photography tips

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.

1/ MOVEMENT
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. 

2/ IMAGE BANKING
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. 

3/ FLAT LAYS
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…

4/ NEGATIVE SPACE
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. 

5 Must Know Tips for Taking Better Blog Photos

By Kimberly Murray

Everywhere I look it seems that someone is posting a beautiful picture online. Have you noticed that, too? Whether on Instagram, Pinterest, or your blog, visual images are key to communicating to people more about yourself, your brand, and/or your products and services. For bloggers, high-quality visual images are essential to securing the best sponsored post opportunities with the brands that you love. For businesses that sell a product, they are crucial to showing how your product looks or works. Many creatives choose to hire a professional photographer to create images for their visual marketing strategy. However, you may want to create them yourself. There are a few simple things you can do to make sure that your photos stand out.

1. Learn Your Camera
Regardless of the type of camera you are using (e.g., DSLR, point-and- shoot, cell phone), it is important to know all of the features that are possible to adjust. Sure, you can take a decent photo with your camera on “auto,” but you have so many more options if you learn to adjust some of the manual features. Instead of having the camera guess the type of look you are trying to achieve, you have control over whether you want everything in focus, the background blurred, a really bright image, etc.

Sometimes, when your camera is on “auto,” the resulting image will be underexposed or too dark. You might think to yourself, “I can just fix it in photoshop.” But, you shouldn’t have to. Take time to learn your camera settings so that you can get it right “in camera.” If you aren’t ready to jump right into full manual mode, many cameras have in-between settings, where you adjust one component, such as the aperture or f-stop (which controls the amount of blur in your photos), and the camera automatically adjusts the other settings for you.

2. Turn Out the Lights
After learning your camera, the number one thing you can do to improve the quality of your photos is to turn out the lights. It sounds counter-intuitive, but it’s true. In my opinion, natural light is the best way to go! (Unless, of course, you have an awesome studio lighting set-up. In which case, you probably wouldn’t be reading these tips.) When I am at home, I take my photos near the windows in the mid- to late-afternoon, which is when my living room gets the best light. If I am in a cafe or restaurant and know that I want to snap a picture with my cell phone to post to Instagram, I always choose a seat by the window.

Turning out the lights applies to shoots outdoors, too. If you do “outfit of the day” posts, try taking your next photo in the shade and avoid the urge to use your pop-up flash. This creates an image with nice, even lighting. If you want to try that hazy or sun flare look, then stand with your back to the sun and have someone take a photo of you. This is referred to as a backlit photo.

3. Study Your Surroundings
Spend a day studying the light in your home. Turn out the lights and see which rooms get the most light and at what time of day. What if none of the rooms get ample light? Take your setup outdoors. Mother nature provides the best light there is! If you opt to stay indoors, shoot in the rooms that you’ve learned get the best light. Hey, no one needs to know that you shot images for your latest recipe post in the bathroom…unless of course, you have tell-tale signs in the background. Speaking of which, once you decide on where you want to shoot, take a moment to make sure that there is nothing distracting in the frame. There’s nothing worse than getting ready to upload your image to your blog or website only to discover that you forgot to remove that dirty mug. Finally, it is wise to look around and make sure that there is nothing nearby that is creating a color cast (or unintentional tint) in your image. For example, if you are trying to achieve a bright image with lots of neutral or light tones and there is a bright pink object nearby (but out of the frame), that pink color might create a tint to your otherwise neutral scene.

4. Buy White and Black Foam Core
Most craft stores sell foam core in white or black. They can double as both backgrounds and objects to reflect or detract light. When I’m shooting an image and I notice that the shadows are a little deeper than I’d like, I prop up a piece of white foam core next to the setup (and opposite the window) to reflect light back into the scene and lighten or remove the shadows. Anything white or silver will do the trick…a white sheet of paper, a white pillowcase, or a piece of aluminum foil wrapped around cardboard. The opposite is true with black foam core. I use it when I want to create more shadows.

5. Experiment with Angles and Aperture
Once you’ve learned to adjust your camera settings, found the best light, removed distracting elements, and set up your scene, it is time to take the picture. If you are using a digital camera or cell phone, there are an endless number of exposures you can take. So, don’t be afraid to snap away! Typically, I either shoot my images straight on, slightly above the scene at an angle, and directly overhead (oftentimes called the “bird’s eye view”). Which angle I choose depends on what I want to highlight. The angle also affects what aperture or f-stop I choose. (Again, the aperture dictates whether some aspect of the photo is blurry or whether everything is in focus. It is adjusted by changing your f-stop.) When I take photos straight on, I almost always blur part of the background to make the main focus of the image stand out. I achieve this by choosing a smaller f-stop, such as f/2.8 or f/2.2. For extreme blur, some lenses go down to f/1.2. I also achieve this by moving whatever I want in focus away from the objects in the background and closer to my camera lens. The closer they are to the objects in the background, the more everything will appear in focus. When I shoot at an angle, I typically want to focus on the object in front and show the other objects in back, but slightly out of focus. When I shoot from above, as I do with flatlays, I always shoot at a higher f-stop (e.g., f/16) so that everything is sharply in focus. In general, if you want to show height, such as with a stack of cookies, you will choose to shoot straight on or slightly above at an angle. If you are shooting something flat (e.g., pizza, invitation suites, what’s in your bag), you will likely choose to shoot from above.

Those are some of my top tips for taking better photos for your blog or website. With a little bit of practice and experimentation, you can create images that make your brand stand out. How will you use these tips for your next photo project?

Kimberly Murray is a product, lifestyle and portrait photographer. She works with creatives to enhance their visual marketing strategies prior to their launch and throughout the life of their businesses. She also collaborates with bloggers on special projects. You can find her on Instagram, Facebook, and at Kimberly Murray.

6 Instagram Photography Tips

By Sally O'Neil

Instagramming is the sole reason I have been able to quit my office job. To follow my passion. To blog full-time AND successfully launch my own line of DIY Protein Balls nationwide. Goodbye boring office meetings, hello freedom and creativity.

But how is that possible? How can a simple set of images snapped on an iPhone launch a blog, let alone a successful business?

The answer is simple: Beautiful pictures. 

…not the answer you were hoping for right? But before you move onto your next impending email, let me tell you with these 6 simple tips, your images will go from zero to hero. 

1. Shoot in natural light

It’s most likely that the perfect picture will come to you at the most inconvenient time #sodslaw. Whether you’re out and about with friends, feeding your children, or shopping for a new dress, it’s guaranteed you won’t have that lovely DSLR strapped around your neck. Without the ability to control ISO and all those other (rather complicated) settings, the best thing you can do for a great image is to shoot in natural light. Your images will sharper and bursting with colour to draw more followers in.

Accounts that do it well: 

@atdusk 

@bianca.virtue 

2. Shoot in ‘square’ mode

Have your pics Instagram-ready by setting your phone camera to ‘square’ mode. That way you can ensure everything you want in the shot is right there, without any post-crop dramas. 

3. Take time to get the best angle

While your pizza may look delicious at eye height on that stand, your phone just won’t do it justice. Try to the capture every beautiful detail. Celebrate those olives and anchovies. Scale the table if you must - it likely everyone around you will be doing the same. 

4. Develop a theme

As creatures of habit, it’s no secret we like consistency. Be it consistency in image colour, content or message, find your theme, and stick to it. Not only will people understand what you are about in just a few short seconds, but they can be assured they’ll be getting more of that same great content when they click the all-important ‘follow’ button.

No dog snaps when you sell jewellery (unless your dog is modelling some, of course) and no baby pics in your food reel. If you just have to share these special moments, set up another account for personal use.

Accounts that do it well: 

@countryroad 

@healthsynergy 

@theassembly.co

5. Get appy

Editing apps are your best friend. They can transform one very average looking photo into a piece of art. I personally love PicTapGo and VSCO cam, as I lean more towards images with minimal shadow and vibrant whites (my theme). Once you find a filter that you love, you can return to it time and time again for consistency. 

6. Consider the bigger picture

Sure, that bright pink smoothie image might look great on it’s own, but how does it look next to that pair of red Nikes you just posted? Your most recent images will be viewed side-by-side, so it’s important to consider the ‘flow’ of images and how they will look to others overall. Try alternating textures and colours to keep it fresh. 

Final note: Optimize

There are lots of websites which look at the vital stats of your posts to Instagram. You might be thinking *arghhh data*, but it’s all laid out in simple infographics that are really user-friendly. Once you have a few images published, have a look at a these sites (I personally like Iconosquare) and use the information to your advantage. Find out when your community is most active, and schedule your images (try the ‘Latergram’ app) to be published at that time. You’ll get much more engagement and visibility.

Meet Sally, a UK born Sydneysider, known in the Insta world as TheFitFoodieBlog. She began a New Years Resolution to clean up her diet in 2013, and has since lost 14 kilos, gained heaps of energy, and never looked back. She began taking snaps of her dinner and recording her recipes on a basic Wordpress site, with no knowledge that it was the humble beginnings of a health blog. Now she’s a freelance food photographer, recipe developer, magazine columnist and full time blogger at the-fit-foodie.com. She is also the proud author of Chocolate Everyday and owner of a popular range of vegan and fructose-free DIY Protein Balls. Check out her out on InstagramFacebook Twitter or Pinterest.

10 Cool Family Photo Backgrounds For Bloggers // Photography Tips

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By Bethany Cleg

Family photos should be more than just a record of a particular day in the life of its members. Family photos should also make a clear and graphical statement about the interests, values and priorities of the family. There is allot of unsaid information communicated in a family photo. To ensure that your family photos are unique and capture the spirit of you and your loved ones, consider these ideas for backgrounds.

Secondly, I must preface that if you are planning on shooting family pictures yourself and its a “once a year” type of activity maybe consider renting a nicer camera and lenses for the shoot. Its not expensive and its cheaper than buying a camera that you may not end up using that much. 

Here in Australia I recommend this aussie camera hire site as I use them all the time.  Also if you have a baby in the family read this guide here first to get some tips on how to handle your baby for easier photos.

Around Your Community:

1. Every community has civic points of interest. Look for a noteworthy regional feature in your area such as an historic tree or an antique building that played a significant part in the town’s past.

2. If you live in the country, look for a classic barn and ask permission of the owner. To increase interest, frame the photo to include the barn door hardware which will add a distinctive graphic detail.

3. Nighttime settings can be especially romantic for a photo of a couple. Choose a glamor spot for night shots, keeping in mind that it may be necessary to consider a lighting hire for sufficient illumination.

4. Use as a background a place that has sentimental value for the people in the pictures. For instance, if the picture is of a couple who were high school sweethearts, use a building or other structure of the school such as the bleachers on the sports field. This is especially meaningful if the couple were involved in sports while in high school.

5. An old covered bridge cannot be equaled for nostalgia, romance and history. There are covered bridges in every state in the US, so check to see if there is one in your area.

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The Great Outdoors:

6. A zoological park can be a fabulous place for a photo if the subjects are animal lovers. A large mammal such as a big cat, elephant or giraffe will add a surprising and dramatic element to the picture and will make a statement about the importance of animals in the lives of the family members.

7. Moving water of any kind will add sparkle to a picture. Check with local parks and recreations 
offices to see what is in your area. Look for waterfalls, lakes or rapids and plan to shoot when the light will emphasize the water movement.

8. A botanical garden will provide many exceptional choices for backgrounds. Plants are naturally beautiful. Frame the family group between two trees or peeping through the leaves of a large plant. Flowers in bloom will add color and proportion to the photo.

In Your Home:

9. For pictures taken in the home, find a background that expresses a unique family trait. For instance, a family of readers might pose in front of a bookcase. A work shop or craft room would be an ideal location for a photo of a family of hobbyists. These settings will bring out smiles naturally as family members recall happy memories of fun and creative times together.

10. An athletic family will want to incorporate their love of sports into a photo. Larger equipment such as surfboards, snowboards, skis or boating gear can serve as a photo background and as an expression of the lively interests of the family members. Using authentic settings rather than artificial studio backgrounds on canvas will make your family photos one-of-a-kind as well as far more interesting.  Photos in real settings convey much more than a family likeness. Carefully chosen, the photo background will contribute to the family history and lore so that future generations will better understand their roots and where they came from, which is always a primary reason to take and preserve family photos.

Bethany is an avid writer and photography enthusiast - connect with her on Google+ or Twitter

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Photography Tricks For Bloggers

Photography-for-bloggers

By Bethany Gleg

The new iPhone 6 has a myriad of cool features but the most valuable to any social media addicted women is the camera. Thats right, we all know the smartphone camera has changed the way we socialize and present ourselves, and I for one like to take good selfies ;) This is a a tutorial on the new features of the iPhone 6 you can use to get the best looking pictures out of your shiny new phone.

Although much better than the iPhone 5 the 6 isn’t completely capable of replacing a professional grade camera. If your looking to get that special picture just right I would recommend simply camera hire for a short term project or looking into buying a entry level DSLR. You can check out an article like this and start from there.

But for most of us, we are packing our smartphone everywhere and its possible to get really fantastic pictures with it. Most of the time the iPhone will suffice.

The Basics
The basics of the iPhone 6 camera are largely unchanged from the iPhone 5S, but added software features (outlined below) help set the iPhone 6 camera apart from its competition. At its core is an 8 megapixel camera. 29 millimeters of focal length and a dual LED flash help it focus in up­ close situations and the rear-­facing camera has full 1080p HD video at 60 frames per second and 720p HD at 240 frames per second. The front­-facing camera sees an upgrade to 1.2 megapixels and high dynamic range (HDR) functionality to take better video in high or low light settings.

AutoFocus
Just like its competitors, the Samsung LG G3 and the Galaxy S5, the iPhone 6 has added more auto-focusing pixels to its camera that will make the time between opening the camera application and a successful, clear shot much faster. While the autofocus pixels aren't yet perfect, they make the iPhone 6 camera more of a point ­and­ shoot marvel than its predecessors in the iPhone line. The iPhone 5 and 5S' focusing capabilities weren't limited, but the iPhone 6's new focusing capabilities give it another notch in its camera marketing belt to compete with Samsung and LG's newest products.

Better Front Facing Camera
Because of the popularity of self ­photography, Apple upped the ante with its front-­facing camera. Just like the rear­facing camera, HDR, autofocus, and high definition are all available for selfies and FaceTime video conversations.

iMessage Improvements
Semi-­related to the new iPhone 6 camera are improvements made to the iMessage application that poises Apple to better compete with popular messaging application, WhatsApp. iMessage now includes the ability to send short videos to other iMessage users, making full use of the upgraded front-­facing camera.

Slow Motion
Slow motion isn't new to cellphone cameras, but Apple introduced one of the slowest frame rates on the market with the iPhone 6. Slowing things down to 240 frames per second, slow-­mo footage is now extremely smooth to watch on both the iPhone and after it's imported for video processing. Also possible is the ability to record at 120 frames per second as well. The feature was quietly added in the iOS update, but it's unclear who Apple intends to target with the ability to record worse quality slow motion video within the phone's default feature list. Perhaps another iOS update will remove the function entirely.

Full 1080p HD Video
High definition iPhone video is nothing new, but the 60 frames per second 1080p video capturing capabilities on the iPhone 6 are beautiful. Finally catching up to the quality of traditional DSLRs, the high definition iPhone video camera is now a great way to capture day ­to ­day video. However, for videographers looking to replace a cheap DSLR to do pickup shots for short films, the iPhone 6 still doesn't quite hit the bar. Refocusing video mid­-shoot using Apple's new autofocus feature is problematic, as the application doesn't always figure out exactly what it should be looking at. Apple lauded the ability to refocus video midway through shooting at the iPhone 6 release event, but it isn't yet perfect.

Change the Exposure Levels
Finally, Apple has added the ability to change the exposure level of the camera. By using a swiping gesture, photographers can swipe up or down to reduce or increase the amount of light coming into a photo. A noted downside is that the functionality isn't quick to respond. It takes multiple swipes to reduce the exposure by a significant amount and some actual photographers noted that this is in contrast to the way exposure levels are reduced or increased on an actual camera. Whatever the case, being able to change exposure from a phone camera
means less editing on the back end.

Bethany is an avid writer and photography enthusiast - connect with her on Google+ or Twitter

Image via Photorelli