August 21, 2014

Tips for blog photography!

Hello chickens! About 6 months ago I decided to try to improve the blog photography on Cashmerette. Put on makeup and brush my hair and whatnot. But I ended up learning quite a bit more than “lipstick makes me look like I have a mouth”and having a lot of fun with it, so I thought I’d share with you in case you’re interested! Of course no blog *needs* photoshoot-y photos, but if you’re so inclined, these blog photography tips might help.
How to improve your blog photos

1. Get outside! And preferably the hour before sundown.
This is probably the single biggest piece of advice I can give you. Being outside makes all the difference to the light in your photos, and hence their quality. If you can shoot in the “golden hour” before the sun goes down, you’ll get even more fantastic pics… It’s not always possible, but it’s worth trying.
Here are some photos I took inside:

And here are some outside at sundown in comparison.

If you do shoot at sundown, it’s best to orient your body and face *towards* the sun – that way you get some cool shadows, but your garment is shown off to its best. One fun thing is to look up to the sun if you have sunglasses on – it gives a really nice effect. If you can’t shoot when the sun is low in the sky, then it’s best to get out of direct light – go to somewhere where there’s diffused light or stand in the shade.

2. Take lots and lots and lots of pictures

Occasionally a friend will say to me “oh I’m so jealous you always look nice in your photos!” Actually, no, I look nice in 1 out of the 150 photos I took! On average, myself and my blogger friends take anywhere between 100 – 250 photos for a post… Crazy, right? But it actually doesn’t take very long (maybe 10 – 20 minutes), and if you keep on moving a little bit for each one, you’ll find some gems in among them. This is definitely tricky if you have an impatient person/child/spouse taking the photos, but if you have a little more breathing space, just tell them to continuously shoot. Alternatively, try using a tripod and put your camera on timer or use a remote – I’ve managed to get some great shots using that approach, although you still need to take a lot!

When it comes to editing your mountain of shots,  if you use a Mac, you can go into iPhoto and “flag” (top left hand corner) the ones you like, then go to the Flagged folder and you can make your choices from the best ones – this speeds things up considerably!

3. Move about!
I always used to stand stock still, one hand on hip, and while that hand hasn’t really moved, I do a lot more now! Spin about, laugh, chat to someone off camera, dance, and keep taking photos – so often it’s the ones where you move that end up looking the most natural, relaxed, dynamic and fun. Photos with a light breeze are also fantastic – you get wonderful movement in your clothes, and it can make your hair look gorgeous. There’s a reason why Beyonce walks around with a wind machine the entire time.


4. Consider your backdrop
It’s pretty obvious that shooting in a Provencal lavender field is going to be cool, but what do you do when you’re not in the south of France? Surprisingly, gritty urban backgrounds often look fantastic – something textured, warm coloured, and fairly plain can be awesome. You don’t need fancy backgrounds – in fact, often me and my bloggy friends wander past gorgeous places in our neighbourhood but end up shooting in front of a wall where there’s good light.

5. It’s all about the angles, baby!

Angles look fantastic. Often you have to stand or position yourself in a way that feels entirely unnatural and perhaps even looks bizarre in reality. But these poses typically look great in photos. Angle one of your legs, put your hand on your head, lean on a fence… Even if you want to do a “stand upright, face the front” pose, it’s great to put all your weight into one leg and tilt one hip up as much as you can.

It’s a matter of personal preference, but looking away from the camera can also make your photos look more professional. On the flip side, it’s less personal, so each to their own!

6. Editing

I don’t do very much editing, but when I do I use iPhoto – their retouching tool is great for getting rid of pimples or weird creases – or, which allows you to put filters on your photos (a little like Instagram), or put labels and text over them.

Original photo – Photo with “Urbane” filter on PicMonkey – Photo with “Intrepid” filter on PicMonkey

7. Equipment

You can take great photos on an iPhone or basic camera equipment. However, I can’t deny that when I upgraded my camera kit a few months ago, the quality of my photos suddenly jumped. I’m far from a professional photographer, but if there’s one thing I know, it’s to spend your money on a great quality lens and use a basic camera body. I have a Canon EOS Rebel (fairly basic amateur model), but invested in a 50mm 1.4 fixed lens (which means you can’t zoom) which consistently gives incredible quality images. One major ability of this lens is to make the background go very blurry (known formally as “bokeh”), which makes the subject in focus stand out, and generally makes the photo look ace – I also ramp this up on my camera by using the “CA” setting, which allows me to choose to have maximum blur in the background, which you can see this clearly in my recent swimsuit photos. These lenses are pricey and you definitely don’t *need* them, but they do make a difference if you’re willing to spend.

I hope that those are helpful, but I’m far from an expert! What do you recommend for great blog photos? Do you have any tips?

How to improve your blog photogaphy

35 thoughts on “Tips for blog photography!

  1. This is fantastic. I would love to take good photos of my stuff (if I ever am back long enough to finish anything) and always baulk at the idea of posing in them as I never have any good photos. Will definitely have to try out your advice this weekend! Xx

    1. Jenny says:

      Glad you liked it! Posing is definitely a psychological hurdle, but once you get over it, it does get increasingly easier…. Sometimes when I have to force myself to laugh I feel like a lunatic, but then the photos come out better!

  2. Clio says:

    Great post – I’m actually struggling with a new camera these days and trying to improve my blog picks with a very impatient photographer…. sigh.

    1. Jenny says:

      Yay, give it a go! You can also use a tripod – I know a lot of bloggers get great photos by themselves.

  3. Heather Lou says:

    Great post! We’re officially sharing a hive mind – I’ve been working on a photography post for a while! More on the techy, nerdy end so I think I’ll still post it eventually.

    1. Jenny says:

      GREAT MINDS DEAR HEATHER. Look forward to some technical tips! I assume that’ll be more than “put it on auto”?

  4. Thanks for this post!
    Love the honesty (point 2 made me go “aha, this is how they do it”)
    Very helpful!

    1. Jenny says:

      Yes, I didn’t know that either for a long time, and when I found out it made a lot of sense!

  5. They’re great tips – the only other thing I try to do if possible is when I’m editing I’ll try to crop the photo using the rule of ‘thirds’ which seems to give a nice composition. Not always possible. Your photos really are great jenny 🙂

    1. Jenny says:

      Absolutely, the rule of thirds works really well. But sometimes it’s good to mix it up with a close up head-on shot!

  6. You take such lovely photos! Plus, the fun colors you gravitate towards photograph beautifully and really pop in front of the camera!

    1. Jenny says:

      Aw, thanks Sonja! Bright colours definitely help 🙂

  7. Laurwyn says:

    All of this is very true! I usually trust Mister with all the photo composition, but I must admit that we can be lazy. If it rains, we stay inside, or if we are super busy, we hop to the park behind the house. If I look back, all the nicest pictures we took were a bit further, or while we were on a trip somewhere else. Maybe we should plan better… or be less lazy 🙂

    1. Jenny says:

      I was always too lazy to bother in the past, but then I realized that it’s actually quite fun to get into it! That said, you really need to have the time, or a person who also thinks it’s fun to take photos…

  8. I think you and I are on the same wavelength. I was getting things together to write a post about photo editing!

    I love your tips. I also recommend making your own stage lighting for indoor shoots if you can’t make it out in time

    also, a remote works wonders! did you know you could use your iphone to trigger the shutter on your EOS? I just recently discovered that.

    1. Jenny says:

      Unfortunately it turns out that my EOS doesn’t have wifi capability so won’t work as a trigger… but I definitely need to work out how to use the remote!

  9. tanyamaile says:

    Great tips! I have been working on my photography as well. What I wouldn’t do without a tripod!

    1. Jenny says:

      Tripods for the win!

  10. Heather says:

    “There’s a reason why Beyonce walks around with a wind machine the entire time.” LOL
    Great tips! Thanks for sharing. I’m so happy to hear that you take a zillion photos too!

    1. Jenny says:

      Good to know I’m not the only one!

  11. ~GG~ says:

    This is a very helpful and interesting post. Thank you for taking the time to share. I’ve read a lot of posts about “better photos”. However, you provided new info and a different twist. I really like it.

    I didn’t feel like I was reading the same info recycled as sometimes can happen. From what I’ve read on your blog, your posts don’t come across that way anyway. Great job and THANK YOU!

    1. Jenny says:

      Glad it was helpful!

  12. This post was awesome! I was so inspired after reading it, that I immediately grabbed my husband and made him take photos of my latest Moneta!

    1. Jenny says:

      That’s fantastic! Can’t wait to see how they come out!

  13. Great tips! I found our post from Bloglovin, i like!
    Bye, from Holland

    1. Jenny says:

      Glad you liked it!

  14. Gina says:

    Oh my goodness, I think your iPhoto tip is going to change my life! I take SO many pictures and my camera doesn’t take a remote, so I have to run back and forth between my tripod and my posing spot, and half the time I end up looking frazzled trying to get back in place, or my clothes are all twisted around from running back and forth. Not to mention the weird faces, blinking, going for an unusual angle and just looking like my neck is broken, etc.

    I really want to go outside for my pictures, but I live in a huge busy city and I’m terrified of feeling like an idiot taking bunches of pictures of myself. I’ve considered going into the alleyway behind my apartment, but I think I might feel even stranger when a random person walks by and there’s nothing else even going on back there to distract them from the strange lady posing like a lunatic for her camera!

    1. Jenny says:

      Hey Gina – I live in a big city too, and the first time I went to take photos on my own I was super embarrassed! But you get used to it -and, often you can find a secluded spot in an alley or parking garage or behind a building somewhere where there are minimal people 🙂

  15. Amy says:

    My brain these days – I linked to your post, but I forgot I hadn’t yet commented on it directly to tell you how much I enjoyed it. Too much going on, and too little time to focus on anything for more than a few seconds! Anyway, great post! While I try to think a lot about lighting and camera and background, I always forget to move around and try different angles. Often by the time I’m warmed up enough to try out new things, I’m also tried of posing in front of the camera. I am definitely not meant to be a model!!! 🙂 I’ve been doing a photography series on my blog all month, and I was thinking about making next week all about posing since that’s what I’m trying to work on now. I might have to link here yet again!

    1. Jenny says:

      Hey Amy – glad you liked it, and thanks for your technical post -a lot of food for thought!

  16. Lots of good reminders. Now what about winter shots? I barely posted this past winter because I could hardly bring myself to hang out outdoors taking snapshot after snapshot.

    1. Jenny says:

      That’s a good question! I only really started putting an effort into my photos in Spring…I think the best bet is to find somewhere with a lot of diffuse light -there’s a warehouse near my apartment that’s perfect. Or, brave the cold if it’s sunny outside!

  17. Thank you for such an interesting post!! I jumped over here from sew well and am lapping up All things about photography since I have only just been given a new to me canon DsLR, a rebel too!!! With an extra lens ( have to check out which one it is, but it was huge fun and gave amazing results at the wildlife park at the weekend). So…..thank you! Really interesting

  18. SewSaysYou says:

    Thank you for a great post (even if i am late to the party) I have a personal goal in 2017 to become more photogenic and take pictures worthy of the great patterns that are being put out when i review them, this post is a veritable treasure trove of information!
    The trickiest part for me is a genuine smile in pictures when you feel infinitely self conscious. Another lady suggested if you have good rapport with the person behind the camera, get them to play around and genuinely make you smile – therefore, my DP has been trained to say “after we get this picture, we can go fabric shopping!”

Let me know what you think!