Photography has been one of the biggest challenges for me when it comes to blogging. I started out almost four years ago with poorly lit iPhone photos (and we aren’t talking the quality of the 6s!). It’s taken me a lot of time and research to see improvement in my photos and they can still use some more! By no means am I an expert, but just from trial and error I have found that these photography tips make the most difference when it comes to photo quality at a beginner’s level.
It’s all about natural lighting! Whether it’s food or fashion, I don’t even bother taking photos unless the natural lighting is ideal. Otherwise the photos don’t turn out and I just get frustrated. Overcast weather is best because it will be bright without having the harsh shadows from the direct sunlight. The best times of day (if you do have to work with direct sunlight, which I typically do) are right after the sun rises or the hour before it sets, known as the “Golden Hour.” Plus with natural lighting you don’t typically have to use the flash which can be kind of harsh. The photos below were taken at the same coffee shop in San Francisco, but one was inside and one was outside—it makes such a difference in the quality!
Invest in a DSLR camera and understand how it works. These aren’t cheap, but definitely worth splurging on! I got the Canon Rebel T5i for my birthday a couple of years ago and it’s helped my photos improve a lot (you can also try buying used on Amazon to save some money). Plus I recently upgraded from the kit lens to a 50mm f/1.4 fixed lens, which gets a more intense bokeh (blurry) background—as seen in the “after” picture of my peanut butter balls below. I still have a lot to learn about the different features like exposure, shutter speed, etc., so I plan on signing up for a local photography class to make the most out of the equipment. For now I tend to stick to the Creative Auto mode when the lighting needs to be adjusted, or Appeture Priority to focus on the subject and have the background blurred.
Think about the composition. For food and fashion shots or other lifestyle images, the background and surrounding props can make a big impact. When it comes to fashion, think about the background and how it complements the outfit. If you’re wearing something printed, a solid wall might be best. For a dark-colored outfit, stay away from a dark solid-colored backdrop. See where I’m going with this? You want the clothing to pop! Now for food, it helps to include more items than just the dish itself. If you’re at a restaurant, place your sunglasses, wallet or a menu on the table with it. In your own kitchen, it helps to include the ingredients, utensils, cute plates, etc. to add more interest to the item like I did with these tostadas.
Learn how to edit your photos. I have taught myself a few things about Photoshop by Googling questions and watching YouTube videos—there is so much to learn! I mainly edit the lighting by using the exposure, contrast and curves tools. There have also been instances where I used the brush tool to edit out a pesky string on my skirt or minor details I hadn’t noticed while shooting. However, don’t go overboard because you don’t want your images looking unnatural. I don’t typically touch up myself with Photoshop because I want to be real with my readers and look exactly how I do in real life. Although in better lighting ;) below is the same image, except one is the raw file and the other has been brightened in Photoshop.
Practice, practice, practice! I can’t stress this enough. The more you use your camera, the more comfortable you’ll be with it. This way you’ll understand what you need to do to produce the image you already have in your head. It also takes practice putting together an “Instagram image” and arranging the items in the photo. A picture perfect feed won’t happen over night, so the more snaps you take the more your photos will improve!
What are some of your favorite photography tips?