Saturday, September 9, 2017

Tokyo Kawaii Life order 56 behind the scenes!

I thought it might be fun to give you guys a little insight into how I generate my blog posts, especially the ones that feature new items and coordinates (like the TKL order series)!
Since it seems like more and more people are starting to blog, it might be interesting to compare and contrast our methods and styles of creating content as well ♡

I got the idea to do a "behind the scenes look" just after receiving my items from TKL order 56 in the mail, so I'll focus on the timeline and different efforts that went into creating that post specifically! I don't usually remember all these details for each post, but since I got this idea at a pretty ideal time, it made sense to start keeping track for this one for the purpose of this post.

Jul 21: Tokyo Kawaii Life order is placed. I immediately save the stock photo images and then start a new draft post in Blogger and adding to it and making other updates as necessary, taking about 35 minutes.
In the draft, I start by adding in the item names (in English and Japanese), the item numbers, link to TKL listing and identifying the color.
I add the stock photo for each and basically set up the shell of the "body" of the post. I like to do this immediately or very close to after ordering in case the listing disappears or I can't find it later for one reason or another. Aside from that, having the draft post as a placeholder allows me to see what's upcoming to be published for the month and on which topics. If possible, I like to have a variety of posts throughout the month instead of just straight TKL/coordinate hauls. Since my personal blogging goal is 6 posts per month, I need to make sure I have at least 6 topics to be written about at the ready!
While I'm adding the links and other info to the draft post, I also add the items to my "Purchased/In the mail!" widget which is on the lower left sidebar of my blog.
Adding the preliminary info and photos and setting up the post + minor updates takes no more than 10 minutes for just three items, but I also worked on getting some of my preliminary thoughts down - why I made the order overall/the introduction paragraph, brief descriptions of each of the items and why I chose to purchase that specific item (in that specific color). These are just placeholders that I intend to reread and edit as I get closer to publishing but serves as a good reminder of what I was thinking at the time of purchase.

Jul 24: Tenso ships my package!

Aug 5: I pick up my package from the post office. I open the package, quickly inspect the items for damage and take a few photos for my IG story and Dayre.
I had some additional time in the afternoon on this day, so I also took the stand alone/mannequin photos for each of the items. From setting up to cleaning up, this took about 25 minutes. I downloaded the pictures to my main laptop just to make sure they're safely stored in a space other than just the memory card.

Aug 8: I review the stand alone/mannequin photos on my main laptop and select which to edit which takes 10 minutes. I transfer the selected photos onto a flashdrive.
Later, I edit the photos using my Windows XP laptop, upload to Blogger and format mannequin pics within the post + upload the main photos to my wardrobe master post. Because I had some upload issues, and I always have issues with the master post, this took around 35 minutes.

Aug 12: It's Saturday, so it's time to take coordinate pictures! I had set my alarm to make sure I woke up early enough to have time to still get ready and set up and give myself amble daylight hours. Sometimes I'll eat breakfast before shooting and sometimes I'll purposefully forgo it. It depends whether the clothes fit better after eating a meal or not.

- Getting my physical appearance ready and setting up my room and camera takes about 25 minutes.
Getting ready = curling and styling my hair + doing my make up (eyeliner, eyelid tape, eyelashes)
Setting up my room = rearranging my bed, moving the double size Love Sac (bean bag thing) and clothes rack off to the side, shoving anything in the way into my bathroom, arranging the windows properly to let the natural light in
Camera = double checking the battery, finding my remote and setting the camera on my little stack of books and use a deck of cards to balance the lens.
For many of my recent blog post photos, I've been borrowing my father's Nikon D90 and using the stock lens. I have a small Nikon remote that I purchased on Amazon a while ago that I use to activate the shutter. You can see it in my hand in most of the shots because I don't try very hard to hide it. (IMO, it really doesn't matter. I'm not trying to hide that I take these myself and I don't see how it distracts from the outfit at all. These were never meant to be photos to be printed or distributed as capital A "Art".)
I have my own Nikon D40x that I've used for the majority of my posts in the past, but the battery life is shit, and I couldn't get it to charge the other day, so I gave up on it for now. When I was still desperate to use it, I would literally have to stop between every outfit change, take the battery out, let it charge for even just a little bit and then reinsert the battery before shooting the next (and sometimes I would have to stop and wait even longer).

- For the 3 fairly simple items in this order, I take about 20 minutes to pre-plan the outfits.
I usually like to do this during the weekdays before shooting on a Saturday, but I didn't have time prior to the weekend to do it, so I decided to just quickly figure it out beforehand since the items weren't too outlandish. Purses and shoes are usually pretty easy to create coordinates for. OPs and certain bottoms or clothes of a certain color sometimes takes a bit longer because I want to try and make a variety of coordinates and not just the same type of look with a slightly different cardigan or something. If I don't show variety in color, then I want to at least show variety in season.
For these items for order 56 in particular (1 cardigan, 1 bag, 1 pair of shoes), I wanted to shoot at least 3 different outfits for each and of those 3 different outfits, the clothes in at least one of the outfits should be separates and one should be an OP look per item. (So basically not just all 3 OP looks and not all 3 should be separates.) For the cardigan, I wanted to show it just slightly differently in each look - unbuttoned, just top button, and then just middle button. For the pumps, I wanted to do at least one autumn look and one that could be used in warmer weather. For the purse, I wanted to show the three different ways to use it - handbag (short handle), shoulder bag (long strap), backpack (2 short straps).

- Then I start shooting! This ended up taking just about 2 hours for 3 featured items.
Unedited image examples ^
That might seem like....a stupidly long time lol. But that's just how long it ends up taking me to shoot what ended up being 10 different looks. When you think about it, that's just 12 minutes per outfit which isn't totally ridiculous though, and keep in mind that I have to change my clothes almost completely every time when the main item isn't the featured item and it's not like I'm rushing myself. In addition to that, changing often takes extra time if I want to rearrange my hairstyle or something is a little weird about the outfit, and I need to double check it from multiple angles before shooting. I start with shooting the look straight on in several poses then eventually rotate 360° until I'm back at the front. Recently, I've been reviewing the photos quickly for each look to double check if everything is in focus/in frame and see if I need to reshoot anything before moving on and changing. I took 328 photos for the 10 coordinates and the close up shots of the pumps worn.

- Last step of this part of the coordinate photo taking process is clean up! - 15 minutes
This varies by how much I tidy as I go while shooting. When I have a LOT of items to shoot, I usually pause at some points and start putting at least the clothes items away. Otherwise, it just gets very unmanageable. But for a smaller order, I'll probably just leave things out and put everything away at the end. That's 10 pairs of shoes, 10 outfits worth of clothes (main pieces + support pieces) + accessories etc. If necessary, I see if anything needs to be laundered or steamed/ironed. Then I return my room to its original state, charge the camera battery, take out the memory card and have a water break lol.

- In the afternoon (after "brunch" and taking care of other things), I download the photos from the memory card to my main laptop.
I take about 20 minutes to review the photos and pick out the ones I want to edit. This is basically scrolling through everything and making sure I have a satisfactory option for front, left side, right side and back views and usually end up with around 8 photos per outfit overall. It can either go pretty quickly if I have a lot of great options or really slowly if I don't like most of the photos and need to choose between bad and worse. Since I don't have photoshop on my main laptop, I move everything I want to edit to a flashdrive again.

Aug 16: Time to edit the coordinate photos! It takes about 60 minutes total, but I am slightly distracted in between. (Again, seems like a lot but that's just 6 minutes per outfit and I'm running on a pretty old laptop)
I had chosen 122 of the 328 coordinate photos to be possible edits. The number is still pretty high compared to what I upload because I often need extra options once I see everything for a single outfit collectively. For example, I don't want to have the 4 photos (front, left, right, back) to all be in the same right-hand-on-hip pose with my eyes downfacing. I prefer (when possible) for there to be at least a small variety between the poses for the outfit itself and for the featured item on a whole.

I'll open all options for an outfit in Photoshop Elements 4.0 at one go and examine each, picking the best back angle, best left angle and then from there, finding a complementary right angle and front angle (or whatever the order). 
If I can't decide or if the lighting might affect my decision, I'll usually edit an alternate and look at it again later from a PC monitor since my Windows XP laptop doesn't have a great graphics display. It's one of the reasons why I sometimes don't have fantastic consistency with my lighting edits - I have to make it a lot lighter on my Windows XP screen for it to appear closest to how I want it on a normal monitor and there's a lot of guesswork involved.
For editing in Photoshop, usually all I do is crop (+ resize in the same tool) and then adjust the levels. If it's a close up of my face (like for hats or other accessories on or near my head), sometimes I'll use the bandaid tool to blur blemishes on my face but for the farther away shots, I won't bother.

I move the edited files back to my main laptop and then upload to Blogger and add the placeholder lines of text.
(This main laptop is faster and actually has an active virus protection program so I'm more comfortable using the internet here.) It takes about 10 minutes depending on whether Blogger gives me a hard time with the upload or if I need to take time to decide between an alternate photo. Now I have most of the blog post ready. All that's left is adding the remaining commentary!

(There's a large gap in the timeline as I work on/publish other blog posts or things that take higher priority, knowing that I have a date I am aiming towards to publish this one and have a certain amount of time before I need to prioritize it again.)

Sep 5: Remaining commentary is added - about 30 minutes. This is basically just the coordinate breakdown (the "with" lines) and then the last paragraph for each item in which I usually write my thoughts about the items after seeing them IRL.
I do a quick proofread and then double check the "Schedule" info and hit Publish to put it in the queue. (Scheduled date is Sep 6, at 5:00AM HST.)

Final proofread and edits - about 15 minutes. I let some time pass between writing the last few comments, so it's less fresh in my mind and check out the "Preview" of the blog post to look at the formatting and reread the text. I actually forgot to post the pathetic flat lay picture for this post earlier so I add it as the finishing touch!

Total time: 420 minutes or 7 hours
Actually I feel like the process was fairly quick for this one. I guess it really feels like I spend more time on posts than that, just because I work on portions of the post over a period of days or weeks rather than just being able to sit down and dedicate 7 hours straight to it, and that I rarely just work on one post at a time so it feels like I am constantly working on something.
However, I would say that the level of "difficulty" or "creativity" that goes into coming up the the coordinates can sometimes contribute an extra hour or so. For example, any post that includes 5 or more items takes significantly longer than just what I did for this simple 3 item one. I usually have more outfit changes, more to consider when planning (so as not to repeat, shoes, bags, accessories as much as possible) etc. For trip haul posts with 10-20 items, it's a real effort. My recent Liz Lisa autumn items haul from my summer trip had 36 different outfits in it, and it would have had more if I didn't split up that haul by season. I want to say I easily spent over 3x the time I spent on this one on the autumn items haul which only makes sense.
In any case, it can definitely vary! Some posts are easier than others, some are exponentially more difficult, but I'd say 3-4 featured items in a post is about the average for me, so that's why I thought TKL order 56 would be a good example to show for this.

That being said, this isn't a perfect look at my overall blogging schedule because, like I mentioned, for this post, I only focused on just the one post and usually work on 2-4 simultaneously depending on what pending content I have, but I hope it still gives you a little bit of background to what goes into these posts, how I shoot and edit and what I consider when blogging!

If you blog, let me know if your process is similar or different! If you're a reader only, let me know if I'm spending wayyyyy too much time thinking about things that don't even remotely matter because you never notice it. 

You can leave me (anonymous) suggestions and feedback at A message I received there actually encouraged me to get this post done sooner rather than later! 
[Replies if necessary are posted to my IG story (access from the app), Twitter and FB!]


  1. That's really interesting, and it's crazy to see how much effort you put in! I think because we see the end product, we think you just take some pics, write a little description and hit done! But it's so much more than that, and it makes me love your blog even more! :) xx

    1. I guess there isn't actually more to it than that but I'm just so inefficient that it takes me much longer looool. It depends which way you look at it >,<

  2. I'm always amazed with how much time and effort you put into each post but I love reading your posts so I guess I'm super biased.

    1. I'm sure that we put a similar amount of effort!

  3. Wow Emi, you really go all the way in every post :0 It's clear how much time and love you put into this blog in every post, with your immaculate pictures, text, format, etc. Still, 7 hours put in for a post is an awful lot until you break it down into steps, and then it makes a lot more sense. Thank you for always taking the time to add to your wonderful blog :)

    1. Tbh before I started this post, I thought I spent a lot more time on it but 7 hours seems like very little to me haha.

  4. Thanks for doing a blog break-down post! It's always interesting to see the magic behind the scenes. I didn't expect taking pictures to be 2 hours, but the time break-down makes a lot of sense! I can definitely see all the effort you put into blog posts :)

    1. To me it always feels like more! But it really depends on the items and how much clothes I actually have to take off and put on in between lol.

  5. Wow! you put so much time into your blog posts (and it really shows)! I've found that picking out the photos I want and editing them takes So. Long. so seeing you do it in 20 mins is super impressive!

    1. The coordinate photos takes me an hour lol. It's just the mannequin photos (which are already majority composed and easily to sort) that takes me about 20 minutes. So maybe 80 minutes total! It's definitely not that fast, especially on an old computer lol.

  6. Thank you so much for all the hard work you do on these posts. I really appreciate the details and learning from you about how to coordinate everything by seeing all the different outfits. You are so amazing!!

  7. I really appreciate all that you do for your posts! You work so hard and it pays off because the formatting and content is always great ^^ ps. I've literally never noticed the remote in your hand before lol
    - Amiman♥

  8. WOW! Such thorough work and dedication! Thank you for always putting your all in to your blog posts and clothing catalogs. It really shows!

  9. It was very interesting to see behind the scenes, and get to know a little about your working process. :) I'm curious to why you shot your mannequin pictures in the stairways, and not where you shot your outfit pics. Any particular reason? I just think it's very interesting. :) Have a nice day. :)

    1. I started taking the mannequin pictures there because that's actually the spot in the house with the best natural lighting! I used to shoot them in my room, but I like the more neutral background and better/typically more consistent lighting on the stairs.