Beauty Blogging Photography Tips

Thanks for everyone that left questions on my recent post about photography for beauty bloggers - hopefully I will answer all the question I was asked in this post and other things that I use to go wrong on when I didn't have a clue!

The best place to start with either taking still life shots or even self portraits is Lighting . Lighting is so important however I that is something that alot of people struggle with. It is easy to think that a sunny day is the best time to take photos and really that isn't the case. Most of the pictures on my blog have been taken on overcast days and then slightly brightened in Windows Photo Gallery. The reason for this is because the light is even, which is what you want. You don't want a really sunny day where the light is streaming in on just one side of a product. You want even light that doesn't cast shadows. So near to a window on abit of a cloudy day is perfect.

However a sunny day is definitely better than when it's dark. Taking close up shots of anything at night is difficult unless you have a good digital SLR camera or good artificial lighting. I find that self portraits are still ok to do using flash, however still life close up shots are near to impossible. 

Ok, so now onto the camera itself. I'm guessing if you are reading this you have a pretty standard run of the mill digital camera that has at least an Auto and a Manual setting. First thing is to switch to manual, and look at your ISO settings. Most times it will be on auto even though you are in manual. As you will only be shooting in daylight you need the lowest ISO possible as you want the crispiest image. 

As you can see the ISO really does make a difference, the higher the ISO the more 'noise' you will get on the image, which isn't what you want. So if you have good daylight always use the lowest ISO setting, if the lighting isn't great you can increase the ISO to help with the lighting. But no camera needs an ISO of even 600 on a normal digital camera. 

Next is Flash which is something that I don't really get half the time and I know on standard digital cameras it isn't great. 

Lets start with taking photos of your makeup in daylight - Chances are in daylight you don't even need flash, however to hold your arm out without it shaking and making the image blurry is quite hard, unless you have a fast shutter that takes the photo as soon as you press the button down. If that is your camera, then lucky you, just face the window or turn the light on and that will be enough.

If you have the problem of having blurred images then you will need to use flash - which if used wrongly can give either a halo effect around the head or wash out your face. The main thing is to hold the camera at arms length really to avoid the flash going off right infront of your face and making you look really white. Also using extra lighting always helps, even if it's just a floor lamp or a table lamp - energy saving bulbs are the best as they haven't got that yellow glow to them. 

As for if you want to take a close up macro shot of your eye - the best possible time is to do with without flash in day light with a very steady hand. However if nighttime is all you have using tissue paper or cellotape over the flash on the front of the camera can really help with not washing out your eye makeup. But really just play around! 

Now onto using Flash for Still life images - For me this doesn't work as most of the time the flash bounces of the product.

So for still life shots, natural daylight is always the best - using the macro function and a low ISO and for swatches I always set the colour to Vivid, but you can always increase the contrast more on a simple photo editing program. 

Now onto Macro - For close up shots of beauty products using the macro setting is a must.
Here is the little icon that you are looking for if you don't know, just a little flower.
Macro lets you take really close up images, the better digital camera you have the closer you will be able to get to the product.
If you camera just won't focus and your images in macro are blurry you are putting your camera to close to the product. 

When taking a macro shot it is so important to keep your hands steady or else you will have a blurry image, so if you can't get use to holding the camera really steady sitting it on some books may help or using a gorilla pod which is basically a flexible tripod (you can find them on eBay for as little as £3). 
If you have already used your camera in macro mode you will know it is fairly easy to use - you just press the shutter button half way down until it focuses and then press it all the way down and take the image.

Now you may want the whole of the image to be in focus or you may want the centre to be in focus or you may just want a certain part of a product in focus and the rest blurred out. 

You can do all of this in your settings which looks abit like this - 

If you have this setting there should be three choices - they are actually called Metering Modes. But you don't even need to know that, you just need to get what they do! 

Evaluative or Matrix metering mode 

This is what I took the image above in and as well as in macro mode. This is the most common setting that will work with take photos of landscapes or when you want everything in focus. The icon is just two brackets with a spot in the middle and smaller brackets around the spot. This is what you should use when you want everything to be crisp and in focus, maybe when you want to take a picture of lots of products and you want them all in focus. It is also the default setting of most cameras.

Center Weight Metering Mode 

Again this is how I achieved the two images above - this is for when you want to focus on a specific item in a group of product, so you can pick which product you want to keep in focus and the rest will be blurred out. 
The icon for this is just two brackets [  ] and no spot in the center.
To pick which part of the set up you want to focus on you must press the shutter button down half way and you will see two brackets appear in the centre on the screen, you must then move the camera over to that product you want to focus on and you should see the brackets jump to that product. Then release the shutter complete, move the camera back to it's original position and press the shutter down again and the brackets should still be on the product you want to focus on, then take the shot. It is slightly hard to explain - but it really is worth playing about with and seeing the brackets move from one product to another.

Spot Metering Mode 

This is for when you want to focus on a small portion of a product for example on the tip of a lipstick bullet or on the eyelashes instead of the eyelid. This really focus' on a really small part on an image and blurs the rest outside of that spot.
The icon for this is two brackets and a spot in the middle. 
The same technique as I used above can but applied in this mode as well, to pick which area you want to focus on.
This is perfect for up close product shots where you want to really focus of the texture of a product.

Other Topics

Backgrounds - Someone asked what was the best background to use. I actually just use a chair that is white/cream. But I would suggest getting a big piece of white card around A2 size from a stationary shop. You can then put it in the best place lighting wise and curve it against a wall or some stacked books, so that you can sit your products on the card and you will also have a white background. As for taking self portraits again a plain background is best. 

What Camera I use -  Quite a rubbish one actually, but I am buying a nice new Canon soon (not expensive at all though & definitely not a Digital SLR). The camera I use at the moment is a Canon Power Shot A560. Really love any camera by Canon or Nikon. 

Is it worth investing in a Digital SLR camera - Well you have to really establish what you want a camera for. If it's just for blogging and taking photos of your family or for taking on holiday then a standard point and shoot digital camera will 100% do the job. Also it means you can put it in your pocket or your bag and take photos whenever and where ever. The camera that I plan on buying is a Canon Ixus 100 is, which is around £140 and shoots HD video and has a great macro lense. Which is actually very similar to the Canon 500D in spec, which is around £550! 
But ofcourse if you love photography and don't mind using a heavy camera then it is worth the investment. 
I doubt I will ever buy a Digitial SLR though. 

Photo Editing Software -  I don't use anything that complicated, I just use Windows Photo Gallery to change the brightness and contrast when my images are abit dull and to fix red eye. I also use Infran View to put text over images and to sharpen images, which is a free program. 

This is actually alot longer than I expected and I really hope I have covered everything, but if you have any questions just pop them in a comment below! 



  1. What a great post, thanks for the tips!:D

    I agree, lighting is very important.:D

    Have a wonderful weekend!:D

    ***** Marie *****

  2. *-* I love you! xD this post is absolutely USEFUL!! thank you so much!!!

  3. Thanks! I've been struggling with lighting. I really needed this. I'm trying to improve my photography skills. :D


  4. Cheers honey what a top post. Keeping this saved in my faves

    t xxx

  5. You don't understand how helpful this is! All this time I was wondering what the hell macro is! Best post ever! I hope my pictures come out better now! THANK YOU :D

  6. this was a great post, brilliant tips, learnt alot! thankyou so much :D xx

  7. Thank you for this post, it's going to be extremely helpful for me :D Will have it bookmarked! xx

  8. Genius - thankyou so much for this Fee, I knew less than 1% of this, so hopefully it will make a big difference. Jan

    I will keep all this in mind, it will be my bible! :P

  10. SO helpful - I've just sat and gone through the whole post playing with my camera settings at the same time. I need to try again in daylight though. Thank you! xx

  11. This is the post of the month! Love it! Thanx! :D

  12. Thank so much for this, I learnt a lot and found lots of settings on my camera I never knew about!

  13. Great post! Thank you I really learnt alot and Im always taking rubbish photos so thank you :) xxx

  14. As someone that actually gets paid for taking photos I have to say that I started off with my slr for my blog pics and quickly reverted to my point and shoot as unless you have a macro lens on your slr you are not going to get close ups with it, on your point and shoot that little flower symbol is the biz and will save you £oo's over a macro lens for an slr. Great post, really well put together. (ps my beauty blog photos are incredibly rubbish compared to just about everyone else's, ironic really, all things considered!)

  15. Excellent post!! I'm bookmarking it for future reference, I could really use all these tips :) x

  16. Great post, it actually made me to pick up my camera and start to look for a settings. I still have a problem to find a switch to manual. Anything I do, I just can't change ISO :( Just downloading manual for the camera as I lost it :(

  17. super post - very helpful and I've bookmarked to x

  18. Fabulous post, so helpful - thanks for spending the time writing it! x

  19. Absolutely amazing post!!! Very helpful!!! Thank you!! :) I've bookmarked it! ;)

  20. Thank you so much for this post Fee.
    I've always been interested in photography but never had the time to sit down and focus on learning how to use a camera properly.
    Your guide is a great help and I'm excited to get started on taking some more artistic looking photos.

  21. That's a great post and really useful - thanks so much! xx

  22. Absolutely excellent post!! I have learned some of these things already on the way but the ISO information is extremely helpful as are the different macro settings.

    I have an Ixus already, I am so surprised that you haven't been using something fancy as you take fabulous photos. I do think you have an incredibly good eye for photos though. Sadly, you can't teach composition though!

    I do love your posts Fee xx

  23. Amazing. I have a fairly good camera, but no idea how to use it properly, gonna experiment soon! This post is going in my bookmarks :) xx

  24. This is a really fabulous and well thought out post Fee. Lighting is absolutely crucial as you say and indirect, soft light is the best and most flattering.

    I'm a little confused on your explanation of metering modes though as unless it's something specific to your camera, metering is generally about exposure rather than focal points?

    Also completely agree on thinking about which camera is best for your needs. Unless you're properly getting into photography and want to learn how to use a camera in M mode. Don't bother with DSLRs. There are so many fabulous point and shoots on the market with specs that equal the prosumer DSLRs that there's just no needs to be hulking around bulky equipment.

    These purchases often turn into an expensive regret and there's nothing more tragic than seeing £400+ equipment stuck in P mode!

  25. I loved this post! I'm putting it into my bookmarks.
    A little trick with the flash, if you need to take products portraits in nightime just do some tests by inclining your camera in different ways: you will see where the light is hitting the subject and you will choose the best.:)

  26. Thanks for this post, very useful!

  27. Brilliant post Fee - I'm going to link to it in my Weekly Love on Friday!

  28. This post wins the prize for the most useful post i've read in months! This page has officially been bookmarked! :)

  29. Brilliant post! I don't do make-up shoots but I quite often have interiors stuff that doesn't shoot that well so going to try these tips with them :) Thanks Fee!

  30. Amazing post, Fee! Thanks so much for writing this. Of all the blogs I read, I admire your photographs the most - as Jane says, your composition is fab.

    As for the settings, I had absolutely no idea what any of it meant (especially why my camera was offering me a little flower!) so I can't wait to have a play around with it now.

    Great to know too that photos like your can be achieved with a simple point and shoot, so I'll be spending the money I'd set aside for a whizzy SLR on something much more fun now!

    Rach x

  31. thank you for this fantastic post, this will really help me improve my blog posts, and i've been looking for a new camera, Canon or Nikon here i come x

  32. Thank you so much for this post, brilliant insight.

  33. Thanks so much for the info! I'll put it to good use!

  34. i really love this post. what a helpful and useful post. thank you so much for taking the time to teach us photography. your tips help me a lot. love love love your blog! you're awesome :D


  35. Thank you for this incredibly helpful post! x

  36. You don't even know how wonderful this post is. Massive thank you for taking the time to help other bloggers. Love love love!

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  38. Do you want to improve your skills in makeup? You can get makeup lesson from the makeup artist Lina Cameron. Lina is very good in this line and doing really well for quite a long time.

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