After nearly 12 years of blogging, I wanted to share my ultimate photography guide. I want this to be a resource, with helpful tips for the amateur professional and novice alike. I’ll be updating this post with new gear as I go, as I continue to push myself and grow. You can also download my Lightroom Preset I use for all my Blog and Instagram content.
How to take better photos for Instagram
Photography is something that evolves, and while you can invest in a lot of expensive gear, my #1 advice is to practice. You will only get better by studying other photos for composition, lighting and editing ideas, then implementing that study into your own work.
That being said here are some things you can do to take better photos for Instagram. I suggest making a folder on Instagram or a Pinterest board of interesting poses and compositions that inspire you. While this might be seen as “copying”, everything has been done before! This is about practice and finding a signature look that will make your photos stand out. If you’re a bit awkward with posing, it also helps to look up to the pros! I also use this method to source locations at home and while traveling.
Study the rule of thirds: you want your photos to have movement, interesting composition and not just dead pan selfies. If you’re looking to up your game, I think looking at magazines or photography books can be very helpful! I like to take outfit photos that are a little bit different and sometimes, not being in the middle of the frame will yield a more artistic result. Try standing to one side of the camera, but not on the far edges! It’s about finding a balance between the focal point of the shot and your background/negative space.
In the example below I’m off to the left side, facing left in contrast to the pink floral background. It allows me as the subject to stand out against a busier background, while drawing focus to the dress, the main subject of the photo.
You can also play with scale to create dramatic effect and showcase a location. In the example below, the photo was taken across the road in Porto, Portugal at a wider angle setting to capture the large scale building in a human context, with me walking in front of the ornate tiles. It’s one of my most-saved photos on Instagram.
Movement is another tip to consider in photos. While you can pose in a photo for a flattering angle, pictures with movement seem more alive and natural. Play with your dress, walk forward to the camera, walk at an angle, or consider doing an activity like picking a flower or putting on lipstick in a shot. I’ve shared some examples below for how movement can be incorporated into travel and outfit photos.
Lighting can do so much for photos and my #1 advice is to shoot in natural, diffused light. Avoid taking photos with the sun high overhead (generally between 11am till 2pm) and indoors. With the right camera settings and natural light, you can produce a great photo. This is why most of my photos are outdoors in natural settings. Also avoid patchy shadows (like under a tree) and uneven sunlight to ensure your subject is bathed in diffused natural sunlight. Once you master this, you can move onto shooting backlit!
If you are shooting flatlays or products, I like to keep my backgrounds neutral, but add a bit of texture. That can be a rug, a faux fur throw, flowers or even a cardigan. I also like shooting my products upright with items in the back, or on tops of tables/stools to give them more depth and life, as I’m finding that flatlays are less popular for product photography.
Also, don’t be afraid to take your products out into the world and juxtapose them with urban and natural settings! Look for cool patterns, intricate tile and colour to bring your accessories to life, just like I did with my Kate Spade handbag in Notting Hill.
So many people rely on Lightroom presets to augment their photos, but I always encourage people to strive for the best possible photo right out of the camera. Check your settings, your lighting, your composition. Get these three elements down, and a few small tweaks in Lightroom will make your photos shine!
You might be asking how to get photos of yourself? Whether you use a tripod or get a friend or your boyfriend to take a picture, you need to know how to compose a shot, set the camera, pose and edit the photo to get a great picture. The person taking it is really just hitting the shutter button. Be open to communicate and coach them! It takes practice but with good direction, anyone can take photos for your blog, it will just be more work than offloading that to a photographer.
Best Photography Gear for Bloggers
I’ve compiled my ultimate list of my favourite gear for taking photos for my blog and travelling. There are many different opinions (I suggest staying away from Reddit forums) on whether DSLR is better than mirrorless, but I’ve found what works for me and want to share it. I am currently balancing using both a mirrorless and DSLR, depending on my needs!
- Canon 6D Mark II DSLR Camera: this camera is a full frame body, which took my photography to the next level. I was previously using a Canon T5i, and was getting frustrated with how flat my photos felt, and I was truly wasting my 50mm lens. Without the crop sensor, your photos will take on a different feel, allowing more light into the sensor and achieving that natural aspect ratio. I’ve had this camera body for over 4 years now, and it’s still going strong. It’s gone with me to Iceland and survived some crazy weather and windstorms. I have been team Canon since day one on this blog. There’s just something very easy about the menus, buttons and the Canon Camera Connect app is a wonderful feature to view your DSLR photos on the go, and act as a remote.Some cons: the older version of the 6D does not have good autofocus during video, and not to many focus points. My next upgrade will be to the 6D Mark II, which ticks all those boxes, so I will recomment that DSLR to add to your kit.
- Sigma 35mm 1.4 Art Lens: get. this. lens. If you’re looking for a workhorse that can capture beautiful landscapes, portraits and fashion editorials in one go, then this is your lens. It may shock you, but it’s the only lens I use now. It just does everything so well. The reason for this is that the combination of a full frame camera and a 35mm lens is that it mimics the natural eye. There’s little distortion and it captures the world as you see it. I highly recommend buying this Sigma lens because it’s very hefty (made of metal), and comes with a 7 year warranty. I use this lens daily, and I would replace it in a heartbeat. I’ve already turned two friends onto it too!
- 50mm lens – you can either go with the “nifty fifty” $200 Canon 1.8 50mm lens, which packs a great punch at an unbeatable price. I purchased the Canon 1.4 50mm lens, and while beautiful and more hefty, I don’t use it as much since I upgraded to the Sigma. Either option are wonderful for portraiture and giving you that beautiful bokeh.
- Canon m5 Mirrorless Camera: I own this mirrorless and have upgraded to a Sigma 38mm lens, and it’s now my go-to for taking shots while on outings as it fits in my purse and is more discreet and easy to use. It’s a great little camera for videos, and I use it now for my YouTube channel. I chose this mirrorless camera as it’s one of the only ones on the market that has a microphone jack!
- Rode VideoMic Go: I’ve had this compact microphone for several years. The wires are ripped and the elastics need replacement, but it still works well, and the battery life can’t be beat. I love that it has a shoe so it can attach directly onto your camera!
- Neewer LED lights – while many choose to buy a ring light, I prefer this Neewer LED light kit that comes with stands and softboxes to create a professional lighting setup at home.
If I had to get a new camera, I would consider the Canon R6 for the benefits of a full-frame camera with the flexibility of a compact mirrorless one!
Photo Editing Tips
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, my best advice is to always get the best possible result straight out of your camera. While many bloggers like to shoot RAW photos underexposed and up the exposure and settings later, I find this results in a flat, artificial image. Save your presets for colour grading!
I use Lightroom to edit all my photos. You can get a Lightroom Subscription which is very affordable and will help you organize your photo library, create albums and save editing presets so that you can edit with ease.
Here is how my editing process works in Lightroom:
- I import my photos into Lightroom by “adding” the files to my LR Catalogue.
- I go through the photos and flag my favourites. You can use the letter “P” on your keyboard as a shortcut to pick them.
- Once I have my favourites, I go over to the Develop tab and add my preset, Lavender Fields or another one, depending on the mood and desired result.
- From there, I go back to the other tabs and adjust exposure, shadows, highlights and warmth to achieve the desired result.
- I then “copy” the editing settings and “paste” the settings to develop other photos in the same lighting conditions.
I like to keep my Lightroom editing process simple and streamlined. As far as presets go, I have spend a long time buying and testing other bloggers’ presets, but have found that my own preset I created – Lavender Fields – is the perfect balance to get a vintage, bright, warm feel for photos that look natural but have a glow. You can download my Lightroom Preset for free by signing up for my newsletter below.
I hope you enjoyed this photography guide for bloggers! I’ve rounded up the best photography gear for bloggers, my editing tips