We travel a lot as a family, which means hiring a photographer to take all my outfit pictures is out of the question. And, I knew that if I wanted to stay married, I couldn’t keep asking my husband. It’s just REALLY not his thing.
SO…. I learned to take my own blog pictures. There are more of us than you think, out there…snapping away…looking kinda crazy. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked, what are you doing? I sometimes pretend I’m taking pictures of buildings or the scenery, just to avoid the puzzled looks. It is what it is…kinda weird, but it’s also part of my business!
So let’s get to the nuts and bolts of how to do it!
#1 | What Camera Do I Use?
I started with iPhone pictures, which are actually now really great, especially in portrait mode (see photo below)! I quickly graduated to a DSLR camera. My first DSLR, a Christmas gift, was the Canon Rebel T5i (They are up to 7 now). This camera is great for those just getting started or on a budget. Before investing in a big, expensive camera…I think it’s important to make sure you will keep blogging and enjoy taking pictures.
After about two years of shooting with the Rebel, I invested in the Canon 80D. I bought this camera because it has lightning fast auto focus which makes it ideal for shooting yourself. One of the most frustrating parts of shooting yourself is when you check your pics, and 90% of them are fuzzy.
Canon Mark IV
I always eyeball the Canon Mark IV 5D, but it doesn’t have an articulating LCD screen, which means I would need to use something else to see myself in the frame. It’s doable, but just one more step in an already laborious process.
It is worth noting that the newer iPhones when set in ‘portrait’ mode, take amazing shots. See the picture of my pumps above. You still have a crisp photo with a blurry background.
Again, I would suggest NOT investing in an expensive camera or equipment until you are sure you are going to continue blogging and you enjoy photography.
#2 | Buy a Tripod
Tripods are relatively inexpensive and if you buy a cheap one, you’ll just end up breaking it and buying a new one in six months. I’ve had my current tripod, which extends up to six feet high, for more than 2 years and it’s still going! The tripod is essential when you are taking shots of yourself. It’s like a pretend person. It also enables you to get very steady shots which is handy when you are shooting outfit details like my necklace (above).
#3 | Buy Remotes & Extra Batteries
I have about 20 remotes (no exaggeration) and sleeves of spare batteries. They are weird batteries, like 2025 or 2032 so make sure you invest in some back-ups when you order your remotes. These remotes are easy to use and will allow you to stand up to 16 feet away from the camera.
You can sometimes see the black remote in my hand, but I’ve gotten pretty clever at hiding it.
#4 | The Lenses
I have done a LOT of trial and error with lenses. Photographers always recommend renting lens and trying them out first. It’s a great piece of advice. I just have zero patience for that… My first really nice lens was the fixed 85mm f/1.8. I quickly discovered this lens was great for shooting cutaways, but was too tight for a full length shot from 16 feet away.
Next, I bought the fixed 50mm, f/1.4. This lens was awesome!!
My next lens was a zoom lens 24mm – 70mm f/2.8L. This is a heavy hitter and shoots beautiful video. I still felt like I was missing that gorgeous blurry background.
So I finally invested in the 50mm f/1.2. It shoots incredible outfit pictures and wonderful video too! The 50mm 1.2 is the lens I use most often.
When I need to shoot video of an outfit, but only have a small space, I now shoot with a wide angle lens… the Canon EF 10 – 18mm f/4.5 – 5.6. This wide angle lens distorts pictures and video slightly, but it’s ideal for shooting homes, landscapes or for my purposes…full length outfit shots, from a short distance… in small space.
NOTE: If I were to do this all over, I would ONLY buy the 50mm f/1.2, the 10 – 18mm f/4.5 – 5.6 and the 24 – 70mm f/2.8 Lens. The first two are my heaviest hitters. The wide angle lens is mostly for video, however.
#5 | The Language
What are aperture, bokuh, fixed, zoom lens, etc? If you are new to photography, you’ll appreciate these simple explanations below.
What is Aperture?
Aperture: The opening or amount of light your camera’s lens allows to pass through. Essentially, the larger your aperture or F-stop, the smaller the opening, the more focused your whole picture will be…and the more depth of field you will have. If you set the F-stop to a low number, the opening will be larger, allowing more light to pass through. It creates a shallower depth of field or a much blurrier background. I often shoot in very low aperture to create a very shallow depth of field or blurrier background, which helps highlight outfit details. You can also try shooting in aperture mode to get your blurry background.
High vs. Low
Let me say this again: set your camera is a LOW F number (or wider aperture), think F/2.8, F/4, F/5.6, you get a brighter picture and a much more blurry background. Set it to a HIGH F number, the image gets darker, with more of your background in focus.
You can see in the pictures above how more of the background is in focus on the left, and it’s more blurry on the right. There are two reasons: The F-stop number is higher on the left. I’m also further away from the lens on the left.
Below are some examples of f-stop numbers and what scenarios they work for.
f/4: I typically use this setting when taking a photo of myself in decent lighting. Anything lower and I might have one eye out of focus or some part of my face out of focus.
f/8: A great option for shooting groups of people as everyone is likely to stay in focus.
f/11: Where your lens is often sharpest.
f/16: Shooting in the bright sun requires less light or a narrow aperture, making this a ‘go-to’ for mid-day or sunny day shoots.
f/22: Best for landscapes
What is Shutter Speed?
Shutter Speed: Faster shutter speeds will allow you to shoot moving objects or people. If I wanted to shoot a jump shot or a walking shot for the blog, I would raise the shutter speed. In contrast, a slower shutter speed is less than ideal for walking and jumping shots (or movement).
Slower shutter speeds let in more light, while a faster shutter speed lets in less. You need to choose a shutter speed that lets in just the right amount of light. I typically adjust my shutter speed based on light.
If I had adjusted my shutter speed for the photo above, and made it higher, my dress would not be blurry. It’s blurry on the bottom half.
What is ISO?
ISO: There is an auto setting for this that you might want to use in the beginning. Once you are ready to start tinkering, you play around with ISO, shutter speeds and aperture to get the exposure just right. The lower ISO speeds typically produce crisper photos and less noise. Noise = grainy. You may need to adjust your ISO based on what aperture you are using.
What is Bokuh?
Bokuh: Not to be confused with depth of field…bokuh describes the quality of your blurry background. Ideally, your blur would be soft and creamy. No shapes or objects distracting the eye from the subject. There are often round circles of light too. You can see the good bokuh in the picture above.
What is the Difference Between a Prime or Fixed Lens and a Zoom Lens?
Prime Lens: a prime lens is the same as a fixed lens. In order to get closer to the subject, you have to physically move the camera. You do not have the ability to adjust the lens to zoom in and out.
Zoom Lens: a zoom lens allows you to adjust focal length and ‘zoom’ into your subject without moving the camera. You simply adjust the lens.
#6 | What Do You Actually Shoot?
I usually aim to get three really great full-length outfit shots and the remaining 5 shots would be outfit details like shoes, accessories, etc…as well as medium shots like half the body.
#7 | Posing
If you want to know more about posing for your blog pictures, I would recommend checking out this video.
The key with photography is … just start taking your blog pictures. The more you tinker, the more comfortable you will get with your camera. I’ve been shooting my blog pictures for four years now, and while I’m still learning a TON about photography…I’ve also come a LONG way through trial and error.
I will get to editing in another post as it is a WHOLE other topic!!
If you want VERY specific, step-by-step information on how to get your blog off the ground, you should invest in my guide here. In The NO BS Guide to Starting a Blog I give you YEARS worth of instruction and share all of my secrets for ONLY $99!!
Best of luck! Please comment below if you have more blogging business related questions and don’t forget to subscribe to my exclusive newsletter.