Tuesday, July 18, 2017

My blog photo process!

At the start of 2017, I decided this was the year of the photograph for me.  My deadly family got me an Olympus Pen EPL7 and a 45mm lens to soften the blow of having a milestone birthday and not for a second did I think the new camera would reignite my mojo to this extent!  I've had some lovely comments during the year about my photos and thought I'd go through my process when it comes to snapping photos for the blog or Instagram.  Please note that I'm no expert, I'd love to do a proper photography course myself, but this might inspire you a bit and if you're looking to experiment with your photos, you might get some ideas!

My equipment

This is what I've been using but my advice is to use what you have.  You don't need a fancy camera and since I started the blog in 2010, phones have deadly cameras that will do the job just grand.  I've a blog post on the Olympus Pen E-PL7 and I still have my trusty Canon Rebel T3I that I can't see myself ever getting rid of.  It has served me well and will continue to do so!  All photos I've taken this year have been with the Pen, mostly with the 45mm lens and I've used the auto settings for each one.  I know... I need to sit down one weekend and get to grips with the manual settings!!  But for me, it's not about the equipment and more to do with styling the photo itself.

I've tried my best to not have my photos look like anyone elses which is why you've never seen a marble backdrop on my blog or Instagram.  But if that's your jam, marble the bejaysis out of your photos, it's about using what you love and what inspires you.  Some of my favourite props include wallpaper, trays, mirrors, stationery, twinkly lights and flowers.  I love colour in my snaps and TK Maxx has taken lots of my money over the years for props!  Again, use what you have.  I'm talking scarves, necklaces, rings, trinkets, just look around you in your room and you'll find things that will look cute in a photo.

The inspiration station across the nation
Not every product will hit me with inspiration to create a deadly photo.  I'll still take pictures of them, but they'll be done in a simple flat lay.  But when inspiration hits, that's when the magic happens and as you'll see in the photos and descriptions below, for me, inspiration can hit me in the strangest of places!  I thought I'd take you through the thought process of how I created some of my favourite photos and see how demented I am.  Please note that while it might seem like I knew what my vision was for each photo, there was a lot of me sitting looking at the product blankly.  This isn't a technical post discussing the rule of thirds or aperture or anything, this is just how I go from a few bottles of nail polish to a cool photo and you can see how my brain works!

Nuxe Sun Delicious Fragrant Water

I brought this to Spain with me because the colour of this bottle initially inspired me to bring it to the beach and get a photo there.  But one afternoon while I was taking photos of a few different products, I thought the bottle might look lovely against the vivid blue sky.  So it went up on the wall of the villa and I played around with placement a bit to not get the wall in the photo.  It was only as I was trying different angles and couldn't see what I was doing because I was taking the photos directly into the sun, that it hit me.  Nuxe Sun needed the actual sun.  So being literally blinded in the eyeballs by the sun, I took dozens of photos to try and get the sun centred perfectly at the top of the bottle.  When on my phone, I lightened the photo and played with the saturation to get the photo I wanted.  See below for me trying to centre the sun and also not burn my retinas.

Too Faced Love Light Highlighters

I loved my video and photo featuring the highlights and a snow globe Joanne bought me last Christmas.  The packaging for the products are metallic and I wanted to incorporate more of that into the photo somehow.  I'm always playing around with mirrors and reflections in my photos and I lined up the three highlights and positioned the mirrors so the reflection of the powder itself would be in the mirror.  But I didn't feel it in my guts that that was the shot.  Glancing around my ridiculously messy room, I saw the globe and knew that was it.  I sat in front of the highlights shaking the globe and positioning it so each mirror was filled up with the reflection of the moving metallic bits.  That took ages and then I could see the reflection of my pink top in the mirrors so I had to cover my front up with a beige fabric bag as it was the only plain thing I could find!  As I was filming the video, I knew that was it.  The Money Shot.  Except I got no money, but sure listen.

Highlight flatlay

This is the photo that inspired this blog post as people said they liked seeing behind the scenes!  I knew I wanted to have twinkly lights involved somehow and I'd gotten a delivery with these gel balls a few days before.  I figured if I combined the two, the lights might reflect off the balls and make this a disco photo.  It didn't quite work out the way I'd envisioned, but I'm pretty happy with the results.  The cling film was to make sure the wet balls didn't break the twinkly lights FYI!  If you're a beauty blogger, you'll be a dab hand at balancing things on other things.  This time I needed all of the products to be the same height away from the balls, so my trusty CND polishes worked out great.  Also, I'm very good at figuring out the centre of gravity of something and no Blu Tac was involved in the making of this photo!

L'Occitane Terre De Lumiere Perfume

I got this back in January and instantly had a notion to take it to London with me to bring it up the Shard and get a photo of it in Golden Hour to go along with how they describe it.  Then keeping an eye on the weather forecast, I saw we weren't going to have any sun at all on the trip so that was that.  But I couldn't have it just be against a white backdrop and not do the bottle justice.  So one afternoon in February, the sun was shining in the office and I knew what I wanted to do.  The photo above is the outcome with a bit of blurring to try and hide the filthy windows and a filter.  I think I just used the warmify filter on Picassa from what I can remember.  Because the sun was going to set in minutes, I had to move fast and get it in the right position.

This is how I did it.

Even then, I wasn't 100% happy with it and knew the bottle would be coming to Spain with me.  I knew where I'd be taking the photo, I knew how the sunset would do the job for me.  I just balanced the bottle and took the shots.  I can't take any credit for creativity with this one!

Using flowers

This one's pretty self explanatory.  I thought these makeup sponges looked exactly like the tulips in Aldi that week and so I picked some up and made em look pretty!  Then when the tulips were dead, I cut the heads off them and made a couple of little CND nail polish bouquets and I loved how it turned out!

My first thought when I saw the Lancome Juicy Shakers was again that they looked like tulips, so I went and bought myself a bunch to see what I could come up with.  For me and flatlays, I play about until I love the photo.  Sometimes it's about taking things out of the photo and sometimes it's about adding things back in to fill space.  I felt like I wanted this photo to be about colour, so added in a few extra tulips to get what was in my brain.  See below?  I played around with the white space but felt it was missing something and needed more colour in the photo.

Sleek on Tour!

I got to go to London last month with Sleek to celebrate their Distorted Dreams releases.  The hashtag for the trip was #SleekOnTour so I brought the products with me on our touristy day out!  We did a boat tour and as we were waiting for it to head off, I got inspired.  Big Ben was sitting there looking at me, the palette has a mirror and I got busy trying to get Ben centred in the photo!  Again, because it was so bright out, I couldn't see what I was doing so I had to hope for the best.

Then when I got back from London, I was out watering the grass seed out the back and when the sun hit the water mist and made a rainbow, inspiration hit I took a notion to try and make my own rainbow and use it with the palette!  Google is great and the bottom two photos are my very haphazard attempt at a rainbow using a CD and the torch on my phone.  The top photos though are when nature helped me on the balcony in the Cliff House Hotel in Waterford!

Mugler Aura

I'd taken a photo of this against my white wallpaper as a regular photo but felt it was lacking something.  The bottle was too deadly just to leave it as that.  Then in the middle of work one day while on the phone, it hit me.  Light going through the bottle would be amazing!  By the time I got organised that evening, the sunlight was gone and I needed to figure out how to use the torch on my phone to shine through it but also hide said phone from the photo.  Blue Peter, I'm ready for you.

I had to balance the bottle somehow and went through some perfume bottle lids until I found one that I didn't have to use Blu Tac with.  After faffing about with the wallpaper, I chopped off a bit, cut a hole in it and was able to shine the torch through it.  Happy days!

Apps/how I edit

I spend most of my time taking the actual photos and usually take dozens at a time.  I figure it's better to have too many than not enough, but it means I've grown to dread the editing process!  I usually need 5-7 for a blog post and I've been known to take well over 100 just in case.  I use Picasa on the Macbook to edit and for product shots, all I do is generally lighten the photo so it looks true to life, I'll increase the saturation, again so it looks true to life and crop the photo.  For photos of makeup on my face, I don't edit other than lighten and again, that's just so the product looks like it does in real life.  I don't filter my face at all because if you're going to pick up a foundation based on my review and I've Facetuned my skin, that isn't going to help anyone!  If I'm editing photos on my phone, I use the app PS Express and use the same features I've mentioned above.  I hate spending ages editing photos and would much rather be taking them instead.  The before and after photo below shows the difference of cropping, lightening and increasing the saturation.  That's it.

I hope this post helped delve into my brain and gave you some inspiration if you're thinking about upping your photography game.  It's my absolute favourite part of the blogging process and I'm going to keep learning and honing my skills so that some day I can work with brands on their photography! Now, I just need to learn what aperture is and what an F stop does!

Feel free to leave your blog links in the comments so I can check out your photographs too!

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