Photography is something I have enjoyed for a number of years now, ever since I saw my Dad’s ma-hooo-sive DSLR as a little kiddo; although I spent a large period of time being more into videography throughout University, I have been taking photographs nearly every day for longer than I can remember. I take photographs first and foremost to document and remember something, second to that comes the thrill of getting a stunning visual. I am guilty of being a little visual junkie; I will forever get a little buzz in my tummy from getting a perfect shot and a little part of me dies inside if I miss that golden moment for a perfect shot or equally if I share a photo that I’m not entirely happy with.
I too am guilty of wanting to shut down my Instagram and start from scratch, close my blog and start all over.. And maybe one day I will, but for now, why don’t we do our best to work on our technique with a little direction from the professionals?
I was invited to an event with Manfrotto recently, concentrating on Blogger Photography tips, especially for beginners; I was over the moon when I found out the Masterclass was literally a 5-minute walk from my apartment and they would be showing off some of their new kit – I had to go! I tootled on down there on my billy-todd to see what was on offer. I was greeted by a room jam-packed with bloggers and photography enthusiasts, not to mention the ton of Manfrotto equipment to play with.
The venue was so pretty and I later realised this was actually the sister hotel to The King St Townhouse, the hotel where I stayed for my birthday back in August! You can find out more my highly recommended stay here, but I can assure you this sister hotel did not disappoint. And snap away, I blaady did.
There were experts on hand, both from Manfrotto as well as professional photographers from industry, using & showing off Manfrotto kit and giving really handy tips on shooting different things; from products to food to fashion, they covered all of it and I thought well why on earth wouldn’t I share some blogger photography tips with you guys!
Lower your ISO – the lower your ISO is, the less sensitive it is to light, therefore, the ‘cleaner’ your image is, without that annoying grain we seem to pick up in low light. Stick to Lower ISO for the best image quality, but, increase the ISO slightly in low lighting.
Aperture & f-stops are the part most beginners struggle to wrap their head around; the following is a simple explanation.
Small f-stop = Larger Aperture. In your photo, this means = More light is let in & a shallower depth of field can be achieved (more background blur or “bokeh”)
Large f-stop = Smaller Aperture. In your photo, this means = Less light is let in (darker) & a less depth of field is achieved (background and foreground are in focus)
Shutter Speed & Exposure
A higher shutter speed will freeze action completely, so this is great for moving objects. A slow shutter will show movement or ‘motion blur’. A slow shutter would be great for catching light trails of traffic, not so much walking down the street getting outfit photos!
Natural light will always be your best friend, but hey, we live in England and it’s nearly December. Invest in a tiny LED light or two to help light your setups properly – you can get these from Manfrotto for £40 – I can vouch for these being a good strong light too!
Soften your lighting
Whilst on the topic of lighting, you can use household items to diffuse, or soften, your light so it doesn’t ruin the photo. Lighting is tough and needs practice, so don’t be discouraged at first if it looks strange all of a sudden – to avoid harsh shadows and overexposure, cover your light with tissue paper or greaseproof paper to spread the light more softly across your setup. DON’T DO THIS IS YOUR LIGHTS WARM UP, THIS WILL SET ON FIRE, TAKE IT FROM SOMEONE WHO KNOWS! Play with the distance between the subject and the light source and try to balance lighting accordingly to create the desired effect e.g. if you want a soft elegant product photo of your new foundation, blasting a light underneath is not gonna work very well.
Experiment with angles
Just because everyone shoots flatlays, it doesn’t mean you have to too! Try out a new angle today and see what else you can do. Something I was taught at Photography A-Level which I will never forget, is that the person who explores all of the heights possible, angles available, is on the floor, standing on chairs, leaning over park benches and straining their body will always get the best shot. You might even start a new photography trend… Also, please don’t hurt yourself dear god.
Make your own light reflector
This will really help in brightening up everything ever so slightly and will assist in spreading light more evenly – all you need a piece of card and to cover it in a reflective material like kitchen foil! Also, do make use of your bright walls if you have them – if you blast a light at a white wall, it will undoubtedly bounce back softer. If your walls are another colour, you will be bouncing that colour onto your subject to be aware of that too.
Research on Pinterest
A blogger and photographers best friend or what!? There is so much inspiration out there for beautiful photography; instead of getting stuck in a rut shooting the same old thing, push yourself and see what else you can do!
Don’t assume that photography is expensive
Photography is all about being creative, thinking outside of the box and building a perfect scene for you to photograph, so please don’t be disheartened if you don’t have a lot of money to spend on gadgets and gizmos. Certainly, they can help, but I find the most fun in trying to build my own reflectors, playing with props, holding coloured card just outside of the shot to create sharp outlines on reflective products, bouncing different colours around using things around my flat or adding fairy lights right at the back of shot to add a coloured bokeh effect. Most smartphones are performing better than most DSLR’s cameras I’ve handled nowadays so don’t forget that too; like most things in life, it’s not about the kit, it what you do with it baby gal.
Avoid “We can fix that in the edit”
Okay okay, this is my own little nugget of advice from across the years but stay with me. From working in TV for short while, being paid to produce videos and working as a student in producing video content, all too often did I hear “oh nevermind, we will fix it in the edit”. Granted, editing software for both photography and video is very powerful but there are somethings you will never be able to fix. As a beginner, we assume that the best photos we see are all down to editing. Wrong. Sure, editing plays a massive role but there are things you can never fix in post. The reason they are good is because they know how to fix it live, not in the edit. Once you have shot in low light with the highest ISO and it’s come out all grainy, you will not be able to get the clarity back that you could have shot with a quick change of settings. Once you have recorded bad audio, it’s unlikely you will save it (this is certainly from experience). Once your image is out of focus, there is no way of fixing that, you can only put a plaster on the issue. When you feel yourself about to say these words, instead consider “what do I need to do to stop having to fix this next time?”
Keep your camera steady
It’s so simple but this can ruin your perfect photo, no amount of editing will ever help when the picture blurs. Manfrotto kindly gifted** me with their PIXI Mini Tripod & I have to say, it’s bloody marvelous for either a phone, a vlogging camera or your bog standard DSLR. If you want a cheap quality mini tripod, you can get it 20% off if you use my code FOLLOWER20 before 04th December 2017. Just head to www.manfrotto.co.uk and see T&Cs* below.
I am so thankful to the team at Manfrotto for welcoming me and looking after all of us all day, more importantly, I feel like I am so ready to get back to my photography again!
*DISCOUNT CODE TERMS & CONDITIONS: Valid from 04/11/17 – 10/12/17. To be redeemed online at www.manfrotto.co.uk. Cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer. Excludes Schneider and Yuneec partner brands.
**Disclaimer: The products in this review were gifted to me by Manfrotto. All opinions are 100% honest and have not been influenced by the brand.