How I Take My Blog & Instagram Photos | Tips, Camera, Editing, Props & More


I get quite a lot of questions about my blog and Instagram photos so I thought I'd take you guys through my photography process. Standard disclaimer: I'm not saying I'm amazing at taking photos, I just feel I've come quite far from where I started and that you may find it useful to see how I now take my images (I've used the same few products throughout to show the variety you can produce). I don't have a fancy camera kit or editing software so I thought it might also be helpful to show you don't need to spend a fortune! This is just my personal process, there's no right or wrong way to take your photos and at the end of the day; rules are there to be broken.

Camera

All my blog photos after Christmas last year are taken on the Panasonic Lumix FZ200 Bridge Camera. Before then I was blogging on my iPhone 5. I also use this camera for 3/4 of my Instagram shots as I take them beforehand with my blog photos. When it came to buying a camera I did feel like I had to have an SLR however I came round to the idea of a bridge camera because I didn't have the knowledge to fully utilise something more complex (I probably don't even use this camera to its full capability).  Although this came in around the £300-350 mark, the real cost of an SLR comes in the lenses and obviously I don't have multiple lenses to buy with this. It's reasonably light and has a flip-out screen that can turn 360 degrees. I'm really pleased with this camera and don't see myself replacing it any time soon. The only negative for me is that it doesn't have WiFi capability, which would be a lot handier for Instagram.

I think that having a 'proper camera' made me take my blog photos more seriously, however you don't need to buy a camera to start a blog. There are apps like Fotor and VSCOCam which you can download for free and use to edit and improve photos taken on your phone. Sometimes for Instagram I do just take shots on my phone and I don't think people can tell much of a difference once it's edited and you've put a filter on! Just make sure you use your actual phone camera instead of taking them through the Instagram app as your photos will be better quality. Good natural lighting is also even more important for phone camera images.



Raw image taken with the iPhone 6 camera



Edited with the Fotor App for iOS


The same raw shot taken with my Panasonic Lumix FZ200


Edited with PicMonkey on my laptop


Finding the Right Spot

For a long time I felt my photos had to be taken in my bedroom but that's not the case at all, I just use wherever has the best natural lighting. Most of my shots are flat lay so shooting in my conservatory really isn't a problem. My bedroom is quite dim so I often get strange shadows if I try to take photos in there! Personally I prefer the look of natural lighting so finding a good place is really important. 

Choosing a Background

This is something that's really personal to you. A plain white background is popular with beauty bloggers because it is often best for showcasing a product. I tend to go for something slightly more than completely plain white. I generally alternate between a marble-effect adhesive (which set me back just £4) backed onto a place mate for closer-up shots and a few B&Q flooring samples (which were £2 each) for wider shots. However recently I've been using some patterned Paperchase tissue paper in some shots. I like how this looks, it's just important to take the print into account so I'll often put fewer products in the shot, choosing colours that fit with the pattern and don't look too busy on it. The background can make what's essentially the same shot look really different.

Marble Background


Paperchase tissue paper



Marble background + tissue paper


The shot against the flooring sample background


The same shot against a marble background


Finding Your Style 

Part of the process is finding your photography style. I personally favour a flat lay as I find it looks best visually for beauty products and I find it most natural for me. I also shoot landscape as it feels most intuitive, however a lot of people shoot portrait as the image then shows larger on Bloglovin.

Props

Most of the props I use are household items that cost under a tenner. My favourites are:
H&M Marble Tray
H&M Copper Plate
IKEA Small Candle Holder
IKEA Large Candle Holder

I also love using my Zoeva Rose Gold brushes and bits of jewellery (just from places like Topshop, River Island and Miss Selfridge) as well as books and magazines.


I spend a bit of time playing around with props but as a general rule, the busier the shot (in terms of the background and number of items) the less props I'll use.

You can also get really different shots using the same few products and props so take your time and enjoy it!

Zoeva brushes


Pretty Honest book #1


Pretty Honest book #2


Elle Magazine #1


Elle Magazine #2 + H&M Marble Tray


Small IKEA Candle Dish


H&M Copper Plate + high street costume jewellery


Urban Outfitters fairy lights + Zoeva brush


Large IKEA candle dish + jewellery + Zoeva brush


Final shot (marble background + tissue paper + jewellery + Zoeva brush)


Tips & Tricks

As a general good idea, I really recommend pinning any images you like from other blogs to in Inspiration board on Pinterest so you can re-visit it if you're feeling your photography is getting a bit stale and you need some fresh ideas.

If your lipstick is rolling around all over the place, secure it to the surface using Blu Tac. Just make sure it's not visible in the shot! I've been caught out a few times and realised its been visible in my shots and it's very annoying.

Be aware of reflections in shiny surfaces and try taking the shot from different angles.

In a similar vein, be aware of the type of product you're shooting and keep an eye on all the items in the shot. As I general rule, I try to place bottles towards the centre of the image as they can look a little bit warped in photos!

If its not a flat lay then make sure there's not an unmade bed or messy corner in the background. 

Have some wet wipes on hand to clean up any messy-looking products. It's nice for them to look well-loved and used but I try not to let that verge into messy. If I'm showing a pencil product I'll give it a sharpen.

If you're taking a photo specifically for Instagram, bear in mind that  unless you want to re-format the photo, which you can now do through the Instagram app (this can look good pretty good), your photo will be square. For landscape shots, re-formatting makes the image smaller, so it's really up to you but the standard Instagram proportions are square. Most phones now have a square shooting option so you're already taking it in the right proportions. However if yours doesn't or you're taking it on a camera then it's something to bear in mind. 

Also, if I do take photos for Instagram on my camera, I just email them to myself. You can also use Cloud services if your camera isn't WiFi-enabled.

Not great for Instagram as a lot of the action takes place on the outer corners, which will be cropped out


Much better for Instagram as the products are gathered towards the centre


Composition

This is another aspect of photography that's totally down to personal preference. Switch the products around, move things about, see if you prefer it close up or a little wider, which product you'd like to be the focus of the shot and so on.



Editing

I edit my photos using PicMonkey and/or Fotor, both free online services.











My top tip would be to use the shadows/highlight functions instead of altering the brightness, as it looks more natural and doesn't wash everything out. I usually take this to around 25 but it totally depends on the photo. I also move the contrast up to around 5.

During Winter I would often turn the temperature up to around 10 but I rarely have to at the moment, occasionally I've actually had to move it down (I would definitely recommend taking it down if it's a sunny day and your photos are getting a yellow or orange tint as a result). I usually move the saturation up to around 5.

I prefer clarity to sharpness so usually set the sharpness to around 10 and the clarity to 25. 

A lot of the time I leave it there but sometimes I'll head onto Fotor to make use of a tool PicMonkey annoyingly doesn't have, which is curves. This essentially alters the tone of the photo.

Sometimes I may put a filter on the image if it is more illustrative than about the colour of the products in question. My favourite is Red Ochre and I put it on a low intensity, around 20-30.

For Instagram I'll do the editing via the Fotor or VSCOCam apps. I will either use a filter from them or one of Instagram's. My favourites on Instagram are Ludwig and Juno for making the colours pop or Aden and Nashville for something a little more vintage-look.




Original raw image


A few basic edits on PicMonkey


More extensive edits with Fotor


If I'm taking a photo on my phone, I use the Fotor app as it contains most of the same tools and filters


If I want to make a text header like the one at the start of this post, I use another free service called Canva. I've never paid for the premium content on any of these sites, but it seems reasonably affordable if you want something easy to use.

When I upload photos to my blog I always set it to 'original size' as it automatically resizes it to the perfect width for my blog.

So there you have it: how I take my blog and Instagram photos! I hope you enjoyed this and found it helpful.

If you'd like to follow me on Instagram you can find me here.

If you enjoyed this post make sure you check out how I created my marble background here and my 26 super-easy background and prop ideas here.

What are your top tips for taking blog and Instagram photos?

 


Don't forget to follow me on:

Twitter | Bloglovin | Instagram

P.S. If you enjoy reading my blog, please take a moment to nominate me for Best in Beauty at the Cosmo Blog Awards here
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64 comments

  1. Great Post! I love reading how other bloggers take photos and edit them, especially when their pics are amazing as yours! :)

    www.thecovetbeauty.com

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    1. Aw thank you! And me too, they're some of my favourite posts! xx

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  2. I have to say I really love your photography! I've been working hard on mine, and whilst I'm quite happy with my blog photography I struggle with instagram - up until Friday the camera on my phone didn't work so everything had to be transferred and it was far too much faff. Now new phone = spamming on instagram!

    NINEGRANDSTUDENT: A Student Lifestyle Blog

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  3. Great post, Jasmine!

    I struggle with taking pictures because frankly I know I lack vision. What I like one second, I could loathe the very next. You always take the nicest photos!

    Angie x | Chocolate & Lipstick || UK Beauty and Lifestyle Blog

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  4. This has given me so many points to consider, particularly the one about finding your style! Plus I think I'm off to B&Q for some flooring samples!
    Jodie, xo // Jodie Loue

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  5. Wow what a fantastic post, really in depth and helpful! I'm still playing around with finding my photo style, but having fun being a bit more creative and spending a few minutes setting up a shot before taking the images. I love that B&Q floor sample, definitely going to shop around for a couple.

    Kat | www.kathorrocks.com

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  6. So helpful! All the advice, it's nice to get reminded of some of these and to learn something new! Lots of inspiration :)

    Áine Beauty, Style & Lifestyle

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  7. This post is so helpful! I am literally going to favourite/bookmark it so I can keep reading it! The blue tack idea is genius!

    www.aninterestingkarrachter.blogspot.co.uk

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  8. Amazing post with some great tips! Your photos are lovely :-) xo

    Catherine | Pretty Little Beauty Blog

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  9. I have always loved your photo's and glad that you have let us in on some of your secrets and glad that you have told people that is how you like to do it as like you have said we are all different but your photo's are always so nice and I love the props that you use too :)

    Pams Stuff and Things

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  10. This is so awesome! Using plates/trays like that is such a cute idea, and I never use brushes or anything like that in my photos - I'm totally going to pin this post! I try to use some creativity with my backgrounds but I don't do much else.

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  11. Such a great post - I always use magazines and paper as props in my photos x

    Heather | Of Beauty & Nothingness x

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  12. Very informative post! Thanks for sharing x

    fashionenth.blogspot.com

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  13. This post was so helpful! Thanks for sharing your tips; your photos always look amazing !

    Ariana | labelmeluxxe.blogspot.com

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  14. Super helpful post Jasmine! Thanks for sharing! I adore your blog photography! I usually always use PicMonkey but I've never heard of Fotor so I'll definitely give that a try, thanks!

    Styled By Lauren

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    1. Thank you so much! And Fotor is well worth checking out for the additional features, fonts and filters :) xx

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  15. I use all square on camera on my i6 as well, and edit them using VSCOcam and edit the exposure and contrast, sometimes the temperature makes a difference as well! xx

    www.angerawrs.co.uk

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  16. OMG! Amazing tips! I'm definitely bookmarking this for future reference. Thanks so much for sharing. Love your blog!

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    1. Thank you hun :) glad you enjoyed the post! xx

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  17. This was super helpful! God knows I need help with ALLLLL of this!

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  18. This was such a helpful post! I always love your pictures so it was really interesting to see how you edit them :) xx
    Chasing Belle

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  19. This is such an useful, post! I really enjoyed it! I'm definitely going to try these tips, your pictures look amazing, Jasmine! xx

    Ale | http://alemint.blogspot.com/

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  20. This is probably the most useful photography post I have ever read since having become a blogger! Actually coming away from reading it feeling like it's helped already without having even taken an photos yet, haha. Thank you!

    allthatshimmers.co.uk xo

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  21. Great post,I'm so glad somebody wrote about this because I think that's really important because photos have to be good and clear.
    And I love your blog,it's amazing,like really amazing. I follow you,please ckech mine if you don't mind
    xx

    http://zeberry.blogspot.com/

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  22. This was so in depth! It was a really informative read, thank you for sharing your tips with us as your photos are always so stunning!

    xo, Liz
    http://lipstickandconfetti.com

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  23. Flooring samples! Genius...totally going to B&Q for some of those...I just assumed you lived in a house with really nice flooring! Thansk for sharing these tips, I always love to know how people get their images, and yours are amazing. Youve inspired me to do a similar post, mainly because I shoot (using a wifi-connected DSL lens attachment) edit and upload all on my iPhone xxx

    Sarah | www.seriouslyshallow.co.uk

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    1. Haha it's all trickery! And thank you :) xx

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  24. These are such lovely ideas! And of course such lovely photos :) I am going to look into the shadows and highlights tool because I love the brightness, but you are absolutely right that it can wash out photos and it frustrates me. I have been loving Pixelmator lately since it's a cheaper version of Photoshop! xo

    Kelsey | www.abalancingpeach.com

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  25. I admit I started following your blog because I was attracted to your photography and I agree with all the points you have mentioned. I haven't changed my camera in past 3 years of blogging and with time I just learned to make it work better for me. My main struggle is always the lighting as i don't get enough sun so I am a bit restricted as to when should I shoot. :) x

    Jadirah Sarmad | Jasmine Catches Butterflies ʚϊɞ

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  26. Thanks for such useful hints and tips. I absolutely love your blog photography x


    emilyclairewrites.blogspot.co.uk

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  27. Fantastic tips. I only recently discovered Canva myself and I have set aside some time to figure it all out. :-)

    Beauty Isles | Tartelette Amazonian Clay Matte Eyeshadow Palette Giveaway

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    1. It's such a cool resource! I try to limit my use of it as I could easily go crazy haha xx

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  28. These are some great tips~! Super useful <33

    alluringalyssbeauty.blogspot.com

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  29. Your photos always look so lovely! I use VSCO Cam to edit the photos I take with my phone and I use Fotor to edit the photos I take with my camera! Xx

    riitamacedo.blogspot.pt

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  30. This is such a very helpful post Jas! I always love your photo both in your blog and Instagram. Xx

    eLLa
    every LiTTLE thing07

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  31. This is really interesting! I haven't actually heard of those apps before but I'll have to check them out because I always love trying new photo edits! :) http://coffeeatmidnight13.blogspot.co.uk/

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  32. Thank you so much for writing such a detailed and insightful post! Your photography is really lovely, so I want to take on your tips about editing and other backgrounds (not a fan of pure white in my photos) and use them to improve my own! Thank you again for such a helpful post! Xx
    Elina | luxamundi.co.uk

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    1. You're welcome - I'm really glad you found this useful :) xx

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  33. Great tips! Loved your detailed explanation on each aspect..Will try these tips. and undoubtedly your photos are amazing... http://allgirlygossip.com/

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  34. Fab post hun, I do love your photography :) I do love bridge cameras the quality they can produce is great I actually had two before getting my SLR. I have to agree lighting is definitely key and can help make a photo pop.

    Charlee XO | charmedcharlee.com

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  35. This is such a great post! Love the idea of tissue paper.

    Kiran x
    www.alittlekiran.co.uk

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  36. Very lovely post and I love how your photos have evolved as your skills have tremendously improved. The way blogger steals away the quality of photos is super annoying but it's always a good tip to upload them and select original size as it makes a difference. Instagram now allows non-square photos which absolutely makes my life...no more forcing your photos to be square and losing parts of your image...xx

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    1. Thank you :) UI did notice that but as all my shots are horizontal I just go for the square so it's not smaller haha xx

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  37. Can you please come take my blog photos?! Haha, yours always look amazing! I currently use a fluffy cushion but sometimes the products move about because it's surface. I don't know whether or not to invest in a tray or that! On weekend mornings, the ones that are sunny, I've been going out in my garden and taking photos in bulk! The lighting is better if I do! I use picmonkey too, such a good editor app xx

    Jasmine || http://www.blogsallbeautyy.blogspot.co.uk

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  38. Great post. I really need some of this marble it is a great backdrop for photos xx

    franklyflawless.com

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  39. So useful! Thanks a lot :) have a nice day.

    www.aishettina.blogspot.it

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  40. Fantastic post Jasmine✨,. Thank you for writing such a great informative article, your photographs are beautiful. Sometimes it can be a task getting the perfect pictures for your blog post. Hope you don't mind if I share your post via my Facebook page as my #FollowFriday bloggers.💕
    www.allurinbeauty.com

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    1. Thank you so much! I'm glad this was helpful :) and of course you can! xx

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  41. I'm such a huge fan of your photography so this post was super helpful. I'll definitely be utilising a few of your tips!

    Heather, Porcelain Beauty xx

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  42. This was such an interesting post! I absolutely love the photography on your blog - brilliant tips too!


    Rachel | Beauty and The Bird

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  43. Thank you for the lovely feedback and positive comments - I'm so glad this was helpful :) xx

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  44. Love this post - you've certainly given me a lot to bear in mind with my blog photos, I always love your photography! :)

    Paris x
    http://lifeinflorals.blogspot.co.uk/

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  45. such a fantastic blog post, with so much detail thanks Jasmine :)
    I LOVE picmonkey so much, it can lift up a dull photo and get rid of crazy shadows.
    Also thanks again for the great marble background post, so helpful and so cost effective too!
    Iqra |The Blushing Giraffe x

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    1. PicMonkey can rescue anything ;) haha xx

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  46. We used to spend ages chatting about improving our photography and it's great to see how far we have both come with our photos. I found this post very helpful I love your rose gold theme in your photos x

    www.throughthemirror.co.uk

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  47. This might be the best photography post I've read - it's so informative! Thanks for all the tips :)

    Lillies and Lipbalm
    xx

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    1. Thank you lovely! I'm glad it was worth the effort :) xx

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  48. This post was super helpful! I love your photos :). Thank you for the tips! Xx

    Anu♡ | My life as Anu | bloglovin

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  49. This was such a detailed and helpful post, thank you for sharing all your tips!! Your photos always look gorgeous so I'll definitely be coming back to this post :)

    Jess xo
    http://just-jesss.blogspot.co.uk

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  50. Thank you sooo much! Honestly this post was everything I wished for and wondered about in flat lay. Thank you, I'm very impressed and excited to try out your tips first thing tomorrow

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    1. Aw I'm glad this was helpful :) hope you had a productive photography session! xx

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