Guest post: 5 tips to better blog photos

Julia Boggio is not just the professional photographer sharing her photography advice at BritMums Live! (She’s known for her vintage boudoir and inventive wedding shots.) She’s also our only speaker who’s danced on Oprah’s television show with Patrick Swayze (that we know of), after a YouTube video from her wedding went viral. The incident provided the name for her blog – I Carried a Watermelon.

Here, she provides a preview of her BritMums Live! session, with five tips every blogger can use to improve the photos on their blog. Over to Julia:

You’ve spent ages writing your blog post: thinking long and hard about what you want to say, choosing each word carefully, and crafting an interesting read. Now, you need an equally wonderful picture to go with it. How do you do it?

The good news is that you don’t need an amazing camera to take great images. All you need are good ideas. You can take fabulous photos on your iPhone, if the composition and lighting are right. It’s the person behind the lens that matters. With a bit of creativity, a little knowledge, and a whole lot of fun, you can take images that will help your blog stand out.

Set up with light

Set up no light

Here are my top tips for making better blog photos:

1. Walk towards the light. Photography literally translates as “writing with light”. Therefore, it makes sense that light is one of the most important factors in taking a great photo. Unless you are a professional, I would suggest you avoid flash and choose natural light (light that is generated by the sun). A window is your best friend. For example, suppose you want to take a picture of the wonderful cupcakes you just baked to illustrate your post about your daughter’s first birthday party, but your kitchen is really dark. Instead of photographing the cupcakes in the kitchen, pick them up and move into a spot lit by window light. Same thing goes for taking pictures of your daughter blowing out her first candle. Set it up near a window, even if you have to move the whole dining room table.

cupcakes in bad light

The right light can make or break a photograph. This image was taken in the kitchen, under flat, orange (tungsten) lighting from directly above

Cupcakes in natural light

By moving the cupcakes towards the window, not only are the cakes better lit by the light coming in sideways from the window, but the light brushing across the tops of the cupcakes also brings out the texture of the icing

2. Unless you are trying to depict clutter, keep it uncluttered. As a professional, I always look at the background of an image before I take the picture, that is, what’s going on behind my subject. It takes a lot less time to move wires and get rid of dirty glasses before I actually take the photo than removing them in Photoshop later. Keeping it clean and simple can help focus attention on the subject of your photograph.

3. Zoom, zoom, zoom. Many point-and-shoot cameras will say that they have a macro function, which means that you can take close up pictures with it. That being said, many people still try to take pictures closer than the camera can handle, which means your subject ends up out of focus. If you want to take a close up, try pulling your camera physically further away from your subject and then using your zoom to move in close. This gives your camera a better chance at capturing a sharp subject.

baby with sock octopus

Portrait with sock octopuses

4. Be creative.If you’re not a pro, nobody’s going to expect you to take perfect photos. But what you lack in technical knowledge, you can more than make up for in creativity. I view my blog as a place to experiment. I don’t feel pressure for every image to be an award winner and I just want to enjoy the creative process.

For example, to illustrate a post about Bonfire Night, I took a photo of my daughter with fireworks made out of socks (inspired by Mila’s Daydreams and Dreams of Flying). Its purpose was purely to make people smile. Technical note: I took this photo by window light.

5. Develop a signature. One surefire way to make sure people recognise the images from your blog is to develop a style that’s unique to you. Perhaps you have a food-based blog and always use colourful paper behind the food you are photographing. Or you desaturate your images in Photoshop. Or you always take punchy black and white images. Or you take images from a cat’s-eye-view (e.g. close to the ground). Whatever it is, come up with something that works with the concept behind your blog and reflects your personality.

The most important thing to do is have fun. With all the new ways that exist for creating images, like iPhone apps Hipstamatic and Instagram, there’s no excuse. Just pick up your camera, put it on automatic, and have a go!

— Julia Boggio, I Carried a Watermelon
and JuliaBoggioPhotography.com

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BritMums is the UK’s largest parent blogger collective. We offer bloggers the latest support, advice and how-tos as well as feature great content on food, travel, relationships, health, charities, crafting and much more. Our social network is free to join and helps bloggers connect with others; our BritMums Pro programme connects bloggers with brands on our high-quality projects and our annual conference, BritMums Live, is the blogging event of the year.

4 Comments

  1. 16 December 2011 / 10:14

    Very helpful tips thanks! I have been feeling frustrated because almost everyone talks about using a DSLR, which is too pricey for me 🙁 Always nice to know that, although it might not be the same quality and result, you can still take good pictures with a mobile phone camera!

  2. 17 December 2011 / 00:39

    I love that video and remember when it went viral *bows down*, It’s because of that video I have had the idea for my 25th wedding anniversary video (in 5 years time – eek) and hope it will go viral too!! I can only hope 😀 And I’ve always been envious of that blog title – it’s GENIUS!! I never even connected the two!!

    Fantastic photo tips too. I’ve not got an iPhone but have found a great app fr my HTC called Vignette Demo which has lots of filters and layers, one of which is an almost copy of Instagram.

  3. 20 December 2011 / 20:09

    Thank you. I love all the information/ Julia’s blog, videos and website. Thank you Brit Moms for sharing.
    Blessings,
    Chandi

  4. 05 January 2012 / 10:07

    Great tips and looking forward to hearing you at BritMums Live 🙂