Saturday, January 30, 2010

Lights, Camera...


I have been anxiously anticipating sharing something with you!
Several weeks ago, I asked a fellow blogger—whose blog I love—if she would
be willing to be interviewed by me. And she said yes.

I'm sure many of you are quite familiar with her and are probably even followers of
her blog yourself. Her name…Cindy Kihn Santiago.

And if her name doesn't ring a bell, her blog's title probably will.

So, let's not waste any time getting straight to the interview.   ; )

Liz:  Hi, Cindy.  First, I want to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule for this
interview.  I'm sure that working full time and preparing all of those wonderful posts for your
blog, My Romantic Home, keeps you quite busy.

Cindy:  Thank you, Liz! Yes, I am quite busy these days, but never too busy to help out
another blogger!

Liz:  Would you be willing to answer a few personal questions that I think readers might be
interested in?

Cindy:  Sure!

Liz:  You've been blogging for almost five years now, correct?

Cindy:  Yes, it will be five years in June!  Time flies when you’re having fun!

Liz:  What motivated you to start a blog?

Cindy:  I was reading cooking and knitting blogs for about a year, and then I decided
one day to start my own blog, although I really didn’t know what I wanted to blog
about.  At that point, I don’t think there were any decorating blogs around.

I decided to name my blog “Romantic Home” after my favorite magazine
(Romantic Homes).  I later changed it to “My Romantic Home.”  I really didn’t blog
much in the beginning.  Once I found other decorating blogs, I became more motivated.

Liz:  I stumbled upon My Romantic Home a little over a year ago. At first, I just kept up with
your current posts—occasionally venturing back into your archives. Then, at some point,
curiosity got the best of me, and I decided to go to your very first post and work forward
to the present.

I must tell you, it was amazing to me to venture back to those initial posts, and compare those
with where I first discovered your blog in fall of 2008.  And, to contrast the beginning to
today…wow, what a difference!

This was Cindy's home in the earlier days.

The evolution of that same room!

Cindy:  I know! The beginning of my blog is so bad, it’s almost embarrassing! I’ve almost
deleted the first few years so many times.  I can’t bring myself to do it though.  It’s part
of my history now.  I had a huge learning curve!  Things were different five years ago
though, blogs were much more simple than they are today.

Liz:  In what ways do you feel your blog has improved over the years?

Cindy:  I think people that read decorating blogs are very visual people.  They come to
blogs not only to get ideas but to see beauty.  I try to make my blog as beautiful as I
can now.  I’m also more comfortable with blogging, and I feel like I’m just chatting with
 friends now.

Liz:  From the beginning, decorating your home has been one of the main features for your posts.
But, one of the most notable changes that has taken place has been your ever-evolving décor.
How do you feel your decorating style has changed since you first began blogging in 2005?

Cindy:  I’ve always been into decorating, but having my blog has really motivated me to
do more. I’ve gone with a more feminine look.  I’ve always loved that look but really
couldn’t do it when I was married.

It took years for me to collect the things that I have in my home now.  It’s really evolved
over the last five years, and it’s all documented on my blog.  I hope that inspires people
that are just starting out or starting over that it takes time.  Most of us can’t afford to
redo a whole house all at once, but if you work slowly at it over the years you can have
the look you want.

Liz:  What have been the greatest influences in those style changes?

Cindy:  I love looking at decorating magazines and other decorating blogs.  I’ve always
been drawn to the shabby chic look and luckily this style of decorating is very
budget friendly.

My dining room hutch that I found on Craigslist was only $125 and my table and chairs
from the Salvation Army were only $175. I just painted them white and now they look
so much more expensive!

Liz:  I, for one, have loved the changes that you've made to your home. It just keeps getting better
and better all the time.

Cindy:  Thank you! It’s been a fun, creative outlet for me.

Liz:  Another significant improvement that I've noticed, over the life of your blog, has been the
quality of your photos. What do you attribute that to?

Cindy:  I take photos for my blog almost every day, so I think naturally you become better
at something when you do it that much.

Liz: In reviewing your blog from the beginning, it appears that sometime in 2007 there seemed
to be somewhat of a shift in the composition of your photo shots as well. What was the
determining factor there?

Cindy:  I think that came from studying photos on other blogs that I thought were
really good.

Liz:  What do you look for when you're composing your shots?

Cindy:  I look to make sure there is enough light if possible.

I also look to see what is in the background.  I always make sure there isn’t something
lurking back there that will distract from the photo, like my purse, or a soda can or
whatever else gets left out that should have been put away.  I can’t tell you how many
times I’ve taken photos and then later realized there is something ugly in the background.

I try to think of it as a magazine shoot and make it as visually appealing as possible.

Liz:  Have you ever taken photography classes?

Cindy:  I took photography in high school, and then I took another class in college, but I
really don’t remember anything I learned…that was a long time ago and way before
digital cameras!

Liz:  What are some tips and tricks that you can share with the rest of us that would help us to
improve the quality of the photos we take for our blogs?

Cindy:  Crop those photos to get close ups.  You can make a really bad photo look good
just by cropping it down.  Also use a program like PhotoShop to adjust the light and color.
If you don’t have PhotoShop or another photo editing software on your computer, you can
use a free online photo editing option. lets you adjust your photos, and I know
there are many more out there as well.

A great feature of these is that you can adjust the temperature of the photo. Sometimes a
photo taken indoors without a flash comes out really yellow, but you can cool down the
photo with the software or warm up photos taken with too much light. Also don’t be afraid
to emulate other bloggers if you like their style! I think we can all learn from each other.
Study what draws you into their photos and try to do that on your own.

Liz:  Since 2005, when you first began blogging, have you used different cameras?

Cindy:  I had some really bad cameras in the beginning. I think I went through a few that
were $50 or less.  Then, I had to learn how to use a Canon Rebel at work, because they
didn’t replace our graphic artist when he left the company.  I was the one that would be
taking photos of our products for different uses.  I was able to take the Canon Rebel
home to learn how to use it, and I fell in love.  That’s when my photos really started
getting better, and my blog traffic started growing rapidly!

Liz:  What type of camera do you currently use.

Cindy:  I ended up buying my own Canon Rebel XSi.  I bought mine through the QVC
website, because I could spread the payments out over 4 months and use the money I
was making through the advertisements I have on my blog.

Canon Rebel XSi

Liz:  What camera features have you found to be the most essential to produce the best images
for blogs?

Cindy:  I never use a flash.  The flash makes photos look horrible to me.  I would rather
lighten the photo with a photo editing software, it’s a much softer look.

Liz:  Well, I can tell you without hesitation…the beautiful images you consistently share with
us are a big part of what keeps me coming back—and I'm sure many others, as well.

Wow! You're such a wealth of information that I could go on with this forever.  But then neither
of us would ever get our blog posts up.  Perhaps we'll pick up from here at a future date.  Are
there any final words of wisdom you would like to share with those of us who aspire to have
terrific blogs like yours?

Cindy:  I think one of the things that draws me into a blog is not just the beautiful photos
but a feeling that I "know" the person.  I think it's important to post a photo of yourself 
every once in awhile. That was hard for me to do for the longest time, and it still is now,
but I think it's important.  Also remember to be yourself and let your personality shine
through your writing!  People will "connect" with you more if they feel like they
know you!

Liz:  Thank you, Cindy, so much for your time.  It has been a pleasure getting to know you
through your wonderful blog and this interview!  And PLEASE, keep those fabulous posts—
with those lovely photos—coming our way!

Happy blogging!


  1. What a fun interview. Cindy is the person I credit for encouraging me to start a blog. Even with all her followers and daily comments, she made time to email answers to my silly questions. Thanks for sharing this with us.

  2. Thank you Liz and thank you Marilyn for that nice comment! I love helping new bloggers out! I was too shy to ask for help when I first started so I fumbled my way around. That's why I always make time for new bloggers that have questions!

  3. I must admit that I became a stalker once I saw Cindy's blog and now the other day ran into a name that just made me what to check out the site called Brambleberrycottage. I am so glad I did. Thank you ladies for all the insight into your homes, decorating styles and info.

  4. Liz, I had the opportunity to meet Cindy at the Alameda Flea Market Trip with Eddie Ross and she is just as warm and lovely in person as she was in this great interview, thank you for sharing,Kathysue

  5. That was a great interview-very informative!I know if it wasn't for Cindy giving me a boost in blogging I would have quit after a few months.
    Thank you both for taking the time for this interview.

  6. Great Post. I've been a follower of My Romantic Home for a short time and it was grea to get the history.

    - The Tablscaper

  7. Terrific interview Liz and Cindy. I adore Cindy's blog, and yours Liz. ♥

  8. Just found your beautiful blog from My Romantic Home. I really enjoyed the interview and taking a peek at some of your earlier posts. I plan on coming back for many more visits.


  9. Great interview. Cindy's is one of the first blogs I read and it is always inspiring!

  10. Really enjoyed the interview, the fantastic photos and tips. Especially the one about the photographs and how to improve the final product. You both have beautiful & inspiring blogs!

  11. A great interview! The questions you asked were some of the things I wondered about Cindy. It was a fun read, Thsnks!
    Joan @Americana By Candlelight

  12. Popped on over her from Cindy's blog and I am so happy to discover your site. Great interview with Cindy and I love the Valentine table you sent in the middle of that field.


  13. Great interview & Post! You did a great job & of course I LOVE Cindy & her blog. Thanks! Charlene


Thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to comment.