I started Katelyn Blogs last January. To say it started from humble beginnings would be an understatement. Seriously, I dare you to scroll back to my older posts… Needless to say, I’ve come a long way this past year.
Please note: I’m in no way a professional, and I have a long way to go to get to where I want to be. These tips will be especially helpful to anyone shooting with a DSLR.
Today I want to share how I’ve upped my photography game for my blog and social media in case you’re in the same boat I was a year ago and need some practical tips and tools to get started taking great pictures.
Blogging and social media is an extremely visual game. Good pictures and design will attract people to your content and will keep your followers engaged and following along with you on social media and your blog.
Improving photography really boils down to trial and error. I won’t get into the technical side of things like aperture and shutter speed in this post, but let’s look at nine tools that will help you get better, brighter, and clearer photos for your blog and social media:
1. Natural Light
This is first on the list because natural, bright likes makes a WORLD of difference in photography. Regular yellow light that is typical in household lamps and overhead lighting fixtures does not do justice for your photographs. Find a a big window in your house and set up shop there. Usually, the sun is best around mid-morning to afternoon. (At least where I live.) Shooting later than that will usually product darker and more shadowy images. Since I work and go to school full-time, I try to batch all of my blog and Instagram pictures on the weekend, and then schedule them to be posted throughout the week. This also saves a lot of time in the long run!
If your house doesn’t get enough natural light, or you’re unable to photograph during the day when lighting is ideal, getting some extra help from lights is the next best thing. I bought this lighting kit from Amazon this summer and the lights produce beautiful white light that is great for flat lays and product pictures. When you’re using a lighting kit, don’t point the lights directly at the items you want to shoot. Instead, set up a white box or bounce the light off of white boards to diffuse the light onto your setup.
Speaking of…if lighting is an issue for you, you might consider getting a photography box. I have this tabletop version that I found on Amazon, and it’s big enough to fit a normal size poster board in. (Which make great photo backgrounds, by the way!) This photography box is foldable and portable, which is perfect for me since I currently travel a lot. The white sides of the boxes diffuse light beautifully and as long as you’re lighting well you shouldn’t have an issue with any harsh shadows. I use this box for a lot of my flat lays on Instagram.
3. Great tripod
One thing you don’t want to skimp on is a great tripod. Tripods are necessary for everything from product photography to taking photos of yourself or groups of people if you don’t have a photographer available.
I got this tripod last year for Christmas from my in-laws and I am seriously so impressed with the quality! This tripod has a ball joint, so you can swivel the camera to just about any angle you need. It’s super sturdy and you can do a lot with it. It also has very long legs if you extend them all the way.
4. Prime Lens
One of my photographer friends recommended I get a prime lens for my DSLR and oh my goodness, guys. What a difference this makes compared to the kit lens my Nikon 5200 came with.
I got a 35 mm f 1.8G lens with auto focus and it has really made my photos look a lot more professional. Whether you’re a Nikon or a Canon person, I would recommend going with a prime lens that has auto focus capabilities. Also, the 1.8 G lens allows for cool effects like bokeh (blurred backgrounds) in photos. The lens is fixed so you can’t zoom in or out, but you get a lot of bang for your buck with these because it’s one of the most affordable lenses out there!
5. White Boards
One of my best-kept blogging secrets is that I use white boards for a lot of photography! You can use them for backgrounds or as a cheap alternative to reflectors because they bounce and reflect light really well. It helps to get as much as you can perfectly lighted and shot so that way you don’t have to edit the photo too much afterwards. Before I got a white desk that makes for a great white background, I used poster boards that I got at the Dollar Store.
If you want to step it up and bypass the white poster boards, this is a great set of reflectors. (And it’s under $20!)
As you may have seen through my Instagram feed this year, I was obsessed with marble backgrounds for all of my flat lays. But if you can’t afford a fancy marble table? Buy contact paper on Amazon, instead. I personally feel like the marble trend is going to be left in 2016, so I would check out a lot of other backdrops that Amazon has, too! I have my eye on this natural white washed wood contact paper that would be a great photo background.
7. Lots of Props
The Target Dollar Spot will be your best friend when it comes to photo props. Promise. The possibilities are endless when it comes to photography props. You can use cute notebooks and planners, flowers, little knick knacks and even things like confetti and glitter. Decide on your aesthetic and pick up a couple photo props that fit your image.
8. Lens Cleaner
You don’t want dust and smudges affecting your photography. I got this camera lens cleaner this year, too, and it hasn’t let me down. The LensPen has a brush to remove loose particles from the lens and another side that will wipe away any smudges. The LensPen claims to be good for over 500 cleanings.
Finally, I definitely recommend a bigger memory card so that you never run out of room. I use a 64 gig SD card, and I’ve only run out of room once when I was shooting video. I would also advise you to always keep a spare on you in your camera bag at all times, because you never know when you’ll need a backup!
Blogmas Question of the Day: What is your favorite photography tool?
Let me know in the comments below! I’ll see you back here tomorrow for Day 23 of Blogmas!