Notice: This entry was published 4 years ago and may no longer reflect my views today.

Tara and Nancy asked me how I take my blog pictures, and so a new feature was born. Welcome to Part 1 of my Blog Photos Series! This series will cover how to compose and edit quality blog photos. I hope you find it useful! Part 1 will be focusing on how to take pictures, specifically product pictures.

Blogging is a highly visual medium, and pictures can make or break a blog post. If you are reviewing a product or simply sharing an item you like, it is imperative that you present it in a manner that will appeal to your audience. Fortunately, there is a technique to good photography, and I will be sharing how to take pictures for your blog.

How to Take Good Blog Photos

Work with What You’ve Got

I’ll say this now: you do not need an expensive DSLR to take good blog pictures. While an SLR is a worthwhile investment if you’re passionate about photography, a cheap point-and-shoot or even a smartphone is more than enough for blog pictures as long as you compose them properly.

Before I upgraded to my current camera, a Sony RX100 III, I had a very cheap Sony Cyber-shot DSCW610. It was only about $160, very light and limited in features, but I was still satisfied with the pictures I got. I lovingly called it my potato camera. XD I also occasionally used my smartphone, an HTC One M7, when I wanted a lighter purse. I had absolutely no problems with that either.

A good number of pictures I’ll be featuring in this post were taken with my potato camera and smartphone. You probably won’t see much of a difference when compared to my camera now. Photography is not about the tool, it’s about the user. At the bare minimum, if you have a smartphone, you have the means to take quality blog photos.

Use Natural Light

DSC00974

Taken with Sony Cyber-shot DSCW610 on a white cloth placemat on top of a coffee table

Unless you have a dedicated studio, you’re much better off using natural light on your photos as opposed to artificial light (light bulbs, lamp, etc). Natural light produces higher color accuracy and depth which leads to fewer editing headaches later on. They also create interesting shadows and bring out certain details when used at different angles.

Time your photo session to be taken in the daytime when you can. Simply opening a window and setting down a piece of paper close by will produce a decent picture. It will also give you a nice, clean background to work with. At the very least, try to dedicate a small corner close to an open window for picture taking. That way, you’ll always have a place to shoot.

Choose the Backdrop Wisely

rei-chan

Taken with Sony RX100 on sheets of white tissue paper with my other anime merchandise

A clean, light background is preferable to bring the eye to your picture’s subject. However, you don’t have to stick to plain white backgrounds either! Consider the subject of your photo when composing the perfect background.

My general rule of thumb is if the subject has a lot of detail (colorful, shapely, eye-catching, etc), I choose a simple background. If your camera can handle depth of field, you can get away with adding extra props in the background to keep it interesting while still keeping the focus on the subject.

Chromecast-and-Audiotechnica-Headphones

Taken with Sony RX100 on patterned paper

In this photo, the subjects are both void of striking details. They’re not colorful and not too oddly shaped either. I opted for a more elaborate background to make the photo a little more interesting. The floral details serve as a nice contrast for the plain-looking subjects.

Of course, this is simply how I style my pictures according to my preference. Composition is completely subjective, and you should experiment with different backgrounds to see what you like. :D Use whatever you happen to have around and see how it turns out. I use various items for my backgrounds. Blankets, paper, plants, my dresses… everything is fair game!

Add Some Props

iPod Touch 32gb

Taken with Sony Cyber-shot DSCW610 next to a window and in front of a plant

Another way to make blog photos interesting is by adding props. They can be juxtaposed against your subject or sit pretty in the background. If you have any little knick-knacks lying around the house, you can use them on your pictures. In the photo above, the plant sits behind my subject, but it adds more depth to the photo. On the very top photo of this post, I used my floral curtain tiebacks and a pack of beads to fill some white space on my picture. You can use anything as a prop.

Play with Angles

Strawberry-crepe

Taken with HTC One M7 in a restaurant booth

Bird’s eye view photos (also known as flatlay) are popular nowadays, but snapping from the top down may not always be the optimal angle. When composing your shot, observe the subject’s details. Think about what details could be lost when taking the picture at certain angles. Choose which ones you want to emphasize and shoot accordingly.

In the photo of the strawberry crepes above, a bird’s eye angle would not have adequately captured the shape of the dish. I wanted to show its height, which reminded me a little of a mountain. An eye-level picture fit much better in this case.

Take a Lot of Shots

Ardium Nature Note Ardium Nature Note

Taken with Sony RX100 on a bedspread

Bringing all of the previous tips together — use natural light to bring out details, experiment with backdrops and props, play with angles to emphasize certain areas — it stands to be said that you should take a lot of pictures at once. And I mean, A LOT.

Take pictures in at least two angles, then take at least ten pictures of one angle. Move your subject around a little if you must, but keep pressing that button! It sounds crazy, but you’ll thank me later. It’s better to have too many shots than not enough when you’re in the post-processing stage. There have been many times when I didn’t have any photos to post, because I only took three pictures and none of them turned out right. So keep snapping!

Post-Process a Little

Pink shoes

Taken with Sony Cyber-shot DSCW610 on a sidewalk

Adding filters to your pictures is completely up to you. However, you should definitely be editing your pictures in some way, especially if you only have a cheap smartphone on you. Adjusting brightness, contrast, sharpness, and so on will go a long way in improving the quality of your pictures.

I do add filters to my pictures. To be more specific, I use Photoshop actions. I much prefer Photoshop for photo editing, if only because I’ve been using it for a decade. It has a ton of features far beyond photo editing. If you’d like to try it out, Photoshop CS2 is now free to use! It’s more than enough for photo editing. :)

I also use VSCO Cam when editing on my phone. Stay tuned for Part 2 of the Blog Photos Series for tips on photo editing with Photoshop and VSCO! :D

Additional Resources

How to Take Good Blog Photos
Please share this post if you liked it!

Photo composition techniques greatly vary based on a number of factors. There are different techniques for portraits, landscapes, food, concerts, and so much more. Photography is a very wide subject that can’t be summarized in one post. If you’re interested in learning more, I recommend these pages:

That’s it for this post! I hope you find these tips helpful. I tried to add as many of my own examples as I can. Feel free to study my pictures. They follow the tips I provided for the most part.

Do you have any tips for quality blog photos? Share your knowledge with the rest of us. :D If you have any questions for me, leave it down below. See you all in Part 2!

Comments

  1. I agree that natural light is the best! Lately, I would go outside, look for a mat or anything flat I could put my subject on, and snip a few photos which I would later choose from and look if I still need to do some editing to make the colors pop.

    I’d like to think that lately I’ve been taking decent photos for my blog posts with my Note 4 and my trusty old Cybershot. It’s just a matter or practicing my angles and finding a “good light”.

    Thanks for sharing this! This was really helpful. <3
    Trisha recently posted…Boracay Bummin’My Profile

  2. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOUUUUUU! You’re awesome for doing this, Raisa. :D

    I really appreciate all the tips. The one tip you mentioned about taking multiple shots . . . that drives me crazy LOL. I usually just take two shots of something and I consider that done. I seem to lack that patient of going through photographs like a pro would . . .

    But otherwise, good tips. The background thing is a great idea, and I should try and implement that more. I always try to use natural light and I refuse to use flash. :D

    One question though: Simply opening a window and setting down a piece of paper close by will produce a decent picture.

    ??? So do you mean we don’t lay that paper under whatever we’re trying to take a photo of? Just set it next to the subject?

    Thanks again, Raisa. I look forward to part II!
    Tara recently posted…Photo Potpourri: Scorching ShenanigansMy Profile

    1. Yes, I meant set the paper close to the window, THEN put your subject on top of the paper. Sorry for the confusion! I’ll edit the post in a bit.

      I tend to have shaky hands, so a lot of my shots turn out blurry. That’s why I take a lot of pictures just to be sure. XD

  3. I already had a title and pointers drafted on my blog about this topic! HAHA. And yes, I totally agree with your first point. You don’t need an expensive camera to be able to take good quality photos. My blog posts are almost always iPhone shots. I like how you explained the “why” behind taking a photo. You did a a really good example too with the crepe/pancake (?) And yes, it’s all about experimenting, and practicing. It takes a good amount of time before someone really learns what’s good and what’s not appealing to the eye.
    Corinth recently posted…Friday’s 10 Happy Things | 07My Profile

    1. I can’t wait to see your tips! I love your pictures. <3

      Photography used to be my major hobby in college, so I'm used to thinking about composition a lot. I'm a lot lazier now though, haha!

  4. I own a Sony A5000, I mainly use it because I travel quite often. But I really envy how you guys are so good at taking photos of things to post on your blog. I just can’t do it. Mine always look a bit off or there’s unwanted shadow over the stuff I am taking a photo of.

    Anyway, thanks for the tips (I bookmarked this page). Hopefully I can take good photos as well! :)
    Tricia recently posted…We’re halfway through 2015?My Profile

    1. It takes a good bit of practice, but you’ll get better! Keep taking photos and studying what you like and don’t like about them. Lighting can be tricky. If you have unwanted shadows, you can try using a makeshift reflector with a mirror or other shiny object. Alternatively, you can just Photoshop it out, haha!

  5. Thank you for this! Even though I have a “good” camera, I tend to take most of my pictures with my Note 3. They usually turn out pretty good, I think I have a good eye. Lighting is a problem. My tiny kitchen has poor natural light, and, well the rest of my house doesn’t make for a good backdrop. I do my best though, and these tips were very helpful. Visiting from #SITSSharefest
    Debbie recently posted…A Squat-a-liscious Tabata Workout, Brick Betty, and the Lucky StreakMy Profile

    1. Glad to help! My old apartment wasn’t very photogenic, so I made do with whatever I had lying around to make a good backdrop. I usually reached for my bedspread or a piece of paper.

  6. What lovely tips!

    Funnily enough, I was watching a video on YouTube about photography a week or so ago. They stressed natural lighting, but that’s such a struggle for me. I even joked about it in my latest blog entry. I rarely use natural lighting because I’m most productive at night. My work around is to turn on all the lights in my apartment and shoot wide open. ^^; I hate flash.

    I love VSCO Cam and PS, but my favorite on the computer is Lightroom.
    Chantelle recently posted…Stationery Haul (kikki.K)My Profile

    1. I’m not am morning person at all! XD I usually take my pictures late in the afternoon. Still a good bit of sunlight out though not as much admittedly. I also use room lighting sometimes and just edit the heck out of it later.

  7. Thank you for making this awesome guide :D. To be the best, you have to learn from the best ;).

    I love the background patterns you choose!! And the filter you add to it as well~ Your pictures look so calm while I choose the soft light filter on Photoshop *__*. Finally someone (you) say that smartphones can be used to take pictures with! I’ve been hearing people throwing comments left and right to go buy a DSLR or something. I notice that pictures taken with enough natural lighting comes out better. Hence why I like outdoor pictures more than indoors. You’re a total pro at choosing the right background! I’ve been using repix to edit phone pictures for Instagram but simple photoshop for blog pictures. I’ll look into VSCO soon!

    Thank you for sharing :D!!! Can’t wait for part 2 ;)

    1. I hope this post helped! :D I owned a DSLR before, but it was a real hassle to carry around! I’m glad high-end point-and-shoots can take equally good pictures for the most part! Still has limitations compared to SLR cameras but they’ve come a long way. :D No need to spend a lot on blog photography!

  8. This post is so awesome and has so many great tips! I completely agree about taking a lot of photos and I love to experiment with angels. I also have a lot of fun editing with actions in Photoshop. I agree with everything you said, and can’t think of anything to add!

    Well done! :D
    Kya recently posted…30 Day Creative Challenge: RecapMy Profile

  9. Thank you so much for this!

    I have a Fuji Film camera, and I always thought that I needed to upgrade to a better one – but since I’ve been messing around the settings and checking out the presets, I’ve realised it’s actually a good camera. These tips are definitely going to help me with my photos in the future!
    Chynna recently posted…blu eCigs: Sensory CinemaMy Profile

    1. Thanks for dropping by, Chynna! I’m glad this post helped. :D No one should feel like they can’t take good pictures when they absolutely can.

    1. Thanks, Michelle! Good pictures are always feasible. Sometimes it just takes a bit of effort and some ingenuity.

  10. Love this post and really looking forward to the rest of this series! I know natural lighting is key, but it’s hard for me — like Chantelle, I’m often out of my apartment during daylight hours, and I’ve found myself researching lighting kits to see if they’re worth trying out for better looking photos. Of course, I should also just practice my photography skills more too as they’re pretty lacking…
    Manda | musicalpoem recently posted…Link Love, Vol. 88My Profile

    1. I plan my shoots on the weekends. I don’t have time to take pictures when I’m working, so I make a little time on Sundays usually and take as much pictures as I can. There’s a science to photography. You can definitely learn it and get better. :D

  11. Nice tips! I like how you choose your backdrop depending on how detailed your subject is :) I definitely agree with experimenting with different angles and taking a ton of shots. Even taking multiple shots of the same thing is handy because there’s been times where one or two blurred, and I didn’t even realize until afterwards. So glad we can do this now with digital photography and large memory cards!

    I love natural light but having an indoor lighting set-up is very useful XD I take too many photos during the weekday after work and have to depend on my flash set-up!
    Cat recently posted…Project 52, part 6My Profile

    1. Aahh my dream is to have an indoor studio, even just a little one. XD I do hate that taking good pictures for me is time-sensitive. I was thinking of getting a ring light or something at the very least.

  12. These are great tips. I try to use as much natural light as I can, but my apartment can be so dark sometimes. :/ I will have to remember the props. I never think to stage things behind my subject – I usually just snap the way it is and move on!

  13. Sometimes it’s not even in the technical quality of the photo but in how it is composed when it comes to blog photos nowadays. I remember when photos needed to be really, really sharp and bright to be considered of good standards (and at the time, it can only be achieved by a DSLR).. but now, well-composed photos, even if taken with an iPhone or any mobile phone are ok for blogging standards. Also, there are filters to help if in case a photo you like to use is under or overexposed. Blurred photos are the ones that are hard to find a fix for, and ultimately useless UNLESS it was intended to be blurry.

    I love the last step that you should also take looooots of variations of a shot. I do this too! Haha. Better to have this many options than be stuck with just 1-5 and the chances are they are all bad photos, welp what a waste of time that would have been.
    Anna recently posted…GrabCar: An Alternative to Uber for Non-Credit Card UsersMy Profile

  14. I’ve been wanting to buy a new camera. Since now I use dslr with my blog photos, it’s kind of hassle especially when attending events because it’s bulky and heavy. So it would be much better to have something really light, point and shoot would be so great. Thank you from the recommendations and tips! This is a much help :) I love your photos, btw.
    Lou recently posted…Friday’s 10 Happy Things // 2My Profile

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