Sunday, 4 October 2015

The camera never lies

But it is, sometimes, economical with the truth.

Back in May, Lauren of Wearing History published a fascinating post on the Myth of Perfection; how we all present our best side to the online world, regardless of what is going on in our lives. She invited other bloggers to share their experiences, and many did. I didn't, because people who have been reading this blog for a while already know what the last couple of years have been like for me, and I didn't feel ready to put the whole thing out there again (the posts are here and here, if you want to know).

On a much lighter note, I was reminded of this when I was photographing my hat for the Historical Sew Monthly Heirlooms and Heritage challenge.

This was my inspiration.

Hat: straw, feathers, silk and silver, 1908-09, © MAK

I tried to recreate this look when photographing my own hat.

Hat: straw, feathers and assorted bits, 2015

But how exactly was this look achieved? Time to let some daylight into the magic. . .

I don't have a proper hatstand, so the wooden pole is actually a holder for a roll of kitchen towel.

The 'hatstand' in its usual form

The hat is quite heavy, so when I rested it on the pole, the top of the crown distorted badly. I needed something small, solid, round and flat. A tea plate was just the right size, but obviously trying to rest a china plate on a wooden pole with a curved top is always going to end badly. Fortunately I remembered I had a sheet of rubber anti-slip mesh in the garage, and tried this. It worked (although the first batch of photographs I took all had the mesh peeking out from under the hat - sigh).

How to balance a plate

The backdrop is a hastily ironed piece of grey cotton, and the 'hatstand' was placed on a small pouffe, chosen because it was higher than working on the floor, but low enough for the backdrop to be draped behind it.

Setting up

And the backdrop drape? That was achieved by using a clothes airer.

The full story

So there you have it, the Awful Truth. Anyone else have any 'How I did it' pictures that they'd like to share?


  1. I love this. So simple, yet so effective! I typically don't take the time to create a suitable backdrop for photos of my pieces on a dress form, so I end up with a lot of pictures with my messy sewing room (and occasionally the cat) in the background. Your hat is gorgeous, by the way.

    1. Thank you Chelsea. I am a bit nerdy about backdrops - probably because I never have photographs of me wearing the finished items!