My Creative Process: Photography

I am asked all the time about my photography set-up and how I take my photographs; I am not a professional photographer, I learned from m...

My Creative Process: Photography

I am asked all the time about my photography set-up and how I take my photographs; I am not a professional photographer, I learned from messing about with cameras and learning what I can do with them. There are plenty of amazing resources online that can teach you the technical side of photography.

While I am never going to write a "how to" photography post about how I take or edit my photographs (because that would take away the magic) I thought I could at least share my set-up.


The Cameras
I use a Canon 550D with the 18-55mm kit lens (I don't own or use any other lenses) for almost every shot taken for the blog and shop. I do occasionally use a Canon G12 PowerShot that I take everywhere with me because it’s so tiny and portable, unlike the 550D which gives me neck ache. I have a few standard settings I like to keep my cameras on and I mess about with the ISO and shutter speed where appropriate.


Settings and Lighting
For my flat lay shots I take photographs on a white surface - literally any white surface - preferably under a large window, in natural light. I loathe setting up the tripod to take photographs on days when the lighting is rubbish but I will if I have to. Owning a tripod and camera remote are incredibly useful and affordable pieces of kit to have. I use both for taking shots in the studio. For outdoor shots, I have a few standard settings I like to use but I play about with them to get the lighting right. Knowing when you can and can’t take a photograph based on the lighting conditions is super important, sometimes you just can’t take a photograph and you have to learn to live with that.


Editing
Editing is really important. I edit every single photograph I take and it makes them infinitely better than the original. If you don’t edit your photographs, you’re missing where the magic happens. Don’t be fooled into thinking photoshop is the devil, it’s quite the opposite. All photographs look better with a little (or a lot of) editing plus it can turn mediocre photographs into something amazing. I guess this might be an unpopular opinion because editing software like Adobe Photoshop doesn’t come cheap but I consider editing software to be more important than having an expensive camera.


On Photography In General
Having an expensive camera will not make you a better photographer; a good camera can only make photographs look clearer and brighter, it can’t teach you how to see good shots. It’s really important to understand that using the same combination of set-up and tools won’t produce the same photographs as someone else - and that’s a good thing. Learn from others but develop your own way of doing things. If you want to achieve a certain style, look at photographers you admire and photographs you like and see if you can replicate that aesthetic in your own way. It’s easier to learn when you are working towards a specific goal. But photography is just as much about personality as it is about the camera and set-up.


It’s really important to play around with your camera, practise taking photographs, and mess around with the settings; learn how lighting works and develop your photography skills over time. Discover how to do things in your own way; it’s all about practice, that’s all there is to learning. Oh and edit your photographs.



[ read all posts from the My Creative Process series ]

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50 SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS

  1. These are all good tips for people trying to learn how to photograph for their blog. And although I am a firm believer that the photographer is the most important component in taking a good photograph, I do think that even for professional photographers a photo taken with a "point and shoot" versus dSLR will look markedly different. But this is all due to the versatility of of a dSLR (or SLR for that matter) and the fact that it allows you to manipulate all the settings you would like to manipulate and choose different depths of fields (this is the thing that makes me hate point-and-shoots forever). Still, I think it would be a fun challenge to set out with a point-and-shoot AND dSLR and try to work the magic with both and compare the results - in fact, I might just do that as a side project.

    Rae | love from berlin

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  2. The smaller camera is a great idea, lugging around a DSLR hurts my already prone-to-aching joints and can feel kind of over-the-top to pull out in public when I sometimes just want to take a few 'souvenir' shots. And editing really saves so many of my pictures, I'm completely with you on that one. I took a few skillshare photography classes which really helped me figure out how to use a camera and lighting to my best advantage, now I actually feel like I know what I'm doing instead of 'hoping for the best' like I used to!

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  3. It's amazing what editing can do to photographs! You take lovely photos, by the way. Thanks for the tips. =)


    Mandy
    mandydacandy

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  4. I love Photoshop but couldn't afford it. I'm so happy that you can subscribe to it now. It's less than £10 pounds a month.

    www.foundsomepaper.com

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  5. Great tips! Just wanted to add that free online tools like Pixlr.com include many of the same features as Photoshop does, and basically has everything you could want for simple editing (not sure how it fairs for graphics design). Definitely check it out if Photoshop is way out of your price range! x

    http://thecornishlife.co.uk

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  6. Agree with you 100% on editing. Nearly all of my photographs are what they are due to editing, because it brings what I imagined to life. Great equipment definitely helps, but Photoshop provides so many different ways to create true art of a raw image. I don't know where I would be without it now.

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  7. I've always loved editing my photos, that really is where the magic happens. I have photoshop but I really should get lightroom as well.

    http://insidesai.blogspot.co.uk/

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  8. This was a very useful post. Would you also consider making a seperate post about youe diting process?

    Girl Against Oleka

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  9. Great post! I like what you have to say here, especially about editing. I think it is really important and can take a picture to the next level. Photoshop can be a tool, just like a tripod, helping you to get the effect you're looking for. Thanks for sharing.

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  10. Oh, thank you so much for this post. I LOVE your pictures. Editing is super important, you're right, and I'm just starting to learn the ins and outs of Photoshop. SO much to learn! It's overwhelming, but I guess I have to start somewhere. Thanks for the info!

    Circus & Bloom
    ♥♥♥

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  11. Great tips! I think lighting makes all the difference when you are taking pictures. You can have the most beautiful background or products, but if you have poor light, then they will not show correctly.

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  12. great tips <3 i do all of them especially the editing and the lighting they are the most essential equipment for me <3


    cuteiinstgram.blogspot.com

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  13. Definitely agree that having an expensive camera doesn't make you a good photographer! I recently got a DSLR and sure enough my photos are coming out clearer but I'm still having the ultimate struggle with all the shutter speed and lighting shenanigans!

    Yet Another Makeup Blog.

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  14. Really insightful post! I'm taking photography classes at the moment so I find it really interesting to read how others work with their cameras and everything involved!
    Hannah x
    Hanniemc.co.uk

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  15. I really want to invest on a good camera. I know you said that editing is more important than the camera itself, but i think that a good DSLR camera makes the difference. I still have to learn loads but this post was very clear, thanks for sharing Sophie!!

    xx Cecil // www.wednesday19th.blogspot.com

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  16. It really is all about practice. I knew a girl who knew nothing about photography but she bought a DSLR and she was like "why aren't my photos turning out good!?" she didn't know anything about composition or lighting... yes a DSLR will help improve your photos but it's all about YOU the photographer, not the camera. A great photographer should be able to take a fab picture with any kind of camera, even a cheap point-and-shoot... anyways, great post! I love learning more about people's photography process :)

    Jessica
    the.pyreflies.org

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  17. Good tips, I just upgraded my camera and learning how to use it now to take better photos. Thanks for sharing!

    http://www.mintnotion.com

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  18. Carly Richardson2/09/2015

    Great post! xx

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  19. Kari Guastella2/09/2015

    Thanks for sharing this insight!
    Kari
    www.sweetteasweetie.com

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  20. posts like these are soooo helpful-thank you :)


    lovemadisonbailee.blogspot.com

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  21. What are some of the standard aperture & shutter settings you use?

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  22. Holly Clark2/10/2015

    Thank you so much for your help and advice Sophie!

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  23. Thank you for reading, Holly, I'm glad it helped.

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  24. Thank you for reading and I'm glad it helped

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  25. Thank you for reading, Kari

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  26. Practice. practice, practice - that's all it comes down to :))

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  27. Yup, I absolutely agree. It's like with everything creative, some people have got the "knack" for something and just "get it" as soon as they try.. others take a bit longer to learn. I definitely think photography is one of those things where you need "the eye" for it and that can take a LONG time to learn if someone is starting from scratch. Other people just have it.

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  28. A good camera means you'll have sharper/clearer photographs.. but it won't teach you how to "see" a great photograph, that's all down to creative talent.

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  29. It's all about practice and playing around with the camera.

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  30. I'm the same - editing and lighting are the key points for me.

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  31. Absolutely.. and knowing how to use that light. I use natural light because I have no clue how to properly work in dark situations.

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  32. Yup, I agree, the images will be clear and sharp but that doesn't mean the photograph will be any good - it's all about developing that personal style.

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  33. It can be overwhelming but, to be honest, there are a handful of things - like dodge/burn, brightness/contrast - that can correct most things. A lot of functions on photoshop are unneccessary to non-professionals.

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  34. Absolutely, you said it perfectly - Photoshop is a tool, just like any other. It's not "evil."

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  35. I hate to sound mean but.. no. I think it's important we keep some "secrets" to ourselves. I have a lot of people asking me how I take my photographs.. and I see people trying to copy what I do (that sounds awfully arrogant but unfortunately it's true.) I think I would be shooting myself in the foot if I wrote a "how to" guide on taking and editing photographs. Besides, my set-up works for me, in my controlled settings. It wouldn't work the same for other people.


    There are plenty of sites written by professionals who can help teach people how to use their cameras and how to edit photographs. I don't know enough about photography (to be honest, I'm just winging it) to "teach" people how to do it.


    So, I'm really sorry, and I hope you don't think I'm too mean.

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  36. Editing is where it's at1

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  37. Editing is SO important but I think it's got a lot of negative press and now people perceive it to be something it's not. ALL photographs need editing.

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  38. They do.. but they are never anywhere near as good as Photoshop - sorry!

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  39. Yes, I think that's a good thing they offer now.

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  40. Thank you so much, Mandy.

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  41. I definitely think professional photography courses can really help people who have no clue about taking photographs - I would definitely recommend those to anyone struggling. Like you said, it takes you from "hoping for the best" to being able to "see" photo opportunities better.

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  42. Awww thank you so much for replying :D i love your blog so much :*

    cuteiinstgram.blogspot.com

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  43. Of course, a DSLR is important for really clear, sharp images.. but I have to say, I think it's a total waste of money for someone who hasn't the first clue about photography. Or at least buying a new DSLR is. By the time they have learned how to use their super up-to-date DSLR.. it will be outdated. It's best to learn how to "see" photographic opportunities first, on a cheaper, smaller camera, and then invest in a camera with better specs.


    I see a lot of bloggers buying hugely expensive cameras and openly not knowing how to use it properly. That's a total waste of money. I'm not saying buy a point-and-shoot (I totally agree with you there, I don't like them) but an older model DSLR is perfectly fine. My camera is old by today's standards but it works beautifully and takes clear shots. But because I know how to edit them, the finished product can look much better than someone who took a photograph with a super hi-spec camera. That was the kind of point I was trying to make :))

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  44. It's not, no, but it is the best in my opinion. Picasa and PicMonkey just don't cut it next to professional software. I know it's expensive but totally worth it and the monthly fee is very affordable.

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  45. Oh I totally agree - there is no reason to spend thousands of dollars when a blog is a hobby. I have a dSLR because I am a freelance photographer and I use my blog as a medium to share how I like to see and photograph the world. But if I were not, and just blogging for enjoyment about other topics that were not specifically visual - like about makeup or fashion - an entry level cheap or used dSLR would definitely do the trick. And you are very right the editing process is a huge part of making something really pop. And about seeing - this is very true - learning basic photography rules and how to see CAN be done even with a point-and-shoot. It's really just if photography is a big part of your life that eventually you will want to learn and know how to manipulate depth of field, shutter speed, iso, etc. to have more creative freedom. I guess I should have made that clear! :)

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  46. when it comes to editing, and people saying it's 'bad' i think of film photographers 'editing' their negatives in the dark room. even the most amazing photographer in the world may make little mistakes with exposure or wants to be creative with the outcome. that's what digital editing is, really. manipulating exposure and tones to make it the best possible photo in their eyes.


    camera wise, it's all about the lighting and the lens. you can't take a photo with no light, can you? good natural light is generally best and easiest for the majority of people, whether a 'proper' photographer or not. studio lighting can be fantastic but you definitely need to know how to use it! like anything, it's about practice. a good lens makes the most of the light and the quality of image. saying that, toy cameras can take brilliant photos and often their lenses aren't technically that good!


    when it comes down to it, and this is something i will always stand by, it's down to practice. whether you have a natural talent for it (or anything creative) practice is inevitably the thing that will take you from 'blah' to 'brilliant'.

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  47. This! 100% this!
    I see so many people just getting the newest, most expensive camera model and then they just shooting in auto mode. It honestly makes me cringe! Photography is a skill you learn, not the equipment you buy (or at least it is less the equipment than one would think).
    I also hear you on the 'evil Photoshop' mindset. Photo editing has gotten a bad rep, while it is such a vital tool to adjust tones or generally correct minor flaws that would distract from the bigger picture (heheh, pun not intended).

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  48. Great tips. Photography is definitely something I need more practice in (and probably more patience too..!)

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