I get a lot of questions about photos and editing and all that fun stuff that comes with making a blog POP, so let’s do a little impromptu how to, shall we? First things first, I think photos are one of the most important parts of a successful blog. Bad design and poor writing can be overlooked (trust me, I’ve seen it on some super successful blogs out there), but what often makes up for it is amazing photos. I think a great blog should have all of the above, but show me jaw dropping photography and I am happy. There’s a certain level of expectation that is expected of a great, eye catching website, and I can often tell within two seconds if it has that certain it factor. I’d like to think I speak for those that don’t have a professional photographer, or super expensive equipment, or any previous photography skills. Everything I’ve learned has been through trial and error, a lot of research, and practice. I also clearly take style based photos the most, so most of my advice is about that style of photography, but can be applied elsewhere. Let’s get started!
1) The first thing I do is set my camera to take photos in the raw setting, which basically doesn’t apply any auto touches on my photos while I’m taking them. Then I make sure my camera is set to take my photos in the largest size possible. This way I can edit my photos down afterwards to any size way I want without distorting the resolution.
2) I use a Canon Rebel and a tripod and take 90% of my photos myself, and I also take my photos in the manual mode. I like the manual mode because it allows me to cheat the lighting in any situation, and also because it allows me to focus on a wall behind me for reference and step in front of the frame to take the timed, ten continuous shots at a time. I typically take 70-100 photos per style shoot, which sounds like a lot, but I like to have a ton of options when editing later. It takes me anywhere from 5-15 minutes to take the actual photos. You can read more on how I take pictures using a tripod HERE.
3) I take the majority of my pictures in the morning, between 9 and 10am. This isn’t the ideal lighting time (who has the time to wait for the golden hour?), so I often find a shadier place to avoid full on bright sunshine and find I need to overexpose my photos using the ISO setting to achieve a brighter lighting situation. I do a couple of test shots to find the ideal settings, then set up my equipment and begin. When I initially take the photos they don’t look as vivid as I want them to be, or how they look in real life, but I’ve found this can be enhanced in the editing process, so YAY. I’ve learned it’s easier to cheat a slightly overexposed photo as opposed to one that is too dark.
4) I’ve been using Picmonkey for a long time now, and recently upgraded to the deluxe version, which I like a lot. It is cheap and easy to use and doesn’t have the learning curve of Photoshop. Would I like to eventually learn how to conquer Photoshop and edit and add all these amazing layers and other such awesomeness? YES, but for now I use Picmonkey and I’m really happy with it.
After I take the 70-100 photos and think I’ve gotten some usable shots, I upload them onto my computer and go through and cull them down to about 10 that might make the cut for a blog post. The outtakes I discard are often scary and I delete those faster than you can say, hot mess. I like to post no more than four or five photos in a post (I HATE scrolling through 20 or more style photos of the same thing, it drives me nuts), so I pick a couple I think I will love and I start editing.
5) I don’t do a ton of edits to my pictures. I find that playing with the exposure (contrast and highlighting does the trick 99% of the time), as well as a slight sharpening if there is a fuzziness to the photo is the easiest. Too much of the sharpening tool makes a photo look grainy, and too much contrast and highlighting looks fake and washed out, so I really try to balance this. I don’t like to use a lot of the beauty tools either, but every once in awhile, when my gray roots are INSANE, I touch them up with the dark highlighting tool.
6) The last thing I do is to resize all of my photos to the width of my post size (600px), and save it to my desktop with a label (white pants, patterned top, etc.) This way I can upload it into my post in Blogger, hit original size when I right click on it, and all my photos are the same size. This is so important. When I see a blog with irregular sized photos I am immediately turned off. It’s sort of the calling card of a beginner blog to have itty bitty pictures, or have them be all different sizes. Trust me, I did this forever and I cringe looking back at those posts! I don’t mind different photo shapes, either. I think having collages (also done in Picmonkey), makes a blog post look interesting. As long as they are the same width and placed closely together with your full size photos, and the spacing is adjusted to take away the white space between the photos in the collage, all things are good.
That’s it! If you have any other questions, or need clarification on any of these steps, please feel free to email me!