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Blog Photography Tips & Hacks

One of the areas I’ve been trying to improve on my blog is the quality of my photography. I’ve always enjoyed taking photo’s, I’ve just never been terribly good at it. It’s difficult to explain, but taking pretty pictures, whether of product or my family, gives me something. I enjoy the entire process and I love the creativity of it. 

My real love for photography started years ago when I attended an event hosted by Epson and with the incredible Jeannette Verster as our presenter.  That event was way back in 2013 but so much of what Jenty shared with us has stayed with me and from that I’ve started working really hard to improve my photography.

Visually attractive things attract and inspire me.

I’ve looked at so many of my favourite bloggers and wondered why it is that I’m always drawn to their Instagram feeds and their blogs and it’s all to do with the composition, creativity and general beauty of their photography. Some of my favourites and people I drawn creativity and inspiration from include:
Pink Peonies


 For The Beauty Of It

The Real Jenty

There are so many more but for now I”ll stick with those three.

What Keeps Going Back

To any blog, not just the blogs I’ve mentioned above, is their presentation. For me, personally, and I’m sure many blog readers, it’s about so much more than just the written word. It’s about a visual experience. If your website is beautifully laid out and with well edited, interesting and well curated images, you can be sure I will be coming back for more. And other times I’ve logged into a blog post that at first sounded interesting but I was totally put off by the unappealing photography. 

So in the last few months, I’ve been on a quest to improve my photography!

I can see huge improvements in my photography, it’s certainly not perfect and I still have a HUGE amount to learn but it’s getting better each day and with it, the joy and pleasure that I get out of creating it doubles.

So, here are my top tips for improving your blog photography, from what I’ve learned so far!

A good cell phone camera is key but a good quality camera is top choice!

I recently upgraded from an iPhone 6 to and iPhone 7. At the time my husband made fun of me, saying it wasn’t much of an upgrade, that is, until he say the quality of the photos. I am blown away by the quality of the photos I’m getting from my new phone. This photo below, was taken with my cell phone and with minimal editing. 

BUT, I will say this, while my phone takes amazing quality photos, there is simply no match for my camera. I don’t even have a fancy DSLR camera, I have a pretty basic Canon Sx60 Powershot digital camera. Nothing fancy but it has every setting I need. 

I’ve also spent a lot of time googling shutter speeds and all the various settings and this has allowed me to improve the quality of my photos. I’m also still learning how to take advantage of the various settings. This photo, I took myself, using the timer and a cheap tripod I bought off Takealot:

 

Props are EVERYTHING!

And this doesn’t just include product photography. But personal photography too. Consider the background and add a few props. A lot of my personal photos of me I take by hanging a white sheet off my bedroom cupboard to create a white, light, bright background and then having something simple in the background just to break the whiteness and create a bit of interest. It really freaks me out when people, my husband included, don’t consider the background of an image, I am immediately turned off if I can see a random flip flop or an untidy room in the background of the photo, you can’t just consider the subject of the photo, the background is as important too! 

I also have a props cupboard. I spent a little bit of money each month on props. I’ve bought fake bark from my local nursery, listen, nurseries are great places to find interesting textures for photography props. I even went there for my winter skin must have’s and collected dried leaves and flowers off the ground. 

I also always check out the sale shelves at Mr P Home and Typo. Not to mention any stationary stores because interesting bits of cardboard and scrap booking paper work too! So does my jewellery box and accessories and my collection of Lou Harvey toiletry bags (yes I’m obsessed) and even scarves can work for creating interest in a product photography shot. Also, while fresh flowers are lovely, it’s not always possible, so I use a stash of fake flowers and plastic plants and then edit the photos so you can tell they’re too fake! 

My must have’s include a white tablecloth and a piece of cardboard that I’ve covered with adhesive paper in a white granite design that I bought for less than R50 from a hardware store. 

Lighting

Lighting is SO key. I’ve found that natural daylight, without direct sunlight works best. So for example, all my videos and self portraits, I take against a white backdrop (usually my bedroom cupboard) with the light from the windows directly in front of me. I’ve just found that natural lighting works best. 

But the weather doesn’t always play along and sometimes I do need a bit of extra help, for that, I bought a Godox LED Video light from Takealot. Which does help when I’m shooting or filming on a cloudy day.

Play with angles

I’m also learning to play with angles, not every blog photo needs to be a flat lay. I’m learning to make it a little more interesting by playing with the angles. My husband often laughs at me for how I manage to slither around on the floor and contort my body to create interesting angles. I’m also learning to try and not use the zoom but to rather get as close as possible to the subject before zooming. This has led to some interesting photos, especially where mirrors are concerned.

 

Editing

Editing is EVERYTHING! And it’s taken me a while to find a healthy balance, especially when it comes to self portraits, the temptation to over edit my own face is HUGE. So learning to edit to enhance the photo without completely changing it is key. 

I have two favourite photo editing apps:

Snapseed for my phone photos, which is available on iTunes and Google Play Store, it’s also FREE! And has a fairly large range of editing options that really enhance your photography.

And Photoscape which is also free photo editing software that I swear allows me to edit photos like a professional. 

Every photo, no matter how good, needs a little editing, even if it’s just to brighten or lighten the photo. 

So that is what I’ve learned so far about improving my blog photography.

What are your tips? 

Please share them, I am genuinely keen to learn and improve my photography just because I get so much pleasure out of it. I try, as much as possible to not use stock photography on my blog but rather my own original photos where ever possible because I get so much pleasure from it. 

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16 Comments

  • Cat Barker
    Reply Cat Barker

    So helpful thanks Sharon! I also love snapseed cause you can edit without cheesy filters. My tip is to make a make shift infinity screen with a big white piece of cardboard, sloping off the wall.

    June 21, 2017 at 7:24 am
  • Anastasiya A. Meintjes
    Reply Anastasiya A. Meintjes

    Always looking to improve my photos! Thanks for the tips!

    June 21, 2017 at 7:32 am
  • Roxy Hutton
    Reply Roxy Hutton

    Loved this post Sharon! And I have to compliment you on your gorgeous photos! Such beautiful composition, lovely use of props and great editing…your photos are looking amazing! ❤️

    June 21, 2017 at 7:54 am
    • The Blessed Barrenness
      Reply The Blessed Barrenness

      Coming from you, this is a HUGE compliment, so thank you so much because your photos are always so beautiful!

      June 21, 2017 at 9:29 am
  • Reply Kim Muller

    Love your tips, thank you. I seriously need to up my photography game. Will definitely be using some of your hints.

    June 21, 2017 at 8:05 am
  • Tights & Tekkies
    Reply Tights & Tekkies

    Fantastic tips! Thank you!

    June 21, 2017 at 8:58 am
  • Reply Lizna

    I’ve found that when I use a daylight lamp the light is a bit softer if I drape a sheer curtain over the light and it doesn’t reflect back so much.

    June 21, 2017 at 4:15 pm
    • Reply Sharon

      I’m going to give this a go! Thanks for the tip!

      June 21, 2017 at 8:55 pm
      • Reply Lizna

        You’re welcome 🙂 Your images are great, I think I learn more with each picture I take. Thanx for the great post!

        June 21, 2017 at 9:47 pm
    • Reply An Ordinary Gal

      Great tip Lizna!

      June 23, 2017 at 3:23 pm
  • Reply Beauty Candy Loves

    These are some really great tips! As a Blogger always trying to better photo taking skills. A good camera does help so much as much as I don’t want to believe it but it’s the sad truth.

    June 21, 2017 at 7:21 pm
    • Reply Sharon

      Thank you Candy! And so true, my Canon is a pain, my cell phone is just so much easier, but the quality of the photos is just simply not the same. So for Insta, my phone is fine, but I don’t feel it does my blog photos any justice.

      June 21, 2017 at 8:54 pm
  • Reply Heather

    Sharon I commend you for what you are doing. I learnt about the light box from you but I find it is too small for a lot of stuff so that tip about the table cloth and card might work better. I am bad with backgrounds and I need to figure out some better options. I think you are really putting a lot of effort in and it shows. I also have a powershot (although older) and I should really use it more. I think the cellphone is just so conviniant but I need to up my game. Would also like to hear from you on your tips on videos because I know you’ve done a lot there.

    June 21, 2017 at 7:53 pm
    • Reply Sharon

      I actually eventually invested in a light tent and it is great but not really necessary. Just simply using a white sheet or the granite paper laid on the floor, with clever angles, it’s worked just as well. And yes, it’s a pain, but a real camera takes far better quality photos. Videos I’m still learning, and with each video I do, there is a learning from it. I’m still struggling with lighting for videos and my editing is a work in progress but I’m getting there slowly. It’s a work in progress but one I get so much enjoyment out of!

      June 21, 2017 at 8:53 pm
  • Reply An Ordinary Gal

    These are all great tips. Something I am still really working on myself. Just bought some lamps today to help me out with the winter darkness situation. Luzanne’s pictures are goals…I swear she’s the reason I started blogging and trying to learn how to take a photo.

    Your pictures are fabulous…I remember when I saw that one with the Hean liner…I immediately thought how much I loved the angle and the lighting, etc.

    June 23, 2017 at 3:26 pm
  • Dhanusha Dhoorgalu
    Reply Dhanusha Dhoorgalu

    Thanks for sharing. Such a big help for us bloggers

    June 23, 2017 at 4:04 pm
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