4 Photography Tips To Level Up Your Blog

By Gemma Peanut

As creatives, we can love our art so much that we may struggle to think of it as a business. 

It may even seem wrong to promote and sell it for monetary gain - but we all need to make a living and what better way than by doing what you are bonkers passionate about! 

That being said, I do cringe at the thought of bookkeeping and even invoicing clients which are all parts of working for yourself - but one area that I am more comfortable with these days, is marketing.

And the reason for this, is I think I’ve cracked the code...

3 years ago, I was crying myself to sleep, stressing my little heart out over what the heck I was going to do with my life.  A friend suggested that I start blogging as an outlet and a way of deciphering through all the confusion and so begun Gemma Peanut Gallery

As I continued to share my musings and adventures, I realised the power of imagery. They say a picture is worth a thousand words and I quickly learnt this first-hand by seeing the response on my blog to different images. It seemed that having great visuals was a easy win on the marketing side! This realisation fed my curiosity about learning how to take better photos and so began my foray into photography… 

Today, I am a professional shutterbug on a mission to help creative creatures become the boss of their cameras once and for all so that they can produce stunning imagery that shows off their art to the masses.

I’m going to share with you the photography tips that helped me level up my blog.

The most compelling photos have movement OOZING out of them and because of this, they tell a story instead of just showing a static, frozen moment in time. The viewer is drawn in and invited to daydream about what’s going on in the image. 

My favourite cues to capture a sense of motion in photographs is to take a walk or to do a twirl which instantly injects playfulness and spirit. 

Ever typed up the final word of your masterpiece, been super eager to hit “publish” and then realised you have no images to jazz it up and to use to share on Facebook? This is where image banking comes in real handy.

To key to creating a plentiful and versatile arsenal of photographs is to shoot for variety. Consider capturing a range of emotions from smiling straight to camera, to side-profiles staring off pensively, to candid and whimsical back shots. Shoot a scene with both portrait and landscape framing and both close-ups and wide-angle shots. 

Flat lays are so visually captivating when everything falls together effortlessly - but trust me, there is a lot of effort involved! You have to select and arrange the items in a way that expresses an idea or a theme and then you have to take the photo from the right angle, with the right framing and the right lighting. 

Never fear! There are some sure-fire ways to make your flat lay ultra-pinnable! Pick a tonal palette and stick to it to create instant harmony in your flat lay and choose a background that allows these colours to shine. Matte cardstock, hardwood floors and granite bench tops work wonders! 

Now for how many objects...I find that the magic number is 3. You can create so many balanced arrangements with just 3 items such as all 3 in a row, or peeking in from 3 of the corners leaving one corner intriguingly blank which leads me to…

As with many things, less is more and photography is no different with the nifty technique of negative space. Negative space is simply the space surrounding the hero of your image - so picture your model against a big, blank wall or a pretty trinket against a patterned rug. Negative space makes your subject or object really pop!

And it’s also handy for blogging because you’ll be able to easily add in some text to form a header image or a quote perfect for Instagram. 

Photography is the ultimate marketing tool and its uses to give your blog that extra edge are endless! 

Gemma Peanut is a professional shutterbug and story teller. Armed with her camera, her untamed heart and a boundlessly messy imagination. If you’d like to keep on learning about photography, check out Photography 101 with Gemma Peanut where manual mode photography is broken down into human-speak across several beautifully presented video tutorials + the super-active and exclusive Shutterbug Club. 

Working to Feed My Soul

By Aggie Armstrong

As far as I can remember, I've always been a creative person and a creative person who worked. It was something I had to do... After I had left the corporate world of marketing and communications, I became a creative entrepreneur as a photographer and blogger. I had incorporated my photography business and blogged part-time, and both seemed to feed my need for creative expression happily.

As I finished off a huge wedding shoot and had a few clients booked for several months, the universe decided to throw somewhat of a wrench in my plans, and I got pregnant. Let me preface this by saying that we have tried having a child for years before this but it was of course during a time when my energies moved from wanting to mother a human to nurturing a small business that came about. She's cheeky, the Universe, isn't she?

I worked till I was eight months pregnant, feeling large and not so in charge. My spirits were up, though; I was happy that my business was gaining traction, and I thought that I could keep up working right away after a few months of maternity leave. 

I tried after six months. But it wasn't quite as easy as I thought it would be. I felt extreme guilt that I had to go away for a couple of hours, even if the shoot was right in my backyard. The post-production process was a bit of a nightmare because I wasn't getting enough sleep, and when I got back to editing, I felt uninspired but rushed to finish the project.

The timing didn't seem right to me, and I wasn't exactly jumping at the notion of being behind the camera. After another six months of still feeling not like myself, I finally went to see my doctor to discuss the state of my health, and she diagnosed me with postpartum depression. It totally made sense - I was constantly anxious about the baby's well-being, but I felt a sense of annoyance whenever she cried and wanted me. I was also very detached from all the things I used to find pleasure in life, like spending time with my husband, going out to meet with friends, and even something menial as reading a book.

It was difficult to focus, and it seemed like my emotions were all over the place. After seeking help, and taking some medication, I started to feel better again. Bit by bit, I thought of going back to work and was getting some of the same fire in my gut to do something creative. I took all of these as significant signs that I was on the right path to good health.

Within the year of getting better, I slowly made changes about how to go about getting back to work. I am very fortunate in the sense that I have my husband's great support, not only emotionally but also financially to take my time to heal and get back on my feet with regards to my business. I am quite aware of this. And this has added fuel to my desire to get back to the trenches. 

Motherhood changes one's life; there's no doubt about that. But I'm of the persuasion that motherhood should not stop you from being who you were before you had children, it should enhance you. As I take my role as a mother with great responsibility and privilege, I do too as a creative thinking person, as it rounds me up as a complex human. 

I've been taking workshops to better my online presence as a blogger, photographer and as an entrepreneur. And it has been quite helpful to get my confidence back to attain success by my design. What I'm finding with these business workshops is that the lessons are all encompassing with one's personal life too. Shouldn't that be the primary purpose of continuous learning, though? So that we can apply it in all aspects of our lives?

Working with my confidence as a business owner makes me a more secure version of myself. When I do my creative work, it fulfills a different side of myself that motherhood can't. In the same respect, it makes me extremely excited and grateful that I have my role as a mother that inflates my heart like no other job I've ever had can.

Aggie Armstrong is a city-bred mama but now a bucolic countryside transplant. As a mother who's had a child later in life, she's finding it hard to be solely “just a mom” after having a career before hand. As a writer and blogger, she shares her mothering triumphs and mishaps – all of it; steeped in humour, vulnerability and more often than not, in expletive-laden tirades. As a photographer, she captures all the great moments of family life not in a perfectly posed frame, but with the imperfections that make life real, beautiful and full of emotion. Join her in her celebration of women as mothers, creatives, entrepreneurs, and perfectly imperfect beauties on her website, Instagram, and Twitter

The keys to a happy relationship between photographerS and bloggerS

By Mithra Ballesteros

Hi! I’m Mithra (on the right). Before launching my blog and shop eighteen months ago, I knew that great images would be integral to attracting a readership. But I hadn’t worked with a professional photographer in over twenty years.

Then I met Renn (in the hat). She was in photography school and had little experience working freelance with clients. When I interviewed her, she said she would be a good fit for my work because she enjoyed the art of problem-solving in a studio. I loved that answer!

Now we are nearly three years into a great working relationship. We have learned so much together. I wrote this post believing that other bloggers might be interested in what we have figured out.

In this post, I will justify why a long-term partnership is better for both blogger and photographer. I’ll share the keys to a happy long-term relationship and some shortcuts. I’ll list warning signs of a dysfunctional relationship. And I’ll give you the bottom line on when to tweak an arrangement, when to let things ride, and when to say adios amiga

Plus, I’m sharing a downloadable PDF of our handy Photo Log.   

Four Reasons Why a Long-term Partnership is Better for Blogger and Photographer:

1. Cohesive Aesthetics

Ideally, a blog’s photographic style is so consistent that it becomes recognizable to its readers. Creating a joint aesthetic requires the blogger and photographer to experiment with elements that are very technical. Things like lighting, color balance, composition, saturation, set design, etc. Getting over that aesthetic hump is an investment of time. Who wants to repeat that process?

2. Ease of Communication

When blogger and photographer know each other’s likes and expectations, the workflow is more fluid and efficiencies can be captured. A good crop of images is achievable in less time.

3. Rent vs. Own

I don’t like shooting on my own. I cannot be both photographer and stylist at the same time without the image suffering in quality. On the other hand, I can’t afford a full-time in-house photographer. Hiring Renn as my permanent freelance photographer is a happy compromise.

4. Security that Reduces Stress

As a blogger or a small business owner, the myriad of responsibilities induces stress. I am so glad that this one very important area of my workload is absolutely handled. It frees up my brain to worry about – ugh – SEO. 

Mithra and Renn’s Secrets to a Happy Partnership:

1. Professionalism

From the get-go, Renn always showed up on time, with a working camera, extra batteries, and all necessary equipment. On my end, I tried to prepare sets in advance and I always had a yummy meal ready for our break. On the day she submits photos, she also submits an invoice, which I immediately pay in full. We set dates far in advance and we stick to them.

2. Collaboration

We are each other’s assistants. She helps me move furniture. I hold her reflectors. We are each other’s extra set of eyes. We know what needs to be done and we don’t get caught up in strict lines of demarcation over responsibilities.

3. Patience with the Process

Even though we hit it off right away, it took time to reach the level of efficiency at which we now operate. We are still tweaking the process – the way we handle production and post-production deadlines, the storage and delivery of images. We are improving every month.

4. Fun

I think this one should be first on the list because without it, why bother?  

The Warning Signs of a Dysfunctional Fit:

1. A nagging voice in the back of your head that the photographer or blogger doesn’t ‘get you’. This gulf in communication can and will bite you in the butt.  

2. A difference in aesthetics is a big deal. There isn’t a lot of room for compromise on this one. What can I advise on determining if you have a similar aesthetic? Nothing other than, “You’ll know it when you see it.”

3. Lack of follow-through even when communication is effective and expectations are clearly understood. Or unprofessional behavior such as missed deadlines, late payments, lack of preparation, substandard work.

Bottom Line: The Three Legs of a Freelance Stool

Not everything will be perfect. But there are three legs to a freelance stool: good communication, a similar aesthetic, and professionalism. If you have three of those legs, you’re golden. Two of those legs? You can still produce great work while also improving the weak leg. But if you have only one leg of that stool? Time to say Adios!


1. Know your photo dimensions in advance. Compose your shots with some room to spare for cropping. Once you’ve gone to the trouble of creating a set, shoot it horizontally, vertically, pulled back, and tight.

2. Paint color is tricky! How color looks to the naked eye is not how it appears through a camera lens. Take a photograph of a color swatch under studio lights to get a feel.

3. Box lights are versatile and not much more of an investment than a light box.

4. Create a system from the beginning for naming and storing photos. Whether you organize based on date, color scheme, intent of use, or some other category, the system should be logical for your needs.

Here is the Photo Log that I devised for our shoots.

Thanks for reading to the bottom! I hope you found some value in our experience.

Mithra Ballesteros is a shopkeeper at where she sells instant, pop-up collections of vintage art and objects. She blogs about her small business adventures at Renn Kuhnen lives in Milwaukee and works full-time in the photography studio for The Bon-Ton Stores, Inc. She maintains a thriving freelance photography business on the side.  

Photo Credits: Renn Kuhnen

Day To Day Of The Dream Job

By Abbey Henderson

I left my day job in 2010 to pursue my dream of being a full-time photographer. The learning curve was steep. The first few years brought with them overwhelming situations, beginner's mistakes, sleepless nights, comparison to others, and a constant feeling of inadequacy. The glitz faded quickly when I realized owning my own photography company was about 20% photography and 80% office work. 

Fast forward five years and I've settled into my industry a bit. I wouldn't trade my first years for anything. I don't ever want to go back to them, but I'm grateful for all they taught me. But, what if I had to go back? I think about that question often. There is so much I've gleaned through the school of hard knocks...truths that I wish someone would have just told me at the beginning. So, if you are on that starting line of pursuing your passion as a career, I think these 7 simple habits are vital to both the morale and health of you and the day-to-day of your dream job.

1. Develop a creative community.

You cannot do it alone! I cannot stress this truth enough, especially if you are a one woman (or man) business. There is so much value that comes from investing in a community of like minded creatives. I spent the first two years in business afraid to reach out to other photographers solely because they were my competition. The truth is there is more than enough business to go around.  Some of my richest friendships in the industry are also my closest competitors. We sharpen each other and encourage one another regularly. Sometimes I wonder what pitfalls could have been avoided had I invested in fostering those relationships sooner.

2. Prepare.

More than likely you will not stumble upon success. You will build it, one step at a time, one day at a time. Evaluate where you want to go and start preparing. Make a road map for getting to your destination. A vision without a plan is simply a dream. Dreams become reality when we are willing to put pen to paper and make them happen. It takes brainstorming, commitment and preparation. Oprah Winfrey said "I feel that luck is preparation meeting opportunity." Start building momentum, gain experience, invest in your education, and keep the energy going. When the wave of opportunity comes you will be ready to ride.

3. Be Wise, Save.

When we were newlyweds my husband and I bought an owl shaped piggy bank at a thrift store. At the base of the ceramic owl's feet are the words Be Wise Save. It does not get more straightforward than that.  And everyday that owl stares me right in the eyes, reminding me to steward the finances well. Finances can be one of the most stressful parts of stepping out on your own in business. As you start generating revenue, save for the dry seasons. Keep a reserve for when you hit a slow patch. Our company is approaching our slow season that lasts about two and half months. It's a lot easier to face the bleak times when we've prepared for them financially.

4. Give Back Intentionally.

I just wrapped up a meeting with a non-profit I'm photographing for this fall. We are planning some really exciting stuff; and I'm doing it for FREE. Why? Because I'm passionate about their cause, and I love that I can use my talents to invest in their work. Early in business I would jump at any opportunity to do free work for any non-profit that came knocking on my door. I ended up overworked, uninspired and bitter towards the projects I was doing for free. I wasn't passionate about most of them; I was committing to them out of fear; fear that if I said "no" I would miss out on a connection or opportunity to collaborate with someone else I would meet in the process. I learned the hard way that its vital to set boundaries and know your limits in terms of what you can do for free. By intentionally choosing the causes I contribute to, I work better and produce higher quality content for their mission.

5. Move Forward.

Don't be paralyzed by perfection. Perfection is a trap. Perfection is the enemy of great.  Are you launching a new site? Don't wait for perfect. Get it up and running and keep moving forward. Hold yourself to a standard of great not perfect. When we wait on perfect, we will always find something else that needs to be fixed or changed. 

6. Rest.

Make room for rest. The best way to avoid burnout is to rest regularly. I know that's hard to tell to an entrepreneur just starting out. Work is always on your brain. But rest is crucial to the longevity of your company and creativity. Take a day or two a week to focus on anything but work. Do things for fun, turn off the computer, have good conversations without your phone on the table, breathe fresh air. Life is richer when you discipline yourself to rest.

7. You can do this! 

You can. You are capable of more than you think...that's all there is to it! 

Abbey discovered her passion for light and photographs as a child, and was introduced to film photography in the dark room of her high school art class. She’s been photographing weddings since 2010 and is co-founder of Loft Photography. The West Wing, Pride & Prejudice, and a glass of red wine paired with deep conversation are a few of her favorite things. She believes there is no such thing as having too many leather bags, or pearl earrings. Beautiful light, quiet mornings, river days and plane tickets to anywhere make her happy! Follow her on  Loft's Instagram and her personal Instagram

Photo Credit: Loft Photography


Christmas In July Luxury Country Workshop Announced // Event


More exciting news to announce today! I'm teaming up again with good friend, Eat Read Love as she hosts a beautiful 'Christmas in July' Styling and Photography Workshop at Royalla Luxury Farmstay this Winter.

You are invited to join me and a very special team for this Full Day Workshop in the Country on July 4 and limited TICKETS ARE ON SALE NOW 

I'll be joined by some of my favourite team of experts for an inspiring day in the country where you will learn the art of collaboration, hands on experience styling a beautiful space and table, sharing a Christmas in July feast and then spending the afternoon learning to photograph your food and surrounding areas. At the end of the workshop you will walk away with some styling techniques, manual digital photography skills and have a wonderful time connecting with fellow bloggers, and creative souls over a delicious French style lunch in the country. It will be only a small group of people so you have plenty of time for one on one chats with our expert group sessions and with fellow guests. 


The workshop includes the following topics:

*How to Host a Soulful Gathering, with Eat Read Love & Blog Society
Nat and I will spend the morning talking with you about the art of collaborating, tips and tricks for hosting your own intimate gathering or special event, social media hints and tips and more. This will be an open session where you can ask questions and enjoy an interactive discussion with our hosts and guests. 

*Styling your Table, with Lisa Madigan
Lisa Madigan, artist and stylist will be sharing some wonderful tips on styling your own beautiful space and table. More than just making things look beautiful, it's about threading a story throughout your environment & really bringing a space to life. A little hands on floristry & foraging, the art of editing & collating props & pieces & of course polishing up the end result. Together with Lisa you will help bring our magical Christmas in July table setting to fruition as well as gather a few home styling tips in and around the grounds of the stunning Royalla property.

*Noël en Juillet Christmas in July Feast

*Food Photography Workshop, by Luisa Brimble 
Marios Kitchen will prepare a beautiful French Style "Noël en Juillet" Wintery feast by the fire. Here you will work together with photographer Luisa Brimble to learn the art of food photography, mastering the ariel shot, getting a great instagram photograph, using your manual settings to get the best shot and more. We will then enjoy a long table French inspired long Christmas lunch prepared by Mario together as a group. 

*Landscape/Interiors Photography Workshop, by Luisa Brimble
Luisa Brimble, acclaimed event photographer and instagram legend will continue her hands on photography workshop, walking around the farm cottage, teaching you the art of photographing food, gardens, interiors and landscapes with different manual camera settings to suit indoor and outdoor shooting. You might collect fresh eggs, visit a vegetable garden, wander down the paddock to a wombat hole, and share an afternoon tea picnic by a blissful weir before taking in the beautiful views across the valley. 

Bonfire Finale
Then we will then gather around the campfire as the sun sets to enjoy some toasted marhsmallows and red wine by the fire, learning to take photos on manual in low light while we share our highlights from the day before we say goodbye.

Hope you can join us!