Recently I feel like I've really upped my blog photography game. Taken it to the next level concerning editing, props and the general quality of the photos. This has not been an overnight process. As you would have seen if you have been following my blog for a while, that the improvement in my photos has been a gradual process.
Back in 2014, when I started blogging, I used a mini handheld camera. I didn't use any props, I didn't edit the photos, and I definitely didn't make them look ascetically pleasing. Skip forward to summer 2015 I got my first DSLR. The quality of the photos started to improve and so did the editing, but we are still not talking anything special. Jump to the start of 2016, and I've discovered the manual settings. I'm using a tripod, and I'm taking into consideration blog props and better framing.
Come summer 2016, I've jumped on the bandwagon of flat lays. Some more successful than others, I must say. Hop forward a couple of months to the end of 2016 and start of 2017 where now I'm using more advanced lenses, adjusting settings and using professional editing software. It's taken around two and half years for me to get photos like this. That's a long time.
It can be really disheartening to see lots of bloggers with perfect white Instagram feeds and beautifully crafted blog photos with blurred backgrounds and the products in crisp focus. If you have no idea where to begin with, blog photography, don't fear- I'm here to sort you out. I've developed one technique that I've found to be absolutely faultless in creating the best blog posts. I want to share this with you today in a very simple, step by step guide, that doesn't involve any fancy software or equipment, just a good eye.
Okay so the technique I've developed, I've called is layering. Like if you were going out on a cold frosty morning, you build up the layers to keep you as warm as possible. It's just the same in blog photography. You start off with the bare bones and build up and up until you create the best image you can.
It can be pretty overwhelming not knowing where to start. You haven't got a clue what to position where, what looks good and what doesn't. So to help you out, I've broken it down into a simple step by step guide using a very basic image of a lipstick taken by me to illustrate the difference following the steps can make to your photo.
LAYER 1- THE SUBJECT
Okay, so you are obviously going to need something to take a photo of. This will obviously depend on what you blog about. I've chosen a lipstick because there so easy to take pictures off plus I have quite a bad lipstick addiction at the moment, so, I kind of can't help myself. Anyway, you will want to position this one-third of the way in (rule of thirds) on either side of the photo. It should also be placed near the front, to create a blur behind, which I will get to in a bit. You will also need to decide on a background at this point. I use two large pieces of white card. White reflects light, so it makes it photo lighter, but it also helps the photo stand out against the plain background.
LAYER 2- BACKGROUND BLUR
In the backdrop of this photo, there are fairy lights, which I admit are hard to see because I haven't edited this photo and the photo was actually taken on quite a bright day. But they are there, trust me. By having your subject in the foreground and focuses on that, it will blur the background. This called depth of field. The further away your subject is from the background, the blurry the background will be. 50mm lenses are perfect for creating this effect because they have a larger aperture. This is what I use. However, iPhones and most smartphones are now also intelligent enough to do this for you, as well. I use fairy lights because it creates a bokeh effect, which I'm not going to lie is quite pretty to look at.
LAYER 3- MIDGROUND INTEREST
The best photos have a bit of dimension to them. Photos need something to catch your attention, which is the object in the foreground but they also need something in the midground, which most of the time you won't even look twice at. They really do help, though, add a bit of interest and character to the photo. When doing this, though, it is important to make it not look cluttered. No one wants a cluttered background because your eyes won't know where to look. I use the edge of this candle holder from Primark. It was £3, you really don't have to pay a lot to have beautiful looking blog props, if you know where to look.
LAYER 4- COLOUR
White can be a bit dull, let's face it. I mean if you dig it, that's cool, but I personally believe that it is good to add a little bit of colour and interest in the foreground as well as your main subject, just to make the photo stand out a little bit more when people see the photo on Instagram or Twitter. I do this by using my favourite blog prop ever, my marble notebook from Flying Tiger. I don't think they still sell it. However, if you are looking for cheap marble surfaces, just print off a picture of marble from Google, and that should do the trick, and it will cost you nothing! If marble is not your thing, I sometimes use wallpaper samples, which are also free and can add a spot of colour to your photo.
LAYER 5- PATTERN
This point is very similar to the previous one. Sometimes, you just need something to make the photo look complete and not so empty and sad. This layer can be skipped, if it just isn't looking right. However, if you are a beauty blogger, using patterned bits of paper for me underneath by product photos makes them stand out a bit more. Slightly more exciting you know. In the Range (which is a huge shop that sells everything in the UK) they sell these small packs of paper, with lots of different designs and patterns on them. They only cost a couple of quid and are usually found in the arts and crafts section. They are really worth checking out if you want to add a bit more spark to your photos.
LAYER 6- BACKGROUND INTEREST
Although having fairy lights in your photo can make it look pretty, adding a couple of objects in the background of the photo can add a bit of depth to the image and well just finishes it off really. These objects should be blurred out so they don't distract from the main subject but you should still be able to see what they are. Like in this photo, you can see that they are makeup products, but you can't read what they are called. Again, it is very important to make sure you don't go overboard and make it look very cluttered. No one wants that. It is all about experimentation. Trial and error are the only way forward.
With a simple bit of editing, here is the final product. I see this as being the perfect blog photo as it has a crisp subject in the foreground, which you can clearly see what it is. There are background interest and blur, making it look professional. The colour and patterns used make it unique, it is not over cluttered and has been edited well. This isn't me blowing my own trumpet, although, I know it sounds like that. It has taken me an awfully long time to take photos like these, that I am very proud.
Remember it is not an overnight process. Anyone can take the perfect blog photo, it just takes time and experimentation.
Thank you for reading, as always X