Welcome to the first part of The TBP Blog Challenge’s photography portion. For the next couple of days we’re going to focus on one of our favorite skills and hobbies – photography! No matter what kind of blog you run, the imagery that you produce matters…it matters a lot. Today’s post is all about the basics of equipment and photography programs. Later in the week we will touch on style and the editing process.
Davida and I get asked all the time if we are professional chefs and photographers. Truth is- we’re neither! We’re two self-taught home cooks who really like photography and had the will-power to figure it out on our own. That goes for both cooking and photography When it comes to sharing recipes online, it’s reallllllly important that your photos look as appealing as they taste. I always say that you could be the BEST COOK IN THE WORLD, but if your photos suck, none of that matters.
So…what’s the key to becoming a great self-taught photographer?
Invest in a DSLR
All of those beautiful pictures you see all over Pinterest or your on your favorite blogs? They’re likely taken on a DSLR. iPhones can do amazing things, but they don’t come with the same kind of manual manipulation that you get with a professional camera.
On that note, once you do invest in a nice camera, learn how to use it! Google is everything. There’s no point in buying yourself a nice camera if you’re not going to learn how to take photos on the manual setting either. Manual allows you to make tiny changes in exposure, focus and other technical terms I don’t need to overwhelm you with, but it is these changes that will take your photography from average to exceptional.
- Invest in a nice camera
- Learn how to use it in manual
- Shoot in natural light or get yourself a lighting kit
In case you’re curious, Davida and I are Team Canon and Team Nikon. D uses a Canon 6D and I use a Nikon D600. We both almost exclusively shoot with a 50mm 1.8 lens. Speaking of lenses. We HIGHLY recommend using something OTHER than your kit lens. The kit lens can be great, but if you want to get serious, you should think about purchasing a fixed (non-zoom) lens such as the 50mm. the 1.8 will run you at about $200.
In addition to Googling everything you could possibly ask about photography, there are some great e-courses out there that will walk you through photography basics. We have a whole page dedicated to photography resources because of how important it is for your blog. Here are some of the study guides we recommend:
DSLR Basics and Photoshop for Bloggers from A Beautiful Mess – these ladies can do no wrong when it comes to photography. Their courses teach you the basics in photography and how to get the best shot and edits for your blog.
Blogshop at Home from Design Love Fest – An extensive tutorial on using photoshop for your blog. Great for DIY and Design Bloggers (and everyone else!) who find themselves building graphics and detailed images and want their process streamlined by the best.
Food Photography School from Minimalist Baker –130+ videos teaching you how to take food pictures from start to finish.
Tasty Food Photography from Pinch of Yum – a great rundown on food photography from styling to angles to lighting. Perfect for the beginner blogger.
Open your eyes! There is inspiration all around you. When I started to take photography seriously I found myself studying advertisements on the Lightrail and digging through all of my Mom’s old magazines. See how images are styled and what the lighting looks like, then try to emulate. You will never pull off the same exact picture and in time you will start to develop your own style. If your world is somewhat lacking inspiration (it happens!) check out gawker sites like Craftgawker or Foodgawker or even Pinterest to see what other bloggers are up to these days. Make sure you’re looking at all of the leaves in the forest, and not just the forest as a whole!
Use Professional Editing Software
Adobe, will you marry me? Even the best photographers can’t control every aspect of a picture. That’s where editing programs come in. Thanks to our ever-changing sun, seasons and settings in general, there is no way to snap a shot and expect it to come out perfectly as planned. There’s a lot that can be done before taking a photo (see above about shooting in manual) but for those blueish winter days or that crumb you totally didn’t notice, editing softwares are here to save you from the pain of having to re-shoot your post.
D and I both swear by Adobe Photoshop but some people love Lightroom. Lightroom is fantastic for batch editing photos but our posts are rarely more than 3-5 pictures long so batch-editing isn’t a huge priority for us. What photoshop does allow is for those awesome collages (I have a tutorial HERE!) and text and photo overlays that you see across our blogs. Without photoshop we’d be in serious trouble when it came to branding our blogs.
It takes a bit of practice to get used to the programs, but Adobe has some amazing online videos teaching you all the tricks of the trade. We highly recommend investing in the Adobe Creative Cloud or Suite so you can step up your photography game.
No amount of nice equipment, courses or editing tools will mean much if you don’t put it to use! I spent way too much time sitting at my computer studying photography instead of just going out and using my camera. Our recommendation? Study the basics and then study them as they appear in reality. Learn how to change aperture on your camera and then see what happens when you change aperture for the same shot. It’s the best way to learn how to manipulate your camera.
Word to the wise: You will get frustrated. That’s okay! You just have to keep at it even when you’re not quite getting the hang of it, because eventually you will. If your photo looks grainy, google why that may be then adjust your settings on your camera and see what happens. Don’t just assume the photo has to look grainy. The important thing is to just practice, practice, practice and never give up even when you’re feeling frustrated.
We’d love to hear your best photography tips, so please share below!
New and experienced bloggers – we all have stuff we want to work on so feel free to share your photography struggles with the TBP Community! Hopefully we can help and encourage each other. But mostly, your challenge today is to get practicing, even if you feel like you suck 😉