I think it is safe to say, one of the biggest challenges when it comes to blogging is
bribing getting someone to take your pictures. Blogging is such a visual platform. Words that tell a story and draw you in are the fundamentals. However, pictures are what ultimately pull it all together. I can tell you about a product/outfit/tutorial but I guarantee I will lose your interest if there are just words on a screen with nothing stimulating to look at. When you work full time and have minimal hours of shootable light at the end of the day it, unfortunately, seems to fall on one person. The person you live with or geographically live closest to. I try not to bother Mark after work in order for him to actually agree to take pictures of me on the weekend. Therefore, I’ve had to beg, politely ask, barter, and everything else in between to friends and family members to have content visuals for the blog. I am going to teach you a few pointers that will allow you to have anyone capture your pictures beautifully. Are you ready? Let’s get into it!
I never picked up a DSLR camera before I started blogging. Everything is self-taught. My husband is a lawyer by day and has never had one photography course. You have to learn how to use your camera yourself first. The only way that works is practice on your own. If you are trying to fumble around and learn while handing your camera off to someone else who has no idea how it works……that is a recipe for disaster. You have to take the time to learn how a camera works or heck even how an iPhone camera works. If you can’t master it, then how do you expect anyone to take a good picture of you? You don’t need to learn manual mode right off the bat but there are so many great resources out there you need to start learning. Then, you need to practice. Honestly, there are 3 components to manual settings. I have written posts about all of them. You ready? Shutter speed, Aperture or F-stop, and ISO. Here is the quick and dirty for you. You want to have your shutter speed as “fast” as possible to get sharp pictures, the F-stop as low as possible to blur the background, and the ISO up enough to have light pictures but not too much that you create a ton of noise. By playing around with those, you can get the lighting you want in any capture. If you could read any tutorial to get up to speed it is this one.
This is the most important thing I can tell you when having someone else shoot your picture. I always have Mark/my dad/my sister/my friend Julie etc, stand where I am going to be and I shoot the capture I am trying to achieve. That way I can guarantee my lighting is right before I hand it over. There is nothing worse than shooting 100 pictures, turning around, looking at them and all the lighting is wrong. I even take it up another notch, shoot them, shoot a few of mine, double check, and if the lighting is great….let’s rock and roll. This has been my saving grace with Mark. He is so great with taking my pictures but his patience goes from calm to “we are done” when I have him shoot a ton of pictures and then ask to take them over because “they were too dark or too light”. Blogging pictures over. Do yourself a favor and put your picture taker in the scene, get it right and then hand it over.
When I shoot things on my own, I usually focus manually. However, whenever I give the camera to someone else…..automatic focus all the way. This is the easiest thing I say to anyone to guarantee your pictures will be in focus. “When you look through the screen, you will see a red dot. Put that red dot anywhere on my head, face, nose, chin whatever“. No red dot on outfit bag. The red dot on my face. If you are frustrated with your pictures and they seem to always be just the slight bit blurry, I guarantee that red dot is not on your face. It may be on the tree behind you or the street sign in the background. That red dot is the key to successful pictures. Got it? Red dot on head. Have them squat, move around, go on one knee….whatever, but that red dot needs to be on your face.
Here is the red dot on my skirt (1/250s, F-2.8, ISO 320)
The red dot is focused on the column behind me. Notice how clear it is and how fuzzy I am.
I think people are afraid to take “too many” pictures. Therefore, they will take one and wait. Take one and wait. Pictures are way too posed and stiff that way. I tell whoever is taking my picture, click away and I’m going to move. Now, as long as they keep that red dot on your face, you will be fine. Move, walk, twirl around, laugh, fix your hair, sit, stand, look in your purse. Just forget they are there. That is how you get natural and believable pictures. If you just stand with your hand on your hip, then click, turn, click, look at the camera and smile, click. They will be boring, forced, and not what you are looking for. It’s always the pictures where I’m doing something random that are my favorites.
Don’t worry you can always delete pictures like this
If you are shooting with someone who has never held a camera in their life, you have to give yourself the best odds of capturing a good shot. Honestly, the idea for this post came when I just traveled with my sister to Arizona. I was a tiny bit nervous and she will even tell you…..she doesn’t take the best pictures. At Christmas, I always hand the camera to her husband. She cuts my feet off and the top of my head seems to never make it in pictures. The best times to shoot any pictures are first thing in the morning and the hour before the sun sets. The harsh light in the middle of the day is the hardest for anybody. So when we were in Arizona, I made sure to use the early morning and the hour before the sun sets to take our pictures.
When you shoot in the middle of the day you are constantly battling against the harsh sun and shadows. If you have a cloudy day you are golden but you can’t rely on that. If you have to shoot in the sun, try to find the shade of a building or a tree. Try not to shoot with the direct sun coming at you because it will wash out the clothes and the shadow of your photographer will be in your shot. Shoot with the sun at your back.
As opposed to this exact same timing. The sun is shooting at me. See the difference? Now, the sun was just rising so it wasn’t super harsh yet but imagine this at high noon, it would completely wash out the outfit. Even in this shot there are tons of shadows in the shot.
The same outfit can look completely different by just what is in the background or the way the lighting is hitting you. I try to walk around an area and shoot the look in different locations and lighting. Something you thought may look great could be washed out by the background behind you. Or you think this is the spot but the light through the trees is hitting at all weird places. Play around with it and I guarantee you will find a few keepers but if you shoot one thing over and over in the exact same place you may have a completely waste of shots and your time. Here is the same outfit shot in a bunch of different ways. You can see the way it changes with the lighting, shade, and what is in the background.
Metallic skirt under $30 size up, this is a medium find it here ||| Grey Joie Ceaser B top find here ||| Purse Hammitt c/o find here ||| My favorite booties ever Jeffery Campbell (Valinor) on sale find here
Let me tell you how happy it makes someone when you are on the way to somewhere and you sweetly ask them to stop and take your picture by this random pumpkin patch. If they are hungry or running late, it’s not going to end well. Try to set some time aside that is strictly for the purpose of capturing your pictures. Plan out ahead of time where you want to shoot so you don’t waste time trying to find a location. If you have to shoot on the way to something here is what has helped for me. Let the person know ahead of time…..”so we are going to Bartaco on Saturday for dinner. Can we leave a half hour earlier because I need to take a picture of what I’m wearing?” I have found once I let it be known that is part of the itinerary it is a little easier received. Also, I need to know I’m probably getting about 5 minutes of shooting time, so I better have the place picked out, the outfit ready, and the settings on my camera ready to go. It also helps to make sure the other person is not starving…..insiders tip.
“Okay that’s good now flip the camera the other way”
It is a fine line of having someone take your pictures….for free….and out of the goodness of their heart. Therefore, when teaching them how to take your pictures you need to give them direction but basically don’t be a jerk about it. I can remember in the beginning I had these amazing pictures captured by Mark and when I looked at them 200 pictures into it, I realized the tag on my shirt was sticking out the whole time. I nicely showed him the shots and let him know that pretty much I couldn’t use any of them due to the Merona Target label sticking up in the back. Or if your bra strap is showing. Or there is a weird angle they are shooting that is completely not flattering. That is why the first thing I talked about, take a few and look them over is so important. There you can “teach” the person who is taking them what is good about the shot or what is something that can be changed. I also sometimes have to be open to ideas because Mark will see something like “hey stand there because there is a red umbrella and you are wearing a red skirt so it may look cool or something”. You may have a vision but the person taking them may also bring an idea to the table and it adds another depth to your shot that you never thought of.
If you are shooting with someone who makes you comfortable the pictures are ultimately going to be the best that way. So find a tribe of people that you can call on from time to time to help you with getting the visuals you need for your space. If you ultimately cannot wrangle anyone from your day to day, then try contacting other bloggers in your area and see if you can do a mutual shoot. You shoot pics for them and then vice versa. Or reach out on Facebook to see if any local photographers who are starting out need portfolio work. The local colleges are another resource as well.
So there you have it. My tried and true tips for teaching anyone to shoot your pictures. I find it is really helpful to have a few people in order to “spread the wealth” as I like to call it. That way you don’t burn one person out and you are able to have enough material to support your work. If all else fails, you can always get a tripod with a remote and shoot that way as well. It is definitely a little more tedious but you can get the job done. I also feel like these tips apply to everyone, not just bloggers. If you want to capture good pictures no matter what, lighting, test shots and all these tips apply. Also, my last bit of advice. Here is a veeeerrrry old post of mine but still one of my favorites. If you want to look good in pictures, read this post. It is really informative about body angles and poses in order to capture the best shots of yourself. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to shoot me an email or leave a comment. I have tons of other photography tutorials here and blogging tutorials here. If you liked this post, I would appreciate it if you would pin it on Pinterest, share, or like on Bloglovin.
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Who takes your pictures for your blog? What do you find is the hardest thing about photography and pictures? Are you frustrated ever about finding enough time to get pictures for your space? Tell me some of your troubles or things that have worked for you!