Wednesday, 25 May 2016

how to: fashion blog photography

Photography 101
I really didn't know what to name this post, I thought 'fashion photography for beginners' sounded like I was some kind of advanced leader of photography - which I am not. To cut a long story short; when I was starting out I had no idea how to use my camera to the best of its capability. It's taken 4-5 years of never ending Googling, chatting to photographers, and trial and error to learn how to get the most of my DSLR, so I thought I'd pop it all in a post (in basic English!) in the hope of it helping someone. I'm going to rattle through my tips, and then there's a definition of any 'camera talk' at the bottom!

First of all, my kit:
I recently upgraded my Nikon D90 to a Nikon D610, which is a pro body. I started out with a Nikon D40 back in the day, which is an entry level SLR, with a standard 'kit' lens. I then upgraded to a D90, which is a bit more advanced but is old in terms of age, so when it began to have problems focusing - I decided to throw the towel in and dive in at the pro end of the spectrum. This isn't necessary, and a lot of blog photography can rely on a great lens, so if you're looking to purchase a DSLR, I'd definitely look towards an entry level body.

I have shot with the Nikkor 35mm f1.8 lens for the three years or so, it goes down to an aperture of f1.8 (see definition at the bottom!) providing good enough 'blur' for street styling shots, and is a fixed lens. I recently upgraded to the blogger lens, which is the 50mm with a super low f.stop of f1.4. I adore this lens, it's so great for the perfect crisp shot and combined with the D610, works as the dream scenario for blog photos. That being said, the 35mm is a great starting point and has the ability to take amazing photos and is also really reasonably priced.

Outside of the SLR kit, I also use an Olympus Pen E-PL7 (don't we all?) which I like, but don't love. It's great for on-the-go Instagram shots, taking to press days or just as an all-round point and shoot camera but having spent so much time learning how to use my SLR, it seems a bit of waste! If I travel with hand luggage only, I usually take the Pen as it's compact and lightweight and combined with the 45mm lens which has a low aperture of f1.8, it can take great, clear blog photography. I know a lot of bloggers use this as their primary blogging camera - so it definitely has the capability but I personally prefer the quality of SLR shots for my main outfit posts as I find the Pen a bit hit and miss with quality. 
Photography 101

The settings:
I have just got my settings nailed for great outfit shots, so I figured I'd just tell you directly! Firstly, I use whichever camera I'm shooting on the 'A' mode (which stands for Aperture) as this prioritises the f number and means you can manually set it. I then set the aperture to as low as the lens I'm using can go, so on my SLR I turn it right down to f1.4, or f1.8 on the Olympus, and then I set my ISO to as low as it can go too - so 100 on my Nikon, or 200 on my Olympus. From then, I'd do a couple of test shots to check the lighting and if we're good I'll shoot! If not, it's likely because they're over-exposed so I'd adjust the ISO, by raising it to the next setting.

So, low ISO, low aperture and then I let the camera do the leg work for the shutter speed. Ta-da.

So, if you're looking to invest:
If you're looking to invest in an SLR, I'd dig out an entry level such as the Canon 100D, or a Nikon D3300 and then buy a lens that has a low f number, such as the 35mm that I mentioned earlier. It's definitely worth trying eBay too as you can often save a bit of money that way!
If you don't fancy an SLR, then a point and shoot like the Olympus is a great option as it's easy to carry around and good for things outside of blog photography. I know first hand that carting a huge SLR around whilst on holiday isn't ideal!

Photography 101

Key terms: (once you know these, life is SO much easier!)
Aperture: Aperture, of the 'f number' of a lens, is in effect how wide the lens opens/dictates how much light is let in. In normal terms, if you're looking for 'blur' in the background of your photos, you want a low f.number as you can afford (it gets pricier as you go lower!), if you're shooting something with a lot of detail/you want the full frame to be in focus and clear, or there's a lot of people in it, you'd likely want a higher f.number. I.e. for blog photos, I shoot in f1.4, but if I were to take a photo of the NY skyline, I'd turn that up to f5-9, which would reduce the 'blur' and ensure it was wholly in focus.

Kit lens: A kit lens is usually a multi-use lens that comes with the body, with a range of zoom built in. Mine was a 18-55mm, with the 18mm being 'zoomed out' and the 55mm, being 'zoomed in' they usually have an ok range of aperture function, likely going as low as f3-4, and up to about f10.

Fixed lens: This means you can't zoom in or out using this lens, and it's 'fixed' on a certain point.

ISO: In essence, ISO is how sensitive your camera is to light. I shoot on as lower ISO number as my camera will allow (the more 'pro' your camera is, the lower it'll likely go down). In essence, if you're shooting outside, in good light - you'd go as low as you can. My D610 goes down to 100, so I shoot on that, or 200 if it's a bit cloudy/my photos are coming out over-exposed. The higher your ISO, the more 'dusty' your photo will be as it's telling the camera that there's not enough light, so it's hypersensitive. Shooting on a low ISO (in good light) will mean that your photo is crisp. I made the mistake of reading this wrong for years, and used to shoot on ISO 1600, and couldn't figure out why my photos were so noisy!

Shutter speed: This is how quick the 'shutter' in the camera releases to take the photo, and how much light it allows in during that time. It's measured in seconds, or fractions of a second. Think of shutter speed, ISO and aperture settings as a triangle with your perfect shot sitting in the middle. You need a good balance of all three. As an example, if you were to use a really slow shutter speed you'd get lots of movement and blur in the photo as the shutter is open for a long time. This is ideal for a shot of moving traffic etc, where you want all the lights to blur into a long path - although you'd need to use a tripod as otherwise you'd just get a blurred image due to shaking whilst holding. For blog photography, I let the camera decide the shutter speed in relation to the aperture and ISO setting I have chosen. 

lots of love xxx
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  1. Aah photography in plain English! Very helpful, thank you :)


  2. This is SUCH a useful guide! I have a Samsung NX300 and am trying to learn how to shoot manually. Your photography is beautiful so I will definitely be listening to your advice! Thanks for sharing. Molly x

  3. love how clear this post makes everything! I use the Nikon d3100 with a 50mm lens and I think it works great although I'm looking to upgrade soon, I love seeing posts about Nikon cameras as well as it seems that most bloggers always use canon!

  4. nice post and upgrade *thumbs up*

  5. Very helpful, thank you :) Sophie

  6. Thank you for sharing these great tips

    Candice | Beauty Candy Loves

  7. Such a useful guide that I can actually understand!! Thanks for the great tips!

    Laura //

  8. Thank you so much for this camera tips. I'm struggling with my outfit photography sometimes as sometimes if I use too light ISO the camera doesn't concentrate on me anymore. So it's kind of when I'm same focused and featured as everything else on the shot. I think my camera only goes 4f on Aperture. Do you think I can only be very focused with 1-2f or I van get away with 4f?
    Probably need new lence? :/
    Yukova Blog by Yuliya Oleynykova

    1. Hi Yulia - I don't think you need a new lens necessarily, perhaps try shooting on manual focus so that you can ensure you're the thing in focus? f4. isn't bad for blog photos, it's still a fairly wide aperture! As for the other post you commented on, I shot with ISO 100 and f1.4 : )


    2. Thank you so much for your prompt reply Georgia. I will ask my sister to play with a Manual focus next time. x
      I very often use ISO 100 too, sometimes it's too light though...
      What time do you normally shoot in summer? I'm still trying to figure out the best lighting...

  9. This is such a handy photography guide...not just for fashion photography. I hope you don't mind but I have bookmarked it :) xx

    Yasmina | The July Journal

  10. These are really great tips! Great post!

    Jo |


Thank you for all your lovely comments, I read and appreciate them all! Feel free to tweet me (@georgiameramo) with any questions! xxx

© Georgia Luisa Meramo

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