It's Friday, October 31st. My roommate/bestie/blog-tographer and I have just returned home from our morning workout, and I, as usual, want to avoid studying just a bit longer so I ask Britt if she would be willing to snap some pics of an outfit I recently put together while writing the "shopping my closet post" and want to wear that evening.
She looks skeptical. So I respond, "what if we took pictures in Hyde Park Village and stopped at our favorite French cafe for some cappuccinos and pastries?" Suddenly, her face perks up. Bribing her with coffee and sweets usually works.
So I start getting ready while Britt sips her coffee and catches up on some Buzzfeed (Britt is way more low maintenance than me). When I'm finally ready I proclaim, "Oh my god I look like Blair Waldorf!" I love it and decide to go for it while Britt looks at me like the ensemble is a bit over the top. But, I figure it's Halloween and I can totally get away with it! I add the final touches - a pink headband (more on my favorite new headband next week), a cape, a couple midi rings (my new guilty pleasure), and we are out the door.
We arrive and sit in the car for 10 minutes while I work on my DSLR's camera settings. While I have enjoyed learning how to use my old refurbished D3100, it's definitely complicated! Ok, camera is ready. I hand Britt the camera and we are off. We walk around a bit searching for the right spot. I usually make Britt pose while I try angles and backdrops (this always yields hilarious snaps, like the one above). Several shots that I thought would work don't pan out and Britt is getting impatient. "What about over by the ivy?" she proclaims. Once again, she's right and we start clicking away.
"Don't be self conscious! Who cares!" Britt always exclaims as I pose. I feel ridiculous posing and having my picture taken in public. Eventually I get over it and loosen up. About three shots in I begin to ask "how do they look?" and "what else should I do?" When I complain that Britt never gives me any direction, she retorts with cliche sayings like "work it," "the camera loves you," and my personal favorite "you're a tiger!" In between her commentary I bark back - "make sure the red dot is on me," "don't get too much ground," and "remember to bend your knees!" Seriously, she is a saint for putting up with me. When I ask her for just a couple more shots, she gives me the eyebrow, but I remind her of the treats that await.
Twenty minutes later I am satisfied with what we've captured and beginning to overheat, so we move inside. After ordering, I start arranging the table and adjust the camera settings as Britt looks at me like I am crazy. When our coffee and pastries arrive I hand Britt the camera and ask her to sit across from me and take "just one last pic before we dig in." By now she knows the "one last pic" is a bit of an empty promise, but because she's a great friend (who wants to eat) she complies. When Britt finally bites into her mini pumpkin tart her face lights up and she asserts that she "prefers photo shoots that end with tarts and cappuccinos!" I hope she never unionizes!
I try not to abuse Britt's kindness and willingness to take pictures for me. So I have also (recently) started taking my own outfit photos. There is a great shaded wall on my way to work that I often stop at. I pop out of my car, position the tripod (which I keep in my backseat), and use a remote to snap some quick shots. This is surprisingly easy and quick (so long as your camera and tripod are ready to go). But you are limited in the compositions you can create and the variety of shots you can take. I pile everything back into the car and drive to work like I am not the crazy lady who just took her own picture next to a random wall.
To be honest I am not very knowledgable when it comes to photography, but I have made an effort to learn how to take better pictures. Quality pictures are one of the most important components of a blog. I have also really enjoyed the process of learning how to take pictures, I just wish Britt would let me turn the camera on her more!
The moral of all of this? You don't need a fancy camera or photographer to get great pictures for your blog (btw, iPhones take great photos). All you really need to take or improve your blog photos is a willing victim (or a tripod) and these helpful tips that I have picked up along the way:
- Go outside and find a shady spot (you want light - but not direct sunlight - this is why the shot of Britt above doesn't work)
- Stand far away from things (this creates a blurry background) -or-
- Find an interesting wall (like a bright color, or unique texture)
- Have your photographer bend their knees and shoot a bit lower than what feels natural (Britt hates this one) -or-
- Set your tripod to just above waist level
- Use the aperture priority mode on your camera -or-
- On your iPhone, always touch the subject on the screen before snapping
- Take lots of continuous photos (eventually you'll get one good one)
- Try to be relaxed and move naturally (I am not always super successful at this, as one commenter pointed out - and which I noticed in the collage above - I touch my hair... a lot!)
- Mix up your poses and angles, and remember you don't always have to look at the camera and smile
In addition to these tips, I have also found some great resources. I use this quick guide for my camera settings (it is a life saver!) and photoshop actions can save a less than stellar photo.
Do you have any photography secrets to share?
PS - I'll be sharing the pictures from this photo shoot on Monday (it's my favorite shoot to date).