I hope sharing my experiences, good and bad as a blogger, will make a difference in growing your blog in the future. You will find past blogging posts on my Pinterest blogging board for future reference.
So lets get busy making your blog grow!
We live in a visual world now and one of the best ways to get your blog out there is with beautiful pictures. How do you so this?
The Perfect Post Picture
One really important thing I learned over the years is I want my pictures to really make a difference in how well my post is portrayed, how well it does on Pinterest and Instagram and is my picture worth a 1000 words. I know when I am on social media, I have a tendency to click on a post with a picture that really tells me a story before I read what its all about.
If you are planning on making money with your blog and want constant and returning sponsorship, they expect quality pictures.
So, here are just a few things I use to make my pictures the very best they can be for my blog posts.
The first thing I noticed on almost 100% of those beautiful story telling pictures was the background. For the life of me I couldn’t get a good background to use with my subject. So, I did some research and found a couple things I use now on almost every picture.
After reading about using different types of vinyl for the bottom background, I found an Etsy store called Swanky Prints where I purchased a set of four different backdrops made from light weight vinyl and these work so well. She has tons of different backdrops in several sizes to choose from and I choose the 2′ x 2′ size which do perfectly for small craft items and displaying food.
You can see in the picture above it looks so realistic. I purchased 2 marble styles and 2 wood styles. I have read where you can make backdrops out of wood, but I don’t have the room for something that large and that heavy. They roll up very easily, are very light and when not in use, out of the way.
After using the 2′ x 2′ sizes for awhile, I realized I needed a larger piece of vinyl and I purchased a 3′ by 3′ piece that really made a difference with larger items I need to show in a frame.
There are also a lot of other selections of photography backgrounds HERE
The tri fold display cardboard boards make great backgrounds too. They stand up on their own, help to reflect light from the side and fold up nicely to put away. You can find these in many colors and at great price at Walmart, Dollar Store, etc.
I also use white foam board for backdrops too to keep the picture very clean. I have found that using too much print in a picture will take away from the product you are showing. These stand up so well and when used for the back of a picture along with the vinyls, makes for a perfect picture. I also have a black foam board that I have smeared chalk on one side for some pictures too. You can also paint foam board for so many beautiful combinations.
Another problem I was really struggling with was light. I think we can all relate to that problem. I finally found the perfect spot in my home to take pictures next to a filtered window. Natural lighting is the best for most staged photos. I wait until later in the afternoon and set every thing up on a table or on the floor.
But I know there are times where I need more light. Ex: I am wanting to take a larger picture of a room where there isn’t enough day light or no windows.
After more research on lighting, a light kit seemed to be the perfect solution. I purchased this kit a while back and love it. This will get rid of that yellow look and all the harsh shadows that occur when using your cameras flash. I had seen quite a few “before and after pictures” using this kit and I am truly impressed with how well the pictures turn out. I also love that it comes with a carrying case for easy storage in my office closet.
Of all the items I use to take pictures, my tripod is at the top of my list of must haves. If you have been taking pictures long with any camera, you know that holding the camera perfectly still for tack sharp photos is basically impossible. Especially when you are wanting closer detail. I use my tripod for 99% of my shots in low light. I’ve had so many pictures blur because I held the camera in my hands. I know it takes a little bit more time to set up our camera with a tripod, but its so worth it in the end. I’ve had this tripod for so many years now and it goes with me every where now. Its very light weight and closes up tightly to carry easily. When purchasing a tripod, make sure it will hold your DSLR camera and a heavy lens. I’ve read horror stories of tripods falling over with the heavy cameras and the results are heart breaking.
Because I am taking so many pictures “above” the subject, I decided to purchase a durable tripod with an arm that will extend out at a 90 degree angle to position my camera over the subject. I watched a lot of videos and compared prices on several brands and makes of tripods and decided on the Vanguard Alta Pro 263AT Aluminum Tripod. All I can say is I really love this new tripod. Its not as light as my other tripod and I will probably keep the new one here at home just for the over head photography. There are several heads which you can purchase separately for the Vanguard tripod. The legs will also lay out where you can be close to the ground.
This is how I set up the tripod to take over head pictures. Its also great for those who want to do the over head recipe videos. I took the picture with my phone, so not the best quality. But you get the idea. You can see the 3′ x 3′ piece of vinyl on the table and the small remote over to the far right.
If I am taking pictures of food, I will stick with white or solid colored dishes. I’ve learned that most of the time, dishes with a lot of print take away from the food. I do use dishes with maybe a striping on the edge, as you can see in the food shots above. I have a white dinner plate, bowl and bread plate and keep them in my props box in my office closet. I also have small seasonal props to use that can sit by the item I am displaying. Linens are also great to use with your food items.
I have found so many great items at Goodwill and consignment stores. You can find so many reasonably priced props there. I will go to the Dollar General Store after a holiday and pick up a few things for no more than .50 cents!
A camera is such a personal choice and there are some really beautiful pictures taken with phones and point and shoot cameras. I used the Canon T3 for several years and was the perfect ‘beginners” DSLR camera to own! It really made a difference in my pictures from my point and shoot. Now I know this is a really big investment, but if you look for last years camera, you can find them much cheaper. Mine came as a kit and the lens included does great for starting out.
While I was learning to use my new DSLR camera, I watched a lot of YouTube videos, read some books and took a class at Craftsy called Basics of Digital Photography with Rick Allred. Great class and if you have any questions, he will answer them for you. He loves for you to upload your pictures and he will give you pointers.
After having my Canon T3 for awhile and using the kit lens, I wanted to venture out and purchase a nicer lens for a more broader range of views. After more research, I decided on the Sigma 17-70mm F2.8-4 Contemporary DC Macro OS HSM Lens. Its a great lens for zoom and up close. Remember, the more “glass” you buy, the heavier the lens becomes. I love using this lens for most of my shots.
A lens every blogger should have is the Nifty 50 lens or the EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens. This is perfect for those up close food and craft pictures you want to show on your posts. It’s very light and this lens sees what your eyes do. Since it is a fixed lens, you can’t zoom in and out. You will have to move closer to your subject.
After years of using my Canon T3, I was ready to take the next step up. My next purchase was a Canon EOS Rebel T6s Digital SLR body. I already had the lens, so I just needed the body. This camera works beutifully in low light, the clarity is so much better and color looks great. Again, this is a last years camera and I was able to find a great deal on it.
I was able to send my Canon T3 to the Amazon Trade In and received half of what I paid for it in Amazon gift card credit. This is a way to get rid of your old electronics. I’ve sent in old cameras, Kindle tablets and an old iPhone. They will accept basically any electronic device. They grade your item by quality for the price.
The last accessory I couldn’t live without, is the Canon RC-6 Wireless Remote. It works so well when you want to take group pictures that you want to be in and when I am taking my close up pictures for the blog. Don’t let camera shake from using your finger to push the shutter button when you can use this small remote. This remote does work on several cameras, so be sure to check to see if it will work with your DSLR.
6. Camera Bag
If you are going to pay good money for a nice DSLR camera and lens, you must have a good camera bag to store and carry them with. I didn’t want the camera bag that looks like a camera bag, I wanted something feminine which could carry more than just my camera and lens.
I purchased the Jo Totes Betsy Camera and Laptop Bag in black leather like material and is perfect for all that I need it for. It carries my camera, 2 lens, laptop, phone, wallet, sunglasses, bottle of water and a few other small items I need when I go out to take pictures. Just walking around with this bag, it looks like I have a large purse and I don’t have to worry about anyone thinking I am walking around with thousands of dollars of camera equipment with me.
There are dividers which you can move around or remove. Depending on what you want to carry. The laptop goes behind the dividers in its own area. There are 2 pockets in the front, a zipped pocket in the back and the flap has a zipper area.
Since Jo Totes aren’t made from leather, it keeps the cost down. The material used is very durable and has been through a lot since I have owned it. There are several styles, colors and sizes to choose from. I take this bag almost every where I go. You never know when a photo opp will come up.
7. Editing Your Photos
There are so many different types of software out there to edit your photos, either paid or free. Picmonkey, iPiccy and Canva are great free choices. I have used Paint Shop Pro for so many years now, but after I got my DSLR, I did purchase an older version of Lightroom. Photoshop Elements is also another economical choice. When my older version of Lightroom stops working on a newer computer, I will have to go to Adobe Creative Cloud for Lightroom and Photoshop CC subscription plan at about $8.00 a month. You won’t be able to purchase Adobe Creative products via DVD or download anymore. Unless you buy a used older version. But watch out for OS compatibility.
Staging a Photo Session
Here is one way I set up for pictures using the tri fold board, some props and one of the vinyls. I set this up on the floor in my enclosed lanai where the light is so nice in the afternoons. The window faces the tri fold board so it will reflect the light. I keep small props in one of those photo boxes in my office closet.
I will place the props in different positions until I get the shot I like best. The larger picture shows the muffin the best but also tells you its maybe a muffin for Christmas morning. I love how the red pops in this picture with the white plate and I left enough header for my title.
Being able to take nice pictures has cost money over the years, but it really does pay off in the long run. One thing to remember about buying any item to use for your blog is an expense and is taxable. This will help off set your income and help your blog business in the long run.
I would love to hear how you set up for your pictures and do you have any special props you may use?
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