Sunday, April 26, 2020

Simple Ways To Step Up Your Content Photography

Creating content for Instagram is, more than ever, really popular. Everyone seems to think they're a photographer and when it comes to getting work it can become a really competitive industry. But if you're doing it for the fun, the fame or the wage: There is some really simple ways to step up your photos. Here are some easy, cheap and from home tips I've picked up over the years.

Using Out of focus objects to create a blur:

If you're shooting with a camera or a phone, using an object which is closer to your lens than the thing you're photographing can add something really special to your photos. I often stick fake flowers right in front of my lens and then look through them at my object. It can create a lovely blur effect and a 'hide and seek' vibe: as if you're peering through to see.

This can be done over someones shoulder, having part of the door way blurred looking into a room, using flowers or leaves: This can be created with pretty much anything and is a great way to make your photos more interesting and professional.

You can always tie things to your phone or tripod, keeping your hands free and the blur the same in each image you take.





Fake Flowers:

As mentioned before flowers are a great addition to your photos. I love using fresh flowers but they aren't always available and its nice to be able to grab some flowers for a quick photo without having to run to the shop or pick from your garden. Fake flowers can be expensive but if you buy individual stalks can be really cheap. I got a handful of different flowers from Wilko for around £1.50 each and have lasted me over two years. You can keep these in your home or in a prop box, like I do.

They don't always have to be the centre point of your image but they can add lovely details to your photos and bring them to life. A absolute must if you take a lot of flatlays or product photography.





All about the background:

Having a plain background can look really nice in a photo but can make your overall content look a little plain or bland. Over the years I've become almost too picky with where I take photos and how the overall image comes out. This applies to both flat lay photography and general content photography: think about your background. 

If you have a lovely photo in your kitchen of you and your baby but there is dirty washing in the background it can be really off putting for the viewer. If you have a feed, like mine, that has a similar tonal scheme or if you have a colour scheme then your background is very important. Having a red poster in the background for my images would throw off my overall content, simply removing that item can make the world of difference to your image. Even if it means changing round the entire room just so you have certain items in shot: it can be really worth it. This is great for filling a space or bulking out a simple area.

But think about the image as an bigger picture and not just the item you are photographing. The above image is of a necklace but I have placed it in the middle of my living room so that the blurred background is of the brickwork and fireplace rather than the plain wall and sofa the table is normally against. Placing the lace and candle on the fireplace fills out the area: even though it is blurred and not the focus of the image it makes all the difference.

The perfume images above would have been against a yellow wall which wouldn't have gone well with the image, so using a patch of free wallpaper from a shop has been placed up so that the focus stays on the product rather than on the off putting wallpaper.

Placing items around the main focus like a jumper or a relevant item, a jewellery box (for example), again bulks out the image without taking away from the product. They don't have to be in focus or on full display.


Self Timer and Remotes:

I honestly don't know what I would do without the self timer or remote aspect of my camera. As someone who works by themselves and creates content alone, these are key to me getting the content I want and need to the standard required. Using self timer means that you can take photos of yourself, your family and execute images that would be harder to capture by yourself: for example holding a product. Most camera's have a remote that you can buy online and connect. This just means I am not constricted to the self timer countdown and can set everything up, take my time and then take multiple images in one go.


Props:

I have accumulated lots of props over the years. It was the thing I was most scared about when I started all of this as I had no income so wasn't sure how I would afford to take images. But there is lots of free things you can acquire, everyday home items and cheap purchases that can be used over and over. 

Use things from your home. Things such as mugs, wooden chopping boards, flooring, carpets, bed sheets, blankets, plants, jumpers, jewellery, wrapping paper, magazines, ribbons, makeup, trays and teddies. All of these can be used for lots of different purposes, for backdrops, backgrounds and little extras. Most of these items come in handy when producing a flat lay image. 

Using a prop in an image can make it look less staged and more realistic. A photograph in a kitchen looks more cosy and homely when a hot cup of tea is placed in the background. 

Free samples. There is plenty of free samples out there. Most home shops will allow you to take free wallpaper samples which can be used in multiple different ways. Free magazines and catalogues, free tile samples are also a great source of props.

Collect everything. Become a harder In a sense, keep ribbons from birthday presents, keep empty perfume bottles, keep tickets from trips, glass dishes from desserts and yoghurts can be cleaned and used again for photography. Everything can be a prop. 

Cheap things you can buy and use a lot can be items like strips of material from markets, old clothes from charity shops can be cut up and used, ribbon is very cheap on Amazon, glitter and confetti. Be creative.


Portraits:

Portraits are a great thing for your content especially if you want to create content about yourself, your family and let your audience get to know you better. Using the self timer or remote you can level up from a simple selfie. Portraits are essential to a feed that oozes personality.


Editing Apps:

Editing apps aren't for everyone but they are great if you want more cohesive content or if you're after something more fun. Apps like Canva and PicsArt can uplift your images into something more fun and exciting. Layering your images, combining them in a grid or even adding doodles can make your content really stand out. Check out LittlePaperSwan on Instagram for the most amazing doodle images.

The best apps:

Lightroom and Photoshop.

Photoshop can help you clean up your images or edit them into something more adventurous. Lightroom is fab if you want to add a preset (which will make all your images look similar tonally or colour wise so when you see all your photos in a grid they look cohesive). Again look too LittlePaperSwan for this. You can just download the free version and if you don't want a preset you can use Lightroom for simple brightening etc.

Canva.
Great for doodles, grids and jazzing up your Instagram stories.

PicsArt and LiveCollage.

VSCO.
If you don't want a preset but would like to edit or add a filter then VSCO is a great free app.

Made.
If you want more fun or vintage image edits.

Splice.
For those venturing into video content or IGTV content.



The Flatlay:

This one will take a lot of practice. It has taken me years of flat lays to get to the level I have achieved, I am very proud of my flat lays and photography so here are some little tips.

Add things to the image that relate to the product but aren't going to be main focus. This flat lay is about skincare so I have used pjs, hair clips, flowers and cotton buds.

Not everything has to be in focus or in the image. Bulk out the image and make sure there isn't huge spaces. As you look down the edges of the image there is loads of things in the photo that are cut off or out, this just bulks out the image and draws in the focus to the products. You want your image to show the viewer something new with every glance.

Make your background interesting by layering. My image has the floor with brickwork to make a higher level, a tray and jumper. There is three different highs created by the layers which adds depth and more detail to your image. If you go to Seethestars on Instagram her flatly are brilliant and her use of paper is a perfect example of layering.





Hope this has helped in any way.




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14 comments

  1. This is so interesting defo going to start using some of these tips!! X

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  2. I love this post! Definitely something I’m going to follow and keep in mind! Thankyou for sharing with us xx

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  3. Leah this post is so helpful, I love it. So many amazing tips, thanks for sharing xx

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  4. This is such a brilliant helpful read! I’m already a bit of a hoarder, and definitely want to try more flatlays! Thankyou for all the tips x

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  5. Love love loved this post Leah. Such good ideas. The wallpaper truck is a trick I’ve used before but lots of other fab ideas have been added and I’m definitely going to try them.

    Katie x
    www.katiefloss.com

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  6. So many useful tips here, I will have to give them a go! Thank you for sharing with us x

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  7. So many great ideas in here thank you

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  8. This has been super helpful so thank you! I've always struggled with my blog photography, props & backgrounds just aren't my thing. I'm actually going to head to the Wilko website now and see if I can find any bits & bobs x

    Megan Elizabeth

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  9. So many great tips in this post and I am herrre for it!
    Rosie
    loverosiee.co.uk

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  10. There are some great tips here, thank you :)

    Beautiful photos too!

    Amy x
    The July Rose

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  11. I am sooo rubbish at photography but these tips were really helpful, thanks love! x

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  12. These are some great tips! I also like to use a clear lens filter, put some lipstick on it and smudge it to get a rosey effect in my images without having to do it in post!

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  13. I have loads of photos to take this week, so I need to use these tips. Thank you for sharing!

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