An Amateur's Guide to Blog Photography

Monday, January 13, 2020

A lot of people have asked me, how do I get blog photos? To start off with, I am by no means an expert. However, I love the cameras that are used for my blog and the tools I use to edit my photos. I also generally know how I want my photos to look before a shoot and have a photographer who I work really well with. Generally I can express what I am looking for in terms of 'appearance' and he is good at making creative suggestions or alterations.

You first need to decide how you want to get your photos and what your budget is. You absolutely don't need the latest or most expensive technology to get amazing photos. It's like an artist with all the best tools in the world, but no experience vs. an artist with just a pencil, and a LOT of practice. The biggest thing that will help you get great photos is knowing how to utilize what you have. There are a wide range of amazing cameras and phones with a very wide range of prices. Keep in mind, if you are using a professional DSLR camera, you and the person who is taking your photos need to know how to use DSLR cameras. YouTube is a great free tool for this.

Camera: Nikon d7100
Lens: Nikon 85mm 1.8G
Phone: iPhone 6s

Sony a6000 series
Nikon 7000 series
Nikon Full Frame (d750, d810, d610)

Not everybody is in the position to invest in a professional quality camera, but you don't need one to start a fashion blog. I do recommend investing in one eventually if you are really serious about blogging and it's something you decide to stick with. However, another alternative to an expensive camera is an iPhone! I decided to get an iPhone when my last phone died (i.e. I destroyed it because I am so hard on my phones) specifically for the purpose of my blog. They take incredible photos even compared to DSLR cameras. Not everyone can afford a camera, however most people have a phone, which is why this is such a great alternative. You also don't even have to have a newer iPhone to do this. Amazon has great refurbished 6's and 7's + newer refurbished models as well.

I take TONS of my Instagram photos with my phone. Starting with the iPhone 6s, Apple added the feature of 'Live Photos' this is how a lot of people get such good candid photos. It's essentially a moving photo so that you are able to pick the best shot. Then, starting with the iPhone 7 Plus, Apple released a camera feature called 'Portrait Mode'. This gives you the depth-of-field look (blurry background) that DSLR cameras do.

The thing I love most about including iPhone photos, especially on Instagram, is it gives a very personal feel to extensions of your blog. I have tons of accounts that I love, where their only photos are professional quality. My favorite accounts though, are usually a mix because they feel more authentic to me.

For your photos to turn out how you would like, you need to know what lighting you want to have in the photos. Most photographers know how to adjust and take into account lighting. However, if you are using a friend/sibling/parent to get your photos, practice with them to figure out what you like for lighting and positioning. An example of this is when I work with my photographer, it is pretty quick for us to figure out the best spot because of time of day and adjust accordingly. However, when my sister helps me with an Instagram photo, it will take us a couple attempts and/or spots to get a photo we are happy with.

There are also certain times of day that are better for photos than others. Typically a little while after the sun comes up, or a little while before the sun goes down are the best in terms of lighting (Google information about the 'Golden Hour'). The middle of the day, when it is bright out is hard to get photos because it usually causes harsh lighting/shadows. Because of my and my photographer's schedules, we are not always able to utilize the ideal time of day for photos, so I also have photo locations that I know have shade in certain areas during certain times of day. Cloudy days can also be great for photos depending on the look you are trying to achieve.

Another thing to consider is that not all pieces of clothing photograph well, and some pieces look better in photos than they do in real life. When I am trying a new piece or picking an outfit of mine to photograph, I like to take selfies in it, or have my sister snap a couple photos before I decide to do a full photo-shoot. This gives me an idea if I will be happy with the outcome or not.

In terms of posing for the outfits, it always feels awkward for me. I have used YouTube and other blogger's recommendations to get better at it and I definitely recommend that you do the same.  Daniel Carolan has a good YouTube video on this here. The positive is that it gets easier with every photo-shoot and lots of practice. The best tip I can give you is just have fun with it. I always remind myself that is why I have a blog, is for fun! Find someone you are comfortable getting photos with, play music, dance around. Just don't be stiff and feel uncomfortable because it always shows up in photos.

I use Lightroom to edit all of my photos. I have the desktop version which I use for the full outfit shoots, and the mobile version. I usually only use the mobile version to slightly tweek an iPhone photo or a single DSLR photo that I got for Instagram. After I have adjusted the white balance on there, I will apply a slight filter on VSCO mobile.

For my blog's photos, after I import them on Lightroom, I utilize VSCO's desktop presets for Lightroom to edit them. I do not like how my photos turn out when I edit them on my own, so these presets have tremendously helped how happy I am with the outcome. I have about 3 filters that I love and try to utilize mainly those to keep a uniform look. Unfortunately, VSCO just stopped selling their desktop presets and I am so disappointed! I am hoping that they come back in the future.

Happy 2020!

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Shouting happy 2020 to all of you! I typically don't do much for New Years Eve, but this year I went out to dinner with a group of friends and had so much fun! For New Years Day I am spending it with family: going out for a nice lunch and then a big family dinner.

Not everyone loves setting New Years resolutions (we actually talked about this at work this week) because they can be hard to stick to, but I love the idea of setting a larger goal and working to stick to it all year. Every year I try to do something attainable that will better me or better someone else. So I'll start by explaining mine for 2020.

Last year I realized that I had a seriously bad relationship with food ordering apps and was constantly buying food out. It was bad for me and my bank account, so that kicked off a learning to cook spree. I enjoyed it so much, so I started meal prepping for both school and work and had so much fun doing it (surprisingly). This blogger has posted some of my favorite recipes that are both vegetarian and super healthy, plus she even talks about meal prepping sometimes. So my goal for the year will be to continue the meal prepping through the end of 2020 and to try more adventurous and difficult recipes.

A huge thank you to all of you who read Pretty as a Peony. I hope you all have a fantastic 2020 and if you have any resolutions, let me know in the comments!


Monday, December 23, 2019

I cannot believe I finally made it. This past month I was fortunate enough to graduate after years of very hard work. My entire family and some very close friends were able to join me and it could not have been a more perfect weekend.

If any of you who are reading this are frustrated because you are not graduating when you planned, don't give up! Mine had been pushed back a couple times for multiple reasons. I learned a lot from those experiences and both times, I pushed myself even harder to get to my goal. I also did not graduate with the same major that I began with. After a lot of self-reflection, I did what was best for me and was a much happier person after switching majors. Don't pressure yourself to have a timeline, just work as hard as you possibly can and keep persevering.

Beauty Gift Guide

Monday, December 9, 2019

Good morning everyone! Here I have included  a wide range of some of my favorite beauty products + some that are on my wish list. I tried to include budget-friendly options as well as some more luxurious options.  The lowest being this Vitamin C Serum $10 (I use it every day!!) and the highest being this perfume $200, that is currently on my wishlist (if you go to Byredo's website, the scent has the cutest backstory).

Once of my favorite products on here is this coffee scrub. Coffee scrubs for me have been the BEST skin exfoliator. My skin is always notably softer/smoother.

This razor subscription is what I will be getting my sister for Christmas. I have had my own subscription for the past year and have been blown away by the quality, price, and customer service. I will be doing a full review on them in the coming weeks. They currently have a 6 month subscription gift for $27, but to be honest one of their packs lasts me two months (I am personally on the ship every two month plan) so if my sister is anything like me, hers will last her a year.

If you are needing any more ideas, send me an email or a DM and I'm happy to help!

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