I’m going to be 100% honest with you. You do not need fancy equipment or a professional photographer husband / boyfriend / wife / girlfriend to have take ridiculously better photos for your blog or business. This post is for you if you are looking to up your photo game and want practical tricks to do it ASAP.
There are basically two ways people read blogs or look at a website – soaking up every single word / photo or skimming through the words but still soaking up the photos. Photos (no matter what) are easily digested visually and are some of the first materials that readers will see on your blog. They are essential to pulling a reader in.
They also can make your blog look way more legit than maybe you even think. They can portray that you’ve put some time and effort into really caring about what you put out. Blog photos can be a way to express your unique perspective on travel, business, food, design, or whatever else your blog or website is about.
You may have extraordinary things to say but if your photos look dull you may be missing out on drawing some of your readers in. Don’t worry, I always have your back and want to make sure you succeed to your highest potential so let’s get started upping your photo game.
Lighting is key to every photo.
Seriously, truly, absolutely! Lighting is what makes or breaks any photo because in reality all a camera is doing is capturing light and turning it into an image. Yea, pretty magical huh? But anyways, shooting in a great lighting environment is always key and I’ll give you some easy tips to get that ideal lighting you are searching for. You do not need expensive lighting equipment to get ideal lighting but if you do want to get artificial lights I’ll give you my recommendations below.
The common misconception is that you can always increase the exposure or brightness in editing… BUT you cannot create pixels (photo information) that wasn’t captured to begin with. What I mean is that if you take a photo in dark/uneven lighting there’s only so much that editing can do. Of course, you can increase the exposure later but try to start good lighting to begin with and let the editing process just be the icing on the cake. Editing will not be the superhero of your awesome photo with horrible lighting.
Indirect sunlight or open shade
The best way to get that perfect, even light is using indirect sunlight. You want to use what you have around you to diffuse the harsh sunlight so it doesn’t create harsh shadows (unless that’s the look you’re going for). The best way to do this is shoot in open shade. This can be out in your outdoor space – on your covered patio, under a tree, or shot during an overall cloudy day.
Using an artificial light source
There may come times when you don’t have access to sunlight and if you have to shoot something ASAP you can use artificial lighting. Maybe you work a 9-5 and using sunlight just isn’t practical all the time. That’s totally ok!
I use to have an e-commerce business and I would have to shoot new products at all times of the day and night while balancing my 9-5 job. If you are going to use artificial lighting here are some awesome products I recommend – Limo Studio Light Kit* and Lowel Tabletop Light Unit*.
Make sure that when you are using your artificial lighting that you shut off all other lighting in your space and close your curtains. You want to use your artificial light on its own so it is not competing with any other light sources.
Also be aware of the light temperature. Artificial lighting can make your white balance more yellow or blue depending on what type of bulbs you are using. You can either set your camera temperature or edit this later. Make your whites as close to white as you can. You can always add a little tint of warmness or coolness, but it’s best to keep it as close to what your eye would see in real life.
Embrace experimenting and don’t be afraid to try something unique and strange.
It’s so easy to look at other blogs or brands and want to imitate what they have going on but I think there’s major magic in creating something different. There is so much of the same thing going around and around via social media and blogs that people out there are craving something unique. I know I am so please show me something different!
Don’t be afraid to try to experiment and embrace your different perspective whether you have a travel, food, design, or style blog. If your photos accurately portray what you are trying to get across then everything else is just secondary.
Try to think of the story you are trying to tell.
As you begin to shoot your blog photos and put them inside your posts, you’ll realize that your photos work best when they tell your reader a clear story. You want your photos to have a beginning, middle, and grand finale. It’s your job to shoot the right material to be able to string them all together in a post that tells this story.
Becoming better and better at telling your stories through your photos will take time. You will start to really become pro at this the more you post so don’t give up if it doesn’t quite make sense to you yet. With time, I know you’ll be able to know exactly what to shoot in order to get those perfect story-telling shots. The story will start to come together in your head and you will be overflowing with inspiration and direction. My biggest advice to you is to keep going, keep posting, and keep shooting.
If you need some inspiration for story-telling visuals go ahead and look at magazines in your blog or your business genre. Even though print is not as popular as it once was, magazines usually kill it at telling stories in a beautiful way via their photos. Also, look at some major bloggers in your genre that are truly at the top of their photo game. You don’t have to copy them but understanding the format will help you know how to make it your own.
Create your own cohesive editing routine.
Have you ever seen a photo floating around on the interwebs and knew exactly where it came from? That’s probably because this blog / source has a unique editing routine or filter that they use consistently. This is an AMAZING branding technique and also helps keep all your visuals cohesive.
If you shoot in raw on your DSLR you have more flexibility with editing via photoshop or lightroom. Go to your camera settings and set to shoot in raw. When you open up raw files on your computer in photoshop then you get this editing screen. This is how I personally edit my photos. Although there are many, many different ways to do it so feel free to make your editing routine your own.
Whether you are editing photos via your computer or apps on your phone – try to keep consistency every time you edit a new photo. My favorite apps to edit photos for Instagram are VSCO cam (C1 filter is my fav), Snapseed, and Color Story.
Try experimenting with your editing routine until you see it all come together. Strive to have it compliment the rest of your brand aesthetic. As you can see, I LOVE color so I do add a vibrant, colorful touch to all of my photos – both on my blog and my Instagram. It does take time to develop your own style but once you find something a routine you jive with, stick to it.
Try sticking to vertical dimensions. (For your blog especially!)
Sticking with vertical dimensions not only shows up on your blog in a larger format, but makes your photos extra Pinterest-friendly. I get over half of my website traffic from Pinterest and if you utilize Pinterest to do the same, then you can increase your blog traffic like crazy too. I wrote a post about it here.
Take a million photos and then take a million more.
Don’t be shy behind the camera. I highly, highly encourage you to move around and snap your photo way too many times. Take 100 photos of the same thing because when you look through your photos you are going to be so happy you did. Sometimes out of those 100 photos there’s a golden one that wouldn’t be there unless you got extremely snap happy.
If you scroll through my photo memory card or my photo library on my phone there are probably 90% awful photos and 10% useable ones. Without the 90%, I would never have any useable ones. Honestly, those magic / sent down from heaven photo moments never happen on the first snap (unless you’re extra, extra lucky) so don’t stop taking photos.
Also learning how to create beautiful compositions and photos will take practice and time so keep at it. Try practicing every day! I look back on my photos from even a couple months ago and I think they are sh*t. If you take a million photos then you’ll be able to look back and see how much you evolve if you keep taking photos all the time. You’ll quickly learn what works and what doesn’t and develop your own unique perspective and style.
Equpiment & Tools I use
iPhone 6 plus
But I am currently wishing for the iPhone 7 😉 . When I don’t have my camera with me and that perfect photo comes up, this works just fine. In my blogs posts, I combine my photos taken from my camera and my phone. Try mastering your mobile photography to the best of its ability because it honestly works wonders. It’s also pretty exciting that it gets better and better year by year.
I upgraded to this from a really old Nikon a couple years ago and it’s one of the best decisions I’ve made. I use this for my blog photos and any video that I take for my courses. I’m beyond happy with this camera and it’s a great mid-range model.
This is truly my favorite lens. It was an impulse buy as most of my purchases are 😉 . Although it’s my favorite for a lot of photography I do, it’s my main sidekick in portraits + food photography. Also fabulous for photographing at night as the low f-stop. YAY!
I wouldnt be able to do anything on my blog without these two. I do use Photoshop way more often as I’m not super comfortable with Lightroom in all it’s greatness. Plus, these two programs aren’t as expensive as they used to be as you pay per month instead of one hefty payment you used to have to throw at it.
Which is free and available for about 10 hours a day (depending on where you live). It also provides happiness and vitamin D haha! But seriously, since I travel I cannot carry a lighting kit around me so I use natural light to its fullest potential.
* I am affiliate for some products on this page that I recommend. If you purchase those items through my links I may earn a commission. I only recommend products and services that I 100% love and believe in myself.
I’d love to hear how this helped you and if you have any equipment recommendations – please share them. I’ve recently become obsessed with shopping around for a new lens so if you know an awesome one, let me know!