Word on the street is that you want to know how I shoot photos for the The Budget Socialite. And by the street, I mean facebook — because who just hangs out in the street, listening? Not this gal. Moving on, let’s learn how to take good photos for our websites! Weeee…..
Full Disclosure: I am in no way a professional photographer, this is just what I do and what I’ve learned about how to take good photos. I mostly shoot food so this is geared towards food photography, but I have also shot a few products the same way. Feel free to leave more tips and tricks in the comments or tell me I have it all wrong. It happens.
Step 1: Get Suited up
Here’s the equipment that I use. I know plenty of people that set up their iPhones on a tripod and get great results. There are no rules to this game.
- Camera – Canon EOS Rebel T3
- Lens – 18-55mm IS II (This came with the camera)
- Lens – Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 (Only $100) – I use this 85% of the time
- Tripod – Manfrotto 190XPROB w/ the Manfrotto 496RC2 Ball Head
- MacBook Pro – I connect my camera to my laptop while I shoot.
- A few painted wooden boards as shooting surfaces. I loosely followed this tutorial. I have boards in white, teal, a natural stain, a medium stain and a dark stain.
- A Reflector – I use a piece of white foam core that I picked up at Michael’s
- Fabric – I hit up the fabric store and bought a bunch of pieces on clearance.
- Props – Since I mostly shoot food, I have plates, serving dishes, place mats etc… that I got from thrift stores and random places on my travels.
Step 2: Let There be Light
Light is probably the most important element in taking good photos. I prefer to use natural lighting. Artificial lighting
requires an engineering degree is bit complicated. It adds a level of complexity I don’t care for, especially when I just want to take a picture of sangria and then drink said sangria.
I usually set up by a large window in my living room. This window has a tree in front of it so no matter what, I get shade. If you are working with direct sunlight, you might need to diffuse the light. Too much direct light can wash out your photos. If you get too much light, diffuse it by covering the window with a gauzy curtain.
I like my photos lit from the side. So, I set up my camera parallel to the window (as seen in the photo above), as opposed to facing the window. If the photos are coming out dark, I use my white foam core reflector. I set this up opposite the window, around the area that has the most shadows. It bounces the light from the window back onto the subject. Play with the placement of the reflector until the image makes you squeal with joy. I didn’t use a reflector for the set up above but here is an example of what that set up looks like from houzz.
Step 3: Camera Angles and Settings
My favorite angle is from up above but there’s a ton to choose from. I usually start up high, and then lower the camera on the tripod to get more angles, including a few close-ups.
I set the camera on aperture priority. Aperture is how much light gets in through the lens. This is how you get those dreamy soft backgrounds. With the aperture priority setting, you manually set the aperture and the camera automatically picks the rest of the settings. This is a good way to go if using your camera on manual makes you want to shiver in fear. It is kinda scary, so start on aperture priority . The lower the number of the aperture, the more soft the background will be. These settings are called f-stops and are written like this f/2.
When I am happy with a shot, I try to get it with an f/1.8 (super soft background), f/3.5, f/7 and f/10. I like to have a few options when I am picking photos.
Step 4: Seeing the Bigger Picture
I connect my laptop to my camera, this way I can check out my shots on a bigger screen. Plus, my camera is often set on a tripod high and I’m too lazy to climb down when I want to move a prop. I can even click the shutter from the laptop. Technology favors the lazy.
Step 5: Styling your Photos
I learned to style my photos, by doing photo research online and attempting to recreate these images. On many nights, I would snap a photo of my dinner much to the chagrin of my facebook friends who I tortured with these images. I’m not saying to recreate other people’s work and use them on your website. The point of this exercise is to dissect what makes a good photograph and to notice what common tricks photographers use.
Once you get a feel for styling images, develop your own style by thinking about the story you want to tell with your photo and by collecting your own unique set of props. This part takes time and practice. By using your own story and props, plus the tricks you learned from researching photos, your images will start to look more professional but still unique to you.
(Psst, want to see more website tutorials?)
What did you think of “How to take good photos for your website”? Are you going to give any my tips a try? Let me know in the comments.