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Blog Photography Tips for Beginners

Monday, 14 November 2016
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I am by far NOT a photography expert - I've had my Canon for nearly a year now, and I still haven't tried to mess about with manual settings. In all honesty, I'm really lazy about camera settings, and only adjust what I really need to, which this year I've felt isn't an awful lot, especially since using a proper camera as opposed to my phone. The only thing I manually use is my focus, as I find the auto-focus on my camera to be a bit rubbish sometimes. I learnt a lot about blog photography in my first few years as a blogger, and today I thought I'd share some serious basics if you're not sure where to start. If you're a new blogger, then hopefully you will take something away from this post!

YOU DON'T NEED A DSLR

Up until January 2016, I was using my phone to take blogging photos. Granted, I had a really shitty phone the first few months of blogging, and it wasn't until January 2015 that I had something a bit more usable. I currently have an HTC, and that's the phone I've had since Jan '15, and it was my best friend before I got a camera. Until you get proper into blogging and start doing it frequently, I'd suggest just sticking with your phone - just remember to try playing around with the settings. I turned my ISO up high which basically makes the image brighter and that in itself made a massive difference to my photos. Play around with your settings and you'll find a combination of them that you really like. 

For more info on camera settings and how they can affect the lighting and brightness of your images, I recommend reading this post by Paula at Thirteen Thoughts.

UTILISE NATURAL DAYLIGHT

Fancy soft boxes are great when you've got the money, but chances are if you've just started a blog, you're young and you probably don't have a lot of money in your pocket, and, well, lighting equipment is confusing. I recommend taking advantage of natural daylight - it's the only lighting I currently use, although, yes, I do want soft boxes so I can still film and take photos in the winter. Winter in the UK is pretty brutal as you often only get a few hours of light a day to make the most of, so I recommend doing as much bulk photography as you can during the summer months to lessen the stress. As for winter, it's something like 12pm-2pm that you're best to take photos during. Don't worry too much about your photo temperature (e.g. often in winter lighting, I get a blueish tinge to my photographs) - that's the kind of thing you can fix in editing software later on. You're also likely to get a sharp, crisp photo when using natural daylight as opposed to trying to take them in little to no daylight.

Oh, and I don't recommend using flash. Personally, I hate it, and I've yet to see a blog photograph look good when using it.

FLATLAYS MAKE EFFORTLESS BUT GOOD-LOOKING PHOTOGRAPHS

Flatlays are my best friend - I use them for the majority of my blog photographs. They're easy to achieve, and whilst the composition can take some time to arrange, they always look effortless and beautiful. If you don't know what a flatlay is, it's that kind of photograph most bloggers do where they take a photo from above, the idea being everything looks flat and as if you're looking at it from a bird's eye view. I like flatlays because it means none of the junk in the rest of my room gets in the way when I'm taking a photo, whereas if I was to take a photo of a lipstick or whatever standing upright, I'd just get my bedroom in the background, which, nah. I don't like the look of that!

TAKE ADVANTAGE OF WALLPAPER SAMPLES

I swear to God, the best tip I ever learned (and I honestly can't remember whose blog I read it on, sorry!) was to use wallpaper samples as a background. I now have a small collection of wallpaper samples from the likes of Wilko's, B&Q and B&M that are my backdrops for every flatlay photo I've ever done in 2016. Before I learned about using wallpaper samples, I simply used my Ikea white desk, my Ikea £5 table (the one every blogger under the sun has), and I used my white bed sheets. But after a while, using a stark white background became very bland. If you do want to utilise a plain white background, I suggest adding a magazine or something in the background to break up the starkness. If you're looking for your own marble background, I made mine (you can see it here and in various other of my Instagram posts) by using self-adhesive vinyl from Wilko's (although there is plenty of options online) and a piece of A3 perspex that I bought from eBay for a fiver. It's inexpensive and looks beautiful! 

MINIMAL EDITING LOOKS BEST

Okay, this is a personal one, and what I mean by minimal editing is, don't use tons of effects and filters over the top of your image. By all means, go crazy editing your lighting, fixing your lipstick so it looks like the colour it is in real life and all that jazz, but I recommend staying away from over-the-top Instagram filters and textures and effects that you can find in the likes of PicMonkey and Picasa. I know some people will want to use loads of filters and if you do, that's cool, but for me, personally, I prefer the look of something that doesn't have all that stuff slapped on top of it! 

EVERYTHING IS A PROP

I use literally everything as a prop, seriously. I do intend on doing a post next year talking solely about props, where to get them & some of my faves, but until then, take advantage of everything you have at home. Trinket dishes, candles, plants, jewellery/make-up storage/holders, headphones, books, magazines, perfume bottles, jewellery, my Copic markers, fake leaves, sequins and confetti, plastic gems, and of course, bits of make-up all look amazing for some background props. I prefer a cleaner, less-cluttered approach with my props for the most part, but sometimes a lot of items can look really good, and but it's entirely up to you and how you want to style things. Stick to a style that's more 'you', and if minimalist chic isn't for you, then don't do it - you want your blog to reflect you & the styles that you enjoy, after all.

That's a wrap for this post, I've probably forgotten to mention something really important - at least that's how it feels -, but that's all I can think of right now! Feel free to say if you think I missed something important! 

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