Free Class: Photography Beginning And Beyond For Bloggers
Free Class: Photography Beginning And Beyond For Bloggers
Photography is an important part of blogging. If you are writing craft or recipe posts, you want to capture the perfect step-by-step photos to help you readers follow your directions. But it isn't just the craft bloggers who need great pictures — all bloggers do! It doesn't matter if you are writing sponsored posts, telling relatable stories from your life, sharing a recent vacation, or anything else you could think to write about, you need the perfect images to accompany your words.
Join The SITS Girls and Tamara of Tamara Like Camara for a free online photography class in The SITS Girls Facebook Group. During the week of May 23-27, we will teach you about photography with lessons on composition, editing, storytelling with images, and more! Tamara is even going to open up her photography toolkit and let you know what equipment she uses.
DAY 1: The Best Camera Is The One You Have
I chose this topic for our first class, because I want you to know (before we get started) that you can participate and take photos no matter what kind of camera you have. Later this week I am going to share my photographer's toolkit, and tell you exactly what gear I use, but I understand it's not always possible for you to buy my exact equipment — and it may not be what you want to use. It took me quite a bit of time to save up for every serious camera I have ever had, and that includes my iPhone. Know this: the best camera to use is the one you have on you.
We are all so different. Some of us have a great eye for photography, but no technical skills or good equipment. Some of us have no eye for photography, but we do have great equipment and a willingness to learn. Some people have all three traits. Some don't have any. We all approach photography from different places.
I have been framing photographs in my mind for as long as I can remember – since early childhood — and that's how my eye for photography developed. The technical skills and equipment took time. They’re still taking time. And I’m ok with that. We all have something to give, and something to learn.
You can capture the most beautiful thing on earth with a phone camera, a point and shoot, or a DSLR. It’s about timing, composition, settings, and even luck.It’s about knowing what you’re doing with what you have.
We all have something different to see and share, and we all have different cameras, I want you to start this week by reading a blog post about getting the most out of your camera – from consumer level to professional level.
Day 1 Assignment:
Read this blog post. Walk outside, and take a few pictures using the tips you learned — if you've never take a picture without using "auto mode" this is a great chance to try some of your camera's settings options.
Day 2: Composing The Perfect Picture
Composition in photography is one of those strange and wonderful things, because while it’s mostly subjective, there are certain rules that work really well. Rules can be followed or broken, but it’s fun to see the way certain composition tips can help a previously boring photo become one that shines. It can be subtle and powerful.
Photography composition can be confusing, and I do think you need to know at least something about it. Why? When you look at the world with just your eyes, your brain picks out subjects of interest quite quickly. When you look at the world with your camera, your camera doesn’t discriminate the way your eyes do. The camera can take in the whole cluttered mess, without seeing the beauty your eyes may see.
It’s up to you to use composition to bring out the beauty your eyes see.What you can do is choose your subject, select your focal length, or viewpoint, and use your settings. One of the biggest tricks for photography composition is called the Rule of Thirds. For a more in-depth article about why you should try it, go here.
Tips for understanding and using photography composition:
1. Keep your scenes and backgrounds simple. It may seem like an obvious tip, but I have forgotten it many times, and these little touches can mean the difference between a snapshot and a portrait, believe it or not. Either keep objects out of the frame, or if they help tell the story, have your photo or perspective reflect that in a creative way.
2. Get close and fill the frame. I’m personally not a fan of leaving wide open spaces in photos, unless you’re telling a story about wide open spaces. If it’s a person, an animal, a tree, etc.? Make it tell the story. Move or zoom closer.
3. Change from horizontal to vertical, or vice versa. Do you love a subject enough to walk or zoom all around it to find perspectives? Take it as you’ve been taking it, and then switch from horizontal to vertical, or vice versa.
4. Use frames, leading lines, shapes, and other such things to tell your story. They’re called leading lines, and they can be found everywhere. Leading lines help you to let your readers’ eyes move around your photo. Diagonal lines help create movement. Also use natural frames in your photos, like windows and doors. Patterns and symmetry are also aesthetically pleasing.
5. Contrast and backgrounds. Find a contrast between your subject and background, like a dark tree against a sky.
Day 2 Download:
Day 2 Assignment:
Take a few photos of one subject. Take one photo with the subject in the middle of the photo, and another with the subject off-center, like the rule of thirds. Try taking the image from different perspectives — shoot from above, below, or even off to the side.
Day 3: Photo Editing
If you’re like me and you shoot in RAW, you always have to use photo editing software. I think many of us strive to shoot perfectly in the camera, but it’s not always a possibility. The light can change instantly. You can get a color tint. There may always be reasons to add contrast, fix white balance, or add special effects.
Photo editing is something I find necessary, and beyond that, it can be FUN.
Nothing can turn a bad photo into a good one magically, because some photos are beyond repair. If they are too underexposed or overexposed, or blurry, there’s not much you can do. For many other photography errors, though, you can save photos!
What CAN you fix with editing?
Maybe anything, honestly, but here is a good list of beginner or intermediate tasks, that can be performed in your phone, on PicMonkey, or on paid software programs:
1. Correction of white balance (and turning photos to black and white).
2. Overexposure and underexposure issues.
3. Subject in the center or in the distance? Crop it.
4. Not enough contrast? Add it. Too much? Lessen it.
5. Blown highlights? Recover them.
6. Dark shadows? Brighten them.
7. Crooked horizon? Straighten it.
8. Add saturation and vibrance to the whole image or parts.
9. Add filters.
10. Use the cloning/healing tools to remove distractions and annoyances.
11. Add special effects.
12. Do head swaps. Yes, for real!
I have an iPhone but I know there are good photo editing actions and apps within most smartphones, if not all. The best part of this is that you can edit photos immediately on the same device you used to take photos.
Luckily, The SITS Girls have a great post on this HERE.
Lightroom and Creative Suites Editing.
I use Lightroom for converting RAW to JPEG, recovering blown highlights, and changing the white balance. I use Creative Suites for layers, cloning/healing, curves, converting to black and white, loading, writing and using actions, removing clutter and annoyances, and adding/removing/fixing/sprucing up small details.
There is a learning curve for Lightroom and Creative Suites, for sure. I would recommend local or online classes if you can find them. You can consult books, videos, tutorials, and Google — and here are many YouTube tutorials that rock.
Day 3 Download:
Day 3 Assignment:
Open up one of your favorite photos in an editing program, and see what you can do with it or to it. What can be changed? Do you want to add text and create a meme? The sky is the limit! If you don't have an editing program you use regularly, try PicMonkey (it’s free)!
Day 4: Photography Toolkit
There is probably a photography toolkit for anything you can think about doing. I know for sure there is a wedding photography toolkit/checklist. And there is definitely one for when I go to Disney World, and I want to capture the most moments, without carrying or spending the most.
If you’re like me – taking photos of people, weddings, pets, products, food, real estate and more, and even if you’re not like me and you’re only doing one or two of these things — here are some tips to help you grow your blog photography toolkit.
In this day and age, with such photo-heavy social media platforms like Instagram and Pinterest out there, there is more emphasis on good photography than ever. Whether you blog for yourself or for your business, you have probably been thinking about how to take it up a notch by using your own photography for your blog. There are many stock photo options out there, and many are even free, but I think it’s important to take your own photos too. That’s how you best tell YOUR stories, and make your posts your own.
Luckily, there are great photography equipment items to fit all budgets! Today's download covers the budget friendly options, popular choices, and everything I'm currently using in my own photography business.
Day 4 Download:
Day 4 Assignment:
Try something new, but inexpensive. Download a new app or software, or borrow or rent a piece of photography equipment. Try it out, and see what changes.
Day 5: Storytelling Through Images
Storytelling is timeless to humans. We tell our stories to share memories, preserve our history, and be entertained. Both for personal posts, and sponsored posts, readers and clients can appreciate the visual feel and emotional impact of a photo story. While storytelling and photography seem like a match made in heaven, being good at one doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be good at the other. This can take learning experience, time, and a whole lot of passion. Whether it’s a personal story, a memory, a recipe, a craft, or a tutorial, the FIRST step to becoming a great visual storyteller is to figure out the kind of story you want to tell.
What do you like? What’s your passion? A great story will spread all of the passions and the feelings YOU have, into your appreciative audience.
How can you do that?
Here are five tips for Storytelling With Photography:
1. Choose your shots to tell your story. Include an introductory shot that sets the scene, the way you would with an introductory paragraph for a story. For example, if you’re doing a recipe, do a lineup of ingredients or even just a close up of one ingredient or the finished product. The first image should be compelling and should invite your readers to be curious about the story. Get close-up, detailed shots to show small but powerful elements of the story. Do portrait shots, too. I always try to get clear and inviting shots of my kids’ faces so you can see their expressions and their part in the stories. Generally, I do a wide aperture to blur out the background.
Also consider moment shots, or step-by-step shots, especially if you’re doing a tutorial. There’s an end shot, the way there’s a closing paragraph. It’s open to interpretation how you do it, but it’s good for recipes, crafts and personal stories. Not all the photos you take need to be used. Choose the ones you think will most tell your story, and exclude the extras that won’t. Always look for details.
2. Take special note of lighting, and its effect on the shots in your story. It will add to the mood, and can take away from it, too. A good visual storyteller can use surrounding light to capture the story. It’s best to use the light around you to your advantage – because you generally don’t want to change the story as it’s unfolding.
Using light in a creative way can bring an unassuming scene to life. You can spin all around your subject in a 360-degree angle to consider front light, sidelight, and backlight. You don’t need to be well versed in all types of light to do so. Consider the last hour before sunlight to be the golden hour. Using contrast and color can emphasize the mood of your subject.
3. Follow rules that best fit your story, but don’t be afraid to break rules, too. Confusing, right? Well the rule of thirds is one I love to use for visual storytelling. I didn’t even use it until I started blogging and now it’s a regular part of my client sessions, too. We talked about it earlier this week: you position your subject by dividing the image into thirds, horizontally and vertically, and placing your subject NOT in the center. This effect is almost always more pleasing to the reader.
Don’t necessarily clean up shots, which is a rule I use for client photography. Break this rule. Sometimes a mess helps tell the story. Sometimes a mess IS a story, like after baking cookies with kids.
4. Paint your scene with simplicity or complexity, and with different angles. Remember, visual storytelling depends largely on how YOU want to tell the story, and not on how others want to read it. A personal story is something that happened to you. You can choose to do this through multiple images, or tell a whole story with one powerful image. Written stories have beginnings, middles and ends. They have a who, what, where, when, and why. Visual stories can have all of the same without a single word.
Tell your visual stories like you would word stories. Experiment with angles that evoke emotions. Go above, go below, go close, go far, go everywhere. Our most cherished moments are often from everyday moments.
5. Frame your story. Setting is important, isn’t it? You don’t forget it in written stories, so never forget it in visual stories! You can use doorframes, windows, tree branches, and more. The world has so many natural frames everywhere you look, and you will be eye-trained to find them, once you start. It’s a wonderful use of composition. Consider finding leading lines out in the world. Consider use of shapes, lines, and frames that will visually entice your reader.
Day 5 Download:
Day 5 Assignment:
Identify a type of photography you’d like to try, or that you’ve always viewed as difficult, and get out there and do it. Is it food photography? Portrait photography? Wildlife? Choose your angles. Choose your perspectives. Choose your beginnings, middles and ends. Tell YOUR story, as you feel it, as you see it, and as you want others to see it.