It's Friday, and time for another installment of my 'Blogger's Guide' series. In this episode, I'm going to look at something that every blogger will come up against sooner or later, if they want to include images alongside their editorial content: photography.
I am a completely self-taught photographer and I've never had any lessons or taken any classes or courses in how to take pictures. I definitely think that if the opportunity arose for me to do a photography course I would jump at the chance, because I'm sure there are a million functions on my camera that I don't use, because I simply don't know how. But I'm getting ahead of myself a little here!
I think it would be a common misapprehension that in order to be a top blogger, you need very expensive kit. I don't think that necessarily rings true, although you will see that the very highest echelons in the blogging world do use top of the range equipment, but there's no need to rush out and buy anything very specific just because you feel that it will make your blog a better place. When I first started blogging back in 2009, I used a simple point and shoot camera to take (pretty awful) pictures of things I'd bought, outfit 'selfies' using mirror pictures, charity shop finds, pictures of the countryside...basically anything I wanted to share on the blog with my readers but didn't want to use anyone else's images. It wasn't until quite late on that I asked my mum, and later Adrian, to help me take proper photographs for styled outfit of the day posts like the ones you see on the blog today.
Adrian had a DSLR camera and knew his way around it quite well and once I'd had a couple of goes at using it, I found that the quality in terms of detail and image scope was markedly improved on the images I could get using a small point and shoot. I have also got a bridge camera, which, as the name suggests, is a halfway house between both point and shoot and DSLR, and I would use this for holiday snaps but I wouldn't be happy with the quality of these images against the ones I've got on the blog already. A DSLR camera is an investment; but it is also something that will give you that extra edge in terms of image quality and many of them now have a recording function which youTubers and vloggers alike will love. I would advise anyone thinking of buying a DSLR to do some research into the models most used by bloggers, and maybe go to a photography store and have a play with a few different models to get a feel for the one you think will suit you best.
In terms of lenses, I used the kit lens for Adrians DSLR up until perhaps 2013 when I invested in a 50mm 'nifty fifty' lens. I don't actually use this lens as much as I do the kit lens, but it is really useful for full-frame images and mid range detail images because you can capture a lot of small and interesting features with it, often in better quality than the kit lens would provide. By the time I bought this lens I had been blogging consistently for 3 years and I knew that, though expensive, it would be a worthwhile investment. I've achieved some of my favourite shots with this lens and I love the feel it gives to the images.
Of course, image editing comes hand in hand with actually taking the photographs themselves and for this, a crash course in Photoshop is usually a must; again, I can only do the very basics such as image resizing (which Adrian showed me how to do) and photoshopping out unwanted elements in a picture (I Googled it.) To further manipulate images, cropping, adding colour tints, fades or text, I use a couple of free online programs: Pixlr for making collages and great choice of fonts, and Picmonkey for some really interesting overlays. Both these programs are free to use and incredibly straightforward, especially if you are just starting out. There is so much out there on the internet, and everything is so easily accessible nowadays; no need to rely on a Photoshop for Dummies tome when a quick zip through Google can normally help you out!
I do also have a tripod, which I don't use so often now but I used to rely on to take my images if Adrian wasn't around to help me. Some of my all time favourite posts have come from the good old self timer setting, camera on a tripod; this one I was particularly happy with and also this one and this one. A lot of it is about having a play around and seeing what you can come up with, trial and error until you find out what works best for you.
I think the key thing that I've learned from the 6 years spent taking photographs to put on my blog is that you will get better at it. I am a firm believer in just keeping on, and I remember how chuffed I felt when I really started to think that I had got this photography thing down. Of course, I'm learning all the time still, and I only have to glance at my friendship group and the pictures my friend Steph, who is a professional photographer, comes up with, to still very much feel like a novice. However, your blog is your own, and it's a great place to charter your development as a photographer and pick up and also share any tips or tricks you have.
I could go on forever about blog photography and I will certainly touch on it again in another post, as a fashion/beauty/lifestyle blogger it is a key element of your website and you want your viewers to enjoy looking at the images you've shot.