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How I Take My Blog Photos

Wednesday, 24 August 2016
blog beauty photo tips tricks guide
I have wanted to write this post for a while now and I have finally gotten around to it. I definitely wouldn't consider myself a photography expert by any means, but I have been taking blog photos for quite a while and I have learned a few things to make my photos better and the process easier. If you would like to find out how I achieve my blog and Instagram photos, just read on.

Camera and Lighting
I use a Canon 1100D DSLR to take all my blog and Instagram photos. It is the baby entry level SLR and I always use the cheapy 18-55mm kit lens that comes with it so I definitely don't have an expensive SLR setup. That said, it was still a big investment at the time but it has been more than worth it. I will probably upgrade to the Canon 500D if I ever start doing videos because this entry level model doesn't have key features like continuous focusing or a flipout screen but I for my typical photos needs, this more than gets the job done. I do also want to say though that it is possible to take photos without having an SLR. This photo of my camera was taken on my iPhone 6s and proves that good lighting is more important than a good camera, though a good camera does help because it gives you complete control using manual settings.
If you really want great blog photos and don't have a big budget, I would recommend investing in lighting over an expensive camera. If you are lucky enough to have good natural lighting and a flexible schedule that allows you to take advantage of it, you don't really need studio lights. Unfortunately, I take all my photos late at night and my apartment has absolutely zero good natural lighting in the day anyway, lights were a must for me. The fifty odd dollars I spent on my two soft boxes on eBay (eBay links are tricky to maintain but just search for "Soft Box Lighting") has hands down been the best investment in my blog I have ever made. They have been going strong for years. 

Backgrounds and Props
Any time I go shopping now, I have my eyes peeled for anything that would make a good background for my blog photos. That is my life now. I usually start with a white melamine sheet ($5.40) from Bunnings that I had them chop in half for easy storage. It is really cheap, durable, stays flat on my bed when I am shooting and stores super easily. I also sometimes use a marble vinyl tile ($4.99) for a little bit a variety. It doesn't have the beautiful look of real marble but it is crazy cheap, light and stores way easier than a huge, heavy marble tile would.
As for smaller backgrounds with more distinct patterns for variety, like every other blogger, my go to is Kmart. The round corkback placemats and woven placemats all cost only $2 each and I am always checking in to look for new designs. 
I also use a whole bunch of trinket trays and plates that I picked up all over the place. The spotted ones is from Typo, the scalloped pink plate is from Target, the marble plate is from a random bargain shop and the hexagon trays are from Kmart. 
I'm always on the look for little random things I can use to make my photos a little different like these little marble coasters and adorable little copper shopping trolley from (surprise, surprise!) Kmart. Basically every time I go shopping I prowl through the home wares section of Kmart for anything new.
I also use fake flowers a lot in my photos a lot. I love arranging them in opposite corners which always seems to look nice. Its been part of my photo style for a long time and I still kind of like it. Plus, it makes my photos recognisable as mine which is always a good thing for blog branding. These ones are from Ikea.
Basically, just always be on the lookout for things that would make good photo props whenever you are shopping and you will be amazed what amazing cheap options you will find. A lot of people use scrap booking paper too, but I have always preferred the durability of trinket trays and place mats.

Placement, Photographing and Editing
When it comes to staging your photos and arranging products for flat lays, it is all about practice. I still don't think I am that great at it and that there are many bloggers that are way better than me like HeyThereJacquelyn and KatinaLindaa, but I am always improving. 
The first thing you need is Blu Tac! Seriously, it will be your savior because so many makeup products are so annoyingly cylindrical and will just roll away. It is also a great idea to try a whole bunch of arrangements because you never know what it will look like until you frame and take the photo, especially when you are new to it. For instance, I tried two placements for these brow products and liked the bottom one better. 

As far as photographing goes, my recommendation would be to get your lighting and camera settings right if you can to reduce how much editing you have to later. The photos above are totally unedited which leaves me very little to do with editing. When I edit, I usually crop the image, up the exposure a touch (+0.2-0.5), up the contrast (+10-15 or a little more for photos with a black background to make them pop) and sometimes up the saturation, especially when I use my flowers or colourful products to make them more vivid. I use Photoshop for this but all of these are edits can be made on the most basic free photo editors. The one thing I love Photoshop for is the lens correction which corrects the subtle fish-eye lens distortion which can be really noticeable on palettes or anything with long, straight edges. It only makes a subtle difference but it can really improve the overall look of photos, especially when you are arranging the products to from straight lines and grid formats.
Edited Photo.
As you can see, my photos never look dramatically different from the raw image. I prefer this just because I think that having to over edit always messes with colours and true representations in some way but it can be done. It all comes down to the process you find that works best for your equipment, lighting, skill set, etc. 

Swatch Photos
Swatch photos are a bit of a different beast and I am still not entirely happy with them all the time but they are getting better. I find that using my soft box lighting doesn't give me the results I want but I hate flash photography. I found a good happy medium using this super cheap little diffuser that slots over my lens. It softens the flash so my photos look much more natural and even. It allows me to do easy arm swatches or even take close ups of my eyes or lips.

So there you have the full rundown on how I take my blog photos. I am certainly no photography pro but I feel much more confident in the quality of my photos than I did when I first started blogging. Taking good blog photos really comes with practice (just go back and look at my first posts) but I really hope that these tips help. I know my photos aren't perfect too so if you have any suggestions for improving mine, I'd love to hear them. Also, if you have any specific question, I would be more than happy to help if I can so just leave a comment below. 
5 comments on "How I Take My Blog Photos"
  1. Great tips and thanks for sharing :) I'm always amazed at close-up lip pictures. They look sooo good. Mine can never look that beautiful with liquid lipstick on. Think I'll just stick to taking photos of makeup products ��

  2. Amazing tips! I am definitely saving up for an SLR of some sort! for now my iPhone will have to do! Loooove this post! x

    Tash |

  3. Emma I always admire your photos, they're so crisp and clear :)

    I think your swatch images and close ups are some of the best ones out there - thank you for sharing your secrets :)

    Maddie |

  4. What a great blog post! I love your photos on Instagram and I think you create beautiful flatlays. They're always so aesthetically pleasing!



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