What makes a blog stand out for you? For me, pictures are the first thing that grab my attention and make me hit the “follow button”. Writing gives me a headache, but taking photos ― THAT is the most rewarding part of blogging for me. Every picture you see here was planed even before they were shot, and they all went through some tweaking. They may look simple but a lot of effort was needed to capture them.
Before anything else, a quick disclaimer ― I’m not an expert at photography. I’m just another blogger like you who spends waay too much time with my pictures, and here are some tricks I’ve learned so far. I feel like most of you may already know all these, which almost made me bury this entry in the drafts folder. Then I thought if at least one of you gets something out of it then this post serves it’s purpose :)
do you need a good camera to take good photos?
This was something we debated on back in a photography seminar I attended. You don’t need to feel pressured to buy an expensive DSLR to take good photos. An old digi-cam can do that for you too. Although it’s true there’s a difference in quality between the two. So if you have the budget for it, a better camera, plus a tripod, remote, lights… A STUDIO (just kidding!) are always worth investing in. These can kick your photos’ quality up a notch.
P.S. to those who asked, I use a Nikon D5100 :) (and sometimes a SONY RX100)
If not, whatever camera you have now can still create a good image. Back when I had a shop, I used a 7-megapixel digi-cam (so old school lol) and it took pictures that were good enough to be published in a magazine next to another shop photo taken by an actual DSLR.
The key is to study your own camera. If your lens thinks it’s too dark indoors, transfer to a place where it can catch more light. Also be patient, it took me forever and a half to get used to my DSLR’s basic settings. Watch YouTube tutorials, attend seminars, and ALWAYS take backup shots in case your first clicks captured a crappy shot (I’m paranoid so I usually have hundreds of these).
composition and design
As much as I like pictures of YSL lipsticks on a clean white background. I still prefer pictures taken over a blogger’s makeup dresser, with her cosmetic thingamajigs peeking from the background. Why use a picture your readers can see a dupe of at YSL.com? Personalized photos are the strength of blogs over perfectly polished stock images because they are more relatable.
You can turn your favorite tweed jacket, books, or pillows into backdrops. And add your fancy room decors (flower pots on your white board), or even your dog in the picture for more depth and cuteness factor. Just make sure it’s easy on the eyes and your subject is STILL the star of the picture.
Practice will help you find your own photography style. This can be seen through the ― brightness, composition, shadows, framing, ambiance… of a picture. If you’re not sure of your photography style yet ― find inspiration. Pin photos from your favorite blogs and shopping sites, then write down the elements that make you stare at each photo. I mostly get my inspiration from GOOP, Martha Stewart, random Pinterest boards, and other fellow bloggers like Vanessa, Quinn, Andrea.
This is the part where photography tools are a big help. Not having them though, can always be replaced with a little resourcefulness. For example, Studio lights can always be replaced by sunlight (best light source). Or in my case ― the bedroom ceiling light, lamps, and in times of desperation… my laptop’s screen. You may think it’s too much, but inside a bedroom that’s like the bat cave, an army of lights is needed.
Experiment with different points of view. It helps make a review post less boring to look at. When I’m up for it I shoot standing up (from above of the subject), and from other different angles. Play with the Depth of Field ― this is the area in your image that appears sharper compared to the other “blurred” parts. If you focus your camera to a subject it creates a 3D illusion, which makes it more interesting compared to a flat picture. The rule of the thirds is a useful guideline in finding the best ways to frame your photos.The lines as shown above should help you balance out how you will position things (and text labels) inside the photo position your products.
I hope this was helpful. I might write “how I edit my blog photos” too so I skipped some photo tips for that post :)