Back to Photo Basics

image from CameraKarrie

Think about the last time you took a picture. Did you focus on what was actually happening behind the lens? Or were you preoccupied with your hair and makeup? Don't lie, I do the same thing too!

Unsurprisingly, when it comes time to snap a photo, we forget the simple photo basics, focusing on other stuff when we should be paying attention. Or we rely on post-production tricks to make the pictures stand out. Honestly, those post production tricks aren't even necessary if you can nail the basics of photography like composition, lighting, and subject matter. Following these guidelines will help your photos look amazing and professional. Taking your photography to the next level WHILE scoring with fab shots?! Sounds like a deal to me.

image from John Merritt


It doesn't matter how great of a photographer you are if you are taking pictures of really boring stuff. Piles of earrings. Pair of shoes. Boring! Instead of showing things by themselves or in a predictable group, think outside the box. Think about the objects relationship's with others. How does it interact with another object? Does it play a dominant role or a submissive role? By asking yourself these questions, you will start to see your subject in a different light. Voila! Inspiration will hit and you will have a fantastic photo. Another helpful tip? Take the perspective of the actual viewer. What would catch his/her eye in your shot? If you need a little help when it comes to figuring out what looks best to your viewer, take multiple photos in many different settings. You never know what will translate well! Need inspiration? Take a photo stroll through Flickr or browse your Instagram feed. Something is bound to get your creative juices working.

image from Michael Flores


One of the hardest things about photography, especially in the winter, is finding the perfect light. Too much light and your photo is overexposed. Not enough light and your photo is ruined. What's a blogger to do? Learn about your cameras lighting settings and understand them! Familiarize yourself with aperture and shutter speed. Discover what settings work best for your location and overall theme. If you love natural light, time your photo shoots accordingly, especially if you rely on the natural light and don't want to use lighting props or flash. Aim to snap pictures in the early to mid morning, before the sun gets too “hot” (aka floods your picture with sun flares and warmth). If you are doing a night shoot, it's extremely important for you to get the right light props and do a test run, especially if you are new to night shooting. You don't want your flash to flood the shot but you don't want it to be pitch black either.

 image from helgabj


Last but certainly not least, composition, the way your image is put together, is probably the most important aspect of photography that you need to know. What is filling your frame? How do the props  you are using tell your story? What is their relationship with the viewers eye? Are they placed in the most effective settings? All of these questions are a part of the composition puzzle. Key composition terms to get to know: depth of field, rule of thirds, and point of view. Getting the proper depth of field, or distance between your subject and the space in front of and behind of subject, will make your photos pop, instead of falling flat. Think about what your camera is focusing on. If you are focusing on something close up, your subject will be clear but the background will be fuzzy. That immediately makes your subject stand out, right? It gives dimension to the shot, which will make our viewers more interested. Another composition technique to explore is the rule of thirds, a guideline for breaking up your photo into a grid setting that will showcase the strongest focal points in an eye-pleasing manner. Naturally, the human eye is drawn to certain parts of an image and the rule of thirds really plays into that tendency, making your photos more attention-grabbing. For more tips on mastering the rule of thirds, head over here and start paying more attention to it. You will pick it up in no time!

I know, it seems really technical and confusing but looking at these important photographic basics and understanding them will help you and your blog! Who knows, this might be the one thing that gets your blog's photos recognized! For more information about photo-processing tips, check out our guides (I, II, III, IV).

Do you have any photo basics questions for us? Share your thoughts or questions below and we will help out…

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13 Responses

  1. Naina

    Great post, photography is any bloggers basic need. A lot of us focus on having our boyfriend/ friend/ family member do it all for us, but it’s important to get familiar with the device that should be your best friend.
    Another tip is aperture – setting it at the lowest level will give your subject matter more clarity and the background greater blue (perfect for fashion shots!)

  2. Sam at twIN Style

    Good points, Naina. I think the hardest part about my blog photography is that I have so little control. My sister and I do a daily look blog, and since I am the subject of the photos, I have to rely on others to get the perfect shot. Because I don’t have photographer friends at my disposal, I am usually relying on family members with no camera experience.

    Any tips on how to help them without requiring hours of getting to know my camera? Or tripod tips?

    • amandaboyce

      What you can do is set up the shot yourself, that way the only thing your family members have to do is click the button. That does require planning and staging but in the end, it might be best!

    • Sarah

      I too have this problem, but as time goes on my boyfriend seems to be getting the hang of it. Practise makes perfect for all!


  3. Donna

    I’m in the same situation as Sam. I know photography fairly well but I’m having a hard time taking photos of myself. Asking someone else who doesn’t know much about photography isn’t working so great, either. Tips?

  4. Alissa

    I wrote a post on my blog about using a tripod when taking photos. It eliminates camera shake and can be positioned in a number of ways.

  5. Cate

    There’s an amazing photographer in my area that teaches photography workshops, and she now sells an e-book designed for bloggers based on her classes. It’s only $20, and it’s super helpful. Here’s the link:
    My readers get a discount with this code wildrufflereaders15 – but I in no way benefit from the sales of the book! Just want to share the love with my fellow fashion bloggers.:)

  6. Mindy

    yess. it’s so hard for me to get decent lighting and shots. i’ll try playing around with my camera settings so i don’t look so orange.