Today I am so happy to share my most requested blog post with you guys. I’ve had people asking me for this post for a long time, and I finally had time to write a super long and in-depth post that will hopefully be worth the wait! This post is all about my blogging photography, and some of my tips and tricks.
I’ve always loved photography, I find it so interesting how you can snap a moment, and have that photo to look back and remember that exact point in time. For a long time before starting my blog I had been taking photos, but I just didn’t have anywhere to put them. That’s why when I started my blog, one of the things I was the most excited about, was finally being able to take photos and have somewhere to share them.
To be completely honest, I am no expert in photography, I don’t take lessons. But I think my photos speak for themselves. Most of the tips and techniques I use, I have pretty much taught or worked out myself. I would love to learn more about photography in the future, so if you have any good recommendations for photography blogs or online classes be sure to leave them in the comments!
This photography guide will include all of the tips I’ve been using in my 1 year of blogging, and I will go through each style of photo that I take, and how I take them. However, if there’s something that I don’t cover in this post, feel free to leave it in the comments, and I’ll do my best to answer your questions.
What Equipment Do I Use?
Okay, so first up, the most important thing before I get into all of my tips and tricks. What kind of equipment do I use? Like I said, I’m not a full-time photographer, so I don’t have all the fancy equipment. I think for a blogger it depends on what kind of photos you take, and then you can decide on what equipment you’ll need. Honestly, I think you realise what you need as you go along and see what you’re missing. For me, I started out with a DSLR camera that I had from before I started my blog, the Nikon DX VR. And I assumed that this is what I would use to take my photos. But really as I started getting into blogging I realised that it was much more practical for me to use my phone to take photos if they were on the go, and I only really used my DSLR camera when I scheduled in a ‘photoshoot’ which I’ll talk a bit about later.
When I’m taking photos for a specific blog post, or I have some products I need to get in a shot, for example in a flat lay, then I will use my camera. But, for most of the photos, you see on my Instagram (@Little.Miss.Expat) they are things I see as I’m walking around, or restaurants that I’ve eaten at, and I don’t really take my camera with me when I go out, so they’re taken on my phone. I do have some tips for getting good photos on my phone, which maybe I can write another blog post about if you like this one?
Recently I got a tripod, and that’s something that I’ve found really useful when I’m taking flat lay photos or product shots. My tripod is a Rollei tripod, and it’s super handy because I can pack it up to be really compact so I can take it with me when I’m traveling if I need to. But to be honest, for a beginner photographer, or a blogger who’s still working out their niche, I wouldn’t say that having a tripod is essential. If you find yourself doing a lot more food photography or product photography, then I would invest in one.
Planning My Photos
So something that I usually do, if I know that I’ll need a photo for a specific post, or some general ‘blogging b-roll’ (which I’ll explain later) is set up a photoshoot for myself. I’ll usually sketch out what I want the photo to look like in a notebook where I keep all my blog post ideas, and I’ll look on Pinterest for some inspiration. I also keep a folder of photos on my Instagram that I save as I see them, for inspiration later on. If it’s a photo with myself in it, I’ll decide on the ‘vibe’ for the photo, and pick out an outfit that I think will compliment it. I usually get one of my sisters to take the photo if I’m in it, and I either get them to stand in the shot first, so I can show them want it to look like, and after they take a photo we keep looking back and adjusting it to get the photo to look like the one I planned. I also pick out a few props for photoshoots, I don’t have a set collection of props, the things I use in my photos are usually things I have lying around, such as books, plants, flowers, glasses etc… But one thing to remember is that these photos that I get from a scheduled photo shoot, are usually specific to one blog post, and not really the ones you’ll see on my Instagram. Here are some examples of photos I’ve taken from planned photoshoots.
What’s ‘Blogging B-roll’
Okay so this is actually something I made up myself, I’m not sure if other people call it this. But when you shoot b-roll for a video, it’s the supplementary clips that are extra, that’s why my ‘blogging B-roll’ is extra photos that I have stashed, readily available. I post on my Instagram every day, which, let me tell you, is not easy. And 5 out of 7 days a week I’m at school, so I’m not really going to take photos of my life that day to share on my Instagram. That’s why when I am out, I use the opportunity to take lots of photos of the things that I’m doing, and maybe I won’t necessarily use them that day, but I have them as extra photos if I need to post them one day. Things such as views, outfits, places I visit, and food, are all examples of my blogging b-roll. Here are some examples of photos I use as blogging B-roll.
How To Up Your Instagram Photography Game
First off, having ‘insta-worthy’ photos should not be a thing you worry about. Post what you want to, and photos you love. But if you’re looking to up your Instagram game, there are some things that I would recommend you do. Firstly, take good quality photos (which I’ll give my tips on later) but no amount of editing can make up for a bad quality photo. Secondly, editing is key, but don’t overdo it (I’ll let you in on some of my editing tricks later), and if you’re trying to build a feed for your photos, I would recommend using an app like UNUM. I’ve tried lots of Instagramming apps, and in my opinion, UNUM is the best, I can plan out my Instagram feed to see how it looks, and the app also collects data from my account to see when the best times for me to post are. As a blogger who’s always looking to increase my following, knowing when to post, and when my audience will be the most engaged, is vital. I use the predicted times from UNUM, and I compare them against times from ‘WhenToPost’ and ‘Prime’, and then decide on the best time for the day.
Onto The Tips…
Lighting is key. I can not stress this enough! In my opinion, lighting is the most important part of taking a good photo. I have no idea how to use professional studio lights or anything like that, but natural light does the trick. I’ll never take an Instagram photo at night, or in a room without any windows, because the photo just comes out grainy, or with shadows all over it. If you’re scheduling a photo shoot, or you know you need to take a photo, be sure to do it during a time where the sun is still out.
In these photos, the lighting was just not right, and I could not get them to look better when I edited them, so I never ended up using them.
DO NOT overdo the editing! The number of times I’ve been scrolling through my Instagram feed and seen perfectly good photos, over-edited and completely ruined is countless. With editing, less is more. I usually put my photos onto VSCO, and add a subtle filter to them, then I up the exposure and contrast a bit, and sometimes put in a colored tone. If the photo doesn’t look to promising when it’s raw, I won’t push the editing, because no amount of editing will make up for a bad photo. Editing is not a changer, it’s an enhancer, and it should be used like that.
Learn how your camera works. When I went into starting this blog, I basically just knew how to take a photo on my camera, I had no idea how to do any kind of cool effects. Only recently did I read up on my camera, and learn how to change the aperture to blur out the background, and use the macro setting to take close-ups of wildlife.
I used the macro setting to get this really detailed shot of a bee.
I changed the aperture to blur the background in this photo.
Follow the lines of the photo. So this may sound a bit weird, but one thing to consider when taking photos that you want to look visually appealing is to make the photo look simple in the eye of the beholder. So if things are lopsided and skewed, the photo just isn’t going to look appealing to the audience because, at least for me, it doesn’t look organized in my brain. If you’re taking a photo of a building, make sure your photo lines up with the straight edges, instead of looking messy and unclean.
There’s so much going on in this photo, that if all the lines were lopsided it just wouldn’t look clean.
X-Skew and Y-Skew are your new best friends. Some of my most useful editing tools are the X-Skew, and Y-Skew buttons on VSCO. Let me explain to you the magic of these two buttons. If I’m taking a flay lay, and my phone wasn’t exactly right over the table, or my angle of a building is taken from lower down and the proportions look a bit off, I can just whip out these tools and fix it up. The X-Skew and Y-Skew buttons tilt the photos up, down, and side to side, basically it’s an instant proportion fixer. I’ll put some before and after photos below to show you exactly what I mean by this.
If all fails, just try again. Your photos are not going to turn out perfect every time you take them, that’s just a fact. Sometimes I put a lot of effort into a photo, but I just can’t get it right, maybe my pose is weird, or the background is off, but there’s just something that’s not right with the photo. Don’t be discouraged, pick out specifically what you don’t like about the photo, and next time you can make sure you change that. Some of the first photos I took for my blog, I can not believe that I uploaded. If I look at the progression of my photos on this blog, I can see how much they’ve changed by picking out the small details I wanted to change as I went along.
I wanted to take a photo for my New Years blog post, but these just didn’t turn out how I wanted them. So….
I went home and tried again, and got these great photos.
Capture the moment. As I said, photos are something special, you’re capturing a moment in a shot. And these moments don’t come around all the time. If you see something interesting, or a shot that looks really cool, don’t count on it being there tomorrow. Just take the opportunity today, go out and take the photo, because you never know if it will turn out the same tomorrow.
Tomorrow this may not be there. It’s better that I captured that shot when I saw it, rather than waiting.
Take the photo as your eyes see it. Okay so this one seems pretty obvious, but this has to be the most useful tip I’ve worked out. How many times have you seen something, and thought, wow that would be a great photo, only to take it and realise it doesn’t really look that good? One of the things I do to remedy this is put my camera where eyes are, because if I’m looking at something and it looks great in my eyes, surely if I place the camera where I was looking from, I’ll be able to get that shot. And it really works! Sometimes all you have to do is step back and reassess your perspective to get a nice photo.
I wanted to get a photo of this really cute restaurant, but it just wasn’t turning out the way I wanted it to. So I went back and reassessed my perspective and got this!
Know where to place your subject. So this question was asked on my Instagram, and I think it’s actually a very interesting one. Most of us tend to put the subject of our photo in the center, but there are other ways to do it. I would say if you’re standing in an alleyway where your eye is naturally being drawn to the center because of the lines, place your subject there. But for other photos, if you’ve ever heard of the rule of thirds, that could be something cool to try. It basically means that if you placed a 3×3 grid over your photo, the subject would be in either the left or the right third, not the center one. This can be good to use if there’s a view behind you that you want to show in the picture, or if you want to mix things up a bit.
In this photo, the archway draws the eye to the center of the photo, so that’s where I placed the subject here.
Go out and search for the magic. In the end, if you use all these tips and you just take the same photos over and over again, there’s no point. Chanel your creativity into your photos, and open your eyes. I think one of the reasons I’ve been so successful with my photos, is because I can see the potential things. I’ll see something when I’m out, and it may look like the most insignificant object, but I think, wow that would look great in a photo, and those end up being some of the best photos I’ve taken.
Okay, so this has probably been the longest post I’ve ever written! But I had so many tips I wanted to share with you guys, as you’ve been asking how I take my photos for a really long time. If you want to see more of my photos you can take a look at my Instagram account (@Little.Miss.Expat). I will for sure do more posts like this, as I still want to share tips on how to take flat lay photos, and photos of yourself. But please let me know if you found this useful! And how about we all leave our best photography tip in the comments section so this can be a collaborative guide for anyone to use?
See you next week,
Little Miss Expat
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