Hi everyone – I’m Jann Newton from Newton Custom Interiors, where I recently started blogging about home decor, sewing and DIY projects, and a few other things. I’m thrilled to be guest posting for Deby about taking better pictures for your blog.
During the time I was doing research for my new blog, I started picking up a few photography tips along the way. I have always loved taking pictures for fun, but I wanted to make sure the pictures I took for my new blog were really good. What I blog about is very visual, so I knew that Pinterest would be an important part of building traffic to my site, and that clear, beautiful pictures were the key.
It is also important to take good pictures when you want to be featured by some of the big feature sites – like Craftgawker. They only want good, eye-catching pictures to feature on their site. If you participate in linky parties, good, clear pictures, that pop, are important so that your link will get a lot of clicks.
I am not a professional photographer, by any means, and I know I still have a lot to learn. I also don’t have an expensive camera, just a simple point and shoot camera, and my smart phone. The picture above, of my camera, was taken with my smart phone. I am not going to be giving you tips on what kind of camera to buy, but how to use the camera you already have to take better pictures. Also, be sure to read your camera manual too, it will give you a lot of good information about operating your camera.
1. Take your pictures in natural light
Your indoor pictures will look better if they are taken in natural light. Don’t use the flash on your camera. It will wash out the color in the photo. Find a good place in your home that gets a lot of natural light, and pick a good time of day to take your pictures.
We have a dining area in our kitchen that has two windows on the east side of the house, and a patio door on the south side of the room. So, it works best for me to take pictures in that room in the morning. In the pictures below you can see how I have set up my table to take pictures of a piece of pie. Very glamorous, right?
I set a piece of white foam board upright on the table, and it is supported by my kitchen canisters. The foam board helps to reflect the natural light back onto the piece of pie. Here is a side shot of my set up.
2. Avoid bright sunlight
Even though I said natural light is a good thing, try to avoid bright sunlight if you are taking your pictures outdoors. Full sunlight washes out the color in your photos too. I have not taken many of my blog pictures outdoors, but when I did, the pictures I took in full sunlight were not as good as the ones I took on a cloudy day. Not a dark cloudy day, but a light cloudy day.
When I took this picture for my smoothie recipe post, it was a partly sunny day, so I waited until a cloud went over the sun to take the picture.
3. Set up objects in an unusual way
When you are setting up the object that you are photographing try to display it in an unusual way. For instance, when I was taking pictures of these pillows, I found it made for a much more interesting picture to stack them instead of a straight on shot of the face of the pillow. Also, taking the picture slightly off-center can be more interesting too.
4. Set up a backdrop
When you are setting up your picture, use a piece of fabric or a roll of paper as a backdrop. A roll of wrapping paper or white freezer paper works well. Drape the fabric or roll of paper over the foam board and across the table so that there is not a visable line between the backdrop and the table. You can see how I did this using some green fabric while taking pictures of my pillow.
5. Try to avoid too much clutter
Try to avoid having to much going on in the picture. Clear, simple shots of the subject matter without a lot of extra visual clutter works best for eye-catching photos.
6. Edit, edit, edit
After all is said and done, it is the editing that can take your pictures from ho-hum to fabulous. Editing your pictures, by cropping, brightening, straightening and adding contrast, is easy with a photo editing site like Picasa or PicMonkey. Below is a picture I took of a plate of cookies – the picture on the left has not been edited and the one on the right has.
PicMonkey has become my favorite site to edit photos. As well as basic editing features, you can easily add text and overlays to your photos with PicMonkey. It is a free site, or you can upgrade for a small monthly fee. I did upgrade so that I could have more font options.
One important tip – try to save a copy of your picture before you start editing it. That way you can always go back to the original if you’re not happy with how the editing went. Picasa is good for saving a copy of your photo.
A word about cropping – I like to crop my “beauty” shot (first picture in post) into a square shape. I do this so that part of the image is not cut off in my truncated posts, linky party thumbnails, and on Pinterest. If you have a rectangular picture as your beauty shot then part of the picture will get cut off.
As you can see, you don’t have to have a lot of money or fancy equipment to take good pictures. You may already have everything you need in your home right now!