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Take a Peek Into My Photography Workflow

photo of old magazines and an old camera on a table

I love the photography process from start to finish. I love scouting/setting up a shot, taking the shot, processing the shot and sharing the end result.

Photography is both art and therapy for me.



But it wasn’t always like this. It took many years to make my process work for me.

Today, I want to share with you my photography workflow from start to finish. I hope this will help you come up with a workflow that will work for you too.

My Photography Workflow (Start to Finish):

Scouting/Set Up

a pull back shot of a table, window and room

Visualizing the shot before it happens can really help you communicate what you want to with the photo. Most people think that you photographers just hop out of the car, snap a shot and then go. They don’t realize the thought and planning that can go into a great photo. Here are the steps I use when I am thinking about a photo. The photo above is a pull back to show you where I am setting up my shot in my office. I am using natural light and a coffee table.

  1. Determine your location. Do you have a certain place in mind to take your photo? A certain time (sunrise, sunset, golden hour, etc.) When is the best time to go there?
  2. Check to make sure you have enough light. Are you taking a picture indoors? Does your determined location have enough natural light, or will you use artificial light?
  3. Get your props/people together. What do you want in the shoot? Do you need to buy food, props or invite someone to be in the picture?
  4. Visualize the shot. How do you want the shot to look? What is the mood? What are you trying to portray

Taking the Shot

Now that you know what you want to shoot, it is time to make the idea a reality. Here are some things to think about while you are shooting.

  1. Figure out what camera you will use (phone or dslr). I use these 2 cameras for different things. For instagram or a quick, easy photo I use my iPhone. For low light, close up (macro) or for something that I need a zoom, I use my higher quality DSLR.
  2. If using a dslr, determine which lens. I have several different lenses, from wide angle to 35 mm to macro and also I have a zoom lens. I use the lenses differently depending on what I am shooting.
  3. Evaluate the light and motion to set the camera settings. Once you have things ready to go, evaluate the light and motion going on in your photo so you know what your settings need to be.
  4. Take several shots from different angles and compositions. You don’t want to just take one shot and be done. By trying different angles and compositions with different props or backgrounds. Then you have much more to work with in post processing.
  5. Make sure to check for distractions in the frame. Don’t you hate it when you think you have an awesome picture, but when you look at it afterward, you realize there is a tree sticking out of someone’s head or something that is out of place. The best photos are clean and visually appealing, so check for distractions while you are shooting. This will save time later in post processing.

2 old magazines on a wooden table with an old camera  

I took these photos with my iPhone because it was a quick shoot for Instagram. I moved the magazines and camera around before I finally decided on which way I liked best. I also had to remove a little piece of wood (you can see it in the 2nd picture in the bottom right) that I didn’t see when I was shooting. Distractions!

Processing the Shot

  1. Upload the shots into Lightroom. I always start in Lightroom. You can also use bridge to upload photos straight to Photoshop.
  2. Do basic edit (white balance, exposure, contrast, noise reduction, etc). In Lightroom, I do slight adjustments to my photo.
  3. Move to Photoshop. I take my Lightroom adjustments with me to Photoshop, where I do more work if needed.
  4. Do more complicated edit (cropping, spot removal, etc.). Usually I do my cropping and cleaning up (if necessary) in Photoshop. You can also do more extensive editing like head swapping and background extraction if you need to here.
  5. Use an action for noise reduction and sharpening. I have my own action that I made for noise reduction and sharpening. By making an action for a common edit, you save time and keep things more standard for each photo.
  6. Save in .jpg form on my computer. I shoot in RAW and save in JPEG. This saves room on my computer and makes photos easy to share.

a quote from the post

Sharing the Shot

  1. Reduce size for web sharing (makes uploading faster). When sharing on the web, you want to decrease the size of your photo so that it uploads quicker and decreases the quality for those that might want to steal your image.
  2. Watermark if necessary. If you are worried about your photos being stolen, you can add a watermark to your image after you decrease the size.
  3. Share to my favorite social media channel (Instagram, Facebook, etc.). Now we can share with our friends, family and blog readers the awesome photos we took ourselves. Yes!

Here is the final edit of this photo for Instagram:

2 old magazines on a wooden table with an old camera

Action Steps:

  1. Think about your photography workflow.
  2. Find ways to streamline the process.
  3. If you don’t know how to use Lightroom/Photoshop, find a way to learn. I discuss these 2 great programs in this post.

If you take many photos in one session like most photographers do, you need a consistent workflow. This will help you save time and energy on each shoot. It will also help you develop a cohesive look for your brand. So find what works for you and stick with it!

pin for this post

How does this photography workflow compare to yours? Let us know in the comments below. Thanks!




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Using Lightroom and Photoshop to Improve your Blog Photography

photo of a computer on a desk

I constantly see bloggers asking about photography tools they can use to make images for their blog.

Many people suggest Canva or PicMonkey for making images for blogging.


At first, I used to comment and say, “I use Photoshop and I love it.”

The common response was either “Photoshop is too hard to learn” or “it costs too much, I’m looking for something free.”

In this post I share a solution to the second response —> 12 Frugal Photo Editing Sites for Bloggers on a Budget.

You can get Creative Cloud for Photographers with Lightroom and Photoshop for $10 a month, which is the same price as the paid versions of Canva and PicMonkey.

Sign up for Lightroom and Photoshop for $10 a month here (affiliate link): Creative Cloud for Photographers

But what about the first response? Is Photoshop too hard to learn?

Because I come from a photography background, I have been using Photoshop for many years. I actually started as a digital scrapbooker before I used it for just photography.

Back then, you had to buy an actual disc for hundreds of dollars each time they came out with a new version if you wanted to stay up to date. Crazy, right?!

But to answer the question, yes Photoshop takes some time to learn. It isn’t something you can just pop on to and know what to do right away.

Do Adobe products scare you? Click here to see why I love using Lightroom and Photoshop for my blog photography and I share 2 short videos to show you how to do it too. #Adobe #Photoshop #Lightroom #blogging #blogphotography #videos

Today, I wanted to talk about why I love these two Adobe products for blogging. The effort to learn has a big payoff in being able to do what you want with your images and graphics.

Lightroom

In my post processing workflow, I start in Lightroom. It is here where I import photos, choose the pictures I want to continue editing and do the majority of my editing.

In Lightroom, I can change things like exposure, contrast, and all of the other editing features most software has. I can change the white balance, crop, straighten and do minor corrections.

If a photo is pretty good, straight out of camera, I can do everything I need to do in Lightroom without even going to Photoshop.

Let me show you in the video below how I take a regular photo and make it better in Lightroom:

Lightroom Video 1: Basic Edits in Lightroom from Julie Gropp on Vimeo.

Photoshop

Like I said above, I have been using Photoshop for many years.

Before Lightroom came along, I would do all of my editing in Photoshop.

Now, I use Lightroom for overall editing and small changes.

Then if a photo needs more help, I pull it into Photoshop.

The options are almost endless in Photoshop of how you can change a photo.

Most of the time, I use Photoshop to take out distractions or mistakes in a photo with the correction tools.

I can make a horizontal photo vertical with the Content Aware fill feature (depending on the photo).

I can use the brush tool to hide or enhance parts of the photo.

How to Make a Pinterest pin in Photoshop:

I also use Photoshop to make Pinterest pins. I have made a template for my pins, so I can just type the correct text and add an image. That way my pins all look the same.

Making graphics is very easy in Photoshop, once you know how to use the program. There really are no limits to how you can change an image or make a graphic.

Let me show you how I use the template I made to make a Pinterest pin very quickly:

I hope these videos have helped you see that once you learn the basics of Lightroom and Photoshop, you can do so much with these tools that surpass other photo editing software.

Action Steps:

  1. Click on one of the resources below to watch videos on how to use Photoshop or Lightroom.
  2. Sign up for Lightroom and Photoshop for $10 a month.
  3. Get in there and play around. You might just be surprised how fast you can learn these tools.

Lightroom and Photoshop are very powerful tools that can help you take your photos and graphics to the next level. I know they can be complicated at first, but if you check out the resources below, they will become manageable. One of the best things about blogging for me is learning new things and conquering new fears. So don’t be afraid, just try it and see. And if you have questions, don’t be afraid to email me and ask. I’ve got your back!

Do Adobe products scare you? Click here to see why I love using Lightroom and Photoshop for my blog photography and I share 2 short videos to show you how to do it too.Click To Tweet

Resources:

Adobe Photoshop Tutorial for Beginners Videos by Mister Ninja Boy

Lightroom CC for Beginners Video on the Photoshop Training Channel

pinterest image for this post

How do you use Lightroom or Photoshop for your blog? Let us know in the comments below!




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12 Winter Photography Tips for Magical Images

Does winter photography scare you a little? Click here to get 12 tips to help you get outside and shoot during the magical winter season. #photographytips #winterphotography #photography #winter

Do you love the winter time? Right now many people around the country are getting slammed with winter storms and freezing temperatures.

It is tempting to want to stay inside during this kind of weather and snuggle up by the fireplace.


And while I do suggest that you stay inside and be safe during the storm, the aftermath of a snow storm can be a magical time for photography.

So today, I want to give you 12 tips for taking amazing winter photography for your blog and family.

***Disclaimer-Although everyone around the country seems to be getting slammed with snow, here in SW Colorado we haven’t had more than an inch all season. That is very strange for our area. So while I will add photos from past years, I used some stock photos to make my points. I will state which are mine and which are stock so you will know. I don’t want you to think I was trying to trick you. We are praying for snow!***

12 Tips for Winter Photography that Rocks!a male and female couple hiking in the snowy mountains

  1. Bundle up- You can’t enjoy photography if you are freezing! Get your hat, coat, and fingerless gloves on so you can enjoy the outdoors. In the photo, they are wearing jeans. I would suggest snow pants or something else that will repel water. (Stock photo)
  2. Protect your camera & lens- Sudden changes from cold to warm isn’t good for your equipment.  Allow your camera to slowly warm up after being out in the cold, and you can also put it in a plastic bag to reduce condensation inside the camera. You can also use a clear filter to protect your glass. Does winter photography scare you a little? Click here to get 12 tips to help you get outside and shoot during the magical winter season. #photographytips #winterphotography #photography #winter
  3. Get the details- It is so fun to capture snowflakes and footprints in the snow. These and other details make for a memorable shot. I took this picture of snowy juniper berries in my backyard last year. Does winter photography scare you a little? Click here to get 12 tips to help you get outside and shoot during the magical winter season. #photographytips #winterphotography #photography #winter
  4. Capture the calm- After a snow storm, the outside landscape can look so peaceful and serene. Get out there fast and capture it before people and animals make their mark. I took this photo of Lizard Head in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado. It was so quiet in the snow and there wasn’t another soul in sight. Kinda eery and amazing at the same time. Does winter photography scare you a little? Click here to get 12 tips to help you get outside and shoot during the magical winter season. #photographytips #winterphotography #photography #winter
  5. Make sure your whites are white- Snowy photos can turn grey or blue if you don’t take precautions. Fix your white balance (in camera or in post processing) to make sure everything looks white. In this photo of a icy river through the San Juan Mountains near my home, I left the dirty snow in the bottom right corner (because that is how it was) but made sure most of the snow looked white like it did in real life. Does winter photography scare you a little? Click here to get 12 tips to help you get outside and shoot during the magical winter season. #photographytips #winterphotography #photography #winter
  6. Take a spare battery- Batteries can lose charge faster in the cold, so if you are going to be out in it for awhile, you should carry a spare. Does winter photography scare you a little? Click here to get 12 tips to help you get outside and shoot during the magical winter season. #photographytips #winterphotography #photography #winter
  7. Use the weather as a photo element- The weather itself can be a cool element of the shot. Capture it snowing, the dark clouds of a storm or the wind blowing as a way to tell the story. In this photo above taken near Silverton, Colorado, I accentuated the stormy sky because it created a moody look to the photo. Does winter photography scare you a little? Click here to get 12 tips to help you get outside and shoot during the magical winter season. #photographytips #winterphotography #photography #winter
  8. Draw in fresh snow for a fun message- If the wind is calm, you can draw designs in the snow for a cool look. I love how they added a heart for a fun element in this already pretty photo. (Stock photo)
  9. Meter Correctly– The snow can throw off the camera’s metering and make the shot seem brighter than it is. Manually meter off of something besides the snow for a bright photo. Does winter photography scare you a little? Click here to get 12 tips to help you get outside and shoot during the magical winter season. #photographytips #winterphotography #photography #winter
  10. Get the action shot- Are you kids jumping in the snow or making snow angels? Crank up that shutter speed and get an action shot for a fun photo.  I love this photo because you can see the snow coming off of her gloves. (Stock photo) Does winter photography scare you a little? Click here to get 12 tips to help you get outside and shoot during the magical winter season. #photographytips #winterphotography #photography #winter
  11. The inside looking out- If getting out in the cold just isn’t going to work, you can take good photos inside too. Frosty windows, kids looking outside or hot cocoa by the fire are all things you could take photos of inside that will show it is cold outside. (Stock photo) Does winter photography scare you a little? Click here to get 12 tips to help you get outside and shoot during the magical winter season. #photographytips #winterphotography #photography #winter
  12. Take advantage of bright colors- A snowy scene can be a great backdrop to a pop of color. Whether you use a bright red jacket, blue sled, etc., that pop of color can really draw your eye to the subject. I shot this photo just out my front yard. I love how the bright green tractor pops out from all of the snow in the background.

Every season has it’s amazingly unique qualities and reasons you should shoot. I love winter because of the calm, peaceful feeling it exudes. But winter photography can be intimidating. Don’t let it get the best of you! Get outside and shoot. You won’t regret it!

Action Steps:

  1. Bundle up.
  2. Protect your camera and lens.
  3. Get outside and take some photos.

Whether winter snow is a usual occurrence or a once in a lifetime moment, you want to capture all of that awesomeness. I hope these tips above have given you ideas of how to make the most of this magical time of year.

What tips would you add for winter photography? Let us know in the comments below. Thanks!




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6 Reasons the DSLR Isn’t Dead (from an iPhone User)

Do you use your iPhone for blog photography? While iPhone is convenient, click here to find out why I think the DSLR isn't dead and why you need one. #photography #photographytips #blogging #photographyforbloggers

I love my iPhone. I take it with me to every event, check my social media on it often, listen to podcasts, watch videos on it and sometimes even call or text people.

I love my iPhone, but it isn’t a substitute for my DSLR. For those that don’t know, DSLR stands for Digital Single-Lens Reflex and it is a camera where you can change out the lenses for whatever kind of photo you want to take.

I got my first DSLR 6 years ago for Christmas. I was so excited to learn how to shoot manual and learn what all the buttons were for. I felt like I could be a real photographer because I had a real camera. Now this was an amateur, low level DSLR, but I didn’t care. It could teach me what I needed to know about making beautiful photos of the world around me.



Over the next couple of years, I learned how to shoot in manual. I learned how to use a tripod and how I could use different lenses and focal lengths to my advantage. People started to comment on how beautiful my pictures were. “Your camera takes great pictures” they would say. That would get on my nerves sometimes, but I would go with it. It was no use trying to explain that the camera doesn’t take the pictures, I do. That would be like saying “Your stove bakes great cookies”. It isn’t the stove, it’s the baker. While tools make some things easier, they don’t do the work for you. The same with a camera.

Anyways, back to my DSLR. I loved taking my camera on vacation or to my kids baseball games and getting great images. Sure, it is kinda big and clunky, but it does the job very well.

Then I bought my first iPhone. Before that, I had an android that didn’t do much for me in the way of pictures. I only used it for emergency photos and carried my DSLR pretty much everywhere.

I had heard so much about the iPhone and how awesome the camera was with it that I just finally broke down and got one (by then it was the iPhone 4). It was fun to take pictures of everything around me and even videos too. It was handy to have a camera that I could stick in my pocket and always have with me.

So like everyone else, I filled my 8GB iPhone 4 with as many photos and videos as it would hold. I’m not much into selfies (I prefer to be behind the pictures instead of in front of them) but every once in a while my kids would convince me that we had to have a selfie and I obliged.

So why am I telling you this story? If I have an iPhone (now I have a 6 s plus), why do I need a DSLR?

Because the iPhone can’t do what I need a camera to do.

Do you use your iPhone for blog photography? While iPhone is convenient, click here to find out why I think the DSLR isn't dead and why you need one. #photography #photographytips #blogging #photographyforbloggers

What my iPhone can’t do:

  1. My iPhone doesn’t perform well in low light conditions. If I take a low light photo with my phone, I’m going to get a grainy mess. The technology is getting better, but I don’t think it is all the way there yet.
  2. My iPhone photos look TERRIBLE if I zoom with my fingers. One of the big no-nos of iPhone photography is don’t zoom with your fingers. If you want a zoom, you are going to have to move your feet or get a zoom lens.
  3. I can’t enlarge and print my iPhone pictures to whatever size I want. Most people look at the small screens for iPhone pictures and they look amazing. But if you blow them up and put them on your wall, the quality won’t be as great as a DSLR.
  4. I can’t zoom in on the guy in the outfield from the stands. My kids play lots of sports. I need my big 300mm zoom lens to get them close up, even in the outfield.
  5. I can’t change settings such as aperture, shutter speed, ISO and white balance. On the new iPhone 8, I hear they do have portrait mode (which acts like a small aperture), but you still don’t have the control you would on manual mode of a DSLR.
  6. I can’t shoot in RAW format, which gives me the full ability to edit my photos. I love shooting in RAW. It gives you so much more control when it comes to editing and completing your vision.

And while I am sure there are apps to solve atleast some of these problems, I prefer to use my DSLR for all of these things and more.

So if you are serious about photography for your blog or for your life, you need to have a DSLR.

What Kind of DSLR Should I Get?

I am a Nikon fan and probably always will be. But in the arena of DSLR cameras, there are 3 names that everyone talks about (affiliate links):

  1. Nikon
  2. Canon
  3. Sony

I don’t think you can go wrong with any of these brands. I just happen to have a Nikon and that is what I like to use.

What About Mirrorless Cameras?

I don’t know much about mirrorless cameras, since I have never used one. But I know their popularity is on the rise, so we should probably add them to the list.

I’ll let Wikipedia explain: “A mirrorless interchangeable lens camera (MILC) is a digital camera with an interchangeable lens. A mirrorless camera uses an image sensor to provide an image to the electronic viewfinder (EVF). It is called mirrorless since it does not have a movable mirror in the optical path.”

While iPhone is convenient, click here to find out why I think the DSLR isn't dead. #photographyClick To Tweet

These cameras are a good option instead of a traditional DSLR. If you have one, please comment below and tell me why you love/hate it.

So while the iPhone has it’s place in our fast paced, digital world, in my opinion it doesn’t replace the need for a DSLR camera.  When it comes to photography, you want to have the best tool (you can afford) to get the job done. I hope that my 6 reasons above have convinced you that I’m right!

What do you think? Is the DSLR dead? Please let us know in the comments below. Thanks!




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12 Frugal Photo Editing Sites for Bloggers on a Budget

Are you confused on what program to use for photo editing? Click here to see 12 frugal photo editing sites for bloggers on a budget and get started today. #blogging #photoediting

Good photography can make or break a blog these days. I talk about the importance of photography to bloggers in this post.

But photo editing can be a bloggers worst nightmare. How do I get my pictures to look as awesome as all the ones I see on Instagram and other blogs?

There are many factors that go into making a great photo. No amount of photo editing can save a bad photo.



But once you have the photo you think is a winner, photo editing can help you finish the project. And, of course, you need a solution that won’t break the bank.

Here are my top suggestions for photo editing for bloggers:

Here are the ones I’ve used myself:

Adobe Photoshop/Lightroom:

I love the Photoshop/Lightroom combination for photo editing. This comes from my photography and digital scrapbooking background. You can get both of these programs from Adobe for $9.99/month which is a great deal! I started using Photoshop back when you had to pay several hundred dollars for each version and download the program to your computer from the disc each time. Adobe Creative Cloud awesome and I love how easy it is to get updates and stay current with the latest versions.

I understand that Photoshop and Lightroom have a big learning curve. It takes a while to learn these programs, but they give you so much more opportunity to do whatever you want with your photos. I think it is worth it to learn.

Here are resources to help you learn:

Photoshop courses (affiliate link) @ KelbyOne (membership costs $19.99 a month for unlimited classes)

Photoshop courses (affiliate link) @ CreativeLive (free if you watch in real time)

Adobe Photoshop Tutorial: The Basics for Beginners by Mister Ninja Boy on YouTube

Canva:

I learned of this program after I became a blogger. It is great to use for graphics and PDFs if you don’t know how to use Photoshop. I use it for font and graphic ideas. You can make Pinterest graphics, social media graphics, ebook covers and PDFs easily on this program. It is fairly easy to use and understand. There is a free and paid version. If I didn’t use Photoshop, I would use the paid version of Canva. With the paid version, you can save your fonts and colors to use each time for brand cohesiveness.

Here are resources to help you learn:

Canva for Entrepreneurs @ Kate Danielle is a great, free course that walks you through Canva and how you can use it for your business.

Are you confused on what program to use for photo editing? Click here to see 12 frugal photo editing sites for bloggers on a budget and get started today. #blogging #photoediting

PicMonkey:

I first heard of this program from Becky Higgins for digital scrapbooking. She swears by PicMonkey in editing her photos. PicMonkey used to be free, but now it is a paid product. If you are used to using the free version, it would probably be worth it to pay the fee to make it easier on yourself.

Adobe Spark:

I love Adobe, so I was excited to hear they have a program similar to Canva to make graphics and edit photos for bloggers.

Snapseed:

I use this photo editor on my phone for a quick edit before I put something on social media. It has fun filters and can get your photos edited quickly.

Here are some that have been recommended to me by other bloggers, but I haven’t used myself:

As of now, these are all free to get started, but then some have upgraded accounts for more features.

Pixler

BeFunky

Gimp

Stencil

InkScape

FotoJet

My first recommendation would be to learn Photoshop/Lightroom if you can. If that doesn’t work for you, try these other suggestions to get you started editing your blog photos. Editing your photos (even minimally) can make a big difference on how professional they look on your blog.

Click to see 12 frugal photo editing sites for bloggers on a budget and get started today. #editClick To Tweet

I hope this list helps you find the right photo editing program that works for your needs and budget.

Are you confused on what program to use for photo editing? Click here to see 12 frugal photo editing sites for bloggers on a budget and get started today. #blogging #photoediting

What program do you use for photo editing? Let us know in the comments below. Thanks!




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4 Easy Tips for Organizing Your Digital Space Today

Are your computer files a mess? Click here for 4 tips for organizing your digital space so you can free yourself to be creative in your business. #photography #blogging #organization

Everyone is talking about decluttering this time of year. We need to get rid of stuff to make room for living.

That is true about our homes, but what about our digital space? Do you know how to access things quickly on your computer/phone?



Today we are going to talk about organizing your digital files so that you can easily access them daily.

As photographers and bloggers, we keep tons of valuable information on our computers/devices.

How do you keep it all organized so that you can find what you are looking for quickly?

1. Create a system that works:

I have a system of folders on my computer that keep things neat and organized.

I included a picture below.

Are your computer files a mess? Click here for 4 tips for organizing your digital space so you can free yourself to be creative in your business. #photography #blogging #organization

I have a folder for each blog. In the folder, I have a folder for each month. I also have folders for graphics and videos. In my monthly folders, I have a folder for Pinterest images, original images, post quotes and blog ready images.

This system helps me stay organized for each month, and also have access to graphics and videos that I use every month.

For the new year, I will put all the blog files from last year into one folder and start the process over for January 2018.

My workflow:

When I upload a photo for my blog, I save it in the originals folder for that month.

Then I reduce the size to make it blog ready and save it to the blog ready folder.

Then I make a Pinterest image in Photoshop (you can do it in Canva or PicMonkey too) and save it to the Pinterest images folder. Right now, I am testing 2 different pin types for each post, so I put them all in this folder.

Finally, I make a quote for each post and put it in the post quotes folder under each month.

Each month I start a new folder with these same folders inside. This helps everything stay neat and organized.

2. Naming your files:

How do you name your files to keep them organized?

I name all of the pictures for the same blog post the same name with a different number at the end.

So for this post, I would name my pictures digitalspace01.jpg, digitalspace02.jpg and so on.

If I am doing a photo shoot, I usually do the same thing for each shoot. So if I am shooting our family Christmas card photos, I would save them as familycard01.jpg, familycard02.jpg and so on.

Naming your photos by topic instead of keeping the random number your camera assigns is not just good for organization, but it is also good for SEO on your blog.

Are your computer files a mess? Click here for 4 tips for organizing your digital space so you can free yourself to be creative in your business. #photography #blogging #organization

3. Backup everything:

The most important thing you can do for your photography is to BACK UP YOUR PHOTOS! Sorry, did I yell?

Backing up your photos is very important. And you don’t want to just back them up one place. You need multiple places just in case one place fails.

I lost everything 3 years ago to a house fire. It was devastating. One of the big things I took away from the fire is backing up your photos.

I actually had about 14,000 online (I was a scrapbooker, so I had them on Shutterfly), but they were mostly older pictures.

The pictures I lost were the pictures from just that year before the fire.

I had them backed up on my external hard drive, but no where else. I had a few on Facebook, but those aren’t usually good quality to recover.

My computer and external hard drive were so badly damaged by the fire that the information could not be recovered.

I always thought “well, if there is a house fire, I’ll just grab the hard drive and run!” It never crossed my mind that I wouldn’t be home (we were on vacation) when our house burned down.

I’m not telling you this to feel sorry for me. We have recovered and everything is great again. But I tell you this so you can put systems in place in case this (or another disaster) happens to you.

I would suggest backing up on an external hard drive (monthly) and backing up online (continuously).

How do I backup my photos online?

Online backup can be done several ways.

  • You can use the cloud to automatically back up your phone or computer.
  • You can use a service to run in the background of your computer to back it up on a regular basis. I will link in the resources section below to some recommendations of services that do this kind of thing.
  • You can manually upload pictures to sites like Flickr or Shutterfly that will keep you photos for you for free.

4. Purge when necessary:

Once a year, you should get rid of the things on your computer you don’t need anymore.

This could be extra copies of the same photo or file.

It could be photos from affiliate promotions that are outdated.

It might mean that you pick your favorite photos from a certain year (3 or 4 years ago) and get rid of the original files from that year.

Purging helps to make space on your computer and in your brain for new stuff.

Action Steps:

  1. Come up with a system of organization on your computer that makes sense for you.
  2. Organize everything so that it is easily accessible.
  3. Backup and purge often to keep your digital space protected and tidy.

Digital files are very important to our blog/business and our personal lives. Whether it is photos for clients, your blog or your family; you don’t want to lose them. By organizing your files, backing them up for later and purging when necessary, you are keeping your digital space clean and efficient. So I challenge you today to do the action steps above and get your digital space organized. You won’t regret it.

Get 4 tips for organizing your digital space so you can free yourself to be creative. #bloggingClick To Tweet

Resources:

8 Best Commercial Backup Software Programs @ Lifewire

The Best Online Backup Services of 2017 @ PC Mag

Dos and Don’ts for Organizing Your Digital Files @ Seagate

How to Start Purging Your Digital Life @ PC Mag

How do you organize your digital space? Let us know in the comments below. Thanks!




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10+ Ideas to Make Your Holiday Photos Rock This Year!

Do your Christmas photos usually turn out flat? Click here to see 10+ ideas that will help you make your Christmas photos rock this year! #Christmas #holidayphotos #phototips

It’s Christmas time! Time for family, food and fun. You don’t want to miss a minute of capturing all of the festivities.

Whether it is for your blog or just your family, taking pictures of your holiday activities is important this time of year.



Blow up your social media (especially Instagram) and your blog with fun, festive pictures.

Today, I wanted to give you some ideas of how you can boost your holiday photos and make them shine. These will be pictures you will cherish for years to come.

10+ Holiday Photo Ideas:

Bokeh

Do your Christmas photos usually turn out flat? Click here to see 10+ ideas that will help you make your Christmas photos rock this year! #Christmas #holidayphotos #phototips

Bokeh is the blurred out parts of a picture, usually shaped in small circles. With the holidays, colorful bokeh is easy to come by with Christmas lights. By getting lights out of focus in the background of your picture, it makes the photo dreamy and fun.

Get the details

Do your Christmas photos usually turn out flat? Click here to see 10+ ideas that will help you make your Christmas photos rock this year! #Christmas #holidayphotos #phototips

I love the details of the holiday season. The food, decorations, clothing, presents, etc. make the holiday so fun and gives you lots of opportunity for great photos.

Good lighting

Lighting in photography is very important. So many times people suggest you take a picture in awful light, and then wonder why it doesn’t look awesome! If you are taking the picture, then you need to find the light that is the best in the situation. You won’t be upset you made the change.

Capture Traditions

Do your Christmas photos usually turn out flat? Click here to see 10+ ideas that will help you make your Christmas photos rock this year! #Christmas #holidayphotos #phototips

Do you have certain traditions your family does every year? Decorating the tree, Christmas pajamas, or Christmas morning cinnamon rolls; whatever it is, capture it!

Use a Tripod 

Do your Christmas photos usually turn out flat? Click here to see 10+ ideas that will help you make your Christmas photos rock this year! #Christmas #holidayphotos #phototips

If you are in a low light situation, use a tripod for better results. Don’t have a tripod? Steady your camera on a table or steady yourself against a wall for better stability. You don’t want to end the season with blurry photos because your settings were off.

Get the big picture 

Do your Christmas photos usually turn out flat? Click here to see 10+ ideas that will help you make your Christmas photos rock this year! #Christmas #holidayphotos #phototips

I know I said above to get the details, but you also want to get the wide shot. Years later when you are looking back at these pictures, it will be fun to see people’s clothing and how your living room was laid out. Those will be pictures to cherish.

Get the kids and pets involved

Do your Christmas photos usually turn out flat? Click here to see 10+ ideas that will help you make your Christmas photos rock this year! #Christmas #holidayphotos #phototips

 I love to get pictures of the kids and the animals under the tree. You can give them a Santa hat or other prop if necessary. Your kids will get older and your pets won’t be around forever. Record what they looked like each Christmas for the future. I cherish this photo I took about 5 years ago of my youngest playing with a train under the tree. I love how little his hands are here.

Shoot daily

A great activity for December is to do a December Daily Project where you record each day the things you are doing for the holidays. Your blog readers would love to see your daily pictures on Instagram or on your blog. Your family will love it too!

Leave copy space

Since you are using some of these pictures for your blog, you are going to need to think about what you are going to do with them. You may want to leave copy space at the top or bottom for a title to use for social media or Pinterest.

Get behind the scenes 

Do your Christmas photos usually turn out flat? Click here to see 10+ ideas that will help you make your Christmas photos rock this year! #Christmas #holidayphotos #phototips

Outtake pictures are sometimes better than the posed shots. Get behind the scenes of your Christmas and see if you can get some once in a lifetime shots when people are least expecting it. This photo shows that we were listening to Christmas music while decorating the tree. Something you wouldn’t have known just by looking at the other pictures.

Bonus!!! Get in the picture 

I threw this one in extra because it needs to be said. All the beautiful pictures in the world won’t be good enough if you aren’t in any of them. So whether it is for your blog or for your family, get in front of the camera and be in the action too!

Action Steps:

  1. Pay attention to the holiday festivities around you.
  2. Take your camera with you everywhere so you will be ready to capture all the fun.
  3. Share your photos on your blog, Instagram or wherever your readers are!

The holidays are a magical time of year for photography. The lights, the happy faces and all of the decorations make for wonderful pictures. I hope you use these tips to make your holiday photos special for your blog and your family.

Wanna see 10+ ideas that will help you make your Christmas photos rock this year? #christmaspics Click To Tweet

I’ll be adding holiday photos on my Instagram daily all holiday season long, so don’t forget to follow us on Instagram to see them all!

What do you love about photographing the holiday season? Let us know in the comments below. Thanks!




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Top 4 Best Online Photo Classes for New Photographers

Do you want to increase your photography skills? Check out these online photography courses to get tips on taking better pics, photo editing and much more. #photographytips #photographers

I love learning photography. For a long time, I went through tons of research and online classes to increase this skill. Even now, I still love learning new ways to increase my photography skills.

There are tons of free resources out there to learn photography. So many, in fact, that some times it can be overwhelming. Where do you even start?



I am suggesting these resources below because they will help you move your photography skills forward in a short amount of time. They aren’t free, but they are organized to where you can find the lessons you need depending on your business and skill level. Whether you are a food blogger, travel blogger or whatever, these classes will help you grow your photography skills quickly and efficiently. I have paid for and used all of these websites in the past and present. I am also an affiliate for these classes, because I think they are so awesome. That means if you signup through the links below, you will help support this website.

What are the best online photo classes for new photographers?

KelbyOne Online Photography, Photoshop, and Lightroom Classes.

KelbyOne– KelbyOne was started by Scott Kelby. I discuss the benefits of this website in this post, so I won’t go in depth here. But they have classes for photography, photoshop, business and so many other topics. It really is a great deal!

CreativeLive– With CreativeLive, you can watch free, live classes with amazing instructors as scheduled, or you can buy the classes to watch at your own pace. Either way, it is an amazing value with topics ranging from photography, editing, styling, etc.

Clickin Moms– I have been a member of this site since 2010. I have learned so much from the awesome ladies there. They have a forum, blog, full classes and smaller breakout sessions. There are lessons on all types of photography plus editing and business. This site is mostly for women, but it is a great and helpful community of amazing photographers.

Learn how to start and grow your food blog with Food Blogger Pro.

Food Blogger Pro– Not just for food bloggers, this membership site has tons of great information for bloggers. I talk about FBP in this post, so I won’t repeat it here. Definitely worth the monthly membership fee.

Pinch of Yum (Bonus!)- I am adding this extra one, because it is an in person workshop that you can sign up for online. It is run by Lindsey Ostrom, the mastermind behind the food blog Pinch of Yum. She takes beautiful photos of her food. The workshops are a little pricey, so I haven’t personally been to one (also, you have to travel to Minnesota). But if you are looking for more hands on learning, I would check this out as an option. This is not an affiliate link.

Learning a skill like photography can be frustrating and overwhelming. I hope these online courses (and one offline) can help you get a solid foundation for this wonderful art. It will be worth it to be able to take beautiful photos for your blog and social media channels. Go forth and learn!

Check out these online photography courses for tips on taking better photos, editing and more.Click To Tweet

Action Steps:

  1. Research these 4 online photography websites.
  2. Pick the one that best suits your needs and budget.
  3. Jump in whole heartedly and learn everything you can to grow your photography skills.

Do you want to increase your photography skills? Check out these online photography courses to get tips on taking better pics, photo editing and much more. #photographytips #photographers

Do you have any other online photography classes to suggest that you love? Let us know in the comments below. Thanks!




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Exposure Triangle Basics for Shooting in Manual Mode

Do you want to learn how to shoot in manual mode? Click here to get the exposure triangle basics of photography to take your pictures to the next level. #exposuretriangle #manualmode #photography #blogging

Learning to shoot in manual mode can be very overwhelming and frustrating to new photographers. There is so much to think about when you are taking the picture. When I was first beginning, I felt like I was always forgetting something or doing something wrong. But now that I have been shooting with my DSLR in manual mode for several years, it has gotten to be second nature.

Today we are going to discuss the exposure triangle and how it can help you get great photos in manual mode.



What is the exposure triangle?

The exposure triangle is the intersection of the three parts of exposure: aperture, shutter speed and ISO. The balance of these three things gets you perfect exposure in manual mode on your DSLR.

Aperture

Aperture is the F-stop number on your lens. This number controls the depth of field (the part of the photo that is in focus) in your photo.

A smaller number means the lens lets in more light, which makes for a brighter picture with less in focus. This is called shooting wide open (usually between a 1.6 to a 5.6 f-stop number) or with a shallow focus. Your focal point will be in focus, but everything in front or behind it will be blurry.

Do you want to learn how to shoot in manual mode? Click here to get the exposure triangle basics of photography to take your pictures to the next level. #exposuretriangle #manualmode #photography #blogging

Many people use a shallow depth of field for portraits or macro shots, where they want to have a blurry background or lots of bokeh, as in the photo above.

A larger number means the lens lets in less light, which makes for a darker picture with more of the photo in focus. This is called stopping down (usually between f 11 to f22 (or 32 depending on your camera) or with deep focus. The bigger the number, the more of your picture will be in focus.

Do you want to learn how to shoot in manual mode? Click here to get the exposure triangle basics of photography to take your pictures to the next level. #exposuretriangle #manualmode #photography #blogging

People usually choose a large depth of field for landscape photography where they want every detail, from the front to the back of the photo, in focus. In this railroad picture, I wanted the tracks in focus and the mountains in the background.

Shutter Speed

Shutter speed is how fast the shutter moves when taking the photo. The slower the shutter moves, the more light that is able to get in. This makes for a brighter photo.

Do you want to learn how to shoot in manual mode? Click here to get the exposure triangle basics of photography to take your pictures to the next level. #exposuretriangle #manualmode #photography #blogging

Fast shutter speed ( 1/200 and up) is used on sports photography to stop the motion. It can also be used to stop any motion in a picture, but it will make the photo darker if you don’t adjust the other elements of exposure. In the photo above, I had to use a faster shutter speed because the deer were fighting and constantly moving. I wanted to make sure they weren’t blurry.

Do you want to learn how to shoot in manual mode? Click here to get the exposure triangle basics of photography to take your pictures to the next level. #exposuretriangle #manualmode #photography #blogging

Slow shutter speed (1/160 or less) is used to blur motion or low light situations. It can be used to make creamy water in a waterfall or river and can bring more light into your photo. You will usually need to use a tripod if you go with a slow shutter speed. This photo of Rainbow Bridge National Monument is taken with a slow shutter speed because the light wasn’t very good and there was nothing moving in the picture.

ISO

ISO refers to how sensitive the sensor of your camera is to the light.

Do you want to learn how to shoot in manual mode? Click here to get the exposure triangle basics of photography to take your pictures to the next level. #exposuretriangle #manualmode #photography #blogging

Most people want to shoot with as low ISO as possible. This allows for the best quality of photo with the least amount of noise. If it is bright outside, like the fall photo above, then it is easy to use a low ISO.

But in order to make a photo brighter, you may need to increase your ISO. Most modern DSLR cameras start at 50 or 100 ISO and shoot without noise up to 1600 to 2000 or even higher.

Do you want to learn how to shoot in manual mode? Click here to get the exposure triangle basics of photography to take your pictures to the next level. #exposuretriangle #manualmode #photography #blogging

If you need to use a higher ISO in low light conditions, you may need to use post processing noise reduction to eliminate graininess in your photo. In this photo at Mesa Verde National Park, I had to use a high ISO to get enough light to take the photo.

How to adjust to get the right balance:

Anytime you adjust one of these three parts of exposure, if affects the others. Therefore, you have to balance all three to make a proper exposure.

  1. Start with ISO. Choose the lowest number that you think you can get away with: 50 or 100 is ideal but if you have less light you might need to go higher.
  2. Choose your aperture. Do you want everything in focus or just your subject with a blurry background?
  3. Pick your shutter speed. Do you need to stop motion or make it blurry?
  4. Adjust to balance all three. If you want a high f-stop or a fast shutter speed, you will have to increase your ISO to make the numbers work.

Ease into manual:

If all of this seems too overwhelming, you might want to start with one at a time. How do you do that? Pick a priority mode to practice with first.

  • Aperture priority-In this setting, you pick the ISO (or put it on auto) and aperture for your photo and the camera will pick the shutter speed. This can help you focus just on depth of field and not worry about the other things. Just know that if you choose a larger number, the shutter speed will decrease which means you may need a tripod to make the shot or your subject will need to be very still.
  • Shutter priority-In this setting, you pick the ISO (or put it on auto) and the shutter speed for your photo and the camera will pick the aperture. Now you can just choose the shutter speed appropriate for your subject and not worry about the other things. Again, if you choose a slow shutter speed, the ISO may increase or your aperture may get smaller to make up the difference in light. This may make your photos noisy or less in focus.

Action Steps

  1. Analyze your photo and decide what look you are going for: freeze motion, blurry background, etc.
  2. Choose your settings according to the 4 steps above.
  3. Keep adjusting your settings anytime the light or your subject changes to get proper exposure.

As I said above, fully understanding these settings and how to use them to make a great photograph will take some time. There are references below to help you get more information on this topic. But if you want to be a great photographer, you need to know how to shoot in manual mode. If you don’t understand some of the photography terminology above, check out this post for 30 Basic Photography Terms You Should Know.

See how to nail the exposure triangle basics of photography to take your pictures to the next level. Click To Tweet

As with any skill, just keep practicing and manual mode will become second nature over time. It will be so worth it when you can have full control over your photographs. The better you can get it in camera, the less time you will have to spend editing later.

References

Cheatsheet: 3 Elements of Exposure @ Digital Photography School

Photography Guide to Mastering Aperture, ISO & Shutter Speed @ Dam Photo

The Exposure Triangle Explained @ Clickin Moms Blog

The Exposure Triangle Explained in 3 Animated Videos @ Peta Pixel

Do you have any tips on learning the exposure triangle? Let us know in the comments below. Thanks!




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13 Composition Rules to Improve Your Photography

Do you struggle with taking interesting photos for your blog? Click here to find 13 composition rules to improve your photography including examples of perspective, framing, rule of thirds and more creative inspiration. #blogphotography #photographytips #composition

I love photography. It is such a fun way to express myself and create art.

Photography can be abstract and expressive or it can be literal and tangible.

For blog photography, we usually are trying to get a message across with the photography in a blog post.



You are trying to catch someone’s attention or express an idea. It can be still life like flat lay photography or it can be lifestyle photography.

One way to express yourself in photography is through composition.

What is Composition?

Composition is the placement or arrangement of visual elements of a photograph to make it more appealing or interesting for the viewer.

Why is it Important?

Good composition can take a boring photograph and make it amazing. It draws the readers eye and attention to the mood and emotion you are trying to express with your photo.

What are the Rules of Composition?

  1. Rule of Thirds- This is the most popular composition rule in photography. Basically, you divide your viewfinder into 9 equal squares. Then you put the most important part of your image in the intersection of those lines. This keeps the subject out of the middle of the photo and makes it more visually appealing for the eye.This is what the rule of thirds grid looks like. You want to align your subject where the lines intersect.
  2. Leading Lines- There are lines all around us. We can use those lines (buildings, roads, etc) to lead the eye through the photograph in a very appealing way.In this photo, the lines of the walkway lead to my family (my boys are way taller now!)  These tall trees lead your eye right up to the blue sky.
  3. Different Perspective- When you are first starting out, you are usually taking a photo straight on as you see it with your camera. To shake things up, you should try a different perspective. This means you should shoot from low or high to mix up the view and see things you hadn’t seen before.
    In this photo, I walked all the way around this arch before I found the perspective I wanted. I am also shooting from low so I can get the arch and background in the shot. To take this shot, I got low so I could see the spray cans in the foreground. That made the composition more interesting.
  4. Clean Background- When you are looking through the viewfinder to take a picture, you should look in the background to see if there is anything distracting you should take away. This means you may have to move a subject because a tree is coming out of their head. You should also check the corners of the photo to see if there are things that are peeking in that shouldn’t be. These distractions are easier to fix in the moment than later in Photoshop. In the picture above, I waited for a man and his dog to walk across the bridge and out of view before I took it so they wouldn’t be distracting.
  5. Symmetry- Nature can be very symmetrical. Whether it is a face or a building or whatever, if you make things even on both sides of the photo, it can add a graphic dimension to the photograph. In the photo above, if you folded the photo in half, it would look the same on both sides (minus the crane). This is symmetry.
  6. Patterns- Patterns make a photo look interesting. Even a break in a pattern can draw the eye and make the viewer think. For this shot of Cadillac Ranch, I used the pattern of the cars to make the photo better.

In this fall leaves photo, the lone red leaf stands out as a break of the pattern.

     7. Odd Numbers-      If you are grouping items in your photo by number, an odd number is usually more visually interesting then an even number. In this stock photo above, three crosses make a great subject for this awesome night sky.

     8. Framing-       If you can use something in the photo to frame your subject, it becomes more interesting. This could be a bridge, building, or anything that keeps your subject enclosed. You can get very creative with frames, and once you learn how to see them you will keep finding them  everywhere. In the above photo, the water and little boat are framed by the cliffs and rocks.

9. Depth of Field- You can use a shallow depth of field to frame and draw out your subject in a photo. While they might blend in if the whole photo is in focus, by blurring the background you bring your subject into the spotlight.   The leaves on this tree stand out from the background because of the shallow depth of field.   I used shallow depth of field in the picture above to pull out the squirrel from the leaves of the tree.

10. Close Crop-Depending on what you are shooting, you may decide to shoot a wide, all encompassing shot or a close up intimate shot. By cropping in closer, you make you subject the main focus. This can make for a more interesting composition.    This is the full view of the front of the tractor. I am already fairly close, because you can’t see the whole tractor.   But when you get even closer, you can see the details of the tractor that make for a better photo.

11. S curve-    Just like in leading lines, using a S curve can increase the strength of your composition. Common S curves are streets, rivers and clothing. In the photo above, the gravel road leads your eye through the aspen forest.

12. Shapes- You can use shapes in your photographs to increase drama and strengthen your composition. Circles, ovals, squares and triangles are the most popular, but any shape will do. In the stock image above, the circle composition is strong because they chose to use almost all circles (except the spoon) which makes the photo better.

13. Reflections- There is just something about reflections that draws the eye into a photograph. Whether it is a lake, a puddle, or a mirror; refections make for a more interesting picture. I love this image I took of the reflections of the cows and the mountains in an alpine lake.

Rules Are Made To Be Broken:

As with most rules, they can be broken. These rules of composition will help you get more interesting compositions in your photos. But you don’t have to follow them to have great pictures. Use them as a guideline and then do what you think is best for your photos.

Action Steps:

  1. Read through the explanations and look at the examples of each rule of composition.
  2. Choose a couple of rules that you haven’t used before.
  3. Get out and shoot, trying to add these elements of composition to strengthen your photos.

Photography can be a confusing skill to learn: shoot manual, have good light, good composition and bring it all together before you press the shutter button. It can make you crazy, right? Well, at first it can be overwhelming. But if you intentionally try to master one part of it at a time, it will become easier. Pretty soon, you won’t be sweating the small stuff and you can enjoy photography as a relaxing hobby that will increase the wow factor of your blog.

Resources:

Top 10 Photography Composition Rules @ Photography Mad

The Golden Ratio in Photography @ Icon Photography School

Divine Composition with Fibonacci’s Ratio @ Digital Photography School

Do you struggle with taking interesting photos for your blog? Click here to find 13 composition rules to improve your photography including examples of perspective, framing, rule of thirds and more creative inspiration. #blogphotography #photographytips #composition

What is your favorite rule of composition? Please let us know in the comments below. Thanks!




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