Another chat and another topic - this time Photography Tips. As per usual the chat was full of great tips and very informative all round. I personally learnt quite a lot in the hour and I even studied Photography at college - though not the digital kind I have to say!
I think discussion wise we all were in agreement that clear, well lit, quite large photos are best and what readers want to see, however content is as equally important! So it's all about getting the right balance. Also something I kept seeing over and over again was a debate on using a standard camera Vs. a digital SLR and I think most people where in agreement that you shouldn't just get one just for taking blog pictures with and it also doesn't guarantee better quality images as they are alot harder to use. I personally would suggest you shop around, look at reviews online, try cameras out in store and find a digital camera that suit you, which is what I did with my Canon digital camera and I love it!
So here are some photography tips that where mentioned in the hour and a few of my own, plus the full transcript for anyone that missed out on the chat!
Go for large images, close ups and a clutter free background
The general consensus was that people do like to see larger images that fit the full main column, however watch out for stretching the image. Close ups are also loved by many. If you have a standard camera make full use of the macro setting (little flower icon) to take up close, detailed photos, but remember you need good daylight and a steady hand (or mini tripod). As for a background whether it's colourful, patterned or plain white you want it to be portable so you can place it next to a window and no clutter should be in shot.
Don't be tempted to over use stock photos
Stock images are cut outs of a product on a white background found on most websites that sell items and if your pictures aren't that great it could be tempting to just copy and paste. But really try to avoid this if you can as most readers will want to see your own images (however rubbish you think they are) and it's basically more personal. The only time when using stock images is fine though, is when talking about products you want to buy or like the look of.
Now this is a tricky one as so many people have different thoughts on it however looking over the whole chat I can say I have changed my own views on it. It is worth reading Rockalily's costly copyright mistake here and making your own mind up. But overall I think it is common courtesy to email the owner of the photos you want to use and if they agree, link back to the image/credit them with a link to the owners website. As for your own images if you don't want them to be used by other blogger/sites or even for eBay listings! Then make watermarking for photos a priority to at least deter people.
Avoid flash when possible
When it comes to using flash for blog pictures it is normally used so wrong, basically because it is used too up close to the subject, however if you can only shoot in low light then use flash and lamps with daylight bulbs in them so not to get a yellow cast and even a piece of tissue or sticky tape over the flash to stop the flare. But otherwise find a window, get outside and basically use all the natural light you can. Which leads me to...
Edit to make shades true to colour
Even natural light can look dull if there are shadows or it's too sunny but it's correctable (unlike with flash) in any basic photo editing program. Most dull images just need the brightness adjusting and more contrast plus hitting the sharpen button can really do wonders for an image. But if you are editing an image with swatches or a close up of a product shade actually have the product to hand and play with the different levels and match the shades so they are as similar as they can be.
This also can come under editing as you can really make a single shot look interesting especially if the image size is large you can use a free program like Photoscape and by cropping and enlarging certain parts of the image you can make a collage. But even with out any editing you can be creative with angles, backgrounds and even staging different products together. Which leads me onto...
My own savvy tips
My background is actually a simple leather chair however an A2 piece of white card (from a craft shop) is ideal as you can place the product(s) onto the card and curve it for the background so there won't be a join line. But if you want to have more fun with your background or for personal posts then get yourself down to a DIY shop and get some quite large wallpaper samples. There are so many beautiful designer prints in all shades and it's totally free!
My other handy tip is with lighting as I've found a lot of the time one side of a product is well lit and the other half is in shadow. So use a full length mirror or free standing mirror on the darker side to bounce the light onto the product.
Last but not least taking a picture of yourself is hard at the best of times, but to cut down on taking a million pictures place a mirror behind the camera so you can see yourself on the screen whilst taking the shot.
I previously wrote a post on beauty blogging photography tips so feel free to have a look at it here and the list below is all free photo editing app/programs.
For PC and Mac
I will of course be posting the topic choices on Friday so you can all tell me what you want to talk about! So feel free to suggest topics in the comments below.