Thank you to everyone who sent in questions about my photography process, it made outlining this post a breeze! There’s so much you can delve into when talking photography, but I shared some of the most prominent aspects for me in my day to day. Hopefully, these tips are helpful to those of you just starting out/interested! I’m certainly not a professional and am still learning, but it’s a hobby I strive to elevate on a daily basis, so your questions and encouragement have meant the world.
As a quick backstory. My love affair with photography goes way back. I was the friend who everyone relied on to have a disposable camera in tow when we were younger, and who is always pleased to help a friend edit a photo before posting on social. I have folders overflowing with thousands of images I’ve taken over the years, as well as saved photographs (aka Pinterest) that inspire me (and help train my eye) to take my skills to the next level. I’m always fully equipped with a camera to snap a noteworthy moment in time.
That’s my favorite thing about taking a photo. Capturing a unique perspective that tells a story and makes you feel something. I’m passionate about chasing light and am constantly pushing myself to fine tune my skills. This is why lifestyle photography has become a dominant inspiration in my life. So…without further ado, here are a few things you should know about my photography process.
What camera / lens do you use?
I have a Canon 7d Mark II. I did a lot of research on this and am very happy with this camera! A lot of my favorite photographers use the Canon 5d, but it’s a bit more expensive, and just from the videos I watched and questions I asked, it seemed like the 7d was perfectly suited for the lifestyle shots I planned to take. It’s pretty heavy, but you get used to lugging it around. I also have an Olympus E-PL7, which I need to use more because it takes such crisp photos! Great for on-the-go, café dates and weekend trips.
As for lenses. I use a 50mm 1.4 and a 24-70mm 2.8. I recently splurged on the 24-70 which I’ve been using a lot more (but it’s also new, and you know how that goes!), but the 50’s bokeh is absolutely beautiful. I think having both is exactly what I need (right now).
What settings do you use when shooting?
My camera is mainly set to Manual. I like having more control, so being able to balance the aperture, ISO and shutter speed helps me to capture an image with my ideal lighting/mood.
What tools do you use to edit photos?
I use Lightroom. I currently don’t batch all of my photos, but this is something I probably need to get a better feel for when I have bigger projects I’m working on. I do copy paste an image after editing and will paste it to an image with similar lighting to see if it works, but mainly I do one by one (just for blog post images and social media, so not doing hundreds!)
I adjust the lighting – exposure, contrast, highlights, shadows, whites, and clarity. Remember to balance – if I am lowering the highlight to accentuate a detail a bit more, I will bring up the whites a little so it doesn’t look too muted. If I am boosting the contrast a little, I will lower the shadow a bit.
I used to use VSCO filters within the app, but have been working to create my own! I’ve spent hours on YouTube researching good editing tricks, shortcuts, etc. which have helped a lot with my editing process. I recommend taking a photo and experimenting with all of the editing options to get a feel for how everything works. I spent an afternoon doing this recently, which opened my eyes to a few things I had never touched!
As for social media, I use Snapseed to adjust lighting if need be, VSCO, and A Color Story. I used to only use a few different filters but lately, I have been experimenting with my options. Every photo is different (lighting, colors, etc), so I think it’s good to test out options to get the feel you’re looking for. Favorites filters below:
VSCO: Legacy Collection: 04, 06, 08 | Analog Collection: A6, A8 | Vibrant Collection: C3
A Color Story: I love most of the presents from Essential Collection and Good Vibes Collection
What are a few favorite lightroom tips?
First, I always adjust the lighting and white balance. Make sure the image isn’t too yellow and the lighting looks good to you.
I then will go down to the Tone Curve to help with the lighting/shadows. Lastly, I go to “HSL / COLOR / B&W” (Hues, Saturation, and Luminance of the image) and I click on “color”. If something in the image is too yellow or orange, I will click on that color on the edit bar and will tone down the saturation a little and will sometimes slide the luminance over to the right – which brightens that color hue! (Someone asked how to brighten skin tone – this helps with that!)
Another trick is once you finish a photo and it’s one you want to save, hit the “5” key and it will rate the image as a 5 star. Once you edit all images in your folder that you want to export, on the bottom right near the 5 stars there’s a dropdown, click “rated”, and it will only show you the images you rated.
Click the first image while holding shift and then the last image, and you will highlight them all. Export and viola!
How do you keep yourself inspired on what to photograph in your everyday life?
I know this is a cliché/annoying answer, but my inspiration is everywhere. I love interesting color combinations, shadow play, I LOVE shooting food and drink (can you tell?), and travel stories. Capturing things for the first time you’ve never seen. When I’m needing a fresh perspective, I love sitting down and flipping through my coffee table book collection or scanning Pinterest. I have an album packed to the brim with pretty photographs here! I don’t have a routine with my inspiration, I like to change it up which I think helps me evolve with my work and ideas.
If you’re passionate about photography and want to better your skills, I suggest eventually investing in a good camera/lens and bringing it along with you as much as you can. It takes a lot of time and patience to train your eye and skill – buying a camera won’t immediately translate to beautiful photos, but having the right tools will get you on track! Watch YouTube tutorials, reach out to a photographer you admire and ask them anything you’re wondering about their process/inspiration and keep on snapping away.
I once read a snippet somewhere about a girl who went to a dinner party and the host (who was meeting her for the first time) asked, “what kind of camera do you use, your photos I’ve seen are so beautiful”! That question would be equivalent to the photographer asking the chef later that evening, “what oven did you use, dinner was delicious!” It’s about the time, perspective, experience, and heart that goes into creating work you’re proud of, so don’t forget that side of it!
If I missed anything or you have any other questions, don’t hesitate to reach out! x
I also shared this post recently, Keys to a Pretty Instagram Feed.