FRIDAY Q&A: MY CAMERA AND CAMERA SETTINGS, GENDER-NEUTRAL DUVET COVERS, WHAT I’D WEAR TO A CHER CONCERT, AND MORE

Happy Friday, friends! I hope you all had a great week. I am in the throes of crazy jet lag after returning from Australia earlier this week but besides that it felt so good to be back home and start to get back into a routine here. We have a fun-filled weekend ahead: tonight we’re headed to the spring musical at my high school that one of the ABC girls is starring in, tomorrow I’m grabbing lunch with my friend Carver, and tomorrow night my friend Shelly is hosting a tasting for a new local restaurant. Wishing you all a wonderful weekend!

design darling friday q&a

1. What are your favorite places for a quick warm weather getaway this time of year?

My top pick is Charleston! It’s a 90 minute flight from New York and has amazing architecture, beaches, restaurants, and shopping. I shared a few of my favorite spots in Charleston here and here!

2. Hi!!! I’m going to Nantucket for a bachelorette party in June and your guide was SO helpful! Our group is quite large however – 18 girls total, so just wondering if there are any recommendations outside of what your guide features that you’d recommend for a much larger group. Also – how do the beaches work? Are they public? Do you have to pay? Can you drink on the beach? Are there more lively/fun beaches for a group of girls rather than beaches that are filled with kids, etc.? THANK YOU!!!

I’m not sure which restaurants are able to seat a group that size so you’ll have to call around, but you can definitely still do the food trucks at Cisco Brewers and score a few tables for a casual dinner one night. You can pick up breakfast from Lemon Press or donuts from Downyflake to bring to where you’re staying as well as grabbing sandwiches from Provisions or Something Natural to take to the beach for lunch. And I would still recommend stand up paddleboard yoga or a beach barre class if they’re able to accomodate eighteeen! The beaches are public and free and you’re allowed to bring alcohol, but I believe there’s a limit on how much you can bring (I think it’s around 2-3 drinks a person?) and some of the busier beaches on busier weekends (e.g. Fourth of July) will have cops checking people’s bags. For non-family-friendly beaches I would recommend Cisco or Nobadeer if you’re on the younger side and really trying to turn up!

3. Your Australia photos are INCREDIBLE! I did a semester abroad there years ago and they make me want to go back soon! Can you share what kind of camera you use to take your photos? Thanks!

Thank you! I actually just bought a new lens before our trip that I’m really excited about. I’d been using a 50mm f/1.8 lens for portraits and a 16-35mm f/4 lens for interiors and landscapes but I sold the latter and bought a 35mm f/1.4 lens that’s more versatile so I’m not constantly switching lenses. I have the Canon 5D Mark III body and love it!

4. Have you ever (or would you ever) share your photography tips and/or recommendations on settings for your camera? I just purchased my first DSLR and am slowly learning how to use it. I love how bright and airy all of your photos are, and I’d love to know more about how your experience with photography. (Forgive me if this is a no-no to ask a blogger and if these settings are secret/trademark.) Thanks!

I’m always happy to share (no trade secrets here haha!) but I’m definitely not a professional. The best thing Will and I did was take a three session photography course when we lived in Dallas to learn our way around the DSLR and then I’ve picked up tips and tricks from friends like Ali and Kelly over time. Kelly wrote a helpful blog post with beginner photography tips here! In general, I shoot on aperture priority with the f stop as low as possible (either 1.4 or 1.8 depending on which lens I’m using — see question above!) for that bright and airy feel you mentioned and a blurred out background. My best advice is to practice as much as possible — the most confident I’ve ever felt taking photos was on our honeymoon when I had my camera out all day, every day!

5. What do you do when you’re bored but don’t want to be on your phone?

Needlepoint (I finally finished Will’s belt — can’t wait to share the finished product!) or read (or listen to Audible — technically on my phone but hands-free!).

6. I’m taking my mom to Vegas to see Cher soon and I’m trying to figure out what to wear there that is fun but still tasteful. Does anyone else struggle sometimes with finding that good balance for outfits that are not too clubby and not older/frumpy. Ideas for outfits or places where people get stuff? Help!

What a blast! I’ve never been to Vegas but I know what you mean about concert wear in general. I usually just stick to what I’m comfortable in, even if it means I’m the most covered up person there. No one will be paying attention to what you’re wearing once Cher is on stage! That said I don’t think you can go wrong with a silk cami (I love these and these), skinny jeans, and block heels or wedges that are comfortable to stand/dance in (these are my newest favorites). Have so much fun!

7. What are your favorite places to source affordable art?

My go-tos are Artfully Walls and Etsy. You can see a few of my favorite affordable art prints here and here!

8. My husband and I are following the traditional anniversary gifts by year and next up is leather. I love thinking up something that feels unique and different but I’m struggling with this one. Any ideas?

I love that you’re sticking to the traditional anniversary gifts! We have friends who do this and I always love hearing what they come up with. The ideas that come to mind are a new wallet (my husband’s was falling apart and I replaced it with this), a watch with a leather strap, a new briefcase, or if you really want to splurge, a leather duffel bag for travel. I gave Will this leather duffel a few years ago and it’s one of his favorite things ever, but if that’s a little too out there for you, something like this or this could be a big hit.

9. How did you and Will meet? I love love stories!

We met on Tinder! You can read the whole story here.

10. I wanted to see if you had any ideas for comforters! My husband and I are having such a hard time finding a comforter for our master bedroom. We are thinking blue and white (doesn’t matter which shade of blue) and could possibly have red too. Our headboard is a dark cherry wood! We are trying to find something not too girly (let’s be real, they are all girly) but maybe something that doesn’t have flowers all over it. I would love your input!

You’re speaking my language with blue and white (which I love paired with dark wood!) and my mind went straight to Serena & Lily where there are no feminine florals in sight. 🙂 And everything is 20% off right now with code INSPO. We have this striped duvet cover and matching shams to pair with white sheets and I love how crisp and classic they are. I also love the look of this, this, and this!

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  1. Thanks so much for the help for the comforters!! They are all BEAUTIFUL! I’ve never shopped at Serena and lily and now have spent an hour checking out their site ☺️

  2. Mackenzie,

    Thanks for sharing Kelly’s post! So helfpul.

    P.S. Will see any Hawaii pics? Love to know what you ended up doing!

    1. We just laid low at our friends’ house! We just went to the beach and to dinners at the Four Seasons Hualalai. I wish I’d taken more photos but we definitely need to go back to explore more of the islands!