How to Break the Habit of Self-Doubt and Build Real Confidence

How to Break the Habit of Self-Doubt and Build Real Confidence

You really want to start a business, get a promotion, find a partner or lose those last 15 pounds you put on over the past year.

But as soon as you try to improve your career, love life or physical health, something holds you back. You cannot begin to take action because you doubt yourself. You are too afraid to move forward because inside, you think you are already a failure, or you are too worried about the consequences that may occur.

You are not alone. In fact, research shows that more than 85% of people struggle with self-doubt. It’s probably more like 100% in actuality.

Having self-doubt is going to hold you back in life. If you want to snag a promotion at work, be respected among your peers, build a marriage with the person of your dreams, be in top physical shape and live a happier, more fulfilling life, you are going to need to battle your self-doubt and construct real confidence within yourself.

The following are some ways you can achieve this and break the negative cycle you’re currently experiencing.

Use the 5 Second Rule
You may think you are struggling to get a work assignment completed or wrestling with the idea of going on the treadmill. But you are not. You are actually fighting with your feelings about these activities. According to neuroscience research, our feelings decide for us 95% of the time. You have to conquer your feelings. You must realize that you are capable of doing anything you put your mind to, even if you don’t feel 100 percent like doing it.

Whatever it is you are attempting to accomplish, stop thinking about it so much and building up feelings around it. Instead, count down from 5-4-3-2-1 and then GO. In the morning, instead of hitting that snooze button, wake up at the first alarm, count down from five and jump out of bed. If you want to speak up in a meeting, but are feeling afraid, count down and then speak as soon as you get a chance.

If you train your brain not to hesitate, you will be able to make logical decisions instead of relying on your feelings. You will eliminate self-doubt in no time.  

Do not strive for perfection
You do not have to be perfect to get ahead in life. Everyone, especially women, are held back by the idea that you have to be perfect to get whatever you want. According to a study by Hewlett Packard, men apply for promotions when they meet 60% of the requirements, and women only apply when they meet 100% of them.

Confidence is what it takes to get ahead in the workplace. It also leads to a high status and more respect among peers. Confidence matters more than competence, oddly enough.

Remember that perfectionism will make you less confident, more risk-averse, fill you with self doubt and keep you from taking steps that will build your confidence. It is not something to go after, because you will never really achieve it. Instead, be confident in your abilities.

Eliminate imposter syndrome
You’re probably doing great at work, but you don’t believe that you deserve it all. You think that at some point, everyone is going to find out you are a fraud and not worthy of success. This is called imposter syndrome, which research shows that over 70% of people have felt this way at some point.

You need to tell yourself that your success is not an accident at all. You got to where you are by working hard. When start to doubt how you got to where you are, take inventory of everything you have accomplished in the past. Then you will be able to rid of imposter syndrome once and for all.

Be visible at work
Do you sit quietly at work meetings, too scared to speak up out of fear of being judged? Do you doubt your ability to make a positive contribution to your company? Do you never bring up the hard work you’re doing, but instead chug along, doing everything behind-the-scenes?

If you want to convince your colleagues that you are a crucial part of the company and build your confidence at the same time, make yourself visible. Let people know what actions you are taking and do not be afraid to assert yourself when necessary.

Do not sit back and take notes in meetings, because then colleagues will think of you as the secretary. If you need to, write down only a few bullet points. Listen to what is going on in these meetings and contribute when you can. Prep yourself beforehand to figure out what you are going to say. Once people believe you are more confident, they will treat you with more respect, and that will, in turn, increase your self-esteem.

Review your failures
Fear of failure is what leads to self-doubt. It stops you from trying in the first place. But you cannot be afraid to fail. You should not be scared to take risks.

At tech companies like Etsy, Facebook and Google, employees are encouraged to embrace failure. At Etsy in particular, employees have to send out emails to their colleagues after they fail. They must document why and how these mistakes happened. The company does this because it inspires innovation and risk-taking. Employees aren’t afraid to take a chance because they know the consequences will not be negative.

You should create a report of your past failures and detail why things went wrong. Instead of sulking about your mistakes, simply learn from them for the future. This practice will boost your confidence and train you not to doubt yourself, even when you are in a risky situation.

Breaking bad habits and moving forward
By relying on your brain instead of your feelings, being comfortable with imperfection, making yourself visible and not letting fear of failure hold you back, you will be able to go after what you want and accomplish all of your career and personal goals.

Want to learn more about cultivating confidence and eliminating doubt? Sign up for motivational speaker Mel Robbins’ CreativeLive class, “How to Break the Habit of Self-Doubt and Build Real Confidence.”

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30 Eco-Friendly Valentines To Make and Share

30 Eco-Friendly Valentines To Make and Share

Valentine's Day Nature Crafts

It’s not too late to give a handmade valentine to all your loved ones–especially not when you can pull the supplies right out of your recycling bin or front yard!

Need inspiration? No problem! Check out the list of my all-time favorite eco-friendly handmade valentines, and get inspired to share the love:

1. Seed paper valentine. The best part of these valentines are that they’re plantable, so there’s no waste! And don’t think that this project is only for Valentine’s Day–I think it would make a perfectly sweet gift for Mother’s Day or your favorite gardener’s birthday, too.

2. Fabric heartThis sewn valentine has a secret pocket to keep your love notes safe.

3. Custom-sized envelope tutorialDon’t despair if your handmade valentine won’t fit into a store-bought envelope. Making your own custom-sized envelope is easy!

4. Folded heart cardThere’s plenty of room for a lovely love letter inside this card. Be creative with the papers that you upcycle for your folded hearts–wouldn’t sheet music look lovely?

5. Toilet paper tube butterflyThese valentines are nice and big so that preschoolers can draw all over them.

Recycled Valentine's Day Crafts

6. Manila folder valentine with a bunting embellishmentIf you’re the office worker type I bet you’ve got some of these lying around!

7. Button and popsicle stick valentinesBe warned: the kids are probably going to want to spend at least as much time playing with the buttons as they are making valentines with them…

8. Cross-stitched hand warmersThese are more work than your average valentine, but still small enough to be able to mass-produce, and your recipients will think of you every time they use your valentine to keep their hands nice and toasty.

9. Embellished treat bagsPerhaps you have some treat bags left over from a previous party. Just a quick paint job makes them Valentine-themed, and then they’re useful again!

10. Yarn-wrapped cardboard heartThis project is a great way to help even the littlest littles make their own valentines. Let them wrap the cardboard heart willy-nilly, then tie on a gift tag with a ribbon.

Recycled Valentine's Day Crafts

11. “Cute As A Button” valentineGot a bunch of buttons? Know somebody who’s just as cute as a button? It’s the perfect combination!

12. Crystal valentinesThese take a while to grow, but they’re educational and fun, and nobody else will be giving away a valentine like them.

13. Toilet paper tube heart stampUse this DIY upcycled stamp to embellish plain paper for an instant valentine.

14. Felt heart pinFelt, whether it’s natural wool felt or recycled Eco-fi felt, doesn’t need to be hemmed, making this project a LOT quicker. Don’t have felt on hand? Try fleece!

15. Newspaper heart valentines. You’d never know by looking at it, but newspaper takes paint like a champ and looks really gorgeous afterward. Try it and see!

Make origami hearts with this quick and easy method. They're so simple to make that you'll have a pile of them before you know it!

16. Origami heartsThis is the quickest and easiest valentine on this list! For a super simple valentine, simply size up your starting strip of paper, fold the origami heart, and sign your name on the back.

17. Fingerprint heart cardI’ve been really into upcycling old photos lately, and I think this project would be an awesome way to use up a cute old photo of your valentine.

18. Friendship necklacesInstead of the plastic foam that the tutorial calls for, simply substitute cardboard or even stiff felt.

19. Mason jar lid valentinesYou don’t even have to attach these to a Mason jar full of treats–but you could!

20. A printable fortune tellerPrint this on the back of anything letter-sized, whether it’s old artwork or stash scrapbook paper.

Recycled Valentine's Day Crafts

21. Puzzle piece valentineThese valentines work best with the larger size of preschool puzzle pieces. If you make valentines out of small puzzle pieces, just put each valentine in its own small envelope so that the pieces don’t get lost.

22. Fingerprint heart friendship rocksGive kindness rocks a new twist by turning them into valentines!

23. Map rosesMake these in bulk, then use washi tape to add a gift tag to each stem.

24. Puzzle heartHere’s another puzzle piece valentine! Instead of simply cutting the photo into a puzzle piece shape, why not decoupage it directly onto an old puzzle piece? For bonus points, glue a magnet on the back!

25. Puzzle piece and popsicle stick valentineOh, my goodness, I am finding so many good puzzle piece valentines! This one is a good way to upcycle lots of old puzzle pieces at once.

Recycled Valentine's Day Crafts

26. Toilet paper roll valentineHere’s a fun gift container that’s perfect for a small toy or piece of packaged candy.

27. Coloring bookmark valentineUse up all those ribbon scraps or yarn bits for these valentine bookmarks that recipients will love to color themselves.

28. Paper airplaneThis paper airplane valentine is a free printable, but it doesn’t need to be. I know you know how to make a paper airplane! Just add cute paper and a stamped message.

29. Puppy love valentineLittle ones can make these valentines while practicing their cutting and coloring skills–AND there are googly eyes involved!

30. Thumbprint heart glass magnetsHere’s something a little different for the valentine mailbox. The glue takes a while to set, but the magnets themselves are quick and easy to make.

Have a great eco-friendly valentine idea of your own? Tell me about it in the comments below!


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15 Photography Pros Share How They Prep For Shoots

15 Photography Pros Share How They Prep For Shoots

All of the best photographers in the world have one thing in common: preparation. Think about this scenario: you work your butt off, and then one day, out of the blue, your dream client comes knocking. Whether it’s shooting the cover for Newsweek (a la Gary Knight), or an editorial spread for major fashion magazine (a la Emily Soto), how do the world’s top working photographers get in the right mindset? While there’s no magic formula, there are plenty of things every photographer can start doing today to be ready for that call from Vogue when it comes.


Some of CreativeLive’s top instructors share some words of wisdom below:

“I try to relate to the client as much as I can. For example, if shooting a commissioned portrait I ask for personal stories that make that person who they are, so that I can draw inspiration for their picture from that. If it’s a book cover, I try to find out as much as I can about the author and book, so that I know their taste and needs.”
— Brooke Shaden

60% Off Flash Sale on All Fashion Photography Classes. Expires 2/10 @ 11:59 PM PT

“Small job or big job is all the same — remember the gear, bring backup, dress accordingly to the job, have fun. The size of the job does not affect how I act or feel.”
— Mike Fulton

“Over-prepare, do the mental checklist, relax.”
— John Greengo

In-demand fashion photographer Emily Soto shares lessons in lighting in her online class. Watch Now!

“I try and stay calm the week and especially the day before. And make sure that I don’t stress out and don’t vary from my routine so I don’t let it ruin my entire week. I get prepared the day before a big wedding just like I would any other wedding and double and triple check to make sure that I have everything I need. Sticking to a routine is key for me staying mentally prepared for big jobs.”
— Vanessa Joy


“I always find that I shoot my best and I feel the most creative when I’m relaxed and inspired. To stay relaxed on big jobs, I treat them just the same as I would any other job. That keeps me from putting too much pressure on myself and keeps me in a mindset of fun instead of work. To get inspired before a shoot, I always end up either digging through books, or watching movies that get my mind thing creatively. Other than that, sleep and a damn good breakfast.”
— Ben Sasso

“Mental rehearsal. Not only do I go over all the scenarios in my head for gear packing, but I also imagine myself shooting and coming up with ideas on the spot. I leave a lot to spontaneity, but I also plan to be able to be more spontaneous by using visualization to put myself on the spot before hand. I imagine myself in the scene, talking to my subjects, seeing the light, etc. I imagine myself being relaxed and ideas are flowing in to me. Sounds all metaphysical and stuff, but it works for me.”
— Kevin Kubota

60% Off Flash Sale on All Fashion Photography Classes. Expires 2/10 @ 11:59 PM PT

“Well, there is the usual pre-production and planning insanity that accompanies every big job that must be ironed out. Schedules, models, equipment, assistants, art directors, designers. Lots of emailing and phone calls to set times, dates, and comings-and-goings.  Along with that comes the usual preparing of all the gear and battery charging, which I suppose is pretty standard. But to get into the mindset, it may come as a shock that I don’t really do anything to get psyched up, if you will. I find that the more I think about something the more I freak out, so mentally, l approach very important job the way I’d approach a not-so-important job. That is, to say, that I will just shoot the hell out of it and create the best pictures possible without thinking too hard about the pressures of the job.”
— Mike Kelley


“I make a lot of lists, get things ready days or weeks in advance if possible, then dance around to Dance/Club music on Pandora for 2 days before.”
— Erin Manning

“I personally have to have a very low key hour or two before the gig to relax and get into the right mindset. On the wedding day it really helps for me to get to the venue early to load film and to scope it out.”
— Josh Moates (right)

“The key to preparation is just that, preparation! I do as much as possible to prepare before the day of the shoot so that I am simply putting a plan of attack into action. I create mood boards to help determine the direction of the shoot, discuss my ideas with the creative team, and then make sure everyone is prepared to do their part. This way, on the day of the shoot everything is set to go much more smoothly!”
— Lindsay Adler

Join Lindsay Adler for styling and posing tips for full figured women. Learn more.

Photography Posing Tips with Lindsay Adler

“Freak out. Then breathe. Think big picture, bring passion. then break it down to bite size pieces.”
— Jonny Davenport

“Have a good meal and get a good night’s sleep.”
— Pei Ketron

In-demand fashion photographer Emily Soto shares lessons in lighting in her online class. Watch Now!

“The mindset has to come prior to the big job. Like the saying goes, dress for the job you want, not the job you have. You should always work on a job as though you’re working on the biggest client of your life. And then when any job comes around, you’ll always be in the mindset. Know that you are born for that job. It was meant for you.”

— Pratik Naik

“It’s never hard getting up for a big job — it’s much more important to relax and do the things that got you there.”
— Brian Smith

“I always triple check that my gear is properly packed so I will be prepared for anything.  I don’t like to be overly nervous (although some nerves are a good thing!), so if I feel my nerves are getting out of control I meditate.”
— Jen Rozenbaum

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Break Out From Small Talk Hell – 5 Strategies to Conquer the Art of Networking

Break Out From Small Talk Hell – 5 Strategies to Conquer the Art of Networking

Freeze up when your CEO greets you at the coffee machine? Or never know what to say at those already awkward networking events? 

If you feel like you’re in small talk hell, let the good folks from the The Art of Charm help you solve it. It is their specialty, after all. 

Former Wall Street lawyer Jordan Harbinger is now an entrepreneur and social dynamics expert–and now a networking Maestro. But Harbinger doesn’t really like using the term “networking,” which is often associated with superficial connections for quick, personal gain. What he teaches is “relationship building” and forming authentic, long term connections with people.

His consulting and coaching company Art of Charm offers boot camps and training sessions to individuals and companies who want to understand the elements of emotional intelligence and become more persuasive, confident and charismatic. Harbinger’s been at this for awhile—for the past ten years, he’s hosted a top 50 podcast on iTunes, also called the Art of Charm.

So are you ready to work to charm your boss or make better personal connections? Try these tried and tested strategies from Harbinger, then get out there and work that room!

Figure out what people want you to see about them
Correctly reading a person will help you build that true connection much more quickly. If you can pick up on how people see themselves and how they want you to see them, then you will go far. Why is the guy you just met telling you that he often works weekends? He probably wants you to know that he is a dedicated individual and is passionate about his work. You’ve also got to observe how he says what he says, how his or her expression might change when they start to talk about traveling or photography. Likewise, pay attention to your own reactions when someone is talking to you—it might shed light on the intention of this person’s words.

Move on from forced connections
If you want to connect with someone to help expand your business, but quickly realize that you don’t mesh well with this person, that’s reason enough to move on. Don’t invest your time in building up a relationship with someone who doesn’t hold the same values and beliefs in terms of how they do business and their long-term goals. You don’t have to network with everyone at the networking event—more connections does not mean more resources.

Gauge your own self-promotion and adjust accordingly
Networking is not just about listening well. You can share your best stories, but do it in a way that will connect with your audience. If you think you sound too obnoxious, you probably do, so rein it in a little. Take a peek at your audience to gauge the interest level and adjust yourself accordingly. Even if you think you have nothing in common with your audience, remember that as humans we all share and relate to the same basic themes in life. fIf you are coming from an authentic place, your story will be well received.

Be patient
You are building human relationships, and that takes time—as in weeks or even years. There is no “hack” for creating an authentic connection with someone. Be persistent but not annoying. You can avoid that by following up in a different way each time. Share something of value, a link to an article, an offer of an introduction to someone in their field, or even a funny video.

Don’t keep score
Help everyone you can without actually expecting anything in return. Of course, you can curate and filter the people you meet by attending only high-end events, instead of free networking events or conferences that might attract anyone and everyone. But, as Harbinger points out, you can’t predict what person is going to give you an opportunity. What you can do instead, very easily, is connect people within your own current network of contacts.

Forget what you’ve heard about networking—just focus on building authentic relationships. If you are genuine in your approach, you will eventually connect with those who are also genuine in their networking pursuits.

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Lindsay Adler’s 3-Step Process for Retouching Fashion Portraits

Lindsay Adler’s 3-Step Process for Retouching Fashion Portraits

This is a special guest post by CreativeLive instructor Lindsay Adler.

Photoshop is an all-consuming world full of plug-ins and hundreds of retouching options, and the simpler you make it for yourself, the better. I use a three-step process when retouching fashion portraits –– eliminating unwanted blemishes, filling in shadows, and running multiple layers of Portraiture to smooth uneven textures. Touching up your portrait without making the image look fake and over-polished takes a certain amount of finesse, but you’ll end up with a naturally beautiful image with a few simple tips and tricks!

Get Learn how to shoot a variety of skin textures and tones with Lindsay Adler’s Skin 101: Lighting, Retouching and Understanding Skin. 

Note: these techniques are applicable when using Adjustment Layers and Layer Masks. Adjustment Layers are like a gel — you place them on top of your photo, and everything underneath will take on the gel’s effect. You’ll then be able to paint the effect on and off with your Layer Mask.

Use the Spot Healing Brush to get rid of blemishes. The Spot Healing Brush is a little circle that you make slightly larger than your blemish. You place it over the blemish and Photoshop will erase it and fill it in based on the textures and colors of the skin around it. It works well for larger pimples or moles.

Spot Blem

Use a Patch Tool to get rid of wrinkles. You can use a Patch Tool to select an unwanted blemish or wrinkle, and then click and drag that wrinkle to an area of skin that has textures and colors you want it to be replaced with. The Patch Tool will both replace and blend the area where the wrinkle was. I use this tool for large lines on the forehead, as well as wrinkles on clothing –– but keep in mind that it doesn’t work well for areas with high contrast (like edges) or areas with lots of texture.

Learn how to control how your image looks, down to the pixel! If you haven’t heard of blend modes before, your workflow is in for a treat.

Use Blend Modes to clone. Cloning smooths and blends by rapidly cutting and pasting pixels, but many people use the Clone Stamp Tool and end up losing skin texture. Over-cloned images can look fake, but an easy solution? Blend Modes. They affect how the brush interacts with the pixels you’re clicking on, and you can use them to add texture to images. For example, using the “lighten” Clone Stamp under the eyes will keep the skin’s natural texture, but fill in shadow. It works well for larger smile lines and wrinkles on the neck and armpits. You don’t want to erase them completely, you just want to fill them in.Cloning

Use Imagenomic Portraiture plug-in for targeted skin smoothing. I don’t recommend spending your money on tons of trendy software, but Imagenomic Portraiture is great for extremely targeted retouching. It allows you to select specific skin tones and adjust how smooth you want them, breaking the categories down into fine, medium or large details. I don’t typically smooth out the fine details because I want my portraits to look as natural as possible. One of the great things about this plug-in is that you can pick what part of the image you want to target, smooth it out, and then create a transparency mask, which will show you the pixels you’ve just affected. If you accidentally smoothed out something you didn’t want to (like lips or eyes), you can go back in and erase it!


Break free of traditional portrait & wedding photography with Fashion Flare for Photographers with Lindsay Adler. Watch Now!

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Sue Bryce and Felix Kunze Tips for Better Fashion Posing

Sue Bryce and Felix Kunze Tips for Better Fashion Posing

fashion posing

Photos by Sue Bryce

There’s a wide range of portrait photography, and every client is different. But as a photographer, sometimes you’re not necessarily shooting for the model, you’re shooting for someone else, like a clothing company or another commercial client. Or, maybe, the model has contracted you to take photos for their folio. Either way, fashion photography is a different kind of beautiful beast — and the posing can be tricky. In their class, Fashion Photography Posing and Lighting, Sue Bryce and Felix Kunze gave some great advice for portrait photographers who might be branching into fashion.

Know the code words. “Ballet hands!” Sue emphasizes. If your model has stiff fingers or an otherwise problematic hand positioning, this is one of the quickest ways to direct her to correct it.

“Even guy photographers can say ‘ballet hands’ and models will know what that means.”

Bring more flair to all of your photographs with fashion-inspired posing and lighting ideas from Sue Bryce and Felix Kunze. Watch Now!

Try anything. Different body types often merit different kinds of posing, but there really are no hard-and-fast rules when it comes to which shapes should or should not pose in which ways. The best way to find out what works? Try it, says Felix.

“Even if it’s not a pose you think will work, you can always try. You never know what might work.”

Avoid phantom limbs. Cropping out limbs is a subject that photographers like to debate, but one thing that’s non-negotiable, says Sue, is posing that makes arms or legs look cut or shortened. One huge example: Arms between the legs in seated fashion poses.

“When everyone starts out, they want to put their hands between their legs,” says Sue, “but then the arm…it just disappears. That’s a big example of what not to do.” Instead, move the arm around the knee or to the thigh — if the hand is visible, you’re in good shape.

Have your own modeling material. “Don’t show another photo for [your model] to base poses off of. That’s just advertising someone else’s work,” says Felix. Instead, says Sue, you can either mirror your ideal poses yourself, or, as she’s done, draw out the poses you’d like them to do. Not a great artist? Sue put together a book of illustrated poses that will be available with the purchase of the class.

If you’re going to touch, make it swift. “I never touch my clients,” Sue explains, “but if you do need to touch your clients, just go up and do it. Make it quick, make it confident. Don’t ask them if you can touch them, that’s creepier.” Sue recommends telling the model directly what she’s about to do, and then doing it swiftly.

Take a breathe and do a lap. If you and your subject just aren’t in sync, or you’re having a hard time finding a pose that works, Sue says it might be time to stop directing and starting moving.

“When you’re stuck, stop moving them — stop moving their hands, stop moving their arms — and rotate.” Take a few steps around your model and see how they react to your movement; often, they’ll shift and rotate to follow you, which can correct an awkward pose.

“Just take your time. Stop moving her. Just start shooting. You’ll find it,” says Sue.

Be specific. One huge way to help pose a model? Ditch that cliched photographer talk and really talk to your client.
“Positive affirmation is better than just ‘gorgeous!’” says Sue. “That doesn’t mean anything!” Instead, she says, “hypnotize your clients.” Felix agrees.

“When you’re really talking to her, it takes her mind off everything else,” he says.

Bring more flair to all of your photographs with fashion-inspired posing and lighting ideas from Sue Bryce and Felix Kunze. Watch Now!


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36 Free Underwear Patterns and Tutorials

36 Free Underwear Patterns and Tutorials

I know that underwear is generally fairly cheap to buy, so it’s not like you’re saving yourself megabucks by sewing your own.

But the reason why underwear is generally so cheap to buy? It’s generally because:

  1. It uses cheap, poor quality fabric that’s harsh on the environment to produce.
  2. It’s practically thrown together with uneven seams, skipped stitches, and all kinds of shortcuts (don’t believe me? REALLY look at your underwear and count all the places where a decent sewer would have done a better job).
  3. It’s manufactured by laborers under poor working conditions, paid unfair wages. They might even be children.

For these reasons, it’s well worth the effort to at least experiment with sewing your own underwear. Even if you don’t replace all of your underwear with DIY versions, even if you simply make one pair and call it a day, it’s a valuable experience to see the work and the materials that go into it.

You’ll never look at that store-bought cheap underwear the same way again.

Below, you’ll find my favorite free underwear tutorials and patterns. Find something you like, give it a whirl, and see if it doesn’t make you want to stock your whole dresser with nothing but homemade underwear!

1. Boxer shortsBoxers are super easy to sew because they don’t even have to be made from stretch fabric. They’re perfect for beginners!

2. Boyshorts underwear patternBoyshorts are my favorite type of underwear, so I was stoked to happen upon this free downloadable pdf pattern for them!

3. Bikini topThis bikini top has a small enough silhouette that it can be used as a bra, as well.

4. Bikini pantiesIf you like the look of bikini-style panties, then you’ll love this easy tutorial for making them.

5. Bra and panties from a scarfOne large thrifted or gifted scarf can make a matching bra and panties set.

6. Bralette patternBras can be tricky to sew. Here’s a free pattern to make it easy!

7. Bra from men’s underwearThis is… pretty weird. But to be fair, because the sizing on men’s clothing is so logical, all you have to do is find a pair of men’s underwear whose size matches your own under-bust measurement, and the rest is simple!

8. Cage braSkip the high-priced boutiques and DIY this hot trend.

9. Caged bustier topConvert a regular bra pattern into a more sophisticated caged bustier top.

10. Underwear liningThis post is an explanation of all things related to underwear linings–why you want them or don’t want them, the various types, and how to sew each of them into your favorite underwear pattern.

11. Dance ShortsDance shorts are a lot like boyshorts, but with more coverage. I love them!

12. Day of the Week embellishmentsUse any of the basic, non-lace panties patterns and embellish them with these Day of the Week templates. Now you’ll no longer be unsure about which pair of underwear to put on!

13. Fold-over elastic-edged pantiesIf you like the fit of elastic-waisted panties but you want a narrower hem, let this tutorial show you how easy it is to replace regular elastic with FOE.

14. Garter beltI don’t know how to DIY stockings–yet. I DO know how to DIY a garter belt, thanks to this tute.

15. Heart reverse appliqueYou can embellish many of the panties patterns here with this cute heart reverse applique.

16. Lace cutoutThis lace cutout works along the same lines as the heart reverse applique–add either or both to your existing panties pattern.

17. Lace panties. Because elastic lace can be found in super-wide dimensions, it’s also possible to make an entire pair of panties from it.

18. Lace braAnd if you’re going to wear lace panties, you might as well make yourself a lace bra to match!

19. Hipster undiesThese are easy and not too pretentious.

20. Kid boxer briefsMy favorite thing about sewing for children is how little fabric it uses. You’ll hardly notice that you’re sewing before you’re finished making these tiny boxer briefs!

21. Kid panties from a onesieThis tutorial is a brilliant way to upcycle your kid’s old onesies into new underwear–if you’re careful, you might even be able to get a little tank top out of the same onesie!

22. Lace thongIf you’ve got elastic lace, then you’ve got everything that you need to make this thong.

23. Lace braletteThis pattern allows you to skip making adjustable chest and shoulder bands by sizing the bralette exactly.

24. Lace-edge pantiesIf you don’t want your panties made entirely from lace, it’s easy to simply trim them with lace.

25. Period pantiesPeriod panties are a big deal right now, so you know someone figured out how to DIY them!

26. Add a pad to underwearIf you don’t want to sew full-on period panties, you can also try adding a permanent cloth pad to many of these underwear patterns.

27. Nursing sleep braMaternity clothes are ridiculously high priced. Do yourself a favor and sew yourselves several pairs of these bras before you’re too exhausted with your newborn to be trusted with a sewing machine.

28. Ruched hiphugger pantiesThese aren’t your average, everyday T-shirt panties. Super cute details make them extra special without being too precious.

29. Serged pantiesI love the look of these panties, adapted from a free swimsuit bottoms pattern. They don’t require elastic, so they’re even thriftier than the average pair of underwear. And the serged edges look really cool!

30. Side tiesThis embellishment will work on any of the boyshort-type underwear patterns.

31. Tap pantsThese are super cute worn under a dress or skirt, or as part of a lingerie set. This tutorial teaches you how to construct your own pattern to make tap pants that will fit you perfectly.

32. Thong patternIf you’d prefer not to create your own pattern, here’s a free downloadable pattern for sewing a thong.

33. T-shirt underwearHere’s another free pattern for making a pair of bikini briefs specifically from T-shirt fabric.

34. Use an existing pair of panties as a pattern. If you have a pair of panties that you’re willing to sacrifice, this tutorial shows you how to break them down and use them for pattern pieces so that you can construct endless identical pairs from your own fabric.

35. Underwear skill setAny technique that you need to know to successfully sew a bra or panties is likely here. These tutorials cover everything from properly measuring elastic to adding trim to sewing a hook and eye closure on a bra. You’ll be an expert by the time you’ve browsed through these tutes!

36. Wool underwearIt sounds non-intuitive, but wool’s moisture-wicking properties can help keep you feeling cool and comfy even when it’s swampy outside.

P.S. Want even MORE underwear tutorials? Check out my older round-up of underwear tutorials that call for mostly upcycled materials!


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Bokeh Effect Tutorial: How To Capture Photographs With “That Blurry Effect”

Bokeh Effect Tutorial: How To Capture Photographs With “That Blurry Effect”

That background blur effect you see in photographs? You know, the one where the background is smooth blobs and the subject is in sharp focus?

That’s aesthetic quality is called bokeh effect. More specifically, bokeh is the photography term used to define out of focus light sources that simply look like neat circles in the background of the photograph, like this:

blurry effect tutorial

Bokeh originates from the Japanese word boke which means ‘blur.’ While bokeh looks (and sounds) like a complex task, creating the bokeh effect is actually pretty simple to do. Here’s a quick three-step bokeh effect tutorial that will help you create beautiful bokeh effects (and hopefully help you stop calling it “that one blurry effect”. Also, if you need a more complete guide to create the bokeh effect, check out our Ultimate Resource Guide here).

Although you can create the bokeh effect in post-processing with software like Photoshop or apps like Bokeh Lens, here are a few tips to achieve those out-of-focus highlights (or pleasing bokeh affects) with your camera.

Step 1: Find a light source.

The true definition of bokeh isn’t just a blurred background, but blurred lights.

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Naturally, that means you have to find a light source. Christmas lights are an easy way to achieve that out-of-focus blur and add good bokeh to an image any time of the year, but they certainly aren’t the only option. A cityscape at night or evening sun filtering through some trees works too. You can even crinkle up some tinfoil and put a light in front of it for some great bokeh.

The best light sources to create bokeh are small, and it’s usually best to have a few of them. The sun won’t create a bokeh effect itself, but small patches of sunlight coming through leaves will. Outside of finding small light sources, keep in mind the color of the light source will show up in your photos too.

bokeh effect tutorial

Step 2: Position your subject…far from the light source.

Novice photographers often put their subject directly in front of the background, or even leaning up against it. But, the farther your subject is from the background, the blurrier the background will be. To create good bokeh, the background needs to be blurry, so make sure to position your subject at least a few feet in front ahead of the light source. If you don’t have a camera with manual modes (which we’re talking about next), you’ll want to get even further away.

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Outside of using distance to blur the background, the distance will affect how big those light orbs appear. So, if you want larger orbs of light, you’ll need to place the subject a little bit closer to the light source. For smaller circles, put even more distance between the subject and the background. The more shallow depth-of-field, or further away your background is, the more blurred it will be. (Remember, too, whether you have a Canon, Nikon or Sony, a camera lens with longer focal lengths will increase the depth of field even when the distance between the camera and the subject doesn’t change.).

Tip: If you don’t want to photograph a subject but just want a photo of only bokeh (they make great desktop wallpapers), switch to manual focus. Adjust the focus until the lights are completely out of focus and bam! Great bokeh!

bokeh effect tutorial

Step 3: Adjust your aperture, then take the shot.

Distance will help blur out the background (so don’t get too close-up), but so will aperture. (If you haven’t brushed up on photography fundamentals yet, aperture is how wide the opening in the lens is). A wide aperture, or smaller f-number, will blur out that background even more. If you set your camera to one of the widest apertures like f/1.8 will really blur out that background for a great bokeh effect. Set your camera to Aperture Priority mode and choose a low f-number, then you are ready to take the shot.

Tip: If you don’t have Aperture Priority Mode on your camera, try the portrait scene mode.

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You can use both aperture and distance to control the bokeh in the background. If you don’t want to use a super wide aperture because you need more of the subject in focus, or don’t have a lens capable of a super wide aperture, simply use compensate for the narrower aperture by adding more distance between the subject and the light source. With a bit of experimenting, you should be able to capture a bokeh effect by using both distance and aperture to blur the background.


While the bokeh effect is simply to achieve, a number of issues can pop up, depending on where and what you are shooting.

Why is my subject is too dark?

With the light source behind the subject, chances are, your subject may appear a bit dark. Toss a little light back on the subject by using a low powered flash or reflector as a fill light. Or, you can adjust the metering mode to spot metering, though this switch will make your background appear a bit lighter.

Why are the artificial lights “blinking” in my pictures?

When I photographed my kids in front of the Christmas tree last year, I was frustrated when I looked at the pictures because in several of them the lights didn’t appear at all. I didn’t change my settings or the lights between shots, so, what gives? Artificial lights are actually sent out in surges—they aren’t always on, though they appear that way to our eyes. The photos with the lights “off” simply caught one of those surge moments. That’s simply a timing error. While you can’t see the surges to adjust your timing, if you use a shutter speed slower than 1/60 you shouldn’t have the same issues. Since I was photographing active kids, I chose to keep my shutter speed high and just took more photos for a better probability of missing that surge.

Bokeh can create some amazing backgrounds, without detracting too much from the subject. The key to capturing good blur quality and a great bokeh effect is to find a light source, position your subject several feet away from the light source, and use a wide aperture.

Want more photography tips for creating great bokeh? Our Ultimate Resource Guide on Bokeh will help you take your images to the next level. Read it here.

Ready to focus? The CreativeLive class The Photography Starter Kit for Beginners will train your eye to locate what’s important in your photos in no time.

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4 Photography Posing Tips Every Photographer Needs to Know

4 Photography Posing Tips Every Photographer Needs to Know

Photo courtesy Lindsay Adler.

Photo courtesy Lindsay Adler.

It’s simple – to be a glamour, portrait, boudoir or wedding photographer who has a living, breathing subject, you need to pay attention to the posing tips you’re giving your clients. It’s more than just telling people how and where to stand. The recipe for success in the realm of portrait photography is one part communication, one part planning, and one part skill — all topped with a friendly, comforting presence. Having a strong knowledge of posing techniques is a large part of that.

Here are a few photography posing tips from today’s top working photographers:

A Natural Posing Guide

Think about your client and how they want to be represented in your image. Most male clients want to appear masculine, but females don’t necessarily want the opposite — they want to be strong. Do your research and interview your subject so you know what the perfect pose will be for them. You need to know not only what kind of person they are, but how they want to be portrayed. Then, it is your professional responsibility to know how to achieve the desired result using poses that look natural and authentic. This relies heavily on communication with your client to understand their demeanor and personality.

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To learn more about effective communication and posing tips, check out this clip from legendary glamour photographer Lou Freeman:

Know How to Find and Get the Most of Rembrandt Light

Rembrandt lighting is your best friend — but only if you know how to position your subject at the right angles. You can bring in all the flashes and lighting equipment you want, but if you can’t use natural Rembrandt lighting, you’ll never be able to move outside your studio! Shadows are great, but you need to discover the right balance to get a fabulous shot. Learn from Clay Blackmore here:

Be Aware of the Whole Body

Here’s the truth – the human body is both beautiful and awkward. Making each part of the body look good in a portrait is a challenge. The hair can look great but the eyebrows are off. The legs can look great but the chin is sticking too far out. Body shots can be complicated in this way but there are small changes or adjustments you can make to help capture a more natural look.

Lindsay Adler demonstrates successful posing.

Lindsay Adler demonstrates successful posing in the above photography tutorial example.

One of the most common errors amateurs make is to forget about the hands. The model’s hands are quite possibly the most difficult to master, but also one of the most important. Sue Bryce and Bambi Cantrell elaborate:

Another tricky body part is the neck. No matter the body type, if you pose your client incorrectly, their neck will look thicker than it does in real life. What’s the goal? Don’t make the camera add 10 pounds. Watch this clip from Zach Arias to find out how to avoid it:

Posing Groups

It’s easy to think that once you know how to pose one subject that you can easily adapt to groups. The problem is that every person is unique — a good pose for one person might not be that great for another. That’s a crucial piece of the photography posing puzzle. Each individual comes with their own personality and pairing those personalities together can be a real challenge. In this clip, Michelle Celentano teaches you a few basics for posing family portraits:

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Free SEO Marketing for Wedding Photographers: How To Easily Improve Google Ranking

Free SEO Marketing for Wedding Photographers: How To Easily Improve Google Ranking

SEO for wedding photographers is the new way to reach clients.

Back in the day, the best hack for a wedding photographer to end up in front of potential new clients was to make sure you were in the front of the phone book (nice try, AAA Photography Services). Even though people have mostly stopped flipping pages and started turning to Google to find the services they need, the tactics remain similar: You want to be first in line.

But how do you improve your Google ranking when everyone and their grandmother claims to have the secrets to great SEO (and great SEO for wedding photographers)?

The truth is, search engine optimization isn’t really about smoke and mirrors — it’s about algorithms and best practices. As a business person, all you really need to know is how to play along.

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Here are a few of the best tips from ShootDotEdit guide to help professionals understand SEO for wedding photographers, with actionable tips that can help ensure the right clients are finding you:

Switch to WordPress

One of the easiest ways to improve your Google ranking and make sure potential clients can find you is to be 100% sure that your website is doing most of the work for you. WordPress is an SEO “powerhouse,” writes SDE, and is, by default, mostly optimized for great search results. It also comes with a ton of options for plug-ins that can make SEO even less of a guessing game.

Blog about it

WordPress is also a great place for hosting a blog — which is another hot SEO tip. But regardless of where your website is hosted, you need to be blogging, and including the kinds of keywords that people are looking for to find you.

“Create a blog calendar. Schedule out blogs on a regular and consistent basis and use one keyword from your list per post,” recommends ShootDotEdit. Regularly updating a blog with strong images and keywords helps keep your site fresh, which gives Google something to crawl and, as a result, improves your ranking. If you’re not sure which keywords to use, or where to find them, SDE’s guide can help with that.

Link in, link out

“Search engines see links from popular websites like Facebook and recognize them as adding credibility to your site. You can equate it to having a good set of references,” according to ShootDotEdit. So make sure that your social media profiles all link to your site, and that your site has clear, easy-to-find links back to them. It’s also a good idea to have them linking to each other.

“Not only do you want to link these back to your site, but they also should interlink to one another. For example, your Twitter should link back to your website, as well as to your Facebook. Interlinking your social media allows the different platforms to talk to one another.”

Want more? Get ShootDotEdit‘s free SEO guide here.

Looking to create a successful photography business? Develop solid online marketing skills and get discovered by your target audience.


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