Blogging is such a unique industry. It combines so many things into one field and allows people to use their skills in various ways! As I mentioned last week, one of the things I love most about blogging is getting to combine three?passions of mine: graphic design, photography, and writing! It’s so fun getting to use all of these skills to create my blog posts. We talked about how important graphic design is and I gave you all some practical ways to learn! Now I want to talk about my other love: photography.
Photography has been a passion of mine since I was in middle school. I can still remember when my dad got me my first camera. It’s always been something my dad and I shared and now still share the same passion for. We are very different photographers, he is very by the book and learn by the book whereas I’ve learned most of what I know through good old trial and error. The problem with that is, it takes time. A loooong time. So for those of you that don’t want to wait eight years to learn photography (I can’t blame you), here are some practical things you should know about photography, specifically through the lens of blogging.
There’s lot of talk all over about needing a DSLR to be a blogger. Don’t get me wrong, I have no idea what I would do without mine. However, to me learning how to take great pictures is completely separate from having a DSLR. You can have a DSLR as still take terrible photos. You can also only use an iPhone and have amazing photos. A photographer friend of mine likes to tell this story: One day a woman baked a delicious cake and gave it to a friend. The friend ate the cake and said WOW, this cake is amazing. You must have a great oven!?That feeling is a little similar to when someone says, “Oh my gosh, your camera takes amazing photos!” I can’t deny that having a nicer camera will produce better pictures. BUT, I will say that again, you can have the most expensive and nicest camera in the world but without some basic photography knowledge, a nice camera doesn’t guarantee a great photo!?[Tweet “Without some basic #photography knowledge, a nice camera doesn’t guarantee a great photo!”]
With all of that said (I’ll step off my soap box now), what kind of equipment is great for bloggers who are just getting started with photography? *affiliate links used
This camera is pretty amazing, actually. Even though it’s one of Canon’s cheapest DSLR cameras, it’s a workhorse. This camera is absolutely perfect for bloggers. It’s (relatively) cheap and unless you plan to do any sort of professional photography, you’ll be set with this.
I got this lens for Christmas last year and I’m still obsessed with it. You know that blurred background effect that bloggers are obsessed with? This little baby achieves that look with ease (read more about aperture below to see what that blurred effect means).?This lens is referred to as a?prime lens because it does not have a zoom. If you’re used to having a zoom (which we all are even if we just use our phones) it can take some adjustment to get used to actually having to move your feet to get closer or further away from your subject. But I don’t think I’ll ever buy a non-prime lens again!
I talked last week about programs used for graphic design, but I think if you are serious about learning photography for your blog, learning Photoshop (or Lightroom) is also a must. Photos don’t come off of your camera 100% perfect. Learning some basic editing skills will help you spend less time reshooting the same photos over and over. It’s worth the $20/mo investment. [Tweet “Learning ?basic editing skills will help you spend less time reshooting the same photos.”]
Having an adjustable tripod is awesome for bloggers who enjoy doing fashion. Trust me, your husband/best friend/mom/neighbor loves you?verrrry much but they do not want to take 1000 photos of you every week. Yes, it’s awkward taking photos of yourself, but own it! You’ll be so much happier when you don’t have to worry about annoying someone else to take your photos.
If you’re going to master the art of tripod photography, having a remote control shutter will be super helpful. Nothing is more awkward than setting a self timer and running over to your spot to pose. Not that I know anything about that, of course.
I realize that when you first get started with photography there are about a million terms that make no sense to you. I don’t want to spend too much time defining those because there are a million different tutorials out there for this. However, let’s discuss the basics.
Depth of field: This is a fancy term that means how much of your photo is in focus, basically. The “blogger” depth of field is the one achieved with the 50mm lens (or any lens that goes to a low aperture) where the front of the photo is super crisp while the background is almost a bokeh effect. This is achieved by adjusting the aperture.
Aperture: This controls two things on your camera, the amount of light being let in and the depth of field.?A larger aperture (which is actually a smaller number- they make these things confusing), allows more light in and also creates a shallower depth of field. A shallower depth of field refers to less of the photo being crisp and in focus. This is why the 50mm lens is better for a shallower depth of field, because the aperture (also referred to as the f-stop) can go all the way down to f/1.8, where as kit lenses can only go to f/4.5.
Shutter speed: This controls how quickly your shutter is opening to allow light in. A slower shutter speed allows more light, which is great for photos at night. But a slower shutter speed also allows for more camera shake which can make your photos blurrier. A quicker shutter speed allows less light in, which is good for daylight photography.
As with graphic design, there are lots of ways to learn photography. Depending on which style of learning is best for you, you might choose an online class or a class at a local college. There are also tons of tutorials on Pinterest and even YouTube.?SkillShare?and Craftsy?both have great classes on photography depending on what specifically you want to learn. They even have classes on learning Photoshop for photography. The best advice I can give you is to learn the basics and then practice, practice, practice. The more photos you take, the better you will get!
Another confusing thing in learning photography is navigating all of the settings. People are always telling you “shoot manual 100% of the time!” Well, guess what, I don’t even shoot 100% in manual. Can I? Sure. But I choose to use a setting that is about 50% manual and saves me time. On your cameras setting wheel, on the top of your camera, you’ll see a bunch of icons and letters. The three main ones I recommend are?P, M, and AV. The green rectangle is fully automatic. THIS IS BAD. Do not use this setting. Even if you are still learning, don’t try to learn on this setting. This is the setting that will just do anything to make the picture “good” including using the popup flash when you really don’t need it.
Program: the P setting stands for program. This setting has some semi-manual settings and is the best for when you first pull your camera out of the box.
Manual: the M is 100% manual. This means that when you adjust the aperture you’ll also have to adjust the shutter speed to get the right lighting. This will take a while to learn but it’s awesome to know how to use it.
Aperture Priority Mode: This is my go to setting that I’m using 99% of the time. This setting means that when I set the aperture to whatever I want, the shutters peed will automatically adjust so that the photo has balanced lighting. The reason I use this setting is because I want to be able to control my depth of field and this is the easiest way to do it.
Another thing to learn with “manual shooting” is your focus. On your lens you’ll see AF and MF with a little switch. AF means auto focus, MF means manual. I think when people say you must shoot in manual!, a lot of the time they’re just referring to manual focus, because it really does make a difference in your photos. It takes a while to train you eye to be able to see what’s really in focus through your view finder, but once you do you’ll be so pleased with the results.
A few more tips:
Always, always, always use natural light
99% of the time that I see “bad” photos on blogs, they’re being taken at night or in what seems to be the darkest corner of the house. Find the natural light in your house and stage your photos RIGHT in front of it. I have also staged photos outside just to get good lighting. You do what you gotta do, y’all.
Take more pictures than you think you’ll need
If you know you want 4 pictures for your blog post, take at least 10. Trust me, you’ll thank me. There are so many times where I think a photo looks perfect on my camera, only to find it’s not so perfect once I put it on my computer. Things just look different and you’ll save so much time by having extras to choose from versus having to reshoot all over again.
Try different things
Especially while you’re learning, try different angles, stagings, places in your house, etc. Trying all of those things will help you find your grove and know what looks the best for your photos.
Avoid using flash
I plan to write an entire post on why the popup flash that is built in is the devil. But for now, just avoid it. Take photos during the day (which trust me, y’all, I know how difficult that is now that it’s dark at 5pm), use a white piece of foam core to fill in shadows, just don’t use your flash, I beg of you! If you want to learn how to use flash, try an External Flash?and learn how to use that properly.?Using a flash rarely creates?the same quality photo as natural light.
For even more tips check out other posts I’ve done on photography:
5 Tips for Better Blog Photos?on A Beautiful Exchange
Photo Composition on Crafty Wife
Travel Photography on Crafty Wife
4 Tips for Efficient Editing with Adobe Lightroom on Crafty Wife