I think one of my biggest and most proud accomplishment’s I’ve made in my life, hands down has to be graduating from College. For those of you who don’t know, I took a 2 year diploma course in the Creative Photography field. Not only did I spend the most amount of money that I’ve ever spent in those 2years, but I also learned a lot about what goes on behind taking an image. To most people, including me before going to college, photography is just pointing the camera and pressing a button and getting an image to upload into your computer and posting on your social media. So when it came time to take the first photo and upload it into Lightroom (which is a post production software to help colour correct your images) everything came out dark and fuzzy… I could never understand why?… It takes someone with an “eye” in photography to turn the most basic thing, into a professional image. It take time and training to understand what goes on behind the camera. But what about the people who don’t have that eye or background in Photography?. Let’s face it, we’re not all professional photographers who went to college, have a professional DSLR, and a lighting kit to create natural bright lighting, and there’s nothing wrong with that, because that isn’t realistic for everyone. Your blog needs content in order to catch people’s eye and entire them into reading more, and if you’ve got the background in photography to know your basics to take these content photo’s for yourself, then you’ve got an easy task at hand… I’m here to give you a few simple steps to update your photography skills and help you get the images that you want for your social media! Now I’m no pro professional photographer overtaking all the rules, I’m simply just here to share my favourite tips that I love to use to get better photos for social media!
Research/KNOW Your Camera:
I know this is going to sound like common sense, but READ YOUR MANUAL! You would not believe the things you can miss about the way your camera works, by NOT reading it! It teaches you so much about how to use what’s right in front of you. It shows you how to use your ISO, Your f-stops/aperture. How to slow down your exposure and let in more light for specific shots.Your manual is literally the bible to your camera. Pairing that with tutorials. Go on YouTube! (Read more below) Making sure your camera settings are at the proper settings for what you want to accomplish, is really important. I would also highly recommend going to one of my favourite websites for Camera/Photography tips, articles, and all around information. It’s called DP Review. You can do so much on that page and spend hours clicking around.
Youtube is Your Best Friend!
You wouldn’t believe how helpful it was to know that Youtube was and IS a thing of tutorials and “how to’s”. I have spent countless hours watching video after video of different photography and lighting techniques that have helped me out in so many ways. It’s as simple as typing in “how do I auto focus my camera” and having the entire world of photography at your finger tips. Also, like my tip above, you can type in your camera and find so many videos on people reviewing the actual camera body and what they use on it, which could really benefit you in the end! I think Youtube is an awesome source of information these days. It’s like the unlimited spark notes of your high school life. Need a quick hack for something, Youtube it. It opens so many doors to technology and it can answer so many questions that you might not have other outlets to ask!
Image Format & Type:
If I had one thing to be thankful for from all of my classes in college, it would be discovering the world of a RAW image file formatting. If you have a DSLR camera that gives you the option to shoot in “RAW” DO IT! Shooting in RAW means that you are shooting with a file format that captures ALL image data that your camera sensor picks up when you take a photo. Many people are used to shooting in the JPEG format, especially if you’re using a point and shoot digital camera. Shooting in RAW (NEF file name for Nikon) allows you to manipulate your photos in post production (lightroom/photoshop) without losing any detail to your images. JPGE file format really compresses your images which is why you’ll sometimes notice, when zooming in, your photo gets distorted and pixelated and that is because of the format your are shooting in, which can make the editing steps on your photo really difficult and annoying. It’s not a sin to shoot images in JPEG, especially if you do no post editing outside of your mobile apps. It certainly will not kill you! However for those of you out there who do has SLR/DSLR camera’s and have the ability to shoot in RAW format (and can also upload into Lightroom and convert the images after) I highly recommend shooting in RAW format and researching more about that specific format file. It could seriously change your shooting life!
Window Lighting & White Boards:
Do you have a local dollar store? if so, go there right now and stock up on thick white board because let me tell you, if you’re shooting product shots or you have the perfect setup for the perfect photo shoot with yourself, having a white board on hand to help reflect light, will work WONDERS! Again, getting back to finances, not everyone out there can walk into your local camera store and drop $700 on an external flash for your camera (however they ARE amazing to invest in especially if you’re looking into shooting weddings and sessions for a living) so having a reflective board to help direct the light, helps illuminate your subject. When I found out what and how to use window lighting, I was FLOORED. I could not believe what the art of natural light could do for you with the right sources! Picture a tripod with your camera or mobile device in front of you and you’re facing your window. You just want to take a few portraits of your face for a makeup tutorial on a look you just did. It’s overcast outside so the lighting is perfect be you’re not getting enough light from below. By holding the white board below your chest or directly under your chin, with the outside light bouncing off of the white board, it will illuminate the areas of your face where shadows are occurring. I honestly use window light for so many things, ESPECIALLY flat lay images. I set up my flat lay directly under my window cill with a white board right below me, IN FRONT of my flat lay to bounce the window lighting off of my board and filling in the shadows of my products. Quite literally becoming a “fill light”. You can bounce any light source off of a white board and magically light up an entire image without fixing your camera exposure. BUT be careful with that direct sunlight. You don’t want to use direct sun as a lighting source because it is all kinds of bright and yellow! Buy a few extra bristol boards, you know? the light flimsy ones? On a really sunny day, prop one up on your window cill to block the direct light, BUT also diffuse the direct sun into giving you an overcast shadow that can really help with your lighting! Crazy huh?
Cloud Days/Over Cast & Shade:
Speaking of sun and clouds! I hate the sun for so many reasons…It makes you squint, it makes everything unbearably bright, and lets not forget that it’s HOT A F sometimes… You’re all probably thinking I’m crazy, and even though I am, I’m not… Overcast can do WONDERS for your photos. I purposely shoot content for my blog and Instagram outside on a cloudy day because I don’t have to worry about my skin being overly bright (over exposed as photogs would say) and having a white blob for a cheek, or worrying about squinting so much that I can’t take a decent image. Shaded area’s and overcast days are great for vibrant colours and perfect diffused lighting. It’s pretty much like being in an actual studio where they have this massive umbrella box over the flash so it doesn’t completely blind you as you take your portrait. You cannot go wrong with a cloudy day!
What’s golden hour?….Seriously?….You know in movie’s and tv shows when they show an angel or a character whose come back from the dead and they have this gorgeous glowing halo around them?…thats faked but that’s what golden hour photos look like! Golden hour is the hour after sunrise or before sunset where the sun is lowest in the sky just before setting or rising. It’s also that pesky beam of light angled perfectly to stop you from seeing where you’re driving.
The image above was taken by me on the side of the road with a couple of mine from last year. Not only is the lighting perfectly diffused in the front, because I placed them with the sun BEHIND them, but the sun is slowly setting and creating that gorgeous warm glow on both of their hair lines, thus creating golden hour. I love shooting in golden hour. It’s the only amount of sun I will accept for sessions and weddings because it makes for perfect portraits like the one above. I think golden hour is flattering to anyone, even for solo portraits for your IG content. I think you all need to go out and test this lighting out and look at what you can get with it! Trust me! REMEMBER: It’s important to have yourself, or your subject with their back facing the sun rise or set, in order to achieve this halo type of glow.
WELL there you have it folks! These were just a few of my favourite tips for helping you all up your IG photos just a smidgen. If this helped anyone, like always, I’ve achieved my goal of helping someone! I’m thinking of making this a series where I post photography tips and tricks on a “regular” basis. What do you guys think?
Also as always, I appreciate feedback and comments so let me know what ya think!