Blogging Photography

How to take bright photos for your blog

How to take bright photos for your blog.

How 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 ago), 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.

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Another thing to remember here is a 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 11 am, 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 softboxes (these are similar to mine) and a ring light (this one is similar to mine). Softboxes 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 filling 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 softboxes, 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 Bloggers (& DSLR basics)

110 Comments

  • Reply
    cecilvedemil
    January 18, 2015 at 2:56 pm

    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

    • Reply
      Paula
      January 18, 2015 at 7:28 pm

      Thanks Hon!

  • Reply
    Cherie
    January 18, 2015 at 2:59 pm

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

  • Reply
    Zeynab
    January 18, 2015 at 5:00 pm

    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

    • Reply
      Paula
      January 19, 2015 at 7:33 am

      Thank you so much Zeynab!!

  • Reply
    Rebekah
    January 18, 2015 at 5:01 pm

    such great tips thank you!

    • Reply
      Paula
      January 19, 2015 at 7:34 am

      Thanks Rebekah!

  • Reply
    Mandy S
    January 18, 2015 at 5:47 pm

    These are such great tips, thanks!

    FARFROMPERFECTIONXO

    • Reply
      Paula
      January 18, 2015 at 7:30 pm

      Thanks Mandy!

  • Reply
    Mel
    January 18, 2015 at 5:55 pm

    Awesome tips!

    http://girlandthepolkadot.blogspot.com/

    • Reply
      Paula
      January 19, 2015 at 7:35 am

      Thanks Mel!

  • Reply
    itsjustsofie
    January 18, 2015 at 6:13 pm

    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

    • Reply
      Paula
      January 18, 2015 at 7:32 pm

      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! ;) Thanks again for visiting! <3

  • Reply
    Camille Walker (@CamilleAllisons)
    January 18, 2015 at 7:50 pm

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

    • Reply
      Paula
      January 19, 2015 at 7:34 am

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

  • Reply
    Jorden
    January 19, 2015 at 8:01 am

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

    • Reply
      Paula
      January 20, 2015 at 12:24 pm

      Thanks so much Jorden!

  • Reply
    Mary L.
    January 19, 2015 at 10:56 am

    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

    • Reply
      Paula
      January 20, 2015 at 12:25 pm

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

  • Reply
    sophie
    January 19, 2015 at 11:58 am

    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

    • Reply
      Paula
      January 20, 2015 at 12:25 pm

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

  • Reply
    Gabriella Clementi
    January 20, 2015 at 9:16 am

    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

    • Reply
      Paula
      January 20, 2015 at 12:28 pm

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

  • Reply
    Annlouise Lindberg (Annlooo)
    January 20, 2015 at 12:27 pm

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

    http://annlooos.blogspot.com

    • Reply
      Paula
      January 20, 2015 at 12:29 pm

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

  • Reply
    Lauren
    January 20, 2015 at 1:41 pm

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

    • Reply
      Paula
      January 20, 2015 at 4:02 pm

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

  • Reply
    Jodie Caughey
    January 20, 2015 at 4:21 pm

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

    • Reply
      Paula
      January 24, 2015 at 11:43 am

      Thanks so much Jodie! ;)

  • Reply
    Carmen
    January 21, 2015 at 1:25 am

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

    • Reply
      Paula
      January 24, 2015 at 11:44 am

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

  • Reply
    Brenda BusyBee (@BrendaBusyBee)
    January 21, 2015 at 8:34 am

    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 :) xx

    Brenda BusyBee

    • Reply
      Paula
      January 24, 2015 at 11:45 am

      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 ;) )

  • Reply
    MissS.elle
    January 24, 2015 at 1:19 am

    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!

    • Reply
      Paula
      January 24, 2015 at 11:45 am

      You’re so welcome!!

  • Reply
    Halima Lucy Chowe
    January 24, 2015 at 12:01 pm

    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

  • Reply
    Natalie Heather
    January 30, 2015 at 4:34 am

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

  • Reply
    Heather Miner
    March 26, 2015 at 3:12 pm

    Thanks this was very helpful for a newbie like me!

    • Reply
      Paula
      March 27, 2015 at 8:16 am

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

  • Reply
    Caroline D (Virginia Sweet)
    March 27, 2015 at 10:28 am

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

    • Reply
      Paula
      March 27, 2015 at 2:53 pm

      Haha aww thanks so much Caroline! ;)

  • Reply
    helene
    March 27, 2015 at 12:29 pm

    absolutely excellent post! thank you so so much!

    • Reply
      Paula
      March 27, 2015 at 2:53 pm

      Thank you so much Helene!

  • Reply
    sabrinajaine
    March 31, 2015 at 12:48 pm

    Thanks for the advice, I’m new to beauty blogging so it was really helpful, I will be bookmarking this post! :)

  • Reply
    Jasmine Stewart
    April 8, 2015 at 5:03 pm

    These are such great tips :D 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

  • Reply
    jamie
    April 30, 2015 at 12:20 am

    thank you for these great tips! now i know how to take better photos :) 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.

    • Reply
      Paula
      April 30, 2015 at 7:31 am

      Thanks so much Jamie, happy you found this post helpfuL! I’ll definitely think about it, thanks for the idea! :)

  • Reply
    Charlotte
    May 14, 2015 at 3:42 pm

    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/)

    • Reply
      Paula
      May 14, 2015 at 3:51 pm

      Yay! You’re very welcome, so happy you liked this post! ;)

  • Reply
    Serisblog.com
    July 26, 2015 at 4:17 pm

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

  • Reply
    Sami Mast
    August 6, 2015 at 4:26 pm

    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

  • Reply
    Federica Mattioli
    August 7, 2015 at 3:15 am

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

    Federica | http://www.mystyleandlight.com

  • Reply
    natalie laurette
    August 15, 2015 at 4:10 pm

    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

  • Reply
    Liz
    August 16, 2015 at 5:38 pm

    These are all wonderful tips, thank you for sharing!

    xo, Liz
    http://lipstickandconfetti.com

  • Reply
    Josselyn Diaz
    August 16, 2015 at 7:49 pm

    Really helpful!
    Love it, thanks!

  • Reply
    Dazz
    August 20, 2015 at 4:31 pm

    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 :)

    • Reply
      Paula @ thirteenthoughts.com
      August 20, 2015 at 4:39 pm

      OMG thank you so much! I was trying to find out who mentioned me all day, I was going crazy haha! :) I have to message her and thank her. So happy you liked this post! And we’re practically neighbors, I grew up in Poland :D ;) Thanks again!!

  • Reply
    Monica Chieng
    September 16, 2015 at 6:00 pm

    Very helpful!

    http://www.moecheri.com

  • Reply
    Alana Neilson
    September 19, 2015 at 9:05 pm

    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 :D
    let me know
    lana xo

    • Reply
      Paula @ thirteenthoughts.com
      September 29, 2015 at 3:44 pm

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

  • Reply
    Gina Boyington
    October 29, 2015 at 3:58 pm

    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

  • Reply
    Shayah Isabella
    November 4, 2015 at 3:48 pm

    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 :( edit: I am all over your blog right now, lol.
    http://www.rosycheeks.org

    • Reply
      Paula @ thirteenthoughts.com
      November 4, 2015 at 4:22 pm

      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 :)

      • Reply
        Shayah Isabella
        November 4, 2015 at 4:55 pm

        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..

  • Reply
    Amanda Sugarglow
    November 15, 2015 at 10:04 pm

    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 :D

  • Reply
    Nvrmore
    December 20, 2015 at 5:19 pm

    Thank you for the tips Paula :D
    God Bless
    http://www.estudyantetravels.blogspot.com

  • Reply
    Kizzy
    January 8, 2016 at 12:48 pm

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

  • Reply
    Black&White Insider
    January 12, 2016 at 8:44 pm

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

    • Reply
      Paula @ thirteenthoughts.com
      January 15, 2016 at 9:57 pm

      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. :)

      • Reply
        Black&White Insider
        January 17, 2016 at 7:27 am

        Thank you :) i’ll definitely try! xx

  • Reply
    Shanti
    January 17, 2016 at 3:01 am

    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

  • Reply
    Chernise Yvette
    February 5, 2016 at 6:07 pm

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

  • Reply
    Ambar Syed
    February 7, 2016 at 7:07 am

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

  • Reply
    Paula @ thirteenthoughts.com
    February 9, 2016 at 12:02 pm

    You’re so welcome Chelsea, I’m so happy you found this post helpful! :)

  • Reply
    Bernadette
    February 26, 2016 at 4:09 am

    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

  • Reply
    Kelsey
    March 1, 2016 at 9:58 pm

    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 :)

    Kelsey | http://www.kelssays.com

  • Reply
    Christina Johnson
    March 30, 2016 at 7:07 pm

    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.

  • Reply
    Ang - Alleluia to beauty
    April 5, 2016 at 8:01 pm

    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

  • Reply
    Deb Kohl
    April 11, 2016 at 8:22 pm

    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

  • Reply
    Blondie Takes Big Island
    April 19, 2016 at 8:06 pm

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

  • Reply
    Mica de Leon
    April 24, 2016 at 5:01 am

    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

  • Reply
    francescazee
    July 9, 2016 at 8:08 pm

    Thanks for the tips!

    Batty4Beauty.com

  • Reply
    Chelsea van Egmond
    July 18, 2016 at 6:25 am

    Really love your photography tips. When I started my blog, I read all your photography tips because I love them so much!

  • Reply
    Jennifer Rose
    September 26, 2016 at 1:17 pm

    Very helpful post! I’m just now learning about the importance of photography for my blog.

  • Reply
    Sarenabee.com
    September 26, 2016 at 1:22 pm

    Thanks for posting this! Always trying to find new ways for my photos to be brighter!

    http://www.sarenabee.com

  • Reply
    Lady Belle Elle
    October 4, 2016 at 4:40 pm

    Thanks for posting all your photography tips! Your photos are always so beautiful!!

  • Reply
    Leslie Soto
    November 13, 2016 at 9:11 am

    These are great tips. I find that taking my photos outside works best for me but some days it’s overcast and I can’t take great pictures that way. I’m definitely looking into a ring light. I want one so so bad!

  • Reply
    Megan Kelly Botha
    January 15, 2017 at 11:53 am

    Your photos are sooo beautiful. Thank you for sharing your tips, definitely going to be back to see how else I can improve. http://bymegankelly.co.za/

  • Reply
    Tania Jayne
    January 29, 2017 at 4:35 pm

    I try my best to use natural lighting, but I don’t always get it right. I need to start paying more attention to the time to work out when is best for me to get my camera out. I’ve definitely been guilty of trying to take photos when the lighting is too harsh, and at the time I didn’t realise why my pictures weren’t working the way I had imagined them. Xx

    Tania | When Tania Talks

  • Reply
    Lea H
    January 30, 2017 at 5:35 pm

    I totally forgot about the ISO. Most off the things you wrote down I do but i too often forget to play around with the ISO. Really have to write it down. And really liked how simple you described everything.
    Lea, xx

    asnippetoflife.com

  • Reply
    Hendri Firman
    August 10, 2017 at 10:34 pm

    Photography is one of the most exciting hobbies you can pick up, but when you’re first starting out it can all just seem so daunting. But don’t get discouraged! It’s important to remember that everyone started somewhere. There are no Mozarts in photography, virtuoso geniuses who were born knowing everything there is to know about the craft. More often we began like Beethoven, sitting at the piano in tears.

    But while learning how to compose a symphony would take years of practice, composing a great photo can be done at the click of a button—if you know what you’re doing. Fret not if you don’t, however, we’ve got some simple tips that are easy to remember, easy to follow, can be used with any camera, and will improve your photos in no time—no technical knowledge required.

    10 Things That Must Be Known When Starting Photography
    http://bit.ly/2vlGjJP

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