3.10.2016

Blogging Better (and Video): How To Take Blog Photos

Krista Robertson, Covering the Bases, Travel Blog, NYC Blog, Preppy Blog, Style, Women's Fashion Blog, Fashion, Fashion Blog, Travel, How to Blog Better, How to be a Better Blogger

Welcome to my Blogging Better series! Each week I hope to come up with relevant and fun topics to help you become a better blogger. I originally started this series in my weekly newsletter but I thought it would be more fun to open it up to all blog readers.

Today's topic is going to be super long but (hopefully) really helpful: How to Take Blog Photos! I'm no professional on the topic, but I do think I have some good advice and tips to share on the subject. I hope you enjoy!!


Camera Equipment:
When I first started blogging I shot all my blog photos on a Canon T3i with a 50mm 1.4 lens. It was a great first camera and for what I needed at the time, it was totally worth it. It’s a great place to start, easy to use and got the job done. When I really decided that it was time to invest in a better camera, I moved to the Canon 60D with a 50mm 1.4 lens. I had that set up for a while before I learned about the crop factor on the camera and switched over to a Sigma 35mm 1.4 lens.

I loved this duo and I could really see a difference. I would suggest this for anyone looking for cameras + lens because my photos were so much better after such a minor upgrade. It wasn’t until I started to travel more that I decided that I wanted something a little smaller. I was looking into the Leica camera but it was just too expensive for my budget. I did a lot of research on different cameras and decided to find a mirrorless camera and ended up with the Sony A series.

It was just my luck that their new model was coming out in a few months and so I decided to wait. I bought the Sony A7r II and new lenses to accompany it (the struggle of switching over brands) --  the Zeiss 55mm 1.8 and the 35mm 1.4 lens. After testing them both out, I now only shoot with the 35mm lens. While it’s bigger (and not as easy to travel with as the 55mm) I love it because it’s more versatile and it takes some great photos.


Camera Settings: 
As for the settings we used to only shoot on Manual, which is great for having full control over all the settings but a friend of mine suggested trying out Aperture Priority and we never looked back. It still lets you control everything but it chooses the best shutter speed for your photo. As far as our settings go, they’re pretty much always the same: ISO – 100, f-stop – 1.4, White Balance – Auto White Balance (AWB) and then we adjust the exposure of light depending on the weather conditions (usually around +1).


Lighting:
90% of the time I like to shoot my photos in the sunlight, the other 10% of the time is divided between the shade (when the sun is still out) and an overcast shoot. Like in the video below, I love to shoot with my back to the sun. I think it makes the photos beautiful and the lighting composition perfect. While it's not for everyone, it totally works for me and I love my photos so much more when I'm able to shoot this way.

With that, you need to position yourself so your back is firmly square with where the sun is. The point behind all of it is to not have any weird shadows on your face or body. There are a couple different ways to shoot with or without the sun that I'm sharing below!

Shooting with your back to the sun (my preferred way): 
Krista Robertson, Covering the Bases, Travel Blog, NYC Blog, Preppy Blog, Style, Women's Fashion Blog, Fashion, Fashion Blog, Travel, How to Blog Better, How to be a Better Blogger

Shooting in a shadow: You're able to do this facing the sun or with your back to it as long as all of your body can fit into the shadow portion. I like this option when I have a lot of little flyaway hairs that I don't want highlighted in the sun but still want the same photo composition.
Krista Robertson, Covering the Bases, Travel Blog, NYC Blog, Preppy Blog, Style, Women's Fashion Blog, Fashion, Fashion Blog, Travel, How to Blog Better, How to be a Better Blogger

Shooting in the shade: Living in the city, this can become your only option because of the sun and the tall buildings, but not to worry! Shooting in the shade is just as pretty (sometimes even better) than shooting into the sun. The colors can become more vibrant, the contrast isn't so high and you can face whichever way you please.
Krista Robertson, Covering the Bases, Travel Blog, NYC Blog, Preppy Blog, Style, Women's Fashion Blog, Fashion, Fashion Blog, Travel, How to Blog Better, How to be a Better Blogger

Shooting when overcast: This is the most frequent during winter, but shooting in overcast weather is just a different way to look at the lighting. Some photographers love it while others (like myself) have come to learn just how to deal with it. The great thing about shooting in overcast weather is that there is no harsh lighting. For this, you always want to have a solid background (and not shoot into the sky because it'll just be white) and find the sun.

While the harsh lighting may be gone, it's still pretty dim out and you want as much lighting as possible. I always try and face toward the sun on overcast days so whatever little light there is can be reflected on my face and any weird shadows around my eyes and nose can be gone.
Krista Robertson, Covering the Bases, Travel Blog, NYC Blog, Preppy Blog, Style, Women's Fashion Blog, Fashion, Fashion Blog, Travel, How to Blog Better, How to be a Better Blogger

Shooting in reflecting light: This is one of my favorite ways to shoot but also one of the hardest. Finding reflecting light basically means finding a wall or budding that the sun is bouncing off of and can hit you in the best way. In professional shoots this is made by using a round reflector. It creates a brighter subject and makes the photos look amazinggg but it's so difficult to find, especially in the city!

(In the photo below the sun was reflecting off a white budding with paneling and then bouncing off onto me) 
Krista Robertson, Covering the Bases, Travel Blog, NYC Blog, Preppy Blog, Style, Women's Fashion Blog, Fashion, Fashion Blog, Travel, How to Blog Better, How to be a Better Blogger

Shooting directly into the sun: I rarely ever (ever do this) because it can be so harsh but when you do shoot directly into the light make sure to work closely with your photographer. You want to make sure there are no weird shadows on your face and that you're lined up as well as possible with the sun.
Krista Robertson, Covering the Bases, Travel Blog, NYC Blog, Preppy Blog, Style, Women's Fashion Blog, Fashion, Fashion Blog, Travel, How to Blog Better, How to be a Better Blogger


Location Scouting: Location is a big factor (I think) when shooting your photos. You want it to be cohesive with the look your presenting and you want it to also enhance yourself and your photos. I'm lucky enough to live in New York where there are so many different locations and backgrounds I could never capture them all.

Krista Robertson, Covering the Bases, Travel Blog, NYC Blog, Preppy Blog, Style, Women's Fashion Blog, Fashion, Fashion Blog, Travel, How to Blog Better, How to be a Better Blogger Krista Robertson, Covering the Bases, Travel Blog, NYC Blog, Preppy Blog, Style, Women's Fashion Blog, Fashion, Fashion Blog, Travel, How to Blog Better, How to be a Better Blogger
Krista Robertson, Covering the Bases, Travel Blog, NYC Blog, Preppy Blog, Style, Women's Fashion Blog, Fashion, Fashion Blog, Travel, How to Blog Better, How to be a Better Blogger
Krista Robertson, Covering the Bases, Travel Blog, NYC Blog, Preppy Blog, Style, Women's Fashion Blog, Fashion, Fashion Blog, Travel, How to Blog Better, How to be a Better Blogger Krista Robertson, Covering the Bases, Travel Blog, NYC Blog, Preppy Blog, Style, Women's Fashion Blog, Fashion, Fashion Blog, Travel, How to Blog Better, How to be a Better Blogger

Your location helps your outfit tell a story -- about what you're doing, the time of year you'll wear this outfit, the emotions you want to convey (aka the heart wall) or about where you are. I will admit that this is one of the hardest things for me to do. Especially since I try and shoot multiple outfits on the weekends it's hard to run all around the city looking for the perfect location.

There are always "safe spots" for locations if you find yourself having a major brain fart: beautiful homes, parks, or street style (aka in the street). I found that these are pretty easy to shoot and can be found no matter where you live. All of these places also lend themselves to having multiple places to shoot so you can find the right lighting.

One question I get asked a lot from readers is if I have permission to shoot in all of these places (more specifically in front of homes and at different businesses) and my answer is yes. That is until someone says otherwise. There of course is always a time and place for photos but I've never run into any problems before. Maybe it's because I live in the city and everyone else is doing the same but if any one ever asks I just tell them it's for a personal blog and they usually don't mind. But I would guess it's up to (and dependent on) each individual person!


Time of Day: Time of day is a big factor when finding ideal lighting for your photos. For the most part, I like to shoot early to mid afternoon but remember that's because the sun is "different" here. While it rises at the same time, you have to remember that it might not hit the west side until the late morning because of the tall buildings. Same for the sun setting. While it sets at 6pm everyday the sunlight is gone on the avenues around 4-4:30.

I have been known to chase the sun at times when I'm running behind or when I got a late start. The further west I go in the city, the more light I find! The city also causes some trouble when I want to find "the golden hour." The golden hours happen twice a day: an hour before the sun is rises and an hour before it sets. It creates a golden glow and is said to be ideal for photos (especially blog photos).

Krista Robertson, Covering the Bases, Travel Blog, NYC Blog, Preppy Blog, Style, Women's Fashion Blog, Fashion, Fashion Blog, Travel, How to Blog Better, How to be a Better Blogger Krista Robertson, Covering the Bases, Travel Blog, NYC Blog, Preppy Blog, Style, Women's Fashion Blog, Fashion, Fashion Blog, Travel, How to Blog Better, How to be a Better Blogger

And while I support that claim and love the golden hour myself, it's just not very feasible for me. The golden hour is kind of a hit or miss situation and if you miss it then your SOL. For me taking that chance sometimes isn't worth it. Especially with all of the work that would go into getting this lighting (trekking to the waterfront for photos isn't as easy as it sounds without a car).

But for those of you who don't live in the city, who have a car and who don't only have times on the weekends to shoot, try and find your golden hour! It's a lot of fun and makes for beautiful photos! (Hint: Google will tell you the exact minute the sun sets in your area)


People: This is another topic that my readers constantly ask about: how do you avoid people in your photos? And it's a great question I never would have thought to address. Especially in the city, there are people everywhere and making sure they're not in your shot isn't an easy feat. But I do have some tips and tricks!

1. Find Less Trafficked Areas: If you don't want people in the background of your photos you obviously don't go to Times Square -- so find a spot in the area where a lot of people aren't near. Some here and there are fine, it's not the end of the world!

2. Be Patient (and kind): You really have to learn a lot of patience when taking blog photos (especially in the city). I found that people can get really weird when they see someone taking photos. They're not sure what to do and a lot of times kind of freeze up. You tell them it's fine to keep walking (they stop as to let you take the photo) and thank them for being considerate. Some people also just don't even notice they're in your shot and that's fine too. You have time, you're being patient! So let them do them and then take your photos once they've moved on.

3. Timing: This is crucial for when your taking photos on a sidewalk or in more crowded places. Wait for the perfect time when no one is in your shot. You can usually take a handful in between people walking in front of or behind you. Just make sure you and your photographer are aware and know when to snap away!


Camera Must Haves: Just also wanted to share some camera essentials that help me take, compose, store and share all of my photos!

External Hard Drive: I use this to store all of my blog photos since I take so many and since my computer can't hold them all. This is a super easy plug-and-play hard drive where you literally just drag and drop whatever you need!

Eyefi SD Card: While my camera has a wi-fi connection already, I still love to have this eyefi SD memory card around. It makes it so easy to connect and share all of your photos to your phone (or your friends' phone!)

Polarizing Lens Filter: I don't go anywhere without this filter on my lens! It helps in pretty much all weather conditions to make your photos clear and colorful. I originally bought it to use on overcast days and shooting against water (so the background isn't blown out) but I found I love it for pretty much all my photos!


Video: And what would Thursday be without a new video! Filmed this during one of my video shoots for those who are more visual learners! Be sure to subscribe if you guys want to see more videos like this!


If you have any other questions or topics that I forgot to cover, let me know down below and I will make sure to get to them!

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