Photography is an essential skill for any blogger and one of the most intimidating tools to learn (at least for me). I’ve had my Canon Rebel for over 6 years and am only now really learning how to use it. I took an online class from A Beautiful Mess called Mastering Your DSLR last April and it has helped me improve my photography skills immensely.
At my last job, I worked as blog editor for an online company and spent a lot of time working with their in-house photographer to create blog content. I learned so much from watching the photographer work and assisting her in styling each shot.
Since launching Adventures In Making, I’ve had to dive in and take all the photos you see here myself. I can tell you it’s definitely something that takes both patience and practice. I have a few essential tools and techniques I use to achieve the quality and look that I want for each photo, plus aside from my digital camera, all the equipment I use is low-budget or found second hand.
1. Basic Equipment
• Digital camera. Although a professional DSLR camera is ideal, you can still get great photos from a simple point-and-shoot, or even your iPhone. It’s worth your time to look for tutorials and advice for using the camera you choose. There may be simple techniques you overlook when you’re using it. Definitely take the time to ask friends what they use, and if they have any tips.
• Tripod. Even the slightest movement while taking a photo will cause a motion blur. The closer you get to your object, the more obvious the motion blur becomes. Even an inexpensive tripod will make a big difference in the sharpness of your images. Tripods are available at all sorts of stores. If you’d like a more portable setup, think about using a small table-top tripod, or a flexible tripod like a Gorilla Pod.
• Remote switch is also helpful to prevent moving the camera while taking a photo. Even the action of pressing the shutter will often cause you to move and blur your photo. A remote switch can relieve this frustration. If you don’t have a remote, try playing with the timer setting on your camera.
• Reflector. A reflector can help direct light to your subject and soften dark shadows. You can purchase one like this one, or for a cheaper option you can use a large white poster board. I recommend reading this post from Making Nice in the Midwest blog. Mandi goes into great detail about the equipment she uses and how reflectors can make all the difference in your photos.
• Image editing software to crop, brighten, sharpen, etc. your photos as needed. It may seem easier to use the image exactly as it was shot. But in reality, it is difficult to shoot an image precisely how you want it to appear in its final form. We recommend using Photoshop or similar software program. PicMonkey is a free online source for photo editing.
Styling is essential to create a strong image because it gives your idea context for the viewer and can help tell your story. Simple backdrops and props are great for enhancing photos. For example, I like to use different fabrics, papers and textures for backdrops and I have a variety of different props I like to use (like baskets, dishes, ribbon, flowers, etc.)
You want your photos to showcase your idea, so it’s best to try not to use too many props that distract the viewer. With that said, you can still get creative with different prop ideas to enhance your photo. For example, in my Watercolor Gift Wrap post, I used a small vase of flowers, and a dish with dried chamomile (one of the ingredients for my eye pillows) as props. For my Fire Cider recipe, the ingredients themselves became my props. And in my Pretzel Treat Favors post, I used paper straws, ribbon, tags, and balloons to create the look and feel of a party.
When thinking of prop ideas for your photos think simple and try to use what you already have in your home or kitchen. I also recommend dollar stores and thrift stores as great places to find baskets, flowers, old fabrics, etc.
Window/natural lighting makes the best photos. Never use a flash or overhead light. Set up your backdrop and props near a window and take your photographs during the day when there is good light. If photographing outdoors, an overcast day or shady spot is best. Direct sunlight creates hard shadows in your photos (which is not good!). Think soft light not hard light.
If sunlight is never where you need it, consider trying some supplemental lighting. The trick is to find a light fixture and bulb that will help you replicate sunlight. I recommend stopping by a store that sells cameras and photography supplies, and asking what sort of setup they recommend. Avoid using a normal household bulb as it will produce yellow light (which is bad for photography), especially when you are aiming to replicate the look of ‘natural’ sunlight.
• Food & Light: Photography Tips from Diane Cu by Averie Cooks
• Food Styling By Celebrate Creativity
• Lighting Tips and Tricks for Bloggers & Photographers by Making Nice in the Midwest.
• Basic Photo Tips for Bloggers by B.You