If you’ve met me in person or you follow me on this space, you probably have an idea that V is my partner in crime in just about everything. She has witnessed me snap photos from my high school years, even when I got rejected from my school’s photography club. If you’re in high school, please know that you don’t need to be a part of a “club” to have access to equipment. Getting onto a club/team doesn't measure your willingness to learn something. If you’re interested in learning a skill, and you believe the resources around you will help, find someone who is willing to help you get there. Don’t stop advocating for your interests. There are so many resources out there, and I wish I advocated for my learning more actively in the past. I know this is meant to be a style post (which it is.. don’t worry), but my inner teacher just needed to get that out.
While putting together our itinerary, we knew a trip like this would be the perfect excuse for a mini style shoot (you can find our last thrift store inspired one here). A couple of you have shared your concerns with me about not posting content because the pictures you've taken don't live up to the standards you've set for yourself. I can totally related with these concerns because taking photos I deem good enough for my blog is a trial and error process I'm still navigating.
On this post, I have taken some time to share with all of you some of my own tips and tricks in hopes of helping anyone out there who isn’t sure where to begin. Obviously I’m not a professional in any means, just a wee little blogger who has learned a few things here and there. Everyone’s photography style is different, and mine is still evolving, so please keep that in mind while reading this. Over time you will find your own groove so don’t be so hard on yourself. Don’t compare yourself to the hundred and thousands of different blogs you see online. It is such a stress inducing experience, and will be so counterproductive to your growth. When I first started my blog, I was so concerned about how it looked that I spent more time obsessing over the layout when I should have been focusing on the content itself.
Just start. This is a piece of advice we've all heard a million times. But for me it was Deepica Mutyala who nailed it on the head. Her Youtube video that went viral was shot on an iPhone!
Whenever I feel as though I don’t have enough resources, or feel as if my picture quality isn’t as great as the next persons, I think back to these words by Deepica and realize I have no excuse not to go out and create. If you’ve wanted to start something, start. Everything I’ve learned has been through a series of trial and error. I’m constantly learning and already noticing flaws in my previous photos, wishing I would have taken them differently or edited them a certain way. I look back to my last style shoot and criticize the photos with an even higher standard in mine, wondering why I posted the photos I did. I think a major reason as to why so many of us push our desires to the back burner is because we’re always waiting for a more promising circumstance like better equipment, more money, more time... But we all know that our skills can only evolve the more we try something with whatever little we have. If you’ve wanted to take more pictures for your blog, stop talking about it and just do it. Practice on your phone. Take whatever device you have in hand and start. If you want to save up for a 'nicer' camera, start saving! When in doubt, go to your favourite content creators first ever post, and see how far they've come. We all need to start somewhere and perfection doesn't come overnight.
BE ADAPTABLE - SHOOT SPACES WILL FALL THROUGH
When we first started talking about where to take our photos for this shoot, we had a place in mind - Kimberly Row. I don’t know why or how, but people on Instagram made this row of houses look way nicer online (.. typically what happens on the gram right... lol). Kimberly Row was a total let down so we made the executive decision to scratch the idea all together and find some nooks and crannies that caught our attention instead. Being adaptable and experimenting on the whim is a great way to take photos for a blog. During one of my recent collabs with a clothing line, a studio space they reserved had cancelled on them last minute. Instead of letting that ruin their day, they made other arrangements and found an alternative space for us to shoot in. Plans will fall through, whether you like it or not, so don’t let it bum you out. See what else you’re able to do, because sometimes plan B, C, and even D will workout way nicer than any plan you first had in mind!
By the end of this shoot, we were happy Kimberly Row fell through. If not, we may have missed this yellow wall. Sometimes it’s okay to pre-plan a shoot space. Sometimes it’s okay to walk around and take pictures as you go. Go with what works for you, and spice things up whenever you can. Instaloc8 is a resource you can use if you want to spend less time scouting for a location. Unfortunately, the amount of locations on there are quite limited. But hey, it's another resource to have under your belt in case you ever need it.
OWN WHAT YOU’VE COME TO DO
Taking photos outdoors can be nerve-racking. In Toronto, I’m usually very hesitate to venture near heavily populated areas. I’m always scared people will look at me or say something so I avoid all these neat places that genuinely catch my attention. The locals in St.John’s were some of the sweetest people so it felt natural to stop and take pictures wherever we felt like it. The more photos you take, the less fc*ks you’ll give. When you feel a space and you’re really vibing with your surroundings, you won’t care who or what is around. Own the process and what you’ve come to do! The less attention you give others that are walking down the street, the more comfortable you’ll feel. The more comfortable you are the more natural your pictures will look. Own your title as a blogger, no matter how many followers you have. The worst is when you feel as though what you’re doing is weird or awkward. The minute you validate what you’re doing... like really truly validate it... the more comfortable you will become. Own what you've come to do!
USE GOLDEN HOUR TO YOUR ADVANTAGE
After some pictures at the deliciously bright yellow wall, we continued to walk some more, scoping out another location that'd catch our attention. While walking we hit golden hour (aka: magic hour). In the most simplest terms, golden hour is the first hour of light after sunrise and the last hour of light before sunset. During golden hour, the sun is lower in the sky which helps produce a softer light. During golden hour, shadows are longer but aren’t too harsh which help add texture and depth to our photos.
We really didn’t plan the shoot around golden hour, but it was obvious when we had hit it. If you are keen on shooting during this time, you can use a golden hour calculator to help you determine the perfect time to shoot.
Second Guessing A Location? Take A Picture And Try It Out
During golden hour is when we hit this beautiful pastely pink building. If Ken and Barbie were living in NL, I could have swore this was their place! V wasn’t feeling this spot, but I was. Regardless, she was open to giving it a try. After showing her the first few photos I had taken on the back of my camera screen, she was hooked. She didn’t see what I was seeing until I had shown her! Sometimes you’ll second guess a location. Sometimes the person you're with will second guess a location. We all have different visions for a space, so try it out! If you’re not satisfied with it, just move on.
Focus On The Little Things
Through the years, I have learned that zooming in on details really adds to the overall experience for a reader. Wearing accessories? Zoom in on them! V’s arm candy is always on point, it would be a shame not to capture the details of how she stacks her Fossil x Alex and Ani x Charming Charlie accessories. Remember, you won’t use all the pictures you've taken but it’s always better to have more to choose from. If you’re working on your post and do want to add more detailed photos, you can, because you’ve taken them and they’re already accessible to you. I use to hate zooming in on my watches because of how beaten up the bands looked. I've come to appreciate the wear and tear of my outfits. It makes the pictures more real.
THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS TOO MANY PICTURES
You’ll snap photos, knowing very well you should probably stop because you've taken far more than you've needed to. I can’t tell you the countless number of times I've thought I've had enough pictures to work with, only to get home and realize I actually hate the way they look blown up on my computer screen. I use to beat myself up for taking an excess amount of photos, but having more photos to choose from helps while putting together a post. Over the years, I have become a lot more comfortable with my camera so I don't feel the need to take as many pictures as I did when I was first experimenting. Bottom line is don’t ever feel guilty for taking TOO MANY photos. Practice makes perfect so find whatever method works for you.
START OVER IF YOU Really NEED TO
Sometimes you'll dedicate a day to take photos for your blog and it won’t go as planned. You might stop midway while taking photos or finish taking all of them before realizing you hate what you're doing. It’s okay to feel like this, I definitely have. Similar to writing an essay, things sometimes look clearer (and make more sense) when you've taken a step back and come back to it a little later. If you’re editing your photos and you’re really not feeling the pictures you've taken, start over. You don't have to force something to work. It’s okay to scratch an idea and try something else. Obviously, if you’re nitpicking the smallest details that no one else other than yourself would notice, I would encourage you to look at the big picture. Are you holding yourself back from uploading a new post because you are obsessing over a small detail your readers probably wouldn't even notice? I 100% stick by quality over quantity but that doesn't mean it's healthy to obsess over the smallest of things. Use your discretion. I catch myself nitpicking little details from time to time and I try to remind myself of the bigger picture.
Ask For Help And Learn Together
As a blogger, it’s hard when I have a post that requires me in front of the camera, when I’m usually the one behind it. If us bloggers could hire a professional photographer for every post we put out, getting content out would be a lot less stressful. Obviously, that is nor feasible or realistic. I'm pretty sure we've all wished we could clone ourselves at some point or another. But, as a blogger it's important to remember that it is okay to ask for help and it's impossible to do everything on our own. It's so wonderful being able to teach and learn alongside close friends, and create some meaningful memories in the process. Look how amazing these pictures of me turned out! That was all V! It's important to openly communicate with the person taking your photos. Review the photos they're taking so you can help direct them accordingly. It's okay if they are unable to create the image you have in mind on the very first try. Remember to make the experience a positive one for everyone, especially for those who are learning a new skill. Remember when you were learning how to drive for the first time and your parents were getting frustrated and all you wanted to do was angry cry? Yeah, don't make others feel like that.
Don't Stop Experimenting
Blogging, taking photos, writing content, finding your groove... it's all a trial and error process. The best thing I've done for myself is taking my camera around with me more often. I use to only bring my camera out for blog specific pictures. Now, I take it out with me everywhere I go. I'm still learning, I'm still reading books, and I'm still asking my friends to be my handy tripod on the days I do not have access to mine. What are some of your personal photography tips? Let me know in the comments below! Remember, things need to exist for them to ever be perfected.
Until Next Time,
A 24 year old Canadian living (& teaching) in Shenzhen, China.