I am by no means a professional photographer.
I shoot most of my photos on AUTO for chrissakes – but I’ve learned a few things along the way. This is not a technical post, but more about composition, lighting and photography basics I’ve learned from blogging over the past 4.5 years. You can’t learn if you don’t try and you’ll probably suck at something before you get good. So here are my blog photography basics so you can skip the part that sucks and jump right on over to the good!
1) No Crappy Photos – In this saturated world of blogs, you simply cannot have crappy photos on your site. The competition is fierce and bloggers are bringing their A game to every single post and they are styling up shots that you would expect to see inside a magazine. You should aim to post good, clear photos on your site or NOT post them at all.
It kills me when I look back at my very old blog posts and some of the blurry photos I put up there. I just didn’t have the confidence back then to just stand up and take the damn shot and to get it right. I was shy about moving things around and taking photos period, that I ended up with a big blurry mess.
Also, size your photos for web, but don’t post teeny-tiny thumbnail photos that I need a magnifying glass to see! Learn how your blog works and then maximize on that.
2) Kill the Flash – My major pet peeve, seeing food photography taken in a dim restaurant with a big overexposed flash. I mean why even bother? It just does not look appetizing and flash photography ends up disturbing everyone. If you’re there on assignment, ask your contact if there is a better place where you can go and shoot your food photos or if they can seat you by a window or a table with great lighting.
3) Natural Light – Seek out natural light whenever possible. It will make a world of difference on your portraits, food photography and anything else for that matter. Buy a white foam core board to bounce light off your windows at home and on your subject. Every little bit helps.
4) Style Your Shot – Clear the clutter, move some dishes, garbage, empty glasses around, pull over a vase and style your shot. It takes less than a minute and it makes a world of difference. I hate seeing someone’s half-eaten plate, used cutlery or empty beer bottle in a photo next to beautiful plate of food. If you’re shooting at home, bring in props – colourful tablecloths, backdrops, a wooden board – whatever will make it awesome. Just don’t be afraid to try – that’s what the delete button is for.
5) Crop + Enhance – Use the rule of thirds, your subject does not always have to be centered, it can be off to the side or on an angle. Do not be afraid to crop out unwanted clutter to get a more focused photo. Use simple software like Camera+, Instagram, Over, Pixlr or iPhoto to instantly enhance your photos.
6) Ask for Photos – If your pics turned out to be complete crap, contact the PR rep for photos. I’ve had nights when it was just simply too dark to get the right shot. I usually aim to put up my own original photos first and then I supplement with PR photos for my posts.
7) Get a Good Camera – You should be using a digital SLR for food photography, the lens quality really makes a difference – especially in dark restaurants. This is the camera I currently use.
8) Smartphone Photos – I actually shoot 80% of the photos you see on this blog on my camera phone. It’s compact, travels well and produces some pretty amazing photos – if you consider how far technology has come these days. My only exception is food photography and portraits – I usually do these on my SLR. For camera phones, I currently rotate between my iPhone 5 and the Nokia Lumia 1020, which has a 41 megapixel-camera.
9) Ask People to Pose – I covered A LOT of events when I first started blogging that I finally learned to speak up and ask people if I could take their picture. And guess what??? 99.9% of the time, the person was thrilled! Why not? They spent all that time primping and getting dressed – damn right they want their photo taken. So instead of capturing pictures of people’s backs while they stand at a bar waiting for drinks, ask people to pose – you’re doing a feature on your blog! Then hand them a business card, so they can look for it in the coming weeks and thank them for participating.
What are you tips & tricks to getting a great photo?