Socks Behind the Lens: Zaf

In the extreme foreground are two plus size models wearing sheer hose and a pink skirt. In the background a photographer in a cute outfit takes the model's picture, camera obscuring her face.

Originally published on the Sock Journal:

Zaf may be the newest addition to our product photography team but she quickly became indispensable, thanks to her fabulous editing skills. She’s the one who processes the majority of Niq’s photos and makes sure that the products you’re seeing on your screen match what we’re holding in our hands as closely as possible!

In the extreme foreground are two plus size models wearing sheer hose and a pink skirt. In the background a photographer in a cute outfit takes the model's picture, camera obscuring her face.

It’s a precise job, and one she’s a whiz at! I sent Zaf a questionnaire to answer and, of course, her words are way better than mine, since I just want to dump a bunch of pretty pictures in your lap and be like “ISN’T ZAF THE BEST?!” So, take it away, mija.

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When did you start taking pictures for Sock Dreams?
My first shots were taken around April 2012, just over a year after I came to work at Sock Dreams in the shipping department.

Do you remember your first photo for Sock Dreams?
I think that my first shot for Sock Dreams was this one of the Ivory Dreamer Knockout Bouquet Bamboo OTKs with dark red striped Simply Adjustable Garters for an ad in an Australian eco-fashion magazine. My wonderful husband, who has amazing legs, gamely put on a skirt and modeled for me.

A person sits on a low ledge, their legs crossed and stretched in front of them. They're wearing a skirt and over the knee, off white socks with a floral knockout pattern. The socks are held up by simple burgundy sock garters.


When/how did you start photography?
I took a darkroom class in high school because it was the only non-theatre elective that interested me. It struck such a passion that I pursued it all through college, making it my second focus in addition to literature and technical writing. I didn’t start doing full-digital, from start to finish, until working here. Previously I had done my own processing myself in a lab, with some digital post-processing. I was kind of a film snob (and would still be, if I could afford to have my own darkroom).

What was the road that led you to taking product pictures, was it through portraits of friends, necessity, or did you jump right in to working with folks modelling product?
I started taking ad photos here, mostly, and it transitioned into product photography once they could see what I could do with a camera.

The upper area is a photo of two folks sitting at a bright picnic table, wearing vibrant summer dresses. One is wearing cute crew socks, the other is wearing openwork tights. The bottom half has ad copy about Sock Dreams.


What is the most difficult thing for you when it comes to taking pictures of product?
Sacrificing the ~aesthetic~ shots for ones that show the socks off better, though now we’re moving into more of a lifestyle-shot phase, so there’s more room for creativity. And also communicating with models. I’m shy, apparently even with people I spend eight hours a day with, five days a week, all year. I tend to just zone out behind the lens. I’m getting better about giving directions.

A model with warm, light brown skin sits on the sidewalk, arms leaning on their knees. They're wearing midcalf grey striped dress socks and rad sneakers.

B-Lines in Charcoal


What is your favourite thing about taking pictures of product?
My co-workers are all so cute, so I get to take pictures of them looking their absolute cutest. I also like to see what’s coming in, and photographing and photo editing allow me to get to know about 90% of the products coming in.

Split image, on the left is a person with golden toned brown skin, wearing dark, neutral brown, lace top fishnet stockings and sneakers. On the right is a person wearing white tights, standing on a low brick wall, tossing their skirt to show off all the layers of their light lavender petticoat.

On the left: We Love Colors Fishnet Thigh High with Stay-Up Lace Top in Brown
On the right: Mid-Length Petticoat in Lavender


Do you have a favourite thing to take pictures of?
Shorter socks. I’m not fond of the photos I’ve taken of long socks and leggings. For a long time, I was terrible at taking photos of gloves and arm warmers, so I think I’ve improved a lot there and those are some of the best photos under my initials.

A model is shown from the neck down. They're wearing a bright pink summer dress, with short blue socks covered in a pop tart pattern. The model is casually holding a pop tart that matches the ones on the socks.
Toe-ster Pastry Crew

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When I asked Zaf what her current favourite shot was, she gave me her top three and demanded I pick for her. Which, I will, gladly! It’s easy for me, because I’m the model in this one:

Image from neck to hips of a person wearing a white, cowl-neck dress. Their hands are crossed in front, showing off strange black crop gloves with a zipper wrapping around the wrist.

But, it’s not just that. The Wet Look Zipper & Cut Out Motorcycle Gloves are weird. I mean, they’re very cool but still very strange to clearly and properly photograph. And Zaf did a fabulous job conveying their unique beauty! And mine. ?

Beyond just taking pictures, Zaf is also our Graphic Designer, making all those gorgeous Logo Lady variants and crafting catchy ads for print and web, among other things! I think that overall ability to see and convey beauty is what makes her product photos so enjoyable.