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How To Take Better Blog Photos

When I first started my blog over 6 years ago I bought a Nikon DSLR camera for about $700, but I never learned how to use it. I ended up selling it and then using my iPhone for a few years. About a year ago my blog reached the point where I needed high quality photos for each collaboration, and I couldn't afford to work with photographers for every post.

I bit the bullet and bought another DSLR Camera (Canon 80D), and vowed to learn how to use it. Since then my photos have improved significantly, and today I'm sharing with you  my tips of how you can up your photography game!

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*The photos in this post were shot on my iPhone 8 plus because my camera was being used during the class.*
1. LIGHTING
Whether you are using an iPhone or a DSLR camera, lighting is KEY! I try to always shoot either outside or by a large window. If you are shooting indoors and you have no natural light (like my house) purchase a tripod so you can have a slower shutter speed which will let in more light. I also recently bought an external flash (not the best practice), but it gets my semi-decent photos when I'm in a rush and need to shoot a photo inside on a dark day. I also never shoot in direct sunlight because I hate the shadows it creates, and I'm still an amateur shooter.

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2. CAMERA
Don't get me wrong, an iPhone can take pretty good photos these days (I used one for years), but if you want to step up your game you need to use a DSLR camera. I shoot my photos with a Nikon 80D and really love it. Obviously your budget plays a big factor, but know that it's an investment that will be worth while if you use it wisely. Lenses are the next big thing. I would invest in a 50mm fixed lense which covers portraits, food, fashion blogging and children.

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3.  COMPOSITION
Practice with different angles and focal points when shooting. I often find myself stuck in the same spot trying to get a specific shot, but recently I've started moving around and getting angles I would normally not try. The result...I've ended up loving the out of the box angles and using those photos for blog posts. It's nice to have differentiation in your posts and not the same straight on shots. Add props to your photos to for additonal texture and color especially in flat lays. Think fresh flowers, jewelry, makeup, notebooks, and hands...yes, you read that right. Human hands make photos more realistic and appealing especially for food photography. A tip for beginners is to purchase foam core board from your local craft store to shoot flat lays.  Don't have a marble backdrop for food photography? Make your own! I purchased this marble adhesive background and attached it to a poster board.  Jane has a great tutorial on how to make a picnic table/distressed wood backdrop...genius! Think outside the box and use seasonal wallpapers for fun backdrops or paint your own like Joy from Oh Joy!

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4. LIGHTROOM
After years of editing photos in iPhoto I finally got over my fear of photo editing software and purchased a Lightroom subscription ($10 a month and it includes photoshop). It has been a GAME CHANGER for my photos! It's very easy to learn, and you can purchase presets which make it extremely easy to edit your photos. Presets are files that allow Lightroom to apply particular develop settings to an image. You can purchase presets from Etsy and many photographers also sell their presets. I followed Ailee from Snapshots and My Thoughts for a few years and always loved her Instagram feed, and then one day she posted about selling her Lightroom preset for $30. I bought it and have been using it on my photos since. I still have to tweak my photos manually, but it's a huge help if you aren't a professional photographer.

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Here's a before and after of a photo I edited in Lightroom with a preset. 
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5. CONTINUED LEARNING
I'm a visual learner, and I like to ask questions. While my husband may learn everything from YouTube, I don't. I want to be in a classroom style setting or one on one with someone who can take me through the process. With all that to stay I have never deep dived in to shooting manually because 1.) I'm lazy 2.) I want someone to teach me in person. I FINALLY took a photography and Lightroom class at the Paper + Craft Pantry taught by Chelsea Laine Francis and it was awesome! I asked a TON of questions, and she was able to walk me through my camera settings.

Now it's up to me to practice, practice, practice. Setting small monthly goals has been HUGE in my photography education, and has helped me leap over big scary goals. By breaking them down in to small achievable goals, I'm more likely to complete them. For example, instead of setting a goal such as "Learn How to use Lightroom", set a goal such as "Download Lightroom and research presets".

I always felt defeated when it came to photography, but recently I feel like I can actually do it on my own. It's a great feeling to have, and I hope these tips help you in some way! Please let me know if you have any questions.

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P.S. If you are in the Austin area and are looking to learn a new skill, have some kid-free time, want a girls night out, or just need to be creative check out the Paper + Craft Pantry's amazing workshops. Pei, the owner, is a friend of mine and she's one of the sweetest most sincere women I know. Her shop is absolutely beautiful, and I promise you will leave each workshop with a smile on your face.  Some fall workshops she's offering include Intro to D.I.Y. Flower Crowns, Modern Macrame Tapestry, Intro to Ceramics + Clay, and Intro to Modern Brush Lettering.

5 comments:

Sheila said...

These are great tips and your photos look fabulous!

Annette Dattilo said...

Great thorough post. I too have been exploring the editing side of photos. I only have the free Lightroom on my phone, but eventually might subscribe for the additional features. Thanks for sharing your tips.

Keikilani said...

I have a goal of learning how to use my DSLR better this year. It is such a great tool and I know I have a LOT more to learn. I also love Lightroom. It helps so much.

Jazz said...

These are great tips! Thanks for sharing.

Miranda - Spooky Little Halloween said...

Great tips, Jesse! I've been saving to buy a nice camera for my blog, and I think this has inspired me to finally bite the bullet and get it.