10 Tips for Prettier Photos
Dallas gal Megan Weaver works with fashion and lifestyle bloggers and female entrepreneurs who need beautiful imagery for their blogs and websites. She’ll be dishing up photography advice at the Flea Style Summit, but if you’re unable to attend — you are soooo missing out! — you can learn a few things from the shutterbug right here.
1. If you want higher-quality images, get a DSLR and a great lens.
Shooting with your phone is definitely the easiest way to create images at any time, but a DSLR will take your images to the next level. If you’re going to be shooting mostly portraits, invest in a prime lens. That will give you the best bokeh (the quality of the blur in the out-of-focus parts of an image).
2. Shoot in good light.
One of the more important aspects of photography is lighting. If you’re shooting products inside, use diffused natural light from a window and a couple of white poster boards to reflect the light. If you’re shooting portraits outside, the best times to shoot are the first couple hours after sunrise and last couple hours before sunset, because the light is soft and beautiful. Shooting when it’s cloudy is also great because you can shoot in almost any direction.
3. Create images that align with your blog or brand’s aesthetic.
Think about how you want your brand to appear and how you want it to make people feel when they see your blog or Instagram feed. Do you like a palette that’s darker? Lighter? Colorful? More muted? Once you decide on your aesthetic, you can check each photo against that criteria to see if it aligns with your existing grid and brand.
4. Shoot in manual mode for the most customized photos.
Shooting in manual mode on your DSLR is the best way to create the exact image you want. You’ll adjust the aperture, shutter speed and ISO to create the right lighting and the overall look you’re envisioning. You can control how blurry or in focus the background is, how bright or dark the image is, and if the subject is blurry or frozen while moving. For more customization, you can also focus in manual.
5. If you want a blurry background, shoot with a wide aperture.
One of the more common questions I hear is “How do I get a blurry background in my photos?” If you’re using a DSLR, shoot with an aperture like f/1.4 or f/2. Make sure your subject is close to you and the background is far away from them for the most bokeh. This puts your subject in focus and the background becomes soft and blurry.
5. Learn to style and shoot flat lays and products.
Shoot with natural light by a large window and turn off overhead lights to avoid mixing color temperatures if possible. Use a background that works well with your aesthetic. Start styling larger items and bring in smaller pieces until you’re happy with the setup. Make sure it fits your aesthetic, whether that’s more white space or a filled frame, colorful or neutral, etc. If you don’t want to lose quality in your images, compose your image the way you want the final version to be, so you don’t have to crop it.
6. Make sure your subject is in focus.
This may sound obvious, but when you’re taking a portrait (especially with your DSLR), make sure the person’s eyes are in focus. We tend to look at the eyes first to connect with someone. To do this, turn on your manual focus and make sure the focal point is on the eyes (or head, if you’re more at a distance). If you’re shooting with your phone, make sure the focus is on the person’s face or head — or on the most important part of the product you’re shooting.
8. Use the rules of composition to make your images more interesting.
If you compose an image well, it helps guide your viewer’s eye to the most important part of the photo. Good composition can enhance something that’s otherwise boring; bad composition can detract from something that’s actually interesting. A few of the most common “rules” are using patterns (great for Instagram); the rule of thirds, which puts your subject on the right or left third of the photo; using horizontal or vertical leading lines to guide your viewer’s eye to the subject; symmetry; and framing your subject in a doorway, window or something more natural.
9. If you’re the subject of the photo, learn to pose.
Lower your shoulders, lower your chin and elongate your neck. This may feel weird, but it’s very flattering! Not sure what to do with your hands? Play with any accessories, purse, jewelry or with your hair, so you’re not just standing there. And don’t forget to have fun. When you’re relaxed and happy, it’ll show in your photos!
10. Use consistent editing on your blog and social media.
If you’re shooting with your phone, you might use a variety of apps to edit one photo. Once you know your aesthetic, use that to determine what filters or adjustments you’ll make while editing. I bring my photos into VSCO Cam to adjust the brightness, contrast and saturation. Then I apply filters. Then I’ll bring the photo into Instagram and use those filters until I’m happy with the image. A few great apps and software to edit with: Photoshop, Lightroom, Canva, VSCO, Snapseed, Studio, Instagram.
For more photography tips, go to www.megan-weaver.com.