the "Burberrys" logo. More than clothes, they have a very interesting collection of furniture that many of you could appreciate. This magnificent fur coat from the 1930s was purchased from D. & A. Abrahams - an exquisite antique store with an inexpensive curation of items. How I managed to stop myself from buying everything off their racks, shelves and walls is a mystery to me. And finally, every tourist's favourite - Brick Lane Market. There I managed to find this casual pair of sunglasses and this gorgeous cat-eyed pair. Are you in love yet?
Photo assistance - Trishna
Wearing: Zara - Sweater // Cos - Trousers // Michael Kors - Sneakers // Vintage - Trench coat
While I am a firm believer in the phrase if you want something done right, do it yourself, I find that people misjudge what it really means when they take it at face value. What I understand from this saying is more along the lines of if you want something done in a particular way, to a certain standard, to your complete satisfaction, without any qualms... do it yourself. Makes so much more sense, doesn't it? This is the reasoning behind why I try to do hair and make-up for most of my shoots, why I partially designed my blog* and why I'm starting to take my own photos for outfit posts. Totally bringing the selfie-game up to the next level.
A bonus of taking photos on my own is that I get to squeeze in a good workout while running between position and camera, under the pressure of a ten second deadline. The result? Cardio for the day and a perfect self-portrait. It's as easy as 1, 2, 3. If you're counting in Navajo, that is. Truth be told, the first couple of times I tried, I was left with unfocused blurs and bitter disappointment. But I was determined to get this right, and after a few more days of practice, I believe I've nailed it. And being the generous person that I am**, I've put together a few tips and tricks to make sailing into self-shooting seas smoother for you.
"I don't own a tripod" and "a remote is out of my budget" are plain excuses. Hell, you don't even need an actual camera, you can do it with your phone on timer mode, propped up against furniture. In the past, I've piled up old issues of Vogue as a tripod. So I don't see any reason why you can't do the same, or find a shelf, or stack stools (as I did for this image) to create your own makeshift tripod. Next, set your camera's timer to 10 seconds or however long it would take you to get into position (and if your camera allows for a burst shot mode, turn that on)... And bam, you got the makings of a self-portrait.
a - Place something (pillow/chair/your grandma) where you'll be standing and focus on it. What's important here is the distance this thing is placed away from the camera. I do this when shooting at home.
b - After fixing your tripod into position and marking out where you'll be standing/sitting/laying/jumping, bring your camera there and focus on the tripod. Hold the camera the same distance away from the tripod where your face, or whatever you want in focus, will be. This is great when shooting outdoors or in open spaces.
c - Again, if you're out and about, find a corner of a building or a tree or a fire hydrant to pose next to. Focus on that object and then stand in line with it when shooting.
If using auto focus, be sure to switch to manual focus once you've set your focus, so it doesn't change when you press the shutter. And now you know the secret to looking sharp. Literally.
Don't forget to consider light! This applies to taking photos in general. Light is a key aspect of photography, but many tend to overlook it. You can add depth and give a photo character with it. My favourite kind of light when taking self-portraits is direct natural light. The best time is when the sun is lower in the sky. I tend to steer towards settings where light hits me from an angle on either side of my face, but don't be afraid to play around. A backlit situation can be equally beautiful. Also, I have lots of mirrors lying around in my attic, so I like to put them to good use and bounce light around to get it exactly where I want it or for interesting effects.
If you're using a self-timer, you really don't want to be running back and forth only to be discouraged by the outcome. Before you get clicking, spend a few minutes in front of the mirror/webcam/self-facing phone-camera and try out different poses until you find a few that you like. The aim here is to get your perfect shot in as little tries as possible. So, come on, vogue. But then on the other hand, you could appear too stiff. Just winging it might work for you. It always depends on the situation.
Practice makes perfect. I'm sure you've heard this enough times throughout your life, but it's just so damn true. Don't be disheartened if you don't get your self-portrait exactly the way you wanted it to be. Beautiful things take time to cultivate. Keep trying and you'll surely improve each time, finding your own little cheats to make things easier. Also, practice taking portraits of other people. The more you do, the better you will be at knowing good angles, lighting, locations, camera settings and so on. Then incorporate these things you learn into your own self-portraits!
Now that you know some of my secrets to shooting self-portraits, go forth and be brave enough to look like a total weirdo while taking your own photos out in public. The embarrassment will last only for so long, but the photograph you took of yourself, and the immense satisfaction, will last forever. Don't forget to share your self-portraits! I really want to see how they turn out!
Wearing: Uniqlo - Sweatshirt // Tissot - Watch
* I tried to learn coding to turn my 2D dream into a digital reality... but that was just a not-so-hot mess.
** My name actually means generous, derived from Arabic, used to describe 'the giver of gifts'.