Today I thought I’d tackle a slightly different topic opposed to my usual make-up rants & cosmetic capers as over the past few weeks I’ve had a handful of emails relating to queries & advice on a diverse range of blog topics. Now although I don’t (by any stretch of the imagination) consider myself to be an expert on the subject, occasionally I’ve been complimented on my blog piccies *blushing furiously* So considering I haven’t posted a few virtual pointers in quite a while I thought this was fun one to cover. If you’re new to blogging or just simply enjoy reading the musings of others then get comfy as I share my Top 5 Tips on the basics of blog photography…
From experience, if you’re thinking of investing in a camera make sure it’s something you’ve seriously thought about before hand. Deals can be luring, but when you’re lumped with something you rarely use 6 months later it’s pretty disheartening. Okay, let me explain: a few years ago I treated myself to a sparkly new Fuji bridge camera – which is pretty much mid range between compact & DSLR. Bringing it home I was literally bursting with excitement to get started on taking awesome shots of little projects & day trips, however it wasn’t long before the excitement wore off as I’d quickly deemed it big, bulky & far too heavy to carry around on trips out and about. Instead what effectively was a superb camera ended up spending 95% of it’s existence nestled in a box at the bottom of my craft drawers… thankfully it found it’s forever home elsewhere and is no longer abandoned amongst glitter glue & crepe paper. Needless to say it wasn’t a match made in heaven but instead highlighted how I’d been lured in by such a tempting deal that I simply hadn’t thought of one important factor = me – the user! So before you rush to your local gadget store ask yourself the following few questions:
1) What is the camera intended on being used for?
2) Is it going to be solely used at home or out and about?
3) Is it purely for product shots or are you going to eventually want to invest in specialist lenses?
4) Will you be using the camera for vlogging? If so, do you want something lightweight & perfectly portable or is a handy-dandy little camcorder (that takes great still shots) possibly better suited to your needs?
Sure, DSLR’s are undoubtedly the top of their game with a range of pin sharp (and verrry expensive) additional lenses, but if like me you prefer something a little more handbag-friendly then it could be worth while saving hard for an outstanding compact. Canon, Panasonic & Sony seem to be the market leaders in this field at the moment with a range of outstanding mini gadgets that capture picture-perfect images. Thankfully you’ll not be short on choice & there’s often great deals available as new models constantly arrive on the market.
I use the Sony Handy-Cam CX330… not only is it perfect for recording videos, it takes pin sharp pictures with its 9.2 MP stills which is more than ample for capturing amazing images!
It also a good idea to have a look at some other equipment that might help you achieve the best possible shots. For product photography I’d always recommend a handy little desk tripod – especially if shaky hand syndrome is something you’re lumbered with! You can pick these baby tripods up for pocket money on the likes of E-bay or Amazon, however do take time to carefully read the reviews as the term ‘you get what you pay for’ is oh-so-true when you’re the proud owner of a worthless piece of cheap plastic that’s only fit for the recycling heap.
Backdrop, Props & Presentation
These three things can make such a difference to your picture looking interesting and just okay. Backdrops can always be a challenge creatively, especially if you ain’t blessed with a huge amount of set-up space. From my own experience, when photographing a lot of items sometimes it’s actually best to go with a neutral background – that way all the attention is kept focused on the products. Having a busy backdrop & a range of colourful cosmetics can often be too much to take in as opposed to keeping the reader focused on the subject you’re talking about.
It’s also good to note that when you’re taking a picture & your backdrop includes a room setting, it’s more than likely readers eyes will wander eagerly over every little detail that’s totally irrelevant to your post. Before you upload your picture to the inter-web check there’s no mountains of dirty washing lingering in the back ground, a clutter of empty cups strewn across your window sill or visible letters/packages with your address – you get the picture, right? Some things are better out of sight… it’s so easy to overlook these details when you’re pressed for time or eager to get a great snap without realising what others take notice off.
When it comes to choosing props for your photography keep them tied into the colours and theme of what you’re capturing. If (for example) your’re reviewing an organic conditioning treatment then fresh flowers can be a pretty addition. If it’s a relaxing spa treatment then tea lights add a great soothing effect, especially when slightly out of focus in the background. Some of my previously used props have included flowers, pebbles, candles, confetti, fairy lights & glossy magazines… the list goes on! Having visual features that tie in but aren’t too distracting can really add pretty detail that makes your image look so much more professional & appealing.
I have to admit, one of my all time bug-bearers is reading a super review yet the product shots look utterly dire *face palm* Yes, these things live in our make-up bags/ drawers/cabinets/shelves or whatever else they’re stored in or on. We’re all aware they’re used daily & therefore get grubby looking but for crying out loud give them a wipe before trying to entice others into learning more about them. A foundation bottle smeared with splatters of make-up, an eye-shadow palette smudged in dusty remnants or a mirror reflecting sticky finger prints ain’t going to impress anyone. Okay, so we’re not exactly rubbing shoulders with the editors of Glamour mag but if you’re hoping to capture the attention of other readers then standards gotta be set. If anything, think about the potential brands & companies that may stumble upon your blog with intent of approaching you for an exciting opportunity… they just might reconsider if the overall presentation looks like a toddler has raided your beauty stash.
Ps: If you’re really pushed for space check out my budget friendly tutorial on how to ‘Create Your Own Mini Photo Studio’!
My evil nemesis. Unless you’re surrounded by expensive photography lights & paparazzi style external flash units you’ll more than likely to be in the same boat as the rest of us – wrestling with a dimly lit room and those pathetic energy saving light bulbs! However the best lighting is always natural… thankfully the front rooms in my house are always well illuminated in the morning & early afternoon. Luckily for me my bedroom is pretty bright and airy so lighting isn’t often too much of a problem for taking pictures of smaller items. However as I have work commitments during the early part of the day, all my images have to taken on a weekend morning to ensure I get the best lighting possible. Come the winter time when dark skies are upon us there’s only one thing for it – to dust off my trusty Ikea desk lamps & work it as best I can. Thankfully the results are actually pretty impressive, considering they cost a mere £5 each and are easily stored away under the bed when not needed. If you’re thinking of investing in a temporary fix it’s always better to buy in pairs to help avoid nasty background shadows. If you’re shopping for bulbs make sure you buy ones that are as close to natural day light as possible. It might cost an extra couple of quid but you’ll be well impressed with the results.
Now this is where the real magic happens. Getting as great a photo as possible merely cuts down on the amount of work you have to put in at the end. There’s literally hundreds of editing packages available for you to choose from however if you’re a beginner I’d highly suggest starting off with the likes of Pic Monkey. Aren’t familiar with it? Then you’re missing out. You can change colours, brightness, tones, add filters, add text, add shapes/banners/arrows… the list goes on. If you feel you’re using it regularly enough you may even want to upgrade to their Royale package which stops all the annoying ad banners flashing in the sidebar and opens up a whole range of new and exciting options that will enhance your end result and bedazzle your readers!
Just keep in mind when you’re editing a photo (especially if it’s a make-up review) that you’ll need to avoid using any colour changing filters otherwise the product may not end up looking anything like what it originally does in real life. The whole point of reviewing something is to give an accurate reflection of how good, bad or ugly the product really is. If someone rushes out to buy a lippy based on your article only to discover it’s a totally different colour (thanks to a filtered image) you could end up with a disgruntled blog buddy who won’t be too keen to take your advice in future!
Finally, if you’re really serious about getting the most out of your camera or learning how to create the best digitally enhanced images then why not check out what short courses are available at your local college? My local campus runs short 6 week courses that cover virtually everything you need to know on capturing great photos & mastering editing skills… who knows, it may even turn into a new and exciting career venture!
Do you have any handy photography tips for beginner bloggers or anyone hoping to tidy up their photography skills? If so do let us know in the comments below what works best for you! Otherwise, do stop & say a quick hello, we always enjoy a chatter here on Confetti & Curves 🙂
Happy Monday chums…
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