Real or styled?


Whenever I talk to The Boy about this blogosphere of ours, it leads to interesting observations and conversation. I think it’s because he is not really interested in it (he doesn’t read any blogs, not even mine), and so he looks at it from a different perspective to mine. Today, we began talking about realistic versus styled blogs.

I don’t think I ever thought about it before but, you could easily divide the blogs I read into two categories: there are the ones that document life, as it happens, imperfections included. Whether these bloggers are talking about their kids, their travels, or their food, it feels that they are real people, just like us. And then, there are the perfectly styled, dream-life ones. These are blogs that, while still dealing in seemingly everyday subjects, look like well-curated magazine editorials.

I think the main difference between these two kinds of blogs is the style of photography used. The real-life blogs often feature stunningly beautiful pictures, however the pictures never look staged. A picture of ingredients for a recipe looks exactly how I would pile the ingredients on the counter if I were cooking that meal. Pictures of pretty flowers rarely have the latest issue of Vogue, sparkly jewellery, and the ubiquitous Diptyque candle in the background. In the other category, the bloggers tend to take highly styled pictures. The mason jars and the striped straws are placed just so, all artfully arranged to create the most pleasing outcome and to go with the blog’s luxurious, or girly, or rustic etc theme. Inevitably, the pictures end up making the rounds on Pinterest and Tumblr.

I have plenty of blogs from both categories in my Bloglovin’ feed and I enjoy reading posts from both. I like reading the real-life blogs and if I’m honest, I think perhaps they allow the reader to get to know the blogger better. However, I also enjoy looking at the beautifully styled blogs because they really are so pretty. I think I go through phases; I may be really interested in just following someone’s life with all its imperfections and then I may feel like escaping to a perfect looking world. For sure, I do sometimes think that some blogs are becoming a bit too “produced” when they start to feel more like an online magazine rather than one person’s online diary.

I know that my blog falls in the first category of blogs, mainly because I can’t afford a super fancy camera, I’m not interested in styling my breakfast before I eat it, and I don’t think I have the time anyway. Actually, maybe that’s another thing: people who blog as a hobby might simply not have the time or money or energy to style everything to perfection before they post a recipe for example, whereas professional bloggers of course have to strive for the best possible look. But best doesn’t mean staged, does it? I mean, The Pioneer Woman is a hugely successful blogger (and a legend) and she most certainly takes beautiful pictures that never look staged.

So, basically, these are just some of my scattered thoughts about blogs. Have you noticed this divide in the blogs you read? I’d love to hear your opinions.

Top picture: A non-styled picture of flowers I took in the meadows the other day.

6 thoughts on “Real or styled?

  1. Trish says:

    It’s an interesting thought Maria! I follow just a few categories of blogs–book blogs being the largest group. The others are quilting blogs, food blogs, and photography blogs (just a few there). I love *looking* at the stylized blogs but they’re not the ones that I connect with. I rarely EVER comment and mostly just skim through on Feedly. But when a person shows the flaws and that everything is not perfectly staged, it is easier for me to connect with the person and eventually maybe become friends. I would love to have some of my posts have a bit more stylized look but it isn’t a talent I have. It may keep me from attracting lots of new readers but I know that the readers I do have forgive me of my non-stylized posts. I hope. 😉

    Though I would argue that you take STUNNING pictures.

    • bookworm says:

      Thanks Trish!
      I agree, I usually skim the more styled blogs whereas I often save posts from more realistic blogs to read when I have time to focus and comment on them.
      Another thing is that I sometimes find myself looking at the beautifully staged pictures and begin comparing my own, not perfect reality to them and start feeling bad and inadequate. It’s the same with the pictures of unbelievably stylish women or chic interiors on Pinterest, but that’s a different story.

  2. Charlie says:

    I’ve both styled and real blogs in my reader, too. I find there’s a big difference in content – both in details, as you say, and just overall. ‘Real’ tends to have more written content, whereas styled doesn’t, it’s more about the look. Though the value of the written content is often good in both, but more often on real blogs. Like Trish, I look but don’t tend to comment.on styled blogs, and, likewise, I find it easier to comment on real blogs. I actually often forget that I can comment on styled blogs.

    It may not be styled, so to speak, but your picture on this post is very nice, a great composition.

    • bookworm says:

      Yes you are right Charlie, it rarely even occurs to me that I could comment on one of those beautifully styled & curated posts. I find it easier to relate and connect to the real-life bloggers.

  3. tasxxx says:

    I totally understand what you mean! But despite being a ‘realistic’ blog I constantly wish I could create such stunning photos as those who put so much of their time and energy into getting the perfect shot. But in reality, I don’t have the time and if there’s something I want to blog about I just have to snap what I can (or can’t) and type away about the topic anyway!
    This is a great post…I’ll be interested to read what other’s think too!

    • bookworm says:

      I know, I imagine it takes up so much time to take the perfect picture! When you think how many people have to work on a magazine photo shoot, it’s pretty amazing what these bloggers achieve.
      At the moment, I just use a good-enough picture and type away too!

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