“Pay no attention to that (wo)man behind the curtain.”

If you don’t know who said that, I’m not sure we can be friends any more.

Obviously that was from The Wizard of Oz when the intrepid explorers discovered who really was pulling the strings, quite literally, on the Great and Powerful Oz.

It also describes an old school mentality when it comes to designing and creating work. Those of us from the old guard are unaccustomed to showing unfinished work, and beyond that, we are unaccustomed to showing ourselves at work. The idea to show how pictures or products are created is pretty new.

[bctt tweet=”Hello internet and thanks so much for revealing the magician’s bag of tricks.”]

I am going to be completely honest with you. I struggle with this. I struggle with showing my behind the scenes stuff. I struggle with showing myself on camera! I’m not as young and pretty as I used to be, so it’s not pleasant for me to put myself on camera as it once was. But, I’m doing it anyway.

The hardest part of going on Creative Live was accepting that I would have to put myself on camera and that I would live forever on their servers. I almost didn’t go because of that! Yeah, well, I got over THAT really quick. I still cringe when I’m on, but I watch myself anyway, because the lessons are so good.

This leads me to today’s installment of the Pattymac Knits World News. Today is all about the Behind the Scenes of a knitwear photo session. We call it #bts. I’m not thrilled with showing stuff photographed on a camera phone. It’s very hard for me to publish something that feels unfinished and unprofessional.

But it occurs to me that people really do not have any clue about what goes on to create the images, and sharing that is interesting. I certainly like seeing the #bts of my favorite photographers!

Isn’t it interesting we can accept something about someone else faster than we can accept in in ourselves?

The idea that I just show up,  put on a hat, and 15 minutes later it’s all done is totally false. So while some people might operate that way, but I’m not one of them. So much goes into the set up and production design for even a simple photo session. Here’s just a little bit of what it looks like on a photo shoot day.


Tools of the trade for a Makeup Artist
Tools of the trade for a Makeup Artist

This is is just SOME of what my Makeup Artist, Megan, used on my model that day, Eugenia. Makeup for photography is a different approach than makeup for every day. Highlight and contour becomes very important, as does color balance. We want the model to be flattered, but not compete with the knits. At the end of the day, the photo shoot is designed to show off the knitting.



I’m super picky about who I use for hair and makeup. With so many MUA’s,  their application is just WAY too much. I’ve paid good money for makeup services, and I really didn’t like what was done.

This is why I love Megan. She does a LOT of bridal makeup, and I think that gives her a really natural touch when it comes to the application of the look.

Sometimes over-the-top is great, and I do want to experiment with that this year. But not for this kind of thing. I like my models to be very “girl next door” in their look.



After makeup, Megan did Eugenia’s hair. I know Megan, because she cuts my hair. She’s a Vidal Sassoon trained stylist and she totally ROCKS!! She’s also an amazing human being, so having the chance to work with her on creative projects now is just wonderful. We were able to get hair and makeup done in the salon which was completely awesome! Typically we do hair and make up in my kitchen, because the light is good. But being able to do this in the salon felt special.

I had several hats I wanted Eugenia to model for me, and I wanted to try something different with hair. I like fishtail braids, but rather that do the same single braid worn to one side like everybody else does, I asked for two. I thought it would be extra cute in the pictures. I wanted something different than what other people were doing. So this is what we did.



It took a while! Altogether, we were at the salon for about 2 hours. After this, we drove to the park I like, and I hauled my equipment and props and knits out to where I wanted to set up. Eugenia then put outfits together to wear for the first set up.

I put up my lighting gear while she changed clothes. Where did she change? IN HER CAR!

Yeah, people think being a model is glamorous, and maybe it is when you get your face on the cover of Vogue.

But until then….

[bctt tweet=”Mostly modeling is really hard work on location. And a lot of changing in the car.”]


My on location lighting setup
My on location lighting setup

Here’s something else people don’t realize.

Even though I use natural light to create my photos, I still use lighting gear. 

I still have to light my subjects even though I’m using the sun as my main light. As we get closer to sunset, the light gets better and better, and I can get away from having to use all of this (though use of reflector is always a good choice; the quality of the light determines whether I use the white bounce or the silver side).

When the light is harsh and unfiltered, I have to put up that giant umbrella to soften the way it falls on my subject. The reflector fills in shadows and provides a beautiful catch light in the eyes. Even on a cloudy day at high noon, the umbrella is used.

The orange things are sandbags. These are required to hold the light stands in place. The smallest breeze will blow it all over. Altogether, I haul about 80 pounds of equipment to a location photo shoot. Yeah. It’s heavy! I maneuver this stuff by myself, because I have no assistant.


The image capture of the Foxy Lady hat.
The image capture of the Foxy Lady hat.

Look at that beautiful hair and makeup! I feel like it was the perfect polish for the photo session. Eugenia did a wonderful job putting together outfits for this. I keep a few tshirts on hand for models to wear, but mostly, they pack up and bring their own clothes.

Both the models and I spend a couple of hours just getting ready and packed for the photo session. That’s before anything happens!

I will give my model an idea of what I would like for them to bring, but we make really quick decisions on site about what outfit to wear with each knit.

This day, we did 12 different setups in about 2 hours. It was like running a race the whole time! That’s part of life when working with natural light. It’s a finite quantity, and right now the days are so short it’s really limited. The day we took these pictures, sunset was at 430 PM. Even though we met up at 1230, the photography session was rushed the whole time. You want to photograph as many looks and combinations as possible.


iPhone snapshot of my model
She put on the Meowingtons Panty hose in her car!

So we just work as a fast as we can, and I get in as many angles and combinations as possible. Then it’s time to take it all down, repack the van and I come home. The initial upload and basic Lightroom edits took about 4 hours for this session. I had almost 900 images to review and to do basic work on.

It’s not a fast process! It’s physically difficult and mentally exhausting. As a photographer, I have so much to think about while I’m taking the pictures. Angles and exposures and compositions and it’s all done in split second timing to get as much accomplished as possible. So I’m pretty tired the next day or two after a session.

But when all is said and done, the reward is in the image. I take so much pride of accomplishment when I see my completed knitwear images. It feels so good to see my knitwear come to life and to see my fun pictures showing it off. I love the challenge of knitwear photography, and it truly is it’s own unique process.

I hope you enjoyed this look at what goes on to create the photos I publish online every single week. If you have any questions, please ask away! I’m happy to answer what I can.

And be looking for this fun set to come your way as a pattern set SOON. That’s ultimately why I’m doing this. I want to design and sell my own patterns and offer classes on how to make the pieces. Really, what’s not to love about THIS?


Knitwear set designed to be a tribute to Jo Stockton
Knitwear set designed to be a tribute to Jo Stockton

hair and makeup for a photo session


Author: Pattymac

Patty loves figuring out new ways to use pom poms, where to stash more yarn and is always wondering what to bake next...chocolate or lemon? When not dreaming up new things to knit (or bake), she loves riding her beach cruiser on the Boardwalk, escaping to mid week movie matinees, and planting new things in her container garden.