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Blogging,  Photography

How to take Stunning Blog Photos on a Budget!

This post is going to be super helpful for those who are not too used to taking photos! I am refraining from speaking about more intermediate photographic elements, but I will do a intermediate post soon for those who know there way around shooting manually and using PhotoShop.

I’m a big believer in blogging the way you want to. I think you should never write or do something for your blog a certain way just because someone else is doing it. However, sometimes there’s things we can do to make our blogs a bit more unique, and pop a little more!

I used stock photography for a long time, and I couldn’t have been happier with the result. There’s nothing wrong with picking stock photos out in a way that will enhance your blog. However, there’s no way of stopping a photo you love being used time again on other blogs.

Let’s be honest – it’s kinda disappointing to see that! So, maybe you think to yourself ‘I wonder if I could take my own blog photos?’. You power up Google and do your research finding out that a lot of people spend hundreds, if not more, to take good looking images.

But, it doesn’t have to be this way. 

There is actually a lot you can do at home, with only a little bit of spending, to make your blog really unique with your own photos! I’m going to show you all the neat little things I’ve learned that will have you taking photos like a pro in no time! And, without breaking the bank too.

1. The Camera

Here’s the controversial thing. I do think having a good camera is all part of taking good blog photos. However, you don’t need to spend thousands (unless you have that kind of budget, of course!). The key to blog photos is the editing, not so much the camera you use. So, if you don’t have a DSLR what can you do?

Use your phone camera, if you are really stuck! If you have an iPhone, the camera is really great and offers good depth of field. Depth of field is basically what makes the background of your images blurry. As long as the image looks good on your blog (on a laptop/pc as well as mobile) you will get away with this.

Use a digital camera (point and shoot) too! A digital camera is great for taking photos, especially if you take into consideration some of the points I will mention below.

I do have to stress though, having a DSLR is the easiest way of taking good blog photos!

2. The Lighting

Lighting is so tricky, it is one of the biggest hurdles you will face taking photos for your blog! Photos need to be light and airy to make your blog stand out, so living somewhere like Ireland where it’s dull a lot can be tough when it comes to lighting. You don’t need to spend lots of money buying artificial lighting, like I’ve seen being recommended all of the time. Here’s how you can do it relatively cheap!

Tip #1: Get near a (preferably big) window. Use a small table or maybe even the floor for your props. This will allow the natural outside light to get in and will leave the photo looking natural. If the say is sunny or bright you should find it easy to get the right shots.

Tip #2: Use a light colour background. This will help the light to be passed around the photo nicely when you are using the natural light of the sun.

This is a photograph I took by the window on a nice sunny day:

You can see that the photo looks quite softly lit, and the shadows in the photos are quite natural. Not much editing needs to go into a photo that was taken in good natural light. If you have French Doors in your kitchen you’ll be flying with this.

Tip #3: If you can’t find good natural light, use flash. Now, Be careful with flash. It can cause photos to become really blown out and you will lose a lot of those lovely shadows. A flash aimed directly at a flatlay can really hurt the outcome of it, unless you have a flash that you can move, or place in a direction away from the photo.

If the only flash you have is facing frontwards, make sure there is some natural light around too, and instead of taking photos top-down, play around with different angles until you find an effect you like. With flash you are trying to mimic natural lighting.

I used a Canon Eos 1200D DSLR (it cost about €350) and a detachable flash I bought on Amazon for less than €50. I really recommend investing in a flash, especially one you can find at a price like this! With a flash that has movement to it, you can point it in a different direction to see what the light has to bounce off of, to make the photo look natural.

Here’s a photo I took using this equipment:

There isn’t as many shadows, but you can see some nice reflections in the coffee that almost look like the sun is shining off of it.

The photo I used in the title photo for this blog post also used flash! I combined using the flash with the natural light coming in the window.

3. The Props

The marble look is so in for blogs. But don’t go and get your kitchen counters re-done. There are a lot of hacks to making backgrounds to your photos that look like they cost a fortune!

  • You can print off a design on paper and use that as the background for your photos
  • I bought some pillow cases that are brilliant white for €5, and they give those lovely fabric looking bright backdrops.
  • Use a fluffy throw, like the ones I tend to use a lot of the time!
  • Buy fake flowers, for as little as a cup of coffee! They will brighten up any photo and make them look classy. No one would ever suspect you spent less than €3 on your blog photos.
  • Use props over again. Don’t always buy new things to use in your photos, you can make so much out of what you already have! Use different combinations of props and little trinkets you have.
  • Go outside! You could find a great free photo backdrop in your own garden! The grass might make a lovely photo background.
  • Write something in a cute notebook, and have that as your prop! You could write the title of your blog post in your journal really neatly and snap a photo of it, or write some quotes you could use in your posts.

Seriously, it’s all about blagging here. You’re only trying to seem like a lot of money and effort went into the photos, when really you could do it without spending much at all!

4. The editing

Editing photos for your blog can be tough without the right software or know how. I use Photoshop CC 2017, but I’d have no idea how to use it if not for doing a Photography Course. I will be doing a more intermediate Blog Photography tutorial soon, where I will be getting into editing like this! But, if you have no intention of spending top dollar on PS, you don’t need to fret! There’s lots you can do.

As I mentioned earlier, you can actually get away with taking photos for your blog on your mobile. To edit them, use your phone too! You can get Photoshop Express for free which allows you to edit the fundamentals very easily. You can also use Instagram favourite VSCO to edit, although they’ve gone pretty money heavy lately with a lot of content now being premium.

On your laptop, a lot of different website offer editing for free! You’ll be able to brighten up your photos and download them after. Fotor is a popular free editing site at the moment.

Here’s what to look out for when you edit: Brightness, Contrast, Sharpness and Cropping. Adjust these until you get the effect you want.

To add graphics, just like the ones used in this post, it has to be canva.com

All you need to do is sign up and you get a serious amount of content for free! You can buy plans on it if that floats your boat, but to stay low budget free is great! There are lots of layouts to choose from, and all you need to do is edit text and the photo to suit yourself. The app is just class for blogging, honestly.

So, to re-cap:

You really don’t need to spend much to take great blog photos! You can DIY to your hearts content when it comes to styling and creating photos to suit your blog. A camera, a window, some pillow cases and fake flowers will get you right into the basics of it. You can edit online or on your phone and then use an app like Canva to make a professional looking graphic.

Yeah, spending thousands on lighting and a camera you’ll be afraid to touch could propel your blog photography into new depths – it’s just really doable without all of the spending and stress.

For people who aren’t well versed in photography it can be daunting, but you will be well on your any with these tips!

I am going to be delving deep into Photography tutorials on the blog soon with everything for beginners to intermediate bloggers! I hope you found this post helpful, if you did let me know.

Maggie x

 

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Maggie Shalloe

Blogger and Dreamer. I love blogging and creating, I'm glad you've stopped by to read some of my creations!

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