Photography is one of the biggest parts of blogging, and whilst I’ve always loved landscape and nature photography, taking product shots has definitely been a learning experience.
When I first started blogging I used to take simple flatlays with zero blogging props; although it showed the product well enough, it wasn’t exactly appealing to the eye. If you’re curious to see just how dull my photos used to be then scroll to the bottom of my Instagram feed – it’s definitely amusing.
Perfectly staged blog props, fairy lights and *that* blurred background is what we all aim for, and it’s taken me a really long time to get my photos to where they are now. I still have stuff to learn, but I have got a few good tips that I hope will be helpful to any new bloggers (or anyone hoping to improve their photography!).
This will actually be a three-part series because there’s too much stuff to cover in one post, so keep your eye out for the next one (and feel free to ask any questions so I can cover those next time)!
Fairy lights are one of the easiest (and cheapest!) ways to add excitement to your photos. Copper-wired ones look gorgeous twinkling away in a blurred background, and I love entwining them with some slightly bigger ones to bring life to my photos.
When using fairy lights I prefer a slightly busier background, this way the lights don’t look odd and out of place. Fake plants are my personal favourites to give my photos a more homely feel, and I try to stick to anything gold/copper to keep a warm theme throughout.
I really love pairing plants with structured metal pieces and lights to add a lot of dimension to my photos, and if I feel like something is missing then I throw in a candle or diffuser just to add another element. Getting the background perfect is the tricky part, but once you’ve nailed that then you can add in any product and it’s guaranteed to look great.
Although I love fairy lights, I hate how their yellow-tone contrasts with the starkness of the marble in the first photo. Filters are the best way to deal with this, and I prefer to use a warmer one with copper-tones to create an ambience throughout the entire photo. I mean I’m not crazy, the second photo looks way better, right? The aim of my photography is to make it look as homely and effortless as possible – despite the crazy amount of time I spend actually shooting – so using warm-tones and everyday items as props play an essential part in that.
Fun fact: I don’t actually own any marble-topped furniture. I just use marble-look placemats that I bought for super cheap from Tesco – proof that blogging doesn’t have to be expensive!
I typically use soft boxes during winter to light my photos, but when natural light is available that’s definitely what I favour. Although natural light is best, it’s very easy to make soft box-lit photos look like natural lighting simply through increasing the warmth in editing. The photo above was taken in natural lighting, however the fairy light one from the start of the post was taken with soft box lighting!
I love warm-toned photos with fairy lights, especially during winter when I want a cosier vibe, but my all-time favourite style of photo is very clean and minimalist. A white background with the addition of a few plants and a gold accent is my go-to look, mostly because it feels quite summery to me and it’s very easy on the eye.
I take most of my photos on my bed; it’s directly opposite a window so it has great lighting, and clean, white bedding is one of my favourite things to shoot on. A lot of people like to play around with layering in their photos, but I personally prefer texture. The creasing and bunching up of bedsheets looks so great in photos – it plays with shadow and highlights to create something so aesthetically pleasing.
If you look at the above two photos, you’ll see the difference even a little bit of editing makes. I always start the editing process through an app called Snapseed, which I use to brighten and adjust the saturation/contrast/warmth and all that good stuff. As you can see, the edited photo is a lot brighter so that the products can be seen a lot more clearly, and it’s also a little warmer which helps to dull down the harshness of the white background.
A mistake I made for way too long when editing my photos was over-brightening. Having a nice, bright photo is important so that you can actually see what’s going on, but if they’re overly bright then they just become harsh and stark. Again, feel free to peruse the early days of my Insta feed to see what not to do – some of my photos are literally blinding (and not in a good way).
For filters I use an app called ColorStory, which is definitely one of the more popular apps out there. They have a great range of filters (some free, some not) – my favourites being ‘Pop’ and ‘Everyday’ from the Essentials pack which I use for brightening, and ‘Lipstick’ (from Essentials) and ‘Magic Hour’ (from the Good Vibes pack) for adding some warmth.
You can see the difference a filter makes in the photo above, it really just adds the finishing touch to a photo. The product placement in this photo is important too, what looks scattered has actually been placed purposefully in order to achieve that effortless, everyday look and create a more chilled and homely vibe.
The placement of the props is important too, I try to keep something in the background, middle and foreground so that there’s always something to look at, but you don’t want to overcrowd the photo or else it’ll become too busy and not pleasing to look at.
I know I said I’m more of a textural person, but sometimes I do like to play with layers. The wooden tray matches my more natural and simple aesthetic, whilst the marble notebook helps to break it up so that it’s not just one slab of wood (because that would look a little flat).
I again have a foreground (the edge of the tray), a middle ground (the product and the succulent) and a background (the box, plant and diffuser). I typically like to have the product in the middle ground if I’m only shooting one product so that it’s the centre of attention, but if I’m shooting multiple products then I like to have products throughout all three areas. If the packaging is cute enough then I also sometimes like to keep a product’s box in the background, both to reinforce what I’m photographing and to tie everything together.
You can see again the difference a little bit of editing makes, without the brightness it just doesn’t look as pleasing. You may also notice that I lightened the wooden tray – I’m not a fan of yellow-toned woods, I either like darker woods or very light woods so that needed to be changed! I think the lighter wood also makes it work better with the rest of the colours in the photo – that yellow-tone was just too much of a contrast.
After editing the colours work together way better, the tray matches the diffuser and the copper accents of the notebook pair with the plant pot – and even tie in with the gold on the box and the bottle. Little elements like that aren’t always noticeable but help to make a photo look a little more pleasing to the eye – and trust me, they’re almost all planned!
The filter helps to make the photo a little brighter, a little warmer and just generally more professional. One important thing with filters is to not over use them, sometimes you can get a little carried away because of how much they change a photo and how many different types of filter there are but trust me, less is more.
I actually never use 100% of a filter, I typically only use about half to just add a little something to a photo rather than overpower it. Oh, and I always use more than one.
In terms of the editing apps I use, the main two are Snapseed and ColorStory. I’ll sometimes use FaceTune to whiten or smooth the texture of a wall, but it’s very rare that I do that.
The photo above shows the main editing that I do on Snapseed, it’s so easy to use and it’s an essential first step to bringing some life to your photos. I sometimes will spot-edit a specific area of a photo if it’s a lot darker or more cool-toned than other areas, but typically I just edit the whole photo as a whole.
ColorStory is also incredibly easy to use, and whilst I only use the filters it also has a handy editing section. My favourite thing about this is app is that you can save edits to reuse in the future, which is helpful for me because I layer so many filters and can’t always remember how much of each I’ve used! Both of these apps are completely free, so I’d definitely recommend them.
All of the photos in this post were taken with my iPhone X, so you really don’t need to spend big bucks on a camera to get great quality photos – portrait mode is a life saver!
If you’ve managed to reach the end then huge congrats, do you see now why I have to split this up into parts? I hope at least one of you found this post a little helpful, let me know in the comments any questions you have about taking and editing photos! See you next time,