Thursday, 29 September 2016

Blog Photography - Tips & Tricks

I came to blogging, like a lot of people, through a passion for beauty and style. After starting my YouTube channel I knew that although I love making videos, I would always accidentally miss out some of my thoughts and opinions from the videos I was making. I knew I wanted to carry on making content relating to beauty and style to go along with my videos, and already followed a lot of great blogs that gave me lots of inspiration. At that time I’d already invested in a ‘good’ DSLR camera, so all I had to do was open my creative mind and starting snapping some good products shots for my new blog!

I've been blogging for about 5 months now - trying to get at least 1 good post out a week around - and I can definitely say I love taking photos as much as I like writing! I think the biggest rut I've found my self getting into already is being creative with the setting and background; switching it up enough so it doesn't get boring, but still trying to maintain a consistent style to my photos. I think the pinnacle of blog photography, for me, is for someone to see one of your photograph and know who shot it. 
With this in mind I thought it might be useful for me to share some of the tips that have helped start to find my personal style when it comes to my blog photography!

Tip No.1 Props
I love to use various props when ‘staging’ my product shots; jewellery, flowers, leaves; pretty much anything I have lying around that complement the theme or colour scheme of the shot or shots. Be as creative as you can! I like using a magazine article or front page in photos recently, it’s another ‘trend’ but I do love the look of it!

Tip No.2 Background
I think blog readers must sometimes get sick of white marble backgrounds, but white really is the best colour to use to compliments any product. I have an old IKEA table top that I covered in marble contact paper to use as a background. Sometimes I just used a piece of white A4 paper on the windowsill – it works great! I do occasionally use coloured, or even patterned backgrounds, but only if the product is really simple in design and colour. Other products in the background, slightly blurred out, is also another favourite of mine for any standing products.

Tips No.3 Lighting
I bet you’ve heard this a million times (I know I have!) but it’s true that natural daylight is the best light to photograph with. Sometimes it’s difficult to judge what time of day has the best light, but as a general rule of thumb I like to shoot between 4-8 in the Spring and Summer, and between 1-4 in the Autumn and Winter months. Shooting at mid-day when the sun is at its highest and brightest can often cause harsh, problematic shadows. Working full-time however sometimes means I don’t get to take full advantage of the sunlight, so I have a few other tricks up my sleeve! I bought two soft box stands from eBay for around £50 (take a look at something similar here) initially to use for my YouTube videos, but they’re great for my blog shots too! I also have a portable LED box light that attaches to the hot shoe of my camera for when I need a little more top light.

Tip No.4 Staging 
I like to switch between a mix of random and very organised, linear staging for my blog product shots. I normally end up putting things a lot closer than I would normally think necessary to make them look good in the frame; it’s all about changing and adjusting as you go. Take lots of shots with lots of different staging options – you’ll thank yourself later when you come to reviewing and editing!

Tip No.5 Style
The most popular and trendy style at the moment is obviously flay-lay; it’s the easiest way to take a full, complimentary shot of products (especially make up) but it’s important if you are only using this style that you make suitable variations each time to make sure it doesn’t get boring and repetitive! Something I like to do is play with depth and layering. If you can raise some products, maybe having your props in the foreground or background on another level it makes the photo a little more interesting and means that not every shot on your blog is the same. To achieve the perfect flat lay, it’s important to position the camera directly above the set-up, and that the set up style is fully committed to; if it’s a linear arrangement, make sure the spacing is perfect, if it’s ‘random’ placement, be sure to take test shots to make sure everything is still visible in the shot, while still looking fairly effortless. The light should be even throughout the shot, which can be challenging sometimes.

Tip No.6 Editing
I always try my best to get a shot as close to perfect with the camera, as my editing skills are not great, and if you (like me!) don't know what you're doing then editing can potentially ruin a great shot. 
I only recently started editing my blog shots to brighten and sharpen them, and as long as I don't go too far, I can always make improvements. This is always made easier by good shoot lighting and white backgrounds! I edit my shots a lot more for social media (sharper, mainly) but that's another post all together! I like to use Photoshop, although I'll be the first to admit my abilities are very limited! On my Mac I like to use Fotor - its a lot more simple to use for a newbie!

I hope these tips were helpful to some of you who might be starting out with blog photography, or who are just looking to see how other people do it! Let me know if the comments what your favourite tips are - I always appreciate new advice and pointers!



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