Easiest Ever Style Blog Photography


All the photographs in this post were taken using this method on my Nikon D3200.

Okay, y'all, in honor of selfie month #MMMay16 today we're talking about blog photography.

Raise your hand if your significant other/bff/mom/whoever-you-can-rope-into-it takes your outfit pictures. Now, keep your hand raised if that significant other/bff/mom/whoever-you-can-rope-into-it also happens to be a photography expert. Nooooo?

Yeah, me neither.

Actually, my husband really doesn't care about photography at all--he just cares enough about his wife (me) that he's willing to do me the huge favor of taking zillions of blog pictures. (awww)

I got myself a DSLR for Cyber Monday (a Nikon D3200), and asked for an additional lens (a NIKKOR 35mm 1:1.8) for Christmas. I took a photography class in high school (developing prints and everything) so after a bit of brushing up, I could take decent snaps in manual. I can do it.

But... all I really want is to have nice, "top fashion blogger" photos with sharp details and a blurred-out background. And I want my husband to be able to do it with minimal effort, because the simpler I can make it, the less frustrated he gets, the more pleasant the whole blog-photos-please thing can be.

After a bunch of messing around on different settings, I think I have cracked the code and figured out the easiest possible way to create that "manual" look with literally NO effort or photography know-how necessary.

Keep in mind, I'm not a camera expert, but the brilliant thing is that this should work even if you aren't either. I won't be explaining all the terminology, because other people can do it way better than I can. Also, these are all Nikon settings, because that's what I have and I don't want to get too confusing and list a million jargon-y camera terms for both Nikon and Canon.

First, put your camera in Aperture Priority mode, usually represented by an A on your dial. This allows you to dial in your preferred aperture. The lower the number, the shallower the depth of field, so you can get outfit in focus and have the background blurry. For most of my pictures, I set my aperture as wide as it goes/as low as the number gets, or 1.8 (for my lens).

Aperture Priority mode is a step up from Auto, but basically just as easy. There are two basic elements of taking a picture: the shutter speed and the aperture (well, there's three, but we're just going to ignore ISO for now). If you are in manual, you're in charge of both. In auto, the camera is in charge of everything. It will always get the exposure right but won't get any of those nice effects you are looking for. In Aperture Priority you're in charge of the aperture, and the camera adjusts the shutter speed to suit the light levels.

Next step is focusing, and here, we want to make this as automated as possible. There are two settings that control focus on my camera. Focus mode controls how your camera focuses, and AF (that's autofocus) Area Mode controls how it knows what to focus on. The magic combination, I've found, is setting the focus to Auto-Servo Auto-Focus, and the focus area to Auto-Area Auto-Focus. This basically lets the camera choose what to focus on and how to focus on it. I have found that it works pretty well, especially for the type of pictures you're taking for style/sewing blogging: outfit shots, detail shots, etc.

Are these photos going to win awards? Um, probably not. BUT until I can afford to hire a pro photographer to follow me around 24/7, this is pretty simple and foolproof. You can hand your sister/husband/mom/whoever the camera set in this way, they can literally just point and shoot and you should end up with some decent photos!

EDIT: Since I took the pictures in this post, I've tweaked one more thing--instead of using matric metering (the default mode), I've been using spot metering, which uses the spot your camera is focused on to control the brightness. That way, if you are standing in the shade but it is bright behind you, it will use your face to determine the brightness.

You don't need a DSLR to use these settings, but you do need a camera that has a bit more functionality than an iPhone, you know? I would explore your settings menu and look for Aperture Priority mode as a first step, or even break out the manual. My old camera is a Sony alpha NEX-3N, which is a nice (and portable!) camera that Sony designed to be somewhere between a point-and-shoot and a DSLR. It has Aperture Priority mode, so I can do the same thing there! On my little Sony, the AF area mode I use is called "multi" and does the same thing, and I only have one autofocus mode, so I use that. The aperture on the lens I have for that camera only goes down to 3.5, so I can't get my depth of field quite as shallow as on my Nikon, but I could always get a second lens if I felt I needed to.

Please let me know in the comments if you have any questions, or if you want to know anything else about my photography or gear or whatever. As I said, I am not an expert, I've taken one photography class (10 years ago)--and then experimented a lot to make this as simple and easy as possible.

If you try out these settings, let me know how they work for you: If it's bad, I'd really like to continue improving this method, and if you try it and like it, I'd appreciate it if you linked back to this post, if you want to.




xoxo,
allie

ps: works for tripod shots, too--the blue gingham shots were taken with a remote and tripod.

allie J.

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8 comments:

  1. Thanks, Allie. This is really helpful! I took a few photo classes, too, but the knowledge is gone. I have a Canon, but I think I can still easily use all your tips. Thanks for breaking it down for us.

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  2. Thanks for this post! I look forward to trying this out, I can honestly say that I never even noticed or thought about a blurry background, if anything I'm always on the hunt for the most attractive background possible to make sure it looks good in the photos! And it is definitely a journey- my mom takes my photos, and it's only now that we can do it fairly smoothly without too much struggle- after about 3 years of blogging lol.

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  3. great post! I'm going to try this with my canon, hopefully it will work out. Most of the time I take my own photos with a tripod. They are definitely not the best looking photos, but it is often so much easier then to find someone to take them for me. A blurry out background is a good thing for me, the garden is not that interesting!

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  4. keep doing what you are doing...photos look wonderful.

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  5. Thanks Allie, I just tried this with my Fujifilm and it worked. My background is a meadow, so not sure if it came out as blurry as it could/should, but the pics are crisp and focused, which is what I was struggling with. A bit of Lightroom and they are good to post on my blog tonight!

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  6. Having a husband that is a photography expert is all that helpful if they aren't motivated (or tired and cranky). Mine can be a little bossy and I had to bribe mine with a Canon 6D and a macro lens. I would actually prefer to probably take mine myself (since I don't wear them) but Andre would be horrified.

    However when you get the husbands in the right mood they can really put out the shots.

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  7. This is really useful - thanks so much for sharing.

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  8. I've recognized that I need to up my photo game for my sewing blog, and I've always thought your pics were really nice. So I searched "camera" on your site and came up with this! Thanks for sharing! I have a question - what made you decide to get that Nikon model?

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