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.
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. 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
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
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.
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. 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
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
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
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
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!
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:
- Digital Photography School: Tips for Beginners
- Photography Basics: Easy, Fool-Proof Considerations for Making the Most of Your Photos
- 10 best photography tips for beginners
- A Beginner’s Guide To Photography
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. If you have any questions for me, leave it down below. See you all in Part 2!