When it comes to photography, I feel as though I will always be a novice. It’s a constant learning curve and there’s always things to discover. However there are a few factors that are pretty constant. In no way am I an expert but I did study it at A-Level and I continue to take photographs almost every day and on every occasion. If it wasn’t for photography, I doubt I would even blog. I think many people start by blogging and then the photos, but for me I wanted my own space to rant and rave about the products I love and show off the photos I take. I’ll start off this post by showing you a few of my first photos with my camera. I have a Canon 600d, but I’ll go on about that more later. Beware, this will probably be a lengthy post but I do have a lot of useful information that will hopefully help you out! I still have a long way to go and a lot of kit to buy, but I’m determined to get there. Whether it’s for a blog photo, Instagram snap or a simple selfie hopefully my tips will help you somehow.
Before I had this blog, I had a different one. It was a really awful blog on Blogspot and I deleted it after a few months and started this one. I didn’t like the platform at all and my photos were pretty horrendous. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, I had just got my camera and I had NO idea what an ISO was or exposure. I constantly shot on Auto and hadn’t a clue how to get my damn flash to stop going off. I’d like to think I’ve come a long way since this… *shudders*
For me, photography is a mixture between trial and error and experimentation. I’ll be honest, I could never be bothered to read lengthy articles or books on what button done what, I just pressed it and hoped my camera didn’t blow up. Doing photography at A-Level didn’t teach me that much about how to operate my camera – which for me was the main reason I took it. I wanted to understand how it worked, what done what and how the hell I used this thing. Still though, I mean I learnt SOME things… Like what I wanted to take photos of, composition rules and the history behind the camera.
As soon as I picked up my camera I was drawn to taking photos of flowers, leaves, trees and all things nature. I’m not very good with moving objects, they tend to either annoy me or disinterest me when I photograph them, as much as I love admiring their beauty. I’ve stuck to this and got some photographs that I’m pretty happy with.
This is by far my favourite shoot. The photos have been cropped a little bit and the full ones are on my Flickr. This shoot was done a year ago at Cragside, the National Trust park. A truly wonderful place that I recommend giving a visit. I’m incredibly proud of this and I see it as a huge achievement. As I previously stated, I have a Canon 600d. Regardless of what you’re taking your photos on, a DSLR, Smartphone, SLR – these tips will definitely apply to you. Anyway, enough nattering…
- Lighting is easily one of, if not the main factor of taking a photograph. I always like to shoot in bright, natural light. I don’t own any softboxes as of yet and I rely on natural light. Which is great in the summer as you have plenty of time, but in the winter you have to be quick. Try taking a photograph in different positions, I like to be in a position where I can circle around my subject and get the best lighting. In front of a window I find is always best, especially when it comes to taking photos of products. Regardless of if you’re taking a photo of a lipstick or a portrait, lighting is absolutely essential and FREE. I tend to avoid using flash as it bounces back and looks pretty harsh. If your photo isn’t bright enough, you can always lighten it up when you edit it.
- Settings are both magical and confusing. What the hell does ISO do? How do I manually focus? What on earth does this random button do?? If you’re brave, press it and find out. Otherwise, Google it. If you’re using a smartphone, you’re pretty lucky that you don’t really have to deal with this. Although, if you want more control over your phone camera check out Moment Lens. They do lenses for your smartphone and soon are coming out with an innovative iPhone case which gives you full control over your camera. Currently only available in the US, it may be hard to obtain. But with the prices of DSLRs, it may save you a few pennies.
- Composition can make or break a photo. Lots of things can be edited out, in or changed but not composition. Next time you’re taking photos, try a different angle. Try an aerial shot, from underneath, a different side. There’s so many, It doesn’t just mean angles either. Have you ever wondered what the squares on a camera mean? It’s the rule of thirds. It will help you out massively when it comes to capturing eye-catching photos. ‘The rule of thirds is applied by aligning a subject with the guidelines and their intersection points, placing the horizon on the top or bottom line, or allowing linear features in the image to flow from section to section.’ CLICK HERE to read more and see examples on the Rule of Thirds. Try filling your camera frame or use leading lines. For a more interesting photo, try placing the subject of your image off center. Check out THIS article for amazing advice on composition.
- Many people think that to take amazing photos, you need expensive and up-to-date kit. That’s not always the case. I’ve took some photos on my iPhone that I am incredibly proud of, such as;
I’ll be the first to admit that I couldn’t rely solely on my phone for images. If you can, I completely recommend investing in a DSLR. It will last you forever if you treat it right and will definitely improve the quality of your images. However if your budget cannot allow for that, that’s completely okay. Just practice with what you’ve got. Remember, lighting and compositionThe main issue I see on blogs with images is not the quality of a smartphone, but that the background is messy or too distracting. You can pick up plain white bedcovers/pillow cases for next to nothing these days and will significantly improve the outcome of your images. There are other backgrounds obviously, but just experiment. I’ll talk a bit more about this on my last point.To go along with my Canon 600D I use the 18-55mm kit lens. I also have zoom filters which are great when I need to take a close up shot. However I do feel as though it diminishes the quality. I’m looking to get a macro lens sometime soon to improve this. Now that I know the direction I want to go in with my photographs, I can start investing in lens I will make good use of. I was incredibly lucky enough to have a wonderful mother who bought me my camera, but many places such as Jessops and PC World provide monthly payment plans. I’ve always been told that yes, the body of your camera does matter incredibly but the lenses more so.
- Editing isn’t cheating. It’s essential. Whether you’re just brightening a photograph, upping the contrast or completely revamping the photograph. Photography is YOUR art, you can manipulate it however you please. Just because you’ve put a filter on it to enhance the colours, doesn’t mean it’s any less of a photograph. The editing software that I use is Photoshop. As I’m a Student I get the Adobe Creative Cloud and I pay £15p/m to use it as well as having tonnes of cloud storage. As well as this, you can also download the photoshop app on your phone. For many of the aspects of editing, its the same. You can edit the brightness, contrast, vibrance, clarity and more. There are also filters, cropping tools, red eye detecting, frames and blemish removal. It’s free and by far one of the best I’ve come across for the iPhone. If you wish to edit on your computer or laptop, PicMonkey is great for that. It’s what many YouTubers use to make their thumbnails on and it has so many options. It’s great for collages and grouping images together to make a grid of photos in blog posts rather than just having photo after photo, which scrolling through can sometimes get pretty tiresome.
- Ideas for images are probably something you have a lot of. The classic marble or fur background, props such as flowers or beads. The possibilities are endless. Try to be creative. Match colours or clash them completely. Cut out magazine cuttings, use sprinkles or food as an accessory to your subject. This is the part where you really get to experiment and convey your personality in your photographs. If you’d like an example of how to convey personality in photographs consider Olga Topchii’s work (which you find at websites like olgatopchii.com). She uses a wide range of props in some of her images to express this. I get a lot of my props from ebay and pound shops. They are super cheap and work well. For flowers, Aldi and Lidl are great and EXTREMELY affordable. No one wants to buy a bouquet of flowers for £15 only to just rip them apart. Well, at least I don’t.
- Simplistic images always catch my eye. You would think it would be the busy ones, but no. They just make my eyes go funny so I scroll away. Plain backgrounds and a contrasting subject appeal to me, take this image of Gerard Cosmetics lipsticks for example;
The fur background provides texture and movement to the image, rather than a flat white background. I got this faux fur from Ebay, it was a sample. Primark do throw-overs that work well too. If you’re not a fan of fur there’s always marble, wood, mirrors, metal… anything you want. Try to keep a background fresh and clean. Always ensure there are no marks as they will most definitely show up on a close up photo. I often use a glass surface as I love the reflection that it gives. I tend to stick to block colours and white, as that’s what I personally prefer. If your favourite colour is pink and you want that to be the background, go for it. Just be careful of clashing (the bad way.)
Thank you for reading such a lengthy post, I’ll honestly be surprised if anyone got through this. I hope this helped you somehow because it took me absolutely ages to write! If you have any photography must-haves or tips, please leave them in the comments below.
If you like the photos I take, you can always find me on Instagram @_katiemeehan. It’s also in the sidebar.
Hope you all have a lovely day,