As a blogger I’ve been to quite a few blogging conferences and I always make sure to sit in on the SEO and photography sessions. A while back I attended a conference and something I heard at the photography session bothered me then and continued to bother me. The speaker said that in order to take good photographs you needed a prime lens (so by default you needed a dSLR) and to shoot in RAW. I almost popped a blood vessel when this was said. As a blogger with a keen interest in photography and having been around the blogging block a fair few times I have seen must have ‘trends’ come and go. One consistent must have is a fancy dancy camera- it will solve all your crappy photo issues.
Now I’m never going to say that a smartphone is better than a dSLR- they’re two different animals and a dSLR is a much more versatile piece of kit. What I will tell you is that for the purposes of your blog, Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest you can take totally acceptable photographs using your smartphone. You absolutely don’t need to spend money. Most of us who blog don’t have bags of cash to spend on what is essentially a hobby.
The key thing here being light- as long as you have light you’ll be able to take decent photos. I use my iPhone or my Samsung Galaxy Camera for 100% of my blog photos. I do in fact own a semi-pro Nikon camera and half a dozen lenses including some pretty decent prime lenses. In the last 3 years I rarely grab that camera when I’m photographing for my blog. I don’t need to be able to print these so they just have to look good on my blog.
Some of my top tips
- Clear the background- look at what your camera is capturing. If you can see the peppermill or the tea towel when all you want to show is an egg then move them out of the shot. Not rocket science and it makes a huge difference.
- Get up close- don’t try to get too much in- less is more sometimes. This is especially helpful when the house is a mess and/or you don’t have loads of room to set up a shot.
- Move to where the light is- if you’re struggling to get a decent photograph because the light is bad just move. Pick up whatever you’re trying to photography and go to where there is light. I do this all the time. I remember once I was trying to take a picture of what I was eating at a restaurant and the light was just horrible. I noticed a bank of windows in an area that wasn’t being used so I picked up my plate by the gorgeous natural light and snapped a couple of photos. I was done in a couple of minutes and then I could go back to enjoying my evening.
- Use what’s available- if you’re on a smartphone there are loads of photography apps available. I use Snapseed, Camera Awesome and VSCOcam for most of my photos. At the moment Snapseed is my favourite. It allows me to do some decent post processing of my photos. Three things I do to almost all my photos- straighten, crop and fix white balance.
- Get it right- don’t rely on editing to fix crappy photos. If the photo is bad no amount of post processing is going to fix it (see previous tips.)
- Hack it!- again you don’t need to buy expensive kit- there are loads of tutorials on how to make different bits of kit- need a lightbox? Google it! Head to the hardware store and pick up some clamps, buy a gorillapod, download a camera app that has a timer so you can get in some of your photos. No one needs to know/see you’re not using the latest and greatest- the proof is in the photos after all!
- Mainly have fun. Don’t stay with your nose behind the smartphone while life goes on around you. I usually take a photo or two then pop my phone back in my pocket- I want to enjoy life.
I have to say that I am not a professional photographer- I did the usual took classes in High School and Uni all in the days before digital. I was an early adopter of digital cameras and had one before most folks did. I still have that little Nikon and the postage stamp screen and almost no pixels makes me chuckle. I’ve taken web courses, gone on photowalks and joined other photographers on year long challenges. Mainly I just take a lot of photo and I keep what I like and delete what’s crap. Practice makes perfect and the more photographs you take, the more editing you try out the better your photos will be. I gravitate to certain esthetics and I’ve developed my own style I think (or it might be all in my head but I’m OK with that!) The number one top tip is relax- you are not in competition with anyone. If you do what you love and love what you do people will gravitate to you.