Two of the most frequently asked questions I get revolve around Instagram growth and photography. You guys LOVED my previous collaborative posts that shared blogging advice and Instagram tips so I decided to join forces once again with 10 of my fellow blogger babes to share our best photography tips and tricks with you in this Ultimate Blogger Photography Guide! All of these ladies have amazinggg blogs and Instagram accounts and have so much knowledge and information to share! It’s quite extensive so grab a cup of tea (or coffee…or wine lol!) and dig in!
What is/are your best photography tip(s)?
Practice Makes Perfect
Just like music or art or anything else that you’re trying to learn, you absolutely HAVE to practice (I cannot stress it enough). If you’re a long time follower, then you have seen my photography go through many, many different stages. What used to be a huge source of frustration has now become a secondary passion over the span of four years. Put in the hours any way you can… offer to shoot friends and family, try shooting yourself with a remote, try shooting product or flatlays – this way you can not only learn how to do certain skills firsthand but you can also figure out what you like and develop your own style!
In my opinion, natural lighting is always best (unless you’re doing night photography lol!). Soft, dreamy natural light is always my favorite (as seen in this post and this post) and I usually shoot in the early morning or late evening. If you want beautiful sunrise photos, plan to start shooting right before the sun actually rises. I always find that there’s a bit more time for sunset so I shoot an hour before to a half hour afterward. For sunrise and sunset, I typically shoot with the sun behind me for that dream-like quality. I also like to shoot in the shade (just make sure the shadow isn’t too harsh) and on cloudy days! Always keep in mind the direction of the light. If I’m shooting in town, I will shoot facing the west in the morning and facing the east in the evening. This makes scouting locations easier too!
Since I’m an artist at heart, I feel like I’m a natural story-teller. I never really understood how I could do that with my outfits until I really got into photography. Now I try to carefully plan out where each outfit would look best based on location. If it’s a more structured dress, then it might look best in the city and if it’s a flowy maxi, it might look best in against a more natural backdrop.
When you’re learning, don’t be afraid to experiment! Try different angles, editing, poses, concepts, compositions, etc. This is really the time when you find your niche and it’s essentially in developing your own unique style.
If you get lost, don’t be afraid to use Pinterest for shoot, posing or concept inspiration!
— Me <3 / @lizzieinlace
Everyone will tell you lighting is key and 100% it is, but if you’re shooting with a DSLR try your best to learn to shoot in manual and on RAW. It helps so much if you’re in unavoidable low lighting locations (indoors or outdoors), and then editing in photoshop or lightroom.
Always make sure that you’re facing wherever the light is coming from so that you don’t become a shadow! Shoot in RAW format if possible to make editing easier. Have your photographer go lower and shoot upwards if you’d like to look taller, or go higher and shoot slightly downwards if you’d like to look slimmer. I always say that posing is like a little dance — moving back and forth a little or keeping a constant motion during the shoot will help your photos appear more natural and less forced or stiff!
For editing, I always treat each photo individually. While I do have an extensive set of presets I’ve come up with, I always make sure to make individual edits to a photo even when using a preset to make sure that it really looks its best! I’ve also found that if you have iPhone photos that appear to be low quality, turning down the clarity in Lightroom just slightly can help them look more professional. If you find that photos come off of your camera grainy, try adjusting the color noise of the image to make it look more cohesive!
1. You get out of it what you put in
If you want to stand out from the sea of other influencers or photographers, you should spend time thoughtfully planning, styling, and preparing for a photoshoot (no matter how small). It sounds excessive, but for almost every photoshoot that I do, I have created a mood board behind it.
I usually choose 2 Saturdays per month and shoot 2 outfits each day for a total of 4 full style blog posts. If I’m working on recipes or other lifestyle-related topics, obviously that number goes up, but in general it’s usually 2 weekends per month that I’m dedicating to shooting new content. Although that may not seem like a lot of content, I am able to spread it out so that I can post unique images on my Instagram feed 5x per week, if not more. I always make sure that each look covers different angles, details, and includes props so it doesn’t seem repetitive.
Leading up to those weekends, I spend countless hours styling, planning, and preparing for the shoots so that they don’t feel or look rushed. I like to think of my blog and Instagram feed as an online magazine that I’m fully responsible for curating. For me, I prefer quality over quantity which is why I’m not shooting new content every few days.
2. Soft natural light always wins
The shift in my images over the past few years has been a result of learning what kind of light works best for my aesthetic and what time of day to shoot in. This truly makes all the difference in how harsh or soft your images will turn out.
I always prefer to shoot at sunrise, even if that means waking up at 4am to get ready. The colors that the sunrise reflect are romantic and dreamy, and most of the time you can avoid any crowds by getting out there early!
3. Invest in online courses
This tip goes back to #1 in many ways because, once again, you get out of this what you put into it. “Investing” doesn’t have to cost a ton of money, either. There are plenty of totally free courses and tutorials on Youtube, photography blogs, and Instagram already out there just waiting to be watched.
This year one of my goals was to invest in furthering my photography skills, so I have been taking courses on Skillshare (it is $8.25/month for unlimited classes). I have taken 1 course every month and have already learned so much about my camera and how to shoot on the manual settings.
In my opinion, you can teach yourself how to become a great photographer with no prior schooling or professional experience. Even if you are the one in front of the camera, you can learn how to adjust the settings and set the scene before handing it off to your spouse, a family member, or friend to get your “perfect” shot.
Get comfortable! This takes time, and so does your posing. When I first started blogging, I would try to pose like everyone else. You know…the typical stand there and smile and hold a Starbucks drink. Nothing is wrong with that, but it wasn’t completely me and I wasn’t showing ME. I started to let loose and ignore what others were doing and started doing what I wanted. My followers have even trademarked one of my poses for me called “The Nicky Pose” where I squat down and give a more “baddie” vibe. Its what works for me and it all just stemmed from me being ME. So find what works for you and don’t be afraid to let your personality show through your posing!
Patience! Be patient with yourself and whomever is shooting you. Photography is a learning process and one that never ends. You can always learn something new about your camera, your lens, or how you frame an image. So be patient as you learn more and as you teach whomever is shooting you (unless it’s a pro-photographer, they’re skills will blow you away).
Also, invest in a lens! Lenses are what really make the difference in photography. They are worth the investment! If you’re thinking of upgrading your camera vs. upgrading your lens, always go with the lens! You’ll be amazed at how much a new upgraded lens changes your images!
Lighting is everything! If you are shooting outdoors, an overcast day is best if you are using an iphone or are new to photography (bold sunlight and shadows can be amazing but only if that is the look you are going for and if you know how to work with it). For the most part, photos look beautiful in natural lighting on an overcast day. Golden hour (usually about an hour before the sun sets) is the best time to shoot! For indoor photography, get as much light as you can. If you are using a camera, use a tripod and go for a low ISO (100 with f-stop 10 is great) and a slow shutter speed.
- What Helped Me Vastly Improve Overnight
- If your camera allows you to shoot in RAW, use it to up your image quality. You can enhance colors without making it look like there’s a filter. Then buy Lightroom CC so that you can edit the RAW photos on your computer and easily sync them onto your phone OR you could upload the RAW files into Lightroom on your desktop and edit on mobile. I do it both ways depending on my mood but learning about Lightroom CC vastly improved my photography.
- Instagram Themes:
- For a cohesive Instagram theme, you’ll want a few presets on hand to use. A preset is a group of pre-defined settings for editing a photo such as exposure, contrast, color mix, etc. Create your own presets in the mobile Lightroom CC app for free. Use these presets consistently for a cohesive Instagram theme but keep in mind that you will need to make minor changes to the setting with each photo.
- How to get a stranger to take a good photo of you:
- Show them an example photo you want to recreate
- Show them how you want the photo framed first
- Let them know how you prefer they shoot multiple photos (rapid fire vs. pause and focus each photo)
- Show your appreciation after!
When it comes to photography, lighting is everything! Don’t be afraid to switch up the location (or even your vision) to find a better light source.
What are some photography mistakes you’ve made in the past or that you see beginners make?
Not Shooting in RAW
When I upgraded to my first DSLR, I was absolutely terrified to shoot in RAW. To me, it was so overwhelming and I just didn’t understand it. I finally took the leap after Mary from Wind and Spindle convinced me to try it out (thanks girl!) and honestly, I don’t know what I was so scared of! You have infinitely more editing options and the photos turn out SO. MUCH. BETTER. It’s definitely a learning curve but isn’t everything? Just do it. 😉
Shooting in Direct Sunlight
I’m pretty sure all the other ladies mentioned this one as well but I would strongly advise against shooting in direct, overhead sunlight (mid-day). It creates harsh shadows that cannot be fixed through editing.
Not Being Prepared
A few months ago, we took my brother’s formal photos… our first time shooting for someone else – YAY! We had the perfect location and everything went according to plan…until we arrived and found that we had forgotten the memory card (correction: I forgot the memory card). Talk about a stress case! We couldn’t find a store nearby so we drove all the way back home and got back to the location with only 20 minutes to spare before it got dark. Learn from my mistake – double check that you have a memory card AND make sure the battery is fully charged.
Going Crazy with Editing/Presets
Been there. I think we all have. In fact, it must be some type of beginner photography initiation to have over-saturated, over-exposed, blurry images with appendages cut out of frame… and IT’S OKAY because that’s how we learn! Another editing mistake I see a lot of bloggers make is going preset crazy. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good preset but sometimes it can severely change colors (skin tone, clothing, grass, etc) or can look a little too redundant amongst other bloggers and while this may be some okay for some people, don’t be afraid to be different, unique and true to yourself and what YOU like. I think that editing is so important in the branding aspect and it’s really a great way to stand out from the crowd!
— Me <3 / @lizzieinlace
One of the biggest photography mistakes I made was either forgetting your camera memory card or going to take photos and your battery is low… it only takes once for you to learn the hard way before you double and triple check everytime!
I think over editing is definitely a mistake I’ve made and a mistake that I typically see beginners make. Over saturating an image, turning the highlights down too low, etc. can take away from the quality of the image and distract from what’s actually in the frame! Also, pay really close attention to how you’re framing an image, especially when using it for Instagram! I’ve worked with so many photographers that take images that look amazing in Lightroom, however because Instagram crops images due to vertical restrictions, the composition of the image in Instagram is bad bad bad. I can’t even begin to describe how many images I’ve been unable to post over the years because even though the image looked good when I was editing it, when I went to post my head and feet were touching the edges of the frame or one was cut off entirely!
I definitely was NOT using the full potential of my camera in the beginning. Whenever I took a good shot, it felt more like luck. It wasn’t until I took a photography class and learned how to use all settings on my DSLR that I realized what I can do better! These days I see a lot of bloggers shooting in auto mode and while you can still get a great shot that way, I believe it’s hard to reach your full potential without actually knowing your camera. I also wish people stopped applying filters on poorly taken photos! Presets do not cover imperfections – they actually enhance them.
1. Shooting in direct sunlight
Unless you absolutely have no other choice, I would not recommend it. Although it looks pretty off-camera, any harsh, direct sunlight is going to wash out the colors in your face and make the image much less crisp.
Try instead: sunrise, overcast, or sunset. These allow the lighting to be softer, making for a more romantic and dream-like aesthetic.
2. Taking photos “on the go”
When I first started shooting for my blog and Instagram, I would try to make any moment into a perfect shot for the gram’. I figured that I was dressed up anyway, or was in a cool location, so I may as well take advantage of it.
However, I quickly realized that, because of my very specific aesthetic, the majority of the photos weren’t turning out to be the quality or color scheme that I wanted my brand to reflect. Even worse, I was stressed, frustrated, and not actually enjoying the moment by trying to shoot spontaneously.
Now, when I’m heading out with my husband for a date, to meet up with friends, or have an adventurous day with family, I leave my big, bulky camera behind. I don’t feel the pressure to ask one of them to take 100 photos of me to get the “perfect” shot for my feed. Instead, if I feel like documenting it, I just take a few fun photos or videos on my phone that I know will only be used for Instagram stories.
Bottom line: unless this style of photography fits with your brand’s voice and aesthetic, this is most often a waste of time and energy.
Trying to shoot in direct sunlight. With my filter/preset it looks HORRIBLE and grainy. IG takes some quality from photos when they are posted and it only made the images worse. I think direct sunlight works during golden hour or if your editing doesn’t hinder the image. For me, it just didn’t work!
Not shooting in RAW has been my biggest mistake! This is a file type that allows for better editing. I’m a complete amateur, so this was a foreign concept to me at first. When you figure this out, the quality of your photos skyrockets.
For a while, I really struggled to define my aesthetic as a blogger/photographer. I knew I wanted something that was representative of my personality and my lifestyle that could be used consistently with the images I took, and I’ve always been drawn to the light and airy look. But when I found myself attempting to edit my photos like other girls I saw on Instagram, I felt like a phony. I was never happy with my images or the way I was editing because it didn’t feel like me. So, I pushed myself to develop an aesthetic of my own. While it can be tempting to emulate a style you admire, experiment with presets until you find the one that is truly representative of your style.
I hope you all loved this Ultimate Blogger Photography Guide and got something from it 🙂 Special thanks to all of these lovely ladies for generously sharing their knowledge with us – feel free to check out their blogs and Instagram! <3 Next week, I’ll be sharing another collaborative post about Instagram growth so stay tuned!
Do you have any other photography questions or tips you’d like to add?
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