Photography tips for beauty bloggers & beginners

Photography tips for beauty bloggers & beginners

When it comes to blogging, photos are everything. A part of me wants to argue that they’re not, but let’s face it: the first thing people look at when they stumble upon your blog are photos. Not everyone even reads the text. One might just scroll through the photos and read a sentence here and there.

Luckily taking good photos even as a beginner is easy. You just need good lighting, a bit of practice and an eye for aesthetic.

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Photography tips for beauty bloggers & beginners

 

In this post I will share my photography tips for beauty bloggers and beginners. This post answers the question “How do I take photos for my beauty blog?”. Hopefully after reading this post you know what equipment to use, how to take beautiful photos and how to edit them!

First things first: what equipment do you need for taking beautiful photos?

Beginner’s tools for blog photography

CAMERA

You can just use your phone camera (most phones have a good camera these days) or you can use a digital camera. I use both, but mainly my digital camera, because that takes the best high quality photos and it just feels more natural to me.

Olympus Pen camera is awesome, because it’s easy to use, it’s quite lightweight, small and good for travel too. It has a flip screen, which is crucial for beauty bloggers. That’s my secret for getting good makeup photos. I’ve been using Olympus PEN camera for all my blogging career and it honestly has all that a beginner needs. And there’s still room for improvement too – the camera comes with different filters and settings you can play with to bring your photography to the next level. (Scroll a bit lower to learn more about using Olympus PEN E-PL8 – the one I currently have.)

Samsung S9+ is the perfect phone for me because of its high-quality camera. I’m not always carrying my digital camera, so it’s a must have for me. It’s also handy when I’m travelling with light luggage. The camera in the phone also has some nice “pro” settings as well, so I can change the light settings, white balance etc. in the photo. All my travel photos are taken with this and a lot of my Instagram photos. I also film makeup videos to my Instagram Story with it.

*Samsung S9+
*Olympus Pen E-PL9 Kit (newest PEN camera)

I also have *a tripod/camera stand that I use when I don’t have somebody to help me take photos. Which is, often.  When I do that, I usually connect my phone to my camera so that I can see what I’m doing and I get a great photo.

style lifestyle blog
Photographed by my tripod (and my phone, which I’m hiding behind my back and using to take the photo).

LIGHTS

Natural light is the best for any type of photography, but as someone living in Finland, artificial lights are a lifesaver for me. And chances are, that’s the case with you too. Or perhaps you like to work in the evening?  Lights give you freedom to work wherever you need to and for product photos, studio lighting actually works really well. I use my soft box for product photos and for any photos that I take at home. It’s so much better than just turning on the regular lights we have at home (though in winter those are obviously on as well. It gets dark, man).

And as for makeup photos, ring lights are awesome. Ring light gives a softer and more even light to the face.

makeup blog charlotta eve
Makeup photo taken with a softbox light.
bobbi brown makeup artist does my makeup
Makeup photo taken with the use of a ring light. 

You can get a good deal from amazon and I have bought all my lights from there. They are also handy since they come in reasonable sized bags. Since I don’t have a studio at home, I need to pack my lights away whenever I don’t use them and they fit in my closet.

*Soft box
*Ring light

I also sometimes use my *lighted makeup mirror for photos.

blog photography tips for beginners and beauty bloggers
Behind the scenes of a makeup flat lay. I’m shooting next to a window. Using white cardboard and foil to create a small studio full of light!

– REFLECTORS

One of the cool things about light is that you can bend it. You just need a reflector for that. Anything white or reflective such as a mirror or foil works.  I actually just use foil and white cardboards. I like to create a box with white walls and trap the light in – then I have a little studio for my products and I can get beautiful well-lighted photos. You don’t need that many soft boxes when you use reflectors. It’s genius.

White cardboard
Foil
*Reflector

Using flowers as props (pretty common, but it works) and a white cardboard to reflect light.

– PROPS

Props make the photos interesting and give them character. Your character. I like to style my photos with flowers, magazines, coffee beans, jewellery or some decorations I happen to have at hand. Just make sure to not over-style it. If there’s too much happening, the photo can end up looking messy and the actual products don’t stand out as they should. Styling your photos is something you need to practice. Try different set ups and different angles.

Photography tip: think about what it is you want to say with the photo. How do you want to portray the products you’re photographing?  For example, a while back I photographed some luxury makeup products. I wanted to showcase the luxurious feel they have, so I photographed them with a glamorous bag and kept it simple.

luxury organic makeup kjaer weis products

How to use your digital camera  – what settings to use?
Using Olympys PEN E-PL8 for blog photography

 

You don’t need to be a professional photographer in order to take beautiful blog photos. A good camera helps. There are so many settings and options in digital camera, you might feel overwhelmed at first. As a beginner you might just want to stick with auto. Auto setting can work for many photos, but you should also learn some basic things.

I usually take my photos with P or A settings. With those I always set my white balance. I also sometimes use macro, document or portrait mode.

white balance settings olympus pen
Different white balance settings in Olympus Pen.
loccitane moisturizers
This photo is actually taken in our bathroom, in horrible yellow light. But since I changed the white balance in my camera, the light looks cool and nice.

White balance AKA getting the colors right

It’s important that the colors in your photo look right and that’s where white balance comes in. It basically means that you can set the white balance to match your surroundings in a way, that the white color actually looks white. Not yellow or blue, which can happen in indoor lighting sometimes. This way your photos look fresh and clean and you can decide just how cool or warm you want your photos to get.

In Olympus there are already different white balance settings for a sunny or cloudy weather, for green, incandescent lighting and more. You can also set the white balance manually by taking a picture of a white wall or paper in the lighting you want to use. Here are some more instructions on that: https://www.olympusamerica.com/crm/oneoffpages/crm_whitebalance.asp

Olympus Pen P setting
Olympus Pen P-setting.

P-setting
P-setting is so nice, because I can add or remove lightness already while taking the photo. I usually film with +0.7 or +1.0.

Small and Big Aperture Difference Olympus pen e-pl8

Aperture AKA how to get that blurry background
A-setting

With product photography you usually want the product to look sharp and the background somewhat soft. A blurred soft background looks nice and brings some depth to the image. You can achieve a blurry background by using big aperture (small F number), which means that the camera focuses on the subject you choose and the background is not focused. You can also achieve this by editing and simply blurring the background, but it’s just less work this way.

If I want just a small part of my image focused (such as a lipstick), I choose big aperture, meaning a small aperture number on my camera. If I take a big flat lay with lots of products and want all the products to be sharp, I choose small aperture, meaning a big number on my camera.

This article was very helpful in understanding aperture: https://www.olympusamerica.com/crm/oneoffpages/crm_e_aperture.asp

Digital camera is also handy, because it comes with scene modes. They are good to use!

Macro mode
Handy for any detail photos, such as product photos or makeup detail photos.

Portrait mode
I’m not sure what this mode does exactly, but it makes a nice selfie.

Documents mode
This mode actually works nicely for flat lays. It makes the products and the text in the products sharp. A lot of my photos, especially from a few years ago, are taken with this mode.

zuii sheerlips begonia

Photo editing programs for bloggers (that are easy to use)

I use *Paintshop Pro for editing my photos.

Paintshop Pro is awesome and worth the small investment. It doesn’t require monthly or yearly payment like Lightroom does. You just have to buy it once and I think that’s a fair deal. It’s also super easy to use. You can use the ‘Essentials’ workspace that is very beginner-friendly or the ‘Complete’ workspace, that is better for pros. I use the Essentials mode and it has everything I need.

It’s easy to play with lights and colors with Paintshop Pro. I can easily fix white balance, make dark photos light or make blurry photos sharp. And there are some really handy presets, that I use quite often. Paintshop Pro comes with some great beauty tools as well, for when you need to remove a pimple, make your skin look more tanned or smooth the skin. I personally try and edit my makeup photos very minimally, but I might still remove a monster-sized pimple from my skin or fix my skintone.

If you want a free option, GIMP is also quite easy to use. It doesn’t come with as handy settings as Photoshop Pro though.

*Paintshop pro now on sale
GIMP

Okay, then let’s get to some details. The three most important things in editing photos are 1. light 2. colors and 3. size. Actually, it might even be in reverse order – because size really really matters, if you want your blog to succeed.

Light – Brightness and Contrast
I would say the lighter the better – just don’t over-expose the photo. A moody dark photo might be a nice contrast every now and then, but all in all, people like to look clean, fresh light photos. But just how light should the photo be? Well, it’s up to you. Editing photos is personal. It’s almost like your trademark. Some people take really soft, super light photos. Others prefer more contrast.

A simple tool to edit lights are Levels. It shows you the guidelines so you know where to add light and where to add shadow. I usually just drag it to where the guidelines AKA those grey mountains show me. The right slider will bring light to the light areas, the left slider will darken shadows and the middle part lightens the midtones. If I want to add more lightness overall to the photo, I drag the middle part. This is hard to explain, but I circled the things in the photo to show you what I’m talking about!

Paintshop Pro Levels
Following the guidelines using Levels. It’s a small change, but the after photo looks so much better!

Fill Light/Clarity Paintshop Pro

In *PaintShop Pro I also use Fill Light/Clarity, which is awesome for when my lighting is a bit off and has some darker shadows. Highlight/Midtone/Shadow is also awesome for overall lightness, because you have control over everything, basically.

Colors

When it comes to colors, it’s even more personal. Do you want the colors to be very bright or a bit toned down? It’s up to you. You can create your own theme for the photos by playing with colors. You can also choose one color or tint as a theme to all of the photos on your blog. That way the whole blog looks very harmonious, since all of the photos on the site have the same color theme. For product photography and makeup photos though, you usually want the colors to be quite bright and realistic. The camera does ‘eat’ some of that color, you see. I might add saturation or vibrancy to my photos. Again, it’s very easy in Photoshop Pro. You can actually change up the color completely, if you so wish, and even create your own presets.

Friday Faye is one of those famous bloggers, who has a pink theme to their photos. It has become her trademark. Her blog and photos are so inspiring! She also shared her tips on flat lay photography here.

Getting that blurry background in Paintshop Pro

It’s easy to just film with F1.8 to get that blurry background, but you can obviously also just edit that. There are many ways to do that in Paintshop Pro, but Depth of Field is one of the easiest. Here I just did a quick selection to make the background blurry.


Size

Ah, size. The biggest mistake I see even big bloggers make. I feel like a lot of people think that the bigger the size, the better. But do you want to know a secret? My photos are usually 700-1000 pixels wide. And my blog automatically packs my photos and makes them smaller. Why? So that the site works better! This way my blog loads very quickly and you can see all the photos when you open up some post. How many times have you visited some blog and waited forever for the photos to load? My point exactly. Do yourself a favor and resize your photos. Another secret: I actually have changed the settings in my camera, so that it takes small photos (1280×960) instead of large (4608×3456) photos. This way the quality stays good, because I don’t have to downsize it that much.

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There – now I feel like I have covered all the basics. A lot goes behind the scenes!

And as a final note I want to come back to the whole ‘photos are everything’ statement. Yes, obviously writing is also important. I might click the beautiful photos, but as a reader, I stay for the content. I love words. Luckily I’ve learned to enjoy photography as well, but writing is the winner for me. But maybe that’s not the case with you? Which is more important, photos or text? I would love to hear your thoughts on this in the comment box.

 

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Valentine’s day makeup for deep set eyes

valentines day makeup

Happy Valentine’s day – a bit early. Do you have any plans? I don’t and by the look of Risto’s face when I mentioned him the day, I doubt I should plan on anything special. Besides, every day is Valentine’s day with him.

When I think of Valentine’s day makeup looks, I think of pink. And shimmer. And these beautiful yet subtle looks. So obviously I had to use a touch of pink in my look as well. But just a touch! Otherwise, I kept this look quite fresh, warm and glowy.

before and after makeup

Before & after.

Valentine’s Day makeup

I ended up taking lots of photos and even showing you what brushes I used. I also put together a little tutorial for working with deep set and hooded eyes. The eye look is pretty simple, but the metallic shimmery colors on the lid make it interesting. I used a new eyeshadow palette that I got sent in pr. It’s Makeup Revolution’s Kisu palette.

For my base I used NYX Total Control Drop foundation* – that is an awesome foundation, since you can decide how much coverage you want. And the consistency is so dreamy and thin. I wore my YSL Rouge Volupte lipstick in the shade 41* on my lips and as my blush. I have to say I love that YSL lipstick – definitely worth the splurge! For highlight I added ‘Khaleesi’ highlight from the Kisu palette.

Brows were done with my usual recipe: mad4eyebrow Natural Brow Filler in Blond and jane iredale’s Brow Pencil in Ash Blonde.

yves saint laurent rouge volupte lipstick 41

YSL Rouge Volupte Shine 41.

Valentine’s Day makeup tutorial for deep set eyes

valentines day makeup tutorial

  1. First I primed and set the primer with a light matte color ‘1991’. Then I contoured my eye with a nude color ‘Cookie Dough’. Then I darkened my contour with a brown ‘Cat Lady’. Below I have a picture where I explain exactly how I do this.
  2. For my lid I used beautiful metallic shimmers ‘Royal’ and ‘London’. I applied them half and half on the lid and blended the edges carefully.
  3. I also applied ‘Cookie Dough’ and a touch of ‘Cat Lady’ on my lower lashline. Then I applied ‘Royal’ there.
  4. For my inner corner highlight I used ‘Khaleesi’. Also wore that highlighting shade on my face.
  5. Liner, mascara and lashes. Done!

makeup revolution palette tutorial

Basic eyeshadow technique for deep set and hooded eyes

+ showing you what brushes I used

basic eyeshadow shape for deep set and hooded eyes

In the first photo I circled the area I want to hide and contour. That is where my brow bone/lid pushes forward, making all the rest of my lid and eye appear very deep set. If you have hooded eyes, this could also be your hood drooping on your lid. On my eyes it does droop slightly. The idea is to contour that bump with a matte shade. That way the lid appears lighter making it appear as if, well, it wasn’t that deep after all.

I also pretty often keep my eye open like in the photo, to see exactly where I want to hit that shadow. By applying it right there and making that spot the darkest, it lifts up my eye. You want to blend it well, but don’t take the shadow that much further away (to the left, in the photo), because that can make your eye look a bit sad, when the shadow makes it drop in the outer corner. You could even leave your eyeshadow like this and you get a nice lift.

But pretty often I make a straight line from there to my lash line. The line should be straight and if you’re wearing eyeshadow on your lower lashline, make sure it fits the line as well.

For this, I love to use Zoeva 225*. Since I have a lot of lid space I want to contour, I can use a fluffy brush like this. If you have smaller lid space, use something smaller. (By the way, Zoeva has awesome brushes and all my most used brushes are from them.) I connected the line in the outer corner with Sigma* E56.

 

eyeshadow brushes

And as for the lid colors, I used quite flat brushes. Just because flat brushes make laying on the color easier, especially with metallic shimmers like these. First one is from Coastal Scents brush set*, second is look good feel better Eye Shading brush* and the last is Sigma* E47.

 

valentines day makeup idea

makeup revolution kisu palette

Makeup Revolution Kisu palette

Makeup Revolution’s Kisu palette has both eyeshadows and two highlighting shades in it. I’ve been using that palette quite a lot lately and have to say I’m impressed by the quality. I love the metallic shimmery colors that go on very smoothly when applied with a finger (but also work with a flat brush). The powder highlighters are a bit too dry for my taste, but I still wore ‘Khaleesi’ on my face for this look. The colors are perfect – just what I use right now.

valentine's day makeup tutorial

This post ended up being way more throughout than I meant to do. I hope you find it useful. What do you think of the look?

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