Last Christmas, I gave you my hea— I mean, Hannah and I both got DSLRs. That was hands down, one of the best gifts I think I’ve ever received. Since then, we’ve both gotten really into different types of photography. I’m now super into portrait and lifestyle photography and even offer portrait sessions on my website. Hannah has been more into nature and architecture. You can check out her Instagram here. So, I definitely don’t think you absolutely need to have a DSLR to have some good blog photography, but I also won’t lie to you and say it isn’t amazing to have one. Quality is honestly the best. However, just having a DSLR or even an upper-level point and shoot is not enough to have stellar blog images. I think that I have a long way to go before I become 100% satisfied with my blog images.
I can definitely tell that the images have improved on the blog, but I also want to start investing in more tools and gadgets to help take it to the next level. Today, I’m sharing some items that I’ve already picked up and some things that are on my own personal list of things to buy! For reference, I shoot most of the images that end up on the blog with my Nikon D5500 and NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G lens. Okay, let’s talk some photography now y’all.
35 or 50 mm Prime Lens
This is probably something that I’m going to have to recommend that you pick up immediately after buying a DSLR. However, I would also get the bundle with the kit lens(es) as well. You’ll want your beginner lens collection to include a prime lens and a zoom lens. I love using my prime lens for product shots, food, portraits, and detail shos. The zoom lens is great for wide angle landscape photos and for traveling. I wish I would have opted for my 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 lens my first few days in NYC.
I opted for the 35 mm because my camera’s sensor is cropped, meaning that this 35mm lens will actually work like a 50mm would for a full frame DSLR. I’m glad that I went for this to start with because it is super zoomed in, but the 50 mm will be perfect for portraits and details, so I’m ready to invest in that one soon!
Okay, here’s the tea: you can have the best camera ever but if you don’t use your light correctly; your photos will not be as great. I struggle with this all the time and I’m still learning the best ways to shoot in low light and at golden hour and in direct sunlight and in the shade. The thing about photography is that you just have to try it and if it doesn’t work … there is a trash button for a reason. However, I wouldn’t delete any photos until you blow it up onto a large computer screen.
On this front, I’m looking into investing in a ring light because winter is killing me, especially while trying to do Blogmas. When I don’t have time to take photos during the day, I have to switch up my entire blog plan and post something that doesn’t need personal photos. *hint hint* this post. Also, a reflector is on my buy-right-now list because it’s really inexpensive and can get rid of shadows in portrait pictures so easily.
Okay, so I consider Alison to be the queen of cute props and I love her Instagram stories where she hauls new ones. I love anything with gold accents whether it be cute candles from Target, rose gold string lights, or huge sunglasses and patterned scarves. Props do an excellent job of adding a little something-something to the image. I love playing with shadows and adding textures/colors to an image especially since I love photographing neutrals. It can add a little more dimension and interesting pops to the pictures.
Lightroom is my pride and joy. I love love love it. I keep learning something new about its features and capabilities and it’s one of my favorite things to just play around on. Once you find you’re editing style, the sky is the limit. I’m working on a couple of fun Lightroom centered projects for 2018 that I’m really excited to release [think Youtube tutorials and presets]. I’m just trying to collect as much research and technical information as I can before I try and communicate how to use the program to anyone else. Maybe, I truly am a scientist.
I’d highly recommend to anyone that’s not as into Lightroom and absolutely frightened by Photoshop to invest in some presets or actions in Photoshop. Cohesiveness is key. Even though the tone of my images can differ from post to post, I try to keep the matte finish across the board. I like the grainy and texturized look. When I wanted VSCO-like filters I downloaded some from Nate Photographic for free. You can also get some presets from Jenna Kutcher for free as well that are good for quick brightening edits. If you want to spend some cash on some presets, Jessica Whitaker is currently selling her hip yet moody presets.
I don’t know a ton about actions, but I know that Lauren Lindmark use’s them on her photos which are stunning. So, I’d just google “free Photoshop actions” to see what you can find. As far as I’m concerned they are pretty similar to Lightroom presets.
Okay, so if you haven’t noticed yet, photography is all about constant learning. I watch a Youtube video daily on editing, posing, lighting, cameras, etc. I think that’s how I’ve grown so much over the past year. It’s also what keeps me constantly growing. My favorite YouTubers are the Jessicas- W. and K. There’s also a lot of resources to help you outside of Youtube that I frequent such as the build and bloom photography group on Facebook and skillshare.com!
Okay, so there you have it! My tips and tricks for improving your blog or portrait or travel or whatever kind of photography. I am always down to chat about all things ~photography~! Also, if you are in the Triangle, Hampton Roads, or Charlotte area, I am looking for models and other photographers to work on some collaborations in the new year. HMU: email@example.com. Okay, happy snapping!
keep on keepin’ on,