I’m a firm believer of if one wants a successful blog, one must master the art of writing and blog photography. Although writing is much more important than photography, visuals play an important part in attracting readers to your blog, too. Of course you can go ahead and use one of the many stock photos available but are you really satisfied with the end product, though?
For me personally, I like to use my own photos as much as I can. I do not prefer mixing my own and stock photos in one post because I like my blog post photos to have a theme and obviously my photos won’t have the same aesthetic as stock photos. Blog photography is something that everyone struggles with including myself. I’m not artsy or crafty or creative so I found photography a really daunting process as I don’t have the patience to get the perfect photos with the perfect angle, lighting, and everything.
I’m probably not the best person to be giving photography tips but this is just how I improve my photography from the process of taking photos to editing them. Photography skill is a life-long learning process for me and I’m sure that in the course of a few months I would encounter more ways to make my photography better.
You don’t need to be spending thousands of ringgit for a fancy camera but having one in hand definitely comes in handy. You can use your smartphone too but I found taking photos with a proper camera gives better results especially for a photography dummy like me who sucks at adjusting angle. If you’re gifted and your Instagram is basically your flatlay portfolio, congratulations! You nailed blog photography.
I steered clear of Automatic setting on my camera, thank goodness. My go-to setting is Program which I had my brother set for me. Now, you might think that you’re all set but a few days ago I took a flatlay photo outside of my house under the scorching sun. That’s as natural lighting as it gets but my photos were all grainy and I was like “the heck?” and I started googling ISO ’cause that’s basically the only photography lingo I knew and lo and behold, my ISO was set to 3200 on a bright day.
From my understanding, if you’re taking photos with direct light/enough light, the lower the ISO, the better. If you’re in low light condition, then the higher ISO is better for your photos. After that I just had a sudden realisation that my old blog photos were shitty because I couldn’t give a rat’s arse about ISO setting. Heck, I didn’t even edit my old photos all that much. All I did was jacking up the brightness to as far right as possible and I thought it was life-changing!
I don’t know what is it with my house that makes getting natural lighting through the window impossible. Every window in my house is blue-tinted (because guys, it’s Malaysia) so maybe that’s why. I do not prefer using built-in flash though ’cause it gives you a smartphone-flash quality. However, I did use built-in flash in the past to take my blog photos. Please don’t judge me. I have learned my lessons.
If you don’t have a soft box, taking photos when the source of light is behind you will give you the right lighting and it just makes your photos brighter as opposed to facing it where it can create shadows and make your photos dimmer. This tip is foolproof and I think everyone knows this already.
Your surrounding is also important in ensuring that your photos turn out great. Having white walls will make your photos brighter than purple walls. If you have yellow walls, your photos will turn warmer and if you have blue walls, they’ll be cooler. Warm tone photos do not look appealing to me. I personally love my photos to have a slight cool tone to it ’cause they just look better and brighter.
The editing process
Now comes the fun but tiring process — editing! The software I’m using is Photoshop CS6 and if you don’t have it, there’s a lot of free software out there that can do what Photoshop can. My dad’s friend is a computer engineer so he had them installed for me for free. (Don’t even ask me how.)
One. I’ve been using Mili from Sharmtoaster trick to instantly brighten photos on Photoshop for my past two posts and it is a life-changer! I can not express how much I love that trick and I’ll be using it for my next 5000 posts to come, for sure!
Two. Photo Filter. Also a life-changing adjustment that I found a few months ago. If your photos are too warm or too cool, you can add a warm/cool filter and adjust it accordingly. The moment I found out about this unexpectedly while playing with Photoshop, I wanted to shed a few tears so bad ’cause I had been struggling with my photos being warm tone from my bedroom’s light.
Three. Brightness, contrast, exposure. I think these three are basic in photo editing. After following step one, I don’t have to jack up my brightness as high as I used to before. I like to turn down the contrast just a little bit if the lighting was too harsh so you can see details in the photos and turn up the exposure to just below +1 to make it crispier.
Four. I resize my photos to 1200px so it won’t lose its quality as I’m using a full-width layout for my post page. Instead of saving the file as normal, I use Save for Web and optimise it to High or Very High setting depending on the size of image file. Anything below 200kb should be fine.
Some people use VSCO CAM to add filters to their photos but I’m not a big fan of that. Besides, the whole process of transferring photos from computer to your phone and back to your computer is just tedious and I don’t have time for that.
Here’s a comparison of before and after photos: