Tips for taking bright photos for your blogHow to take bright photos for your blog

One of the most frequent questions I get asked about photography, is how I get my pictures to look so bright, and so today I’ll share a few tips with you for taking better, brighter photos.

Before I start, I want to once again remind you guys that I am not an expert when it comes to photography, but I did make considerable progress and improvement over the years (check out my Photography Tips for Bloggers post if you don’t know what I’m talking about and to see what my pictures looked like only a few years a go), so please keep that in mind.

how to take bright photos

Lighting

One of the best ways to guarantee a clean, bright image is to use natural light. I showed you guys my usual set up for product and food photography before; I basically take my photos next to a huge kitchen window/sliding door. It’s one of the brightest areas in my house, so I would recommend that you take your photos in a bright room. Another thing to remember here is time of the day. If you’re taking photos outside, generally the best time to do so is about an hour and a half after sunrise and an hour and a half around sunset. For indoor photos, I noticed that I am able to get that perfect lighting somewhere between 8-9 am. Sometimes I can get away with taking pictures as late as 11am, but on most days the sun is really harsh around this time of day and way too bright and difficult to work with. This, of course is different for everyone else and may depend on where you live, your surroundings, etc.

Chanel Chance Perfume

Another thing to keep in mind, is positioning of the product: it can make a huge difference. Generally, I like to take “flatlay” photos, where my subject(s) is on a flat surface, while I take my pictures “from above” while standing over it. Other times, I place my products directly in front of me, while my back is facing the light source. Just look at the two images below to understand what I mean. In the first image, my subject is facing me, there is a window behind it, and I am positioned facing the light source (in other words, I’m facing the window). In the second image, my product is facing the window, while I have my camera pointed away from the light (this time, my back is facing the window). I definitely recommend pointing your camera away from the light while having your product facing it.

toward the lightFacing the light

away from the lightAway from the light

Even though I don’t think there is anything better than natural light, sometimes I have no choice but to use artificial lights. As I already mentioned in my previous photography posts, I use two soft boxes (these are similar to mine) and a ring light (this one is similar to mine). Soft boxes are definitely a cheaper option and work pretty great if you know how to adjust your camera settings properly. I wouldn’t recommend taking photos in the evening, with your regular, room lighting on (like ceiling lamps, etc) but if you do not have any other choice, I’d recommend playing around with White Balance settings. The “Auto” White Balance setting will almost always, always leave an ugly, yellow cast on indoor photos (that aren’t taken during the day with natural light filing the room).

hourglass-powder-palette-reviewTaken using my soft boxes, I have one placed on each side.

NYX Soft Matte Lip CreamsAlso taken using my soft boxes, I once again have one placed on each side.

Rimmel-Provocalips-review-USTaken using my ring light, placed right in front of the product.

Reflectors

Having a limited source of light, means that most of the time you need to work with what you’ve got. One of the most helpful and inexpensive solutions for making my photos brighter was buying a white reflector. I use it to bounce off the light that’s coming through the window, which in turn makes the image brighter and eliminates any shadows. This reflector is collapsible, which makes it very easy to store and travel with. If you don’t want to invest in a reflector, you can easily use white cardboard instead. This is what my set up looks like:

blog photography set up

You can see that using a reflector also makes a huge difference in food photography (to check out more tips about food photography read this post). In the photo on the left I have a window on the right side and nothing on the left side. On the right image, I placed my white reflector on the left side to bounce off the light coming through the window and ended up with a brighter, more appetizing image.

Tps for food photography

Revlonrevlon highlighting palette rose glowNatural light

Camera Settings

I’ve already stressed the importance of using manual settings on your DSLR. While it can be very overwhelming at times, it’s definitely worth getting to know your camera and being able to adjust your settings accordingly to your set up, lighting and other circumstances. If you still have trouble using manual settings, check out this post where I discussed some basics. One of the most important settings that can help you achieve a brighter image is ISO, which is your camera’s sensitivity to light. The higher your ISO, the more sensitive it is. To show you what cranking up your ISO can do for your images, I took two photos; one with ISO 160, another one with ISO 1600. You can see that there is a HUGE difference between these two images. Usually I like to keep my ISO as low as possible (preferably around ISO100), but being that today the weather is very gloomy and dark, I had no other choice. The reason why I like to keep my ISO settings low, is the fact that as you bring your ISO up, you can jeopardize the quality of your image. High ISO settings tend to leave images looking blurry and very grainy. Definitely keep that in mind when playing around with your ISO. Both images were shot at f/2.8.

ISO 160ISO 160

ISO 1600ISO 1600

Hope you enjoyed this post, as always, let me know if you have any questions. Make sure to check out my other photography posts like this one:

Photography Tips for BloggersΒ (& DSLR basics)

photography tips for bloggers

  • These tips are great. I don’t take many pictures for my blog, although I should, but when I get the camera I’m saving for I will definetly keep these in mind!

    xx Cecil // http://www.wednesday19th.blogspot.com

  • I also try to keep the ISO as low as possible, the quality is so much better!
    http://cherieedle.blogspot.com

  • This such a great post, I love big and bright photos. Your photos are so good. i am going through all you photography posts and taking notes.
    Zeynab xx

    • Thank you so much Zeynab!!

  • such great tips thank you!

  • These are such great tips, thanks!

    FARFROMPERFECTIONXO

  • Mel
  • These are AMAZING tips! Definitely one of the best photography tips posts I’ve read! I wish I was better at taking photos and really want to get to know my camera better, so this is perfect. My blog is filled with those ugly yellow photos and I hate it! My house is just not very bright and all my windows are just ridiculously angled. This is so not a blogging friendly house haha. I would love to get those soft lights but they’re just really big and my room is just really small! I’ll definitely have to figure something out though! Thanks for the tips, I’ll bookmark this post and return when I need it! xxx

    itsjustsofie.com

    • Thanks so much Sofie, so sweet of you to say that! My photos used to be horrible, trust me! My house is also not very bright and our windows are tiny, that’s why I always struggled with photography. Taking pictures is a great alternative, especially during warmer days! πŸ˜‰ Thanks again for visiting! <3

  • Love your post! This is really helpful. I am just starting with blogging and I definitely will be using your tips.

    • Thanks so much Camille! Best of luck with your blog!

  • This was such a useful post, Thank you so much!

    • Thanks so much Jorden!

  • Thank you so much. I have been trying to make my photos brighter. This will help me tremendously! Have a lovely day!
    http://www.sweetheartofthesouth.com

    • So happy you found this useful Mary, thanks so much for reading. xx

  • sophie

    Love these tips! I’m having a nightmare with the lack of natural light at the moment. I think it’s time to invest in a light box

    http://www.sophieslittlesecrets.blogspot.com

    • I know exactly what you mean! My house is pretty gloomy as it is, and the weather definitely doesn’t help haha πŸ˜‰

  • Thank you for taking the time to write this! I usually try and use post production to correct the lighting aspects I can’t get right while shooting, but I think it’s time to invest in a soft box and use these tips. xxxx

    • Editing helps quite a bit! This might actually be a great idea for a post πŸ˜‰ Good set up definitely saves time with minimizing the need for editing and soft boxes are definitely worth investing in! πŸ˜‰ Thanks for reading. xx

  • Love this post, so great! So many great tips!

    http://annlooos.blogspot.com

    • Thanks so much, SO happy you loved this post <3 <3

  • Thank you so much for this post. I have been in a photography “rut” and this has really helped!

    • You’re very welcome Lauren, thanks for visiting! xx

  • Love this post Paula. Great tips I will be keeping in mind for my future photos. Thank you Paula xo Jodie

    • Thanks so much Jodie! πŸ˜‰

  • Thank you so much for the great tips! Really needed them! x

    • You’re welcome Carmen, so glad you found this useful! <3

  • Such a great, informative post. I really need to learn the more technical side of my camera to be able to get the most out of it! Just seems so daunting when starting from scratch πŸ™‚ xx

    Brenda BusyBee

    • Trust me, I know the feeling Brenda! Gotta take it little by little and try not to get too frustrated (I almost broke my camera once when trowing it on the couch in frustration πŸ˜‰ )

  • Thank you SO much for this post but also for all the other ones! They were really helpful for me, even though I don’t own a DSLR. Kudos!

    • You’re so welcome!!

  • Thanks for the tips, I have just started following your blog and I am new to blogging so this is very helpful. Looking forward to reading more of your posts.

    http://www.lucywachowe.co.uk

  • Ahhhh such a helpful post! Thank you so much!
    Ivory Avenue

  • Thanks this was very helpful for a newbie like me!

    • So happy you found it helpful Heather, thank you so much for visiting!

  • SO glad I found you!! UGH where have you been all my blogging life?

    • Haha aww thanks so much Caroline! πŸ˜‰

  • absolutely excellent post! thank you so so much!

    • Thank you so much Helene!

  • Thanks for the advice, I’m new to beauty blogging so it was really helpful, I will be bookmarking this post! πŸ™‚

  • These are such great tips πŸ˜€ I always take photos in my conservatory to get the best light and the ‘Shadows’ tool on Fotor is great for when I can’t! xx

    Magpie Jasmine | Zoeva Brush Set Giveaway

  • thank you for these great tips! now i know how to take better photos πŸ™‚ uhm by the way can you also make a blog post about “How to take good photos using your iPhone” I will appreciate it if you do.

    • Thanks so much Jamie, happy you found this post helpfuL! I’ll definitely think about it, thanks for the idea! πŸ™‚

  • Thank you, so much! I have needed to see a post like this for a while, as I am struggling to take good photos, and this is perfect! It has all the info I need(:

    -Charlotte xo (http://allthingsmakeupbeautyandlife.blogspot.co.uk/)

    • Yay! You’re very welcome, so happy you liked this post! πŸ˜‰

  • Serisblog.com

    Amazing tips!!! Love this post. – Seri from http://www.Serisblog.com

  • Sami Mast

    Thanks so much for the tips! I’m always on the search for better ways to take pictures for my blog!
    XO, Sami
    http://www.theclassicbrunette.blogspot.com

  • These was really helpful! Great tips! Easy to read and understand! I’m going to read the other photography tips for bloggers! Thanks!! β™₯

    Federica | http://www.mystyleandlight.com

  • natalie laurette

    I think may need to invest In a reflector after reading this post..Haha!
    I really liked this post and, (im not going to lie, I just read about 10 of your posts in a row) I absolutely love your blog!
    Natalia |www.natalielaurette.blogspot.co.uk

  • Liz

    These are all wonderful tips, thank you for sharing!

    xo, Liz
    http://lipstickandconfetti.com

  • Really helpful!
    Love it, thanks!

  • Dazz

    What a useful post, thank you! And to your question – it was a beauty blogger (Kissbook by Mia, type it on FB) from our little Czech Republic, I’m glad that it brought you so many views, including mine πŸ™‚

    • OMG thank you so much! I was trying to find out who mentioned me all day, I was going crazy haha! πŸ™‚ I have to message her and thank her. So happy you liked this post! And we’re practically neighbors, I grew up in Poland πŸ˜€ πŸ˜‰ Thanks again!!

  • Monica Chieng
  • Alana Neilson

    This is such a cool post!
    So many great tips!
    I have just started blogging, i would love to chat to you about some things πŸ˜€
    let me know
    lana xo

    • Thanks so much Alana! Feel free to shoot me an email at paula[at]thirteenthoughts.com if you have any questions.

  • Gina Boyington

    This post and your other one have been so incredibly helpful!!! You answered SO many questions that I’ve had in reference to photography for my blog. Thank you so much for taking the time to write it!

    xxx,
    Gina
    bellestopeaches.wordpress.com

  • Love! Where did you purchase the reflector and roughly how much did it cost, if you don’t mind me asking! I’m pretty sure I’ve read this post before. HOW did I miss that using white cardboard can act as a reflector? I’m going to give it a go but I’m working with SERIOUS limited lighting. Since I moved a year ago – lighting hasn’t been the same πŸ™ edit: I am all over your blog right now, lol.
    http://www.rosycheeks.org

    • Hey Shay, I believe I linked to the exact one I bought in the post, I got it on amazon and it was pretty cheap like 25 bucks or something? You can find similar one right here http://amzn.to/1ktyTvx I get you, trust me! Our house is so dark too and I always take my pics in my kitchen lol πŸ™‚

      • Shoot, I missed the bold-type! Thanks doll! I will check it out!

        I would never be able to tell your house is dark – your photos are so beautifully lit. I’d pay you to take my pics if it were possible (and if I could afford you.) Lol..

  • This was definitely the most helpful blog post I’ve read on how to take better photos. Thank you so much! I can’t wait to start trying out some of these new tricks (well new for me). I love your blog so much by the way! I am now following on Bloglovin’ and all of your social media channels. Thanks again πŸ˜€

  • Thank you for the tips Paula πŸ˜€
    God Bless
    http://www.estudyantetravels.blogspot.com

  • Great tips, photography i something I really want to up this year

  • Black&White Insider

    Hey Paula, what do you edit your photos with to create the writing / title overlay (like the ‘photography tips for bloggers pic above)? xx

    • I now use Photoshop but before that I used PicMonkey (like in this post). I just add a white layer on top of the picture, make it a bit transparent and then add a text on top of it. πŸ™‚

      • Black&White Insider

        Thank you πŸ™‚ i’ll definitely try! xx

  • Shanti

    I’m just starting to learn how to use my DSLR. The struggle is so real but I keep coming back to your posts for reassurance and guidance. Thank you for them!

    Shanti
    heyshanti.com

  • Chernise Yvette

    Your post are so helpful! I’ve been binge reading today! Thank you. http://www.CherniseYvette.com

  • This is an amazingly helpful post! Thank you for sharing πŸ™‚
    – ambar x
    http://www.herlittleloves.blogspot.com

  • You’re so welcome Chelsea, I’m so happy you found this post helpful! πŸ™‚

  • Bernadette

    I LOVED reading this post. I always try to better my photo skills for my blog and I agree that lighting is everything when it comes to a good quality photo but sometimes the weather interferes with that. Great tips!

    http://www.themakeupaficionado.com

  • Kelsey

    I LOVE this post! I just started my blog a few weeks ago and really want to incorporate my own photography. I just read a bunch of your posts about blog photography, they’re all so helpful!! Can’t wait to try out your tips πŸ™‚

    Kelsey | http://www.kelssays.com

  • Christina Johnson

    I am about a year behind – but I love your post! What kind of camera do you prefer to use? Just bought the reflector – appreciate the tip.

  • Such great tips! I’m still learning how to take great photos for my blog and this was very helpful thank you!!

    Ang xx | http://www.alleluiatobeauty.com

  • Deb Kohl

    Wow, I’m truely glad I found this post. I’ve tried tips from other blogs with no luck. I feel more confident now with my photography. Thank you so much! Good luck to you!!!
    http://www.crowingcow.com

  • good stuff! thank you. very helpful for a new blogger.

  • First I love the makeup collection. Haha. This is a wonderful blog photography tip. Thanks for sharing.
    There’s More to Mica // Instagram / Bloglovin / http://www.micadeleon.com