I am a very visual person and for me, photos can make or break a blog. I love to look at big, bright, clear photos and do my best to incorporate those same kinds of images on my blog. I’m not saying that you have to be Annie Leibovitz, but you don’t want your photos to be dark, small, out of focus, and/or cluttered in the background. Beautiful images are pinnable images and Pinterest can be blogger gold.
I am not a professional photographer and don’t pretend to be one but over the past few years I have been reading, practicing, and paying attention to what I do and don’t like when it comes to blog photography. It is a constant learning process and there is always room to improve, which is what I strive to do. With that, I am going to take you behind the scenes of my set up to the basics of stylizing and editing photos for my blog.
Having a DSLR camera is definitely an asset when it comes to taking beautiful photos, but it’s only as good as the person behind the lens. DSLR cameras take time and passion to learn and if you don’t have either of those, that’s okay. Plenty of bloggers take perfectly nice photos with their smartphones and point and shoot cameras.
If you do use your phone or point and shoot camera you just may have to work a little harder since you have less control over things like shutter speed, aperture, white balance, and the ability to use different lenses and filters but that’s a different post for a different time. This post is all about upping your game with whatever camera you have.
Nothing kills a photo quite like bad lighting. I do most of my shooting in my kitchen or in the dining room, depending on the time of day. Both windows have a blind or curtain so I can adjust the lighting that way as well so it isn’t too dark or too harsh. I will also use my white foam board to bounce the light if needed. For this shoot, I closed my curtain and ended up getting good light (you can see a finished photo from this shoot later in this post)
Photo composition is a constant work in progress and is something that takes time to learn what you like and develop your own style. My advice is to look at other blogs and Pinterest for inspiration. I have a Pinterest board of photos that I like to use for style inspiration.
Some basic tips: remove (or crop) any clutter from the background. If you are photographing food use white dishes, attractive silverware, cloth napkins, and placemats to add interest. Props can be fun but be careful not to over stylize.
A nice background for your photos is important. You can go really simple by buying a white and/or black foam board at Walmart and maybe a vinyl backdrop or two to start then dressing it up with props. As you become more confident you could then try your hand being more creative with your backdrops. I have also used a white sheet or a throw blanket in a pinch. Just make sure your sheet or blanket isn’t wrinkly because that never looks good. Draped loosely, yes. Wrinkles, no.
Try a lot of different angles to see which one you like best. I often think that I got the perfect shot when looking through my camera only to find that once I get my photos downloaded I’m not happy with it or like another angle that I’ve shot better.
Take photos from close-up and far away. You can always crop them later. Plus you never know if that close-up shot you took will come out the way you want it. Here is a perfect example for a post that I’m working on. I wanted a good shot of the trail mix and none of the close-ups I took were quite right so I cropped it to get the photo that I wanted.
Good blog photos don’t end once you take the picture. A lot of times the white balance needs to be adjusted and some color correction at the very least. You may also need to do some cropping and/or straighten your photos (I am notorious for taking crooked photos). I have Lightroom 5 that I haven’t learned how to use yet so I use a free download called PhotoScape for most of my editing and for styling my photos for Pinterest or my featured image I use Canva or PicMonkey.