Photography Tips & Tricks.

(Taken with a Canon S110.)

I should probably start off by saying that I am in no way a professional photographer, I had a forensic photography class at university but it was really basic and everything I have learnt has come from practising with my own camera. You don’t need an SLR to take nice photos, sometimes I use my iPhone and I doubt anyone notices. I also have a smaller camera which I took these photos with – I bought it for vlogging though, it’s a Canon S110. It does the job well, as you can see from the bottom photo.

My blog photos are all taken with a Canon 600D SLR, which I’ve had for two years. I love it, it does exactly what I want and the flip out screen is super handy. I would personally really recommend this, it’s not overpriced and you can get a lot of great lenses for it so photos are constantly improving. I have three lenses which I use, they are:
–Β 18-55 mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II Lens Kit – comes with the camera, I use this for filming only really. It’s great for starting off with but I’m sure you would eventually want to buy a prime lens for blog photography.
Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II LensΒ – great for blog pictures as it produces such sharp images, but it’s very zoomed out so I prefer to use the above kit lens for filming and this for taking very detailed photos with a lovely background blur.
Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STN Lens – this, like the above 50mm lens, is another prime lens which means it doesn’t zoom like the kit lens does. This is my favourite lens as it’s a “pancake lens” so its super slim and makes my camera a little easier to cart round. It produces beautiful pictures always. I prefer this over the 50mm lens as it’s not so zoomed in and I like the pictures more.

I had my kit lens alone for about 15 months before I bought another lens (the 50mm) and I was fine with it, but a good lens makes all the difference.
I’m going to explain my tips and tricks to you in very simple terms because I find it easier, this is RL PPL TALK. You can probably find a more detailed manual with your camera but here’s my version.
One of the important things to look at when picking a lens is the aperture, which is that “F” number – this means that the lower the number, the more sharper your image will be, with a blurred background. I won’t go in to too much detail but this is what I think works best for blogging, it produces really lovely pictures – especially if you have a good set up with a nice background. The 50mm and 40mm lens I have both have low F numbers so they’re perfect for the pictures I like to produce. You can also change this on your camera…

For my camera, I set it on ‘M’ which means I can change the settings. I really don’t do much here except change the ISO, which is basically the cameras sensitivity to light. This is hugely important when taking good photos I think, even though my flat is full of good, natural light, on winter days it doesn’t really get light for long in Scotland so it’s a bit of a farce trying to take photos. Go to your ISO settings, and increase the number to 200 or 400 and then 600 or more if it’s really dark. Mine is usually set to around 400 on a grey day, or 100 on a sunny day indoors.
This will make all the difference to your photos.
Again, I also change the aperture – you should be able to do this in your camera settings, just look for the F value and turn it to the lowest it can go (probably F2.8). That’s about all I do, but I make sure to change the ISO depending on my light, every time!

The next thing I do is put my camera on the LCD view, rather than looking through the viewfinder. I then use the arrows to move the little white box, this is what focuses the lens, to my product image. If you look at the above photo, I have a bottle of perfume, surrounded by candles and a floral crown. I want the perfume bottle to be sharp, so you can read the text very clearly, and I want the background props to look blurred. This will be done with the low aperture but it makes all the difference actually focusing on the item we want to be sharp. Move your box around until you’re focused on the text of the item – and then you can half hold down the shoot button until it’s focused and then shoot. Done. The product is sharp and in focus, while the background is blurred and pretty. It’s best to place your background items further back than your product so they blur – you can experiment with this if you wish.

In all honesty, that’s probably it. You can take good photos on any camera by following that method. I often see people with an iPhone 4S or whatever and their photos are horrendous and I really don’t know how they do it. I’m like “seriously? That phone has a fool-proof camera!”, but really all you have to do is tap the screen where you want it to focus and you’re set. I sometimes see people say “don’t use your phone when taking blog photos” but this is nonsense, I take blog photos with my iPhone 5 occasionally and do you think anyone notices? Unlikely.

Once you’re a little more familiar with your camera, you can become quite skilled, so don’t worry if you feel like a fraud that you haven’t had any training! You just need to practice. Below is a photo I took for Nouvelle, by using the aforementioned focus method. I just included the other products in the frame but made sure the focus was only on this one product, so there was a really nice blur to the photo. Simples.

weekly32_1

That’s about all I do, I know I’m not an expert but I like what I produce and I find photography so enjoyable. A do use Photoshop to edit my photos a little but it’s not important, you can take a good photo without the use of Photoshop (as seen in the second photo from the top, which was taken with a little point and shoot, not even an SLR).

If I do edit anything in Photoshop, I change the curves (makes photos brighter) if the lighting wasn’t great and sometimes the exposure and I also crop the photo – pick a blog photo size that works for you and stick with it. Your photos will load better if you set them to something like 600px wide rather than 2000px. I sometimes also play around with the colour balance to warm the photo and the vibrance and use actions to make the photos a little bit more “me”.

Other tips & tricks:

– You will sometimes see a candle burning in the back of my photos, this isn’t just because I think its omg so cool to have a candle on the go, but the light adds a nice warmth to photos in the form of a bit of yellow light.

– Try and take your photos in natural light, rather than with the lights on. When I worked in an office, I used to snap a quick few photos when I got up in the morning. I just left out a few products in my ‘photo area’ and then quickly snapped away for a few minutes in the light – this is a good plan if you finish work late.

– If you HAVE to take photos with the light on, make sure you already have a bit of natural light and then select a high ISO so everything is bright. You can either edit the image in Photoshop to counteract the yellow tones from the lightbulb (choose a blue, red or purple tone – just play around with the colour balance until the photo looks less yellow), or you can do this on your camera, just look for the ‘White Balance’ setting and choose something like ‘Tungsten’ to take away the yellow tone. You can also do this on images that look a little too bleh, select a warm balance to make up for a lack of colour in your photo – this is great for taking pictures of makeup or whatever because it helps you to get the actual colour of the photo matched up to how the product looks.

– Creating a uniform background can make photos really stand out, whether it be on your dressing table or your bed, it doesn’t really matter but it makes all the difference. Try setting up a little photography area that you can use, with perhaps some trinkets in the background.

– Start off with a second hand SLR if you can and get to grips with it. There’s also bridge cameras which sit in between a digital and an SLR, I have one of these that I got years and years ago and it’s amazing. I then moved on to a Nikon D40 which is still going strong. I believe I got it second hand off eBay a good few years ago (I think I was 17 so 5 years!) and then I eventually moved on to a brand new Canon, which is the best I’ve tried so far.

– Buy a spare SD card and an extra battery if you take photos all the time, like I do. I spend a good chunk of my day photography things so it’s wise to have things on hand to replace full cards or dead batteries.

– I bought my tripod for Β£10 from Amazon and it’s amazing, I believe it’s this one. I only use a tripod for filming and never for taking photos.

I hope this helps! It’s all down to practice and getting to know your camera and how to work it for what you do.

Kate

  • Zazie Bibi

    ooh i really want the 40mm one! x

  • Shani

    Great tips! I already know a bit about photography, but I still appreciated the pointers. πŸ™‚

    Shani x
    http://shedreamsinperfectfrench.com

  • Sue

    I agree with Lauren. You should to use the RAW format. Postproduction is even more important. I don’t even bother looking at jpgs. πŸ˜‰

  • I used to but it was too much for my HD to handle. I prefer this way and what works for me is fine.

  • Sue

    I like your photos. When I see them I can say they are yours only. I prefer sharper and less warm photos on my blog :). That’s why I always use tripod and lowest ISO possible.

  • Hannah

    This is so useful, thank you!
    Hannah | twoforjoy | xo

  • Claudia

    Great post. I sometime use my brothers Canon 600D and although my Canon normal camera takes ok pictures, you can tell the difference.

    Loved this post, so useful

    Claudia xx

    Beauty and the Chic

    • I agree, I feel a bit iffy when I take photos with anything that isn’t my SLR but you can manage! x

  • Gemma Douglas

    This post is so helpful! I’ve been thinking of treating myself to the Canon 600D. x

    Gemma // DuggyDimples

  • This is such a helpful post. So many bloggers write photography tips which actually don’t explain much or in a language that I can understand and put in to practice. I’m looking forward to having a play around based on your tips this weekend.

    VictoriaFlorenceandMary.com

  • Daniella

    I like this post, the tips are useful for anyone to take away and find helpful. Everyone will probably use their camera in different ways, so whatevers worlks for you is best I think πŸ™‚
    Daniella x

    http://daniella-r.blogspot.co.uk

  • Nora

    Great pointers, thanks!

  • This was really helpful thank you. I recently purchased a 600D and I’m still trying to get to grips with it. One thing you didn’t mention in the post was shutter speed, do you have any info about which shutter speeds are best for various situations? πŸ™‚

    • Ah yes, well this I tend to play around with and change it with the ISO. As I like my photos clear and bright, I usually keep it quite low (because I don’t use a tripod). I usually find that if I get the ISO right then this I don’t have to change all the often x

    • Jen

      Try not to go below 1/60 sec as you will start to get camera shake and a blurry picture. If your lighting is low it’s best to use a tripod and use a slower shutter speed than cranking your ISO right up as it will result in noisy, grainy images. Using white paper as a reflector into shadows can really help lift the picture too πŸ™‚

  • *-* I love your tips!
    I’ve been trying to improve my photos for my blog. I’m currently thinking about getting a Canon 600D as well (I started a saving deposit for that :3 ). My best friend has an old Canon (I don’t know her reference) and OMG, it’s amazing. I like you are able to focus your camera and all. My little samsung is nice, but it only has auto-focus so sometimes the setting doesn’t look nice ;___;

    Anyway, I’ve also shown this to a friend who actually owns a 600D and believe that you just helped her a lot!
    Thank you very much for this post :3 Please take care Kate, have a nice day!*

    beauty-with-love.blogspot.com

  • This is brilliant!!! πŸ™‚ Thank-you!

  • Hannah Bee

    So glad you emphasised you dont need a DSLR, I got through most of a commerical photography degree without a DSLR so I really dont see why people think they need one to blog! xxx

  • Aishling Browne

    Great blog post kate. After years of lusting after SLRs, I finally bought myself a Canon 600D a few weeks ago. And coincidentally we’ve started photography classes at work. The lighting is atrocious in my bedroom, so it’s great to be able to manipulate the camera to get decent photos!

  • Thanks for the tips! I’ve been saving up for a Canon DSLR and can’t wait to start taking better quality photos πŸ™‚

    xx Caroline
    coffeeandcaroline.blogspot.com

  • Jo Sharma-Stray

    Thanks for this post, it came at just the right time as getting a dslr for Christmas, defo gonna get the 600D! I can’t wait!

    Jo β˜… | A Little Pop Of Coral

  • Excellent post πŸ™‚

  • casey23

    These are reaaaly good tips! Thank you very much it is a good inspiration for beginners (like me :)) Also waiting for a good post about photo maipulation (namely Photoshop or phone apps)

  • 901lovley .

    This is a really helpful post, thanks :)xo

    http://901lovely.blogspot.co.uk/

  • Jessica Rose

    I want to update to a *proper camera but reading/listening to people talking about lens is like gabble goop talk! I am now clearer on the effects of lens and what to use them for.
    http://vodkaandarose.blogspot.co.uk x

  • Great tips, thanks so much for sharing! I’m in need of a new camera – my mum broke my new point-and-shoot and now I’m borrowing their camera each time I need to make (blog) pictures. Thinking of getting a mirrorless one though, I think I’m too afraid I won’t be able to work the DSLR.

    9outoften.com

  • Charlotte Lucy Philpotts

    This is a great post and it’s good to know you take pictures with your phone too because sometimes it is definitely easier! x

    amuchprettierpuzzle.blogspot.com

  • Marie

    Great post, very helpful! But do you use some sort of daylight lamps or a softbox or the like?

  • Tenneil

    I recently just invested in the Canon 40mm f/2.8 lens, which I’ve been playing around for about a week now, and it’s looove. As much as I adore the 50mm f/1.8, the fact that it is so zoomed in can make it difficult to photograph with at times. It’s nice to find a lens that offers a shallow depth of field without having to stand so far away from your object! I think the 40mm f/2.8 is a lot crisper too. I could never go back to using the standard kit lens! It’s not too bad if you’re just getting started and don’t have the funds, though I do think photography is worth the investment.

    http://vintagemachine.blogspot.com

  • Johanna J

    This is a really helpful post πŸ™‚ I’m hoping to get my brothers Nikon soon, he studies graphic design now, so needs something fancier than the old one he’s had for years, but I’m very sure that it’ll do for me! I’m very exited at the prospect of having a proper camera, but I agree, I think you can take pretty good photos with an iPhone, which is what I do for my blog at the moment, obviously they’re not amazing, but that’s probably more to do with me than the iPhone πŸ˜‰

    One more thing, for anyone interested in photoshop, but doesn’t want to take the splurge, I just got Photoshop Elements and it’s really really good for a fraction of the price, and to be honest, I think it does most of the things an amateur “photographer” would want.

  • Such a great, helpful post! Definitely pinning this πŸ™‚ I’ve had my (first) SLR for about 8 months and got the 40mm for my birthday – absolutely love it!

  • Yolennie

    This is such an amazing post with simple and straight to the point tips. Absolutely love it! Thanks so much for sharing <3

    Yolennie
    http://www.lavenderfedora.blogspot.com

  • This is a really handy post, but really Kate I don’t know why you kicked up such a fuss when I asked you to take all my photos for me. Shesh x

  • So helpful! I have yet to play with my ISO and F settings, but this really makes me want to try. LOVE your photos!

  • Emma

    Such a interesting post!!

    Emma from http://www.masqueradebelle.co.uk

  • Julie Anderson

    Great information, came just when I needed it. I have a Sony Cyber Shot my husband gave me several years ago, but the pics using the auto settings have always been, meh. With the holidays approaching, I’ve been reading up on how to use the manual settings, and learned more from your blog than any other source so far! Thank you for sharing!

  • One word really made my day in this post…… ” trinkets”…. so cute! Great to the point post Kate πŸ™‚

  • Such good tips! I’m only just starting out with my blog but I’m getting better at taking photos with practice x x

    http://www.zoetrope2468.com

  • Victoria

    Amazing tips – will definitely be using the ISO and Aperture advice to make my photography a bit better. Thanks for the post

    http://www.victoriabeautyy.blogspot.co.uk

  • Amber Hunter

    You had some amazing tips in here! I actually think I’m getting the Canon t3i for my birthday in a few weeks and hopefully a lens as well so I can’t wait to try out new photography methods! Thank you for this post πŸ™‚

    Amber

    Lovely Notions

  • Brandy Jackson

    Thank you for the great post!
    http://www.basicallybrandy.com

  • Thanks for this post, I am a total noob when it comes to photography, I will definitely be having a fiddle with the settings on my camera after this!

  • racheeng

    This definitely made me understood my camera better. Thank you!

    racheeng
    http://racheeng.wordpress.com

  • Jo Betty

    Great tips! Thank you for posting πŸ™‚

    xx Jo Betty

    JoBettyB

  • Liesa V

    Great advice, Kate! This will definitely help improve my photography skills. xx

  • Really helpful post thankyou! I have a canon 600d so I will be using these tips!
    Liza | Glambeautys | YouTube

  • Mo Adegboye

    Awesome pointers! ~ http://www.fab.me

  • Phoebe

    Lovely post, thanks for the tips, they’ll help so much!
    thoughtsfromphoebe.blogspot.com

  • Sarah hanrahan

    I smiloed reading about taking pictures at the start of the day when you worked in an office… I live in Dublin & have the same issues with natural lighting (and lack there of!) theres usually about 10 minutes of lovely light on a winters day in Ireland but by the time you run out & try to take photots in it the moment has passed! πŸ™ oh well, we’l soldier on!

  • This is really simple and really helpful! book marked this post for when i need to refer back to it.

  • Lauren Bargiacchi

    This is the post I’ve been hunting for for agesss. Great detail without being all technical. Great post thanks xxx

  • Awesome tips. I’m always looking for ways to get a better quality image.

  • Really helpful, easy to understand tips – thank you! Also love the photos you took.

    Sadly I only get to use an SLR at work but saving up to get my hands on one so am bookmarking this post until that joyous day πŸ˜‰ x

  • Christina L

    such a helpful post!so glad I saw this on twitter! πŸ™‚

  • Sylvia

    As i am still relatively new to blogging (and thus, taking photographs) this is extremely helpful! Thank you!

    sylvialoveslipstick

  • Gladys Jane

    thank you so much.. this is of great help.. i’m a bit frustrated to have nice photos on my blog as wel.. will try this out.. πŸ™‚

    http://www.aucourantprincess.com/

  • Hi Kate! I’m so sorry for bothering you, but I need your help :c
    A dear friend of mine bought recently a Canon 600D and, she doesn’t know how to focus herself for filming. Do you have any tips? I’m personally intrigued by this since I want to get a similar camera for me in the future.
    Again, I’m really sorry for bothering. Please take care, have a nice day!*

  • This was really helpful! I was thinking about buying a 50mm but may go for a 40mm instead now. Thanks!

  • So helpful! Thanks for the post! x

    http://www.beautiful-in-essence.blogspot.com

  • Jesse Blair-French

    I’m absurdly excited about this post. I had no idea there were those “bridge” cameras and they’re so affordable I may bump up to one of those while I save for a big fancy camera! Thank you so much for all this advice, it’s really helpful! πŸ™‚

  • ying

    best simple tutorial ever! thank you for making it so easy to understand!

  • Hayley Larue

    I just got my Canon a few days ago and I’m pretty confused, but this was super helpful! Thanks!

    http://www.meyouandhayleylarue.com

  • Annette – My Rose Valley

    Hi Kate. Stumbled upon your blog via Bloglovin’. This post was really helpful. I got a Canon EOS 100D at Christmas and I am playing hard with this DSLR not having a clue what I am doing. But this blogpost has helped a lot as I feel I’ve struggled finding the sharpness before. The F thingy. Wow. Now I understand. Well written post explaining step by step what you can do to improve sharpness and light. I’m so inspired to set up a corner at home and start snapping away at my yarn now. Thanks for sharing.
    Annette
    My Rose Valley

  • Thanks for these great tips! Your pictures are divine xx
    lovebettie.BlogSpot.com.au

  • This post was so helpful to me, thank you very much! I have been literally searching this for ages, but it turned out that the real tips were with you!

    Paige x