The past few weeks, I thought I would get my little tush into motion and begin focusing efforts on the one place I really enjoy improving; my photography. How I shoot, organise & edit photos is something I’ve wanted to share for a while now (because I love reading these posts) but I didn’t feel like I exactly qualified for a while. Now don’t get me wrong, I am no Instagram success story (so feel free to ignore every single word I say). However, I’ve spent a number of years either taking photos or filming lots of different things as a hobby and I can safely say this is the only hobby I have ever truly kept up and tried to work on year after year. So hopefully, I’ve earned my stripes.
I spent three or four years solid learning about television production, working in TV here and there and using professional television cameras in studios and out on location. In University, I was (proudly) a little dweeb who loved learning about cameras then how to shoot with them and I don’t think I will ever grow out of it. I used to book cameras out nearly every week to film, whether it was for my own projects, for paid work or just for fun – they were massive industry standard cameras that you would see professional camera operators using to film wildlife documentaries and all sorts, so this was the dream for a little geek like myself. I primarily used to shoot on the Panasonic AG-HPX 500 which was a BEAST! If I remember correctly, this camera was upwards of £10k (without the lens) and weighed roughly 4kg without a battery pack. Basically, it was HUGE and heavy as hell, so much so that you could only operate it on your shoulder, as I am elegantly modelling in the photo. I loved using this camera so so much and was heartbroken to leave it behind when I left University. So, when a little email dropped into my inbox asking if I wanted to work with Panasonic on a photography themed post to celebrate their new Mirrorless 12-60mm Lens Camera, it’s safe to say I replied within 0.2 seconds and did a little dance on the way to the kettle for a celebratory brew.
Now, I should take this opportunity to say I haven’t used the new Lumix G9, but, I can confidently say that this is a brand I can whole-heartedly recommend. I know a few people who have recommended using the Lumix GH5 for vlogging and filming purposes, in fact, Alfie Deyes invested in one not too long ago. Knowing that others have used this for vlogging was another reason why I was genuinely drawn to the camera when I received the email. Not one to blindly promote a product I know zero about, I carefully compared the specs between the new G9 and the well-loved GH5, the same way I do when shopping for anything, especially cameras. From what I can tell, they are very very similar, excluding the fact that the G9 is lighter, slightly more expensive and is geared towards shooting wildlife (so shooting sharp crisp photos of anything moving). For bloggers, this would be top for any of your I’m a sassy blogger strutting down the street in my Gucci slippers whilst I flick my hair shots. Of course, there are lots of different cameras out there and this is just another girl yabbering on about another camera – my only advice would be if you are looking to invest, do your research, read the reviews and go into a shop and use the cameras! I for one am excited to try out this bad boy and see exactly what it can do.
Without further ado, let’s get into the nitty-gritty. I absolutely LOVE reading posts about how people shoot and edit their photos. At the end of the day, as much as it may be a chore to some bloggers (usually to those who are more inclined to write), it is an art and that means in reality, there are no right or wrong answers. (Yay!) Sure, there are things that may work better for a while, get a few more likes on Instagram but as with any trend, what’s today’s news is tomorrow’s fish and chip papers right? Things evolve every day and I do my best to keep myself having fun and trying out new things. It’s clear that the warmer tones in photos are becoming more popular, edging away from stark white photography and opening the doors to a more golden look. Something I am ALL FOR.
It’s actually quite hilarious aligning what I’m about to type here with what I’m currently doing in my job (planing video & photography shoots within an inch of their life) but, here we are. I am very much a snap as I go kinda girl and I don’t overly plan what I am going to shoot and when. Personally, I feel like my best shots come from the times where I didn’t know I was going to take a photograph. This is a large part of the fun for me; seeing something in the street for example and managing to grab my camera in time, frame it up correctly and get a shot I am really happy with is so much fun for me! Not needing to plan is of course largely due to the fact that the photos I take are in a ‘documenting the world around me’ style, as opposed to fashion, product or event focused.
However, from time to time I like to dabble with the odd flatlay. It has to be said, I have a lot of respect for those of you who only shoot flatlays because WOW they take time and preparation. My most recent flatlays were centred around Valentines Day. I gathered the props maybe two or three days before I knew I wanted to shoot them and carefully considered colours and how I would use them in different setups. I put it in my calendar and made sure I had my camera charged and enough time to get a few variations in the morning. This also meant taking into consideration lighting and the space I would shoot in. Living in a City Centre apartment, space is a luxury so I have to get inventive. Usually, I will drag my desk into the lounge, place it in front of the balcony doors where we get the best light and set my props up the evening before. This means I save time in the morning when I want to shoot. My window of lighting isn’t amazing but I have probably 2 or 3 hours before the sun hides behind the apartments outside my window, this is usually the really nice golden morning light too so I only every shoot between 9am & 11am on a Saturday or Sunday.
The fun part! First off, I will always be the kind of person that gets too many images. I do this because I have too often brought images into the edit to realise there was something really really small that I wish I had changed and it broke my heart. Whilst I don’t recommend always shooting more than you need, leaning how much coverage works for you I highly recommend. I will gladly sit and sort through 30 variations of 1 shot, rather than choosing between 5 I dislike. This will come to you as you shoot more and more. This is something I picked up as began filming more and more; at first, I was scared to stop recording for fear of missing something but I learnt how to cover exactly what I needed and essentially ‘edit the video’ whilst I was shooting it.
For example, if I was shooting an event, I wouldn’t just turn up and press record. I would consider what I wanted and what the client needed before I got there. I knew I would want 3 or 4 interviews for their 2 minute edit, cutaways of those people working at the event in maybe 2 or 3 different shot sizes, a variety of establishing shots, a few artsy shots to break up the GVs (general views) and enough different GVs to keep up the pace and bulk out the video. This is the kind of thing I do with my photos and trying to cut down the duplicate shots; I simply cannot go and shoot photos without knowing what the copy will be accompanying it as I shoot around them. So whilst you are shooting, just work through your post in your head, thinking of how you will be breaking up sections of texts with your visuals and let your photos do the talking for you!
Also, a few things I picked up over the years which may be of use to someone:
- “Never do it up against a wall” as my tutor so hilariously put it when teaching us how to frame Interviews. This goes for your shots too. Try and add depth into your shots, move your subject from where they or it was where you arrive and where that depth simply doesn’t exist, add a little texture with props or by shining lights on a backdrop. Of course, a blank stark backdrop can work really well sometimes but there’s no shame in switching it up a little!
- Use what’s at your disposal – I can guarantee you that professional studios will almost always find the most inventive and creative ways to save money and get something done. Don’t be afraid to blue tack things on the wall to add a little colour and context, build up a little height with boxes and books or cover your lamp with a coloured scarf to add a dash of colour to the scene. When you really think outside of the box, it’s amazing how much you can alter your shots. One of my most inventive creations to date was gaffer taping a tripod to a skateboard and riding it across a museum to film a chase scene. I KNOW RIGHT STUDENT FILMS ARE THE BEST.
- Check your focus every time – This may sound RIDICULOUS but this has to be my biggest pet peeve. It’s so simple but without a 2-second glance, just quickly zooming in, it can ruin an entire batch of shots.
- Expose for the face – If you are outside shooting outfit photos and the sun is beating down, your camera may want to automatically expose the light for the sky. Don’t be scared to go manual and ensure that your subject is lit properly. If you WANT them to be under-exposed, then go right ahead and ignore me.
- Use every angle and inch of height there is – If you can feel yourself in one position taking photos over and over and wondering why nothing is happening, this is why. Stand up on the chair, crawl on the floor, balance on the edge of the couch, tip toe as high as you can and move your body until you have your perfect angle and framing. This is one of the best things I was taught by a photographer years ago, to be fearless, especially when out in public, trying to get the shot. If you’re not standing in a funny position, then you’re probably not doing it right!
So this may be a strange addition to your average How I Shoot Edit my Photos blog but these are the kind of details I genuinely love discussing with creatives: Once you have taken your photos, where do you go next? Being the kind person I am, I like to have nice workflows in everything I do. I like to keep things smooth, tidy & efficient. When I first started my blog, it would drive me insane having photos on different devices, having SD card here there and everywhere, having images on the cloud, some in VSCO, some in lightroom. Oh my god, NO THANK YOU.
Now, whenever I take a photo on my camera, it goes straight onto my hard drive as a raw image. On my hard drive, I have a folder structure I am finally happy with to order everything. Here, I will drop raw photos and save my edited photos. If I am using this photo for a blog, this is then uploaded straight to WordPress for later. When uploading to Instagram, I will airdrop the edited photo to my phone. From here, I will add the image to Planoly, just to double check I like how this looks. When using photos shot from my phone, I follow the exact same steps, except I load photos onto my hard drive around once a month to clear room on my phone. When uploading to Instagram, I’ve been using an app called Prime for a while now; this apparently tells you when the best time to upload is for you to gain optimum engagement, however, I literally use this for a reminder to upload. I upload my photo from Planoloy and bob’s yr uncle. I tend not to plan too far in advance and usually, I have 3 or 4 images in Planoloy that I may or may not upload in following few days. I try to keep as unplanned as possible whilst also trying my best to have content in the bank.
Shock horror, I use Adobe Lightroom. I dabble with VSCO here and there but honestly, it doesn’t have a tenth of the power of Adobe Lightroom. I’ve used Photoshop for many years now and I was always a little scared of opening up Lightroom initially as I was already so comfortable with Photoshop, but man, am I happy I did. The Lightroom app on your phone is just as good if you are editing on the go to! You can sync photos in your Lightoom library as it’s cloud-based, making it really easy to edit on Lightroom on your computer, then get them up on Instagram on your phone.
I use Lightroom mostly to up my exposure and alter the temperature. I tend to edit my photos so they are a little colder than normal. In this photo, I it remove the warm tones and essentially make them appear whiter. Lightroom is also really good for picking out certain colours and just editing them. In this photo for example, I chose the blues and made them deeper, a tad more green.
I try not to go overboard when editing photos and in all honesty, don’t stick to any rules. As long as I like the image, it has cool tones and a few colours popping, we are all good.
I’d love to hear more about how you edit, organise & shoot your photos so let me know below if I’m missing out on anything!!