Photography Tips for Bloggers

The Details

Jacket | Jeans | Pumps | photography by: angie garcia

Girl in Jean Jacket holding Camera

Jacket | Jeans | Pumps

There’s a lot of chat on the internet about photography. There’s also plenty of advice about blogging. However, I haven’t seen much of that intertwined and I feel like that is key information for newer bloggers or girls wanting to blog! Photography is an integral part of most blogs, so I thought I’d share what I have learned in almost 5 years of building this little space we call, COF.

I still have plenty to learn about photography, but hopefully, this post can help you skip ahead a few steps or avoid a few common mishaps that are so easy to make.

Photography Tips for Bloggers

1. The Photographer

Let’s address, the big elephant in the room. Who is going to capture your content? Will you use a tripod, will your husband assist you, a girlfriend, or a photographer? I’ve used all of the above, but for the past 3 years, I have worked with one of my photographers at least twice a week. I think each option has pros, you just have to find what fits your lifestyle and blog best. Let’s break down your options:

A. The Instagram Husband:

I really do giggle about this because while “The Instagram Husband” is portrayed all over Youtube as a miserable husband, I’ve never seen this be the case. I am friends with a lot of bloggers and have been around their husbands plenty of times, watching them shoot their wives. I have never once seen a boyfriend, fiancé, or husband disgruntled they had to take their partner’s photo for Instagram or their blog. Sure, I know that can be the case. However, I want to encourage you if you think this is going to be your best option! It works- and can work really well! First off, if blogging is your passion, your significant other is most likely going to be so supportive. He may not “get it” at first, but he wants you to be happy. I don’t golf, but my husband loves it. On vacation, I will happily ride in the cart with him so he can enjoy a round! You support your partner, so I don’t want this “Instagram Husband” facade to intimidate you. Secondly, most of my friends that blog do this as their full-time job. Would you really put down your spouse’s job? No way! Why am I ranting? Just so you don’t feel like this option won’t work. I think this option is great if you are starting out, if you don’t know of local photographers that work with bloggers, or if you are just want to share this passion with your better half. Watch Youtube videos together, be patient, and shoot at a great time. Don’t try to shoot an outfit post 20 minutes before you have to meet your in-laws for dinner. It may seem like a great opportunity {you’re already dressed and ready!} but if he isn’t getting shots you are envisioning this can lead to both of y’all being cranky. If your guy is anything like mine, he’s going to really get into the technical aspects of a camera. Paul will read all day long about ISO and specific lenses. However, he may not know which way I should showcase a handbag at my side. When starting out with your significant other, allot 30 minutes to each outfit so you can both learn. When Paul shoots for me, we do it on Saturday mornings when we have no time limits. My parents will take Maxi on a Gigi/Papa brunch and so we have about 2 hours to really work on photos. Show your significant other examples, so he can see what angles you like best.

B. The Friend

When I was in college blogging, my roommates would always take my outfit photos! To this day, if we are out they always ask if I need an outfit picture. However, I wouldn’t depend on this option unless you are paying them. In college, when my friends would photograph me, I would repay them with clothing or makeup or beauty products. Now, if my sister shoots me, I pay her. Even though she is my sister and would do anything for me for free, I don’t want her to ever feel used. If blogging is a hobby, I can 100% understand it doesn’t make sense to pay your sister or your friend. However, always offer something {Can I buy you coffee? Feel free to borrow anything you need in my closet! *Always* send a thank you note if they do a longer shoot.} so they don’t feel like you are only hanging out with them so they can snap a photo. And while that would never be the case, I think it is important to just express that! By being overly grateful, they will see how much you do care about this and be more than happy to help in the future.

C. The Photographer

This is the option I use most frequently as I need to shoot during the week for campaigns. This is where you want to do your research! First and foremost, if you can, find photographers that do local blog work. They’ll really know how many shots you need, how to price per post, etc. A blog shoot is going to be completely different than a family session. I can shoot an outfit post in 8 minutes, take 4 minutes to change and be on to the next look. I also only need about 12 images per post, so if you do work with someone that doesn’t traditionally do blog photography give them an idea of those numbers. You don’t want them to spend 4 hours editing 170 images if you only use 7 on a post! Secondly, find someone that fits your aesthetic. Every blogger has their own aesthetic and every photographer has their own style. Aimee Song says that a reader should see your photo without you even in it and know it is “yours.” We aren’t just talking filters or presets here! Everyone has a specific way they shoot, they pose, and they style accessories. When working with a photographer, you want to find someone that blends with you. You never want them to sacrifice their branding for yours or vice versa! I always recommend you go get coffee with a new photographer if you are looking to partner with them long term. If you already work with a photographer, keep them updated on your branding. I chat with my photographers each quarter about my vision, my style, and what edits I’m testing out for the new year. As you talk to them, this is when you can narrow down things like price {you’ll pay them differently for a regular blog post vs. a sponsored blog post}, their position on image rights, their turnaround time, what they are comfortable shooting and their future goals for you and for themselves. You want to feel like a team, not just a blogger paying for a service. I have three photographers I consistently use and I feel like they are ALL part of my team. I respect their work, I respect their goals, and I respect their preferences. One loves to shoot fashion, one loves to shoot my lifestyle shots, one loves to shoot my tutorials. I let them thrive in what they love best and that’s why I use three. It really allows them all to work on their brand as they assist me in mine. I also want to touch on image rights, as well! One of my photographer’s dad owns a big advertising agency, so I lucked out on this end because she is a wealth of knowledge in this! Most of the time, brands pay for sponsored content for just that- CONTENT! They aren’t paying bloggers to say certain things, they are paying bloggers to shoot, style, and edit their product so they can repurpose that content online. There are certain laws pertaining to that for printed media vs. online media and you definitely want to familiarize yourself with those. There are image releases and forms your photographer will fill out. Each photographer also has a comfort level with what their images are used for, so when you talk to them really get to know that. Do they want to be credited in the caption or on the image? I know some photographers that want your Instagram caption, and some don’t want to be credited because they don’t want to be contacted about potential blog work as their client list is full. I know this is such a long list, but these are all things to discuss so you can create long-term successful partnerships. I absolutely ADORE the women I work with that shoot content for COF and wouldn’t be where I am without them. Communication is always key, and when you find that perfect person for your brand it is pretty stinkin’ magical!

2. The Camera

So you figured out who is going to hold the camera, but which camera will you use?! There is no cardinal rule for this, but I recommend you rent from a camera shop and borrow before you splurge! You want to find which camera you prefer and which one you can easily use. For example, many bloggers use Canon, but I use Nikon! My dad always photographed weddings on Nikon, so I learned about Nikon early on. I could easily switch to Canon {and want to!}, but I just understand my settings better on that. For travel, I use something smaller.

Here’s a quick list:

My Camera

My Lenses- this, this and this // This graphic helps you see the comparison!

My Travel Camera– this is what I recommend if you are a mama and want great shots of your kids!

Where I Rent Lenses

Camera I want Next // Lens I Would Use

3. Learning & Lightroom

There is so much to learn about photography and I am always learning. I could go to a month-long workshop and always joke I need to! Many photographers have websites with blogs where they share tips and many have Youtube sites you can learn from.

I always shoot in manual, and here are a few hacks:

  1. Set your Aperture: The smaller the aperture, the blurrier the background. Keep in mind your depth of field! A detail shot of a bracelet could have an aperture of 1.2, but if you are in a field getting your dress and the trees in the background, you are going to want to maybe keep it around 6.
  2. Set your ISO: The brighter it is outside, the lower your ISO can be. The higher your ISO, the grainier your image can come out. However, if you are shooting at night or in a home on a rainy day, it needs to be high so your image isn’t completely dark.
  3. Check Shutter Speed: A slow shutter speed blurs motion, a fast shutter speed freezes whatever is going on.
  4. Exposure: Always be checking the meter in your viewfinder, you want to keep it at 0! Your settings will adjust it.

I edit my photos in Lightroom and you can buy presets from bloggers or photographers, which will help give your photos a cohesive look. I have made my own, but definitely watch Youtube videos to understand Lightroom!

4. Shoot Prep

I prep about a week in advance for blog shoots. About 7 days out, I’m looking at my editorial calendar thinking about which looks I’m going to be featuring. Do I need to order anything for finishing touches? Do I have all the props I’ll be using? I print any campaign contracts and put them by my looks. Some brands may have a specific requirement {say they want a specific bracelet’s detail shown for their website}, so I do not forget! 5 days out, I’ll make a shot list. I generally only shoot 3 or 4 looks at a time. Any more and I don’t feel my best {I’m shooting in 104-degree heat over here! ha.}. Scroll Pinterest to help spark your brainstorming for your shot list. Do you want a lot of movement or do you want details? Is this going to be an editorial shoot or a relatable post? Think of your vision. About 4 days out, think of locations that match that vision. Also, try your looks on and take mirror selfies! You’ll see if a certain item pulls or tugs at a weird angle. I recommend self-tanning 2 or 3 days prior to your shoot so any smudges will have faded. I don’t always follow that rule- but I kick myself when I don’t! Don’t forget to check in with your photographer before your shoot. As you prep your looks, think about the lineup. Will you go from jeans to shorts to a skirt? If you wear jeans first, your legs may have lines on them from the stitching and that’s more work on your photographer to blur them out. Do you want to wear red lipstick with one of the looks? Shoot that last so you don’t go from red lips to nude lips because we know that never works with staining. 😉 The night before you shoot, steam your looks and hang them in your car, so you aren’t rushing in the morning.

5. Owning Your Shoot

You’ve scheduled, you’ve prepped, and you’ve got an SUV filled with clothing. Now you’ve got to rock your shoot!

Here are a few tricks I’ve learned over the years:

  1. Understand what you are sharing. It’s natural to feel nervous or self-conscious. Trust me, I look at at least 150+ photos of myself a week. NO one should see themselves that much- ha. I could sit and pick apart each and every flaw I see- every single flyaway, bruise, or pore! That’s just self-doubt. Remember, what you blog. I share fashion and beauty products. I’m helping you see the fit of clothing, not my face. I may not think I look my best, but this isn’t about me. It’s about helping you see clothing so you aren’t spending all your time shopping. Once I remind myself of that, I don’t get nervous anymore.
  2. Test out your ideas. Ever see a photo on Instagram you want to recreate? It’s normal to be inspired, but take that inspiration and turn it into a *new* idea. Asking to copy puts your photographer in an awkward position and they may not know what to say. Instead, get inspired by magazines, movement, and street style. You may think an idea seems silly, but normally, the more unsure you are, the better it does! I’ve had photos I thought would do well and they tank. I’ve had photos I thought may seem odd and they get repinned so much they are the #1 source of traffic to my blog. Talk about always learning! I say, “Go for it!” You never know what will be the shot that really allows your site to grow!
  3. Enjoy the shoot. Shooting can be stressful. When you start out, you may be lacking confidence- but you’ve got this, girl. There is a reason you feel called to do this. As you grow, shoots can come with an insane amount of pressure when brands are paying for image rights for their website. Try your best to enjoy it, this is your passion! I always think a great attitude is the key to a successful shoot. I leave a little early and get my favorite coffee from Starbucks. I’ll park and just sip my coffee for 5 minutes scrolling through Instagram. I never want to start a shoot feeling rushed on time or like I’m late. By doing something little like enjoying a coffee, I automatically boost my mood and in turn, enjoy the process and my photos more. I’m chatting with my photographers the entire time. They are my friends and so it makes those smiles or laughs in shots genuine and enjoyable!

You’ll always be learning more about photography as you continue to blog. I’m telling you- I need a month-long workshop. But with a few simple hacks and lots of communication with your photographer, you can make this one of your favorite aspects of blogging. I hope this helps you as you grow your site!

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17 Comments

  1. I love that you included your Instagram husband! My family and especially my boyfriend, are my slaves when it comes to photo-taking. I feel horrible but I can’t help it! 😉

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
    http://charmainenyw.com

    Published 01 Aug 18Reply
  2. Laura Leigh wrote:

    Great tips Katey! Really well written piece!

    xo Laura Leigh
    Louella Reese

    Published 01 Aug 18Reply
    • Katey wrote:

      Thanks, love! xo, Katey

      Published 01 Aug 18Reply
  3. Annaliese wrote:

    Oh my gosh Katey this is the best post!! I started blogging in college and random friends on campus used to take my pictures for me on a little digital camera!! For the past two years I’ve used local photographers, but sometimes sweet friends still help me out with an IG picture or two. 🙂

    xoxo A
    http://www.southernbelleintraining.com

    Published 01 Aug 18Reply
    • Katey wrote:

      Hi girlfriend! Oh it’s so true, our friends seriously help us launch our blogs with their willingness to help take a photo! haha. Thank you so much for reading! 🙂 xo, Katey

      Published 08 Aug 18Reply
  4. Clueless in DC wrote:

    At the risk of sounding like a total dummy, I wanted to let you know before reading this post I had no idea how much time/effort went into an outfit shoot. As someone who works 60 hour weeks at a desk job, it’s easy to see posts from bloggers and think that they’re just always put together like they are in their posts. It’s also easy to feel like bloggers have this really great lifestyle where they work from home and get “free” gifts from brands and are always in great outfits with a blowout and full make up and don’t have a worry in the world, etc. I think you do a good a job in your posts dispelling that myth because you talk a lot about your work and family and balancing expectations, but it’s pretty sobering to see a post like this and realize how much time you spend creating the content on this website!! It truly is a JOB as well as a passion for you and I think that get’s lost sometimes so thanks for the reminder and thanks for doing what you do!! 🙂

    Published 01 Aug 18Reply
    • Katey wrote:

      Hi girl! That does NOT sound dumb at all! I think it is 100% normal that on the outside non-traditional jobs can definitely look this way! I really truly appreciate your comment a lot. It is so kind and thoughtful and just downright genuine. Means more than you could ever know and excites me to keep creating content for you all! Thank you so much, girl! xo, Katey

      Published 08 Aug 18Reply
  5. Amanda wrote:

    Thank you so much for sharing this! Especially the tips for planning out shoots. I still shoot with my husband, but I’m ready to start working with a photographer and this made me less nervous about it!

    xo Amanda
    https://www.strawberrychicblog.com

    Published 01 Aug 18Reply
    • Katey wrote:

      Hi Amanda! Absolutely girl!! I hope this helps you as you transition. It’s always fun to shoot with your husband and I love learning from a photographer- it is great to do both! xo, Katey

      Published 01 Aug 18Reply
  6. Laquavia wrote:

    This was very helpful 🙂

    Published 01 Aug 18Reply
    • Katey wrote:

      Thank you girlfriend! xo, Katey

      Published 01 Aug 18Reply
  7. Kaitlin Stanley wrote:

    Hi Katey,

    I absolutely loved and appreciated this post on tips for bloggers! I’m not a blogger (YET) and as I push myself out of my comfort zone and in to a place of (good) fear and begin to plan my blog I’m always looking for tips and tricks from successful bloggers like yourself. Thank you for being willing to share :). It definitely helped this girl out!

    Kait

    Published 01 Aug 18Reply
    • Katey wrote:

      Hi Kait! Aw thank you so much for such sweet words! I hope it gave you some extra encouragement to start! xo, Katey

      Published 08 Aug 18Reply
  8. Love what you said about the Instagram husband! My husband has taken my photos for 4 years now, and while he sometimes complains, (as do it lol) he is always the one either reminding me I have to get more outfits taken over the weekend, or encouraging me to try new locations! lol. People swear they’re miserable! lol

    BlondieintheCity.com

    Published 02 Aug 18Reply
  9. Okay girlfriend, this is the best post ever! Thanks so much for the transparency, you are the best!

    Published 02 Aug 18Reply
  10. THANK YOU for all these tips! My model shoots are easy because they’re already planned out by the designer & photographers, but whenever I need to shoot with a tripod I struggle – or even trying to figure out what to shoot.

    Published 20 Sep 18Reply