With the end of the year being a time for reflection, Em and I are doing something quite rare- sitting down and writing this blog post together. While it doesn’t feel as if we’ve come very far in a year on the grand scale of things, when we actually look back at how different our lives were at the start of 2017, it’s clear to see that we’ve grown more than we had realized.
Photography & editing
Let’s go right back to this time last year, when 2016 was drawing to an end. We had actually given up on our blog during this time, crazy as that seems. For about three months or so during the winter, we were feeling pretty dispirited about everything. The new Instagram algorithm had just come into place, and suddenly, most of our followers didn’t seem to be even seeing our posts. As every blogger whose main social platform is Instagram knows, when your Instagram is used to drive traffic to your blog, it’s not so great when you basically don’t seem to exist on Instagram anymore.
Another issue we had at the time was with the quality of our pictures. We knew how we wanted our feed to look, but we just couldn’t achieve it. This was incredibly frustrating, and it’s very easy to compare yourself to others in the field of blogging who are doing it better than you, which can be demoralizing. So it was that, along with generally being busy with uni work and wanting to hibernate during the winter months, that meant we quit our blog.
It was after New Years’ day, when everyone makes resolutions for the year, when we decided to give things a go again. We had previously discussed deleting our blog and Instagram altogether, but we found we just couldn’t do it. It’s very easy to get sucked into a blogger’s life- the good and the bad- and we found we missed engaging with our audience, taking photos, and writing just for the fun of it (which is why we originally decided to start blogging together in the first place).We knew that if we were to start back up, things had to change.
And so we started experimenting. First, we played around with VSCO filters. For a while, we were happy with adding the A6 filter to all our pictures, but soon we found it still wasn’t quite achieving the result we were after. We weren’t sure whether it was our camera or our editing (it turned out to be both), but there was something we both didn’t like. So in March, we made a huge investment and bought a Canon 7D. After a few weeks of taking terrible photos with the exposure all the way up, we finally learnt how to take a normal photo on it, and loved it. To make the most out of our new picture quality, we downloaded Lightroom and played around with editing styles until we found one we liked.
The picture on the left shows our Instagram feed in March 2017- we can’t actually believe that was this year, it feels like so long ago! The middle is June 2017, when we were still learning how to use our new camera (we hadn’t quote got the hang of how to adjust exposure). The picture on the right is December 2017, with our current editing. Learning the ins and outs of photography and editing definitely isn’t a fast process. We did it without professional help; just a lot of love for learning and hundreds of YouTube tutorials! Even now, we’re not one hundred per cent happy with our editing, but really, who is? We’ll likely continue to switch things up in the New Year, and it’s exciting to think how much better things will be a year on from now, considering how much we have grown from last year.
Along with re-hauling our Instagram image, around the same time, we were approached by the lovely team at Bloggerize, who offered to give our blog a much needed makeover (not that they actually said the words, but you know). This was exciting for us as we finally decided to take our blog more seriously and become self hosted. Having our own domain name is honestly the best feeling in the world, and our blog finally has the modern, cohesive style that we always associated ourselves with.
Working with brands
2017 was the year we finally started to make regular connections with brands. This is still something we both feel incredibly lucky about; every time we get an email come through into our inbox, whoever sees it first will usually ring the other immediately to discuss it. We’re so proud to have worked with so many fantastic brands this year, some that we have loved for years, and some that we perhaps never would have been introduced to without blogging, and for that we are immensely grateful. From Miss Selfridge, to HP, Motel Rocks, Alcatel, A Gift From The Gods, Wowcher, and Ice Watch, we have had a whole lot of fun being challenged creatively to produce imagery and content that each brand would be proud of.
One of our highlights was traveling to Manchester for the weekend with Wowcher. Both of us use Wowcher all the time, so to be approached to work with them was very humbling. It was a very last-minute trip, and we had to take our laptops as we both had assignment deadlines in for the next day, but that was one of the many moments of this year where we truly felt so lucky to be in our position. We can’t wait to see what 2018 will bring in terms of future collaborations; we’re hoping to establish more long-term connections with brands, and we have a few fashion brands that we dream of working with some day.
Below: In Manchester with Wowcher, shooting for Ruby Lane Sydney, wearing Cari’s Closet (the first of our Instagram pics to get 1000 likes!)
Travel is one of our greatest loves, and this year we were able to tick off a few places we had never visited before. In May, I (Laur) finally got to visit Paris for the second time, after falling in love with the city on a school trip years ago. It was extra special this time because I was able to take brad with me (after all, it is supposed to be the city of love), and we also spent a day in Disneyland, which was a dream come true. The weather was so beautiful when we visited, and I remember sunbathing next to the Musée du Louvre and thinking “this is the life”. We also met the coolest American lady and her mum, and we all tried to navigate the Metro together- we got lost so many times and ended up asking some French students how to get to the Eiffel Tower, only to be told that we weren’t even on the metro, just a train heading in the wrong direction.
We also visited southern Spain twice in the summer. We’d both traveled to Spain before, but never this part of it, so it was a new experience for us. We spent most of our time walking, shopping, tanning, and eating far too much ice cream- just thinking about it is making us miss it so much! It might not have been the most Instagram-worthy of places, but it gave us time to relax and unwind, which is exactly what we needed after a busy year at uni.
In December, I (Em) headed off to Venice and Rome for a much needed getaway! I’d just finished my assignments for term 1 at uni so it was nice to let go of all the uni stress for a little while. I had an amazing time sightseeing (and eating way too much pizza and pasta!) Venice is definitely a place that needs to be visited, as it’s so different from any other city! The fact that it’s sinking and won’t be here forever is really sad. I feel so privileged that we got to explore two beautiful Italian cities.
We already have so much planned for 2018. We’re traveling so much, together and separately with our boyfriends- Barcelona, Scotland, Prague, Santorini, Kos and Marrakech have all been arranged for this year. And, as exciting as these trips sound, we know that the unplanned or surprise events of the year will be just as amazing, as they always are.
We wish everyone a happy new year and hope 2018 brings you everything you’ve wished for!