When I started my blog years ago everything was a first for me. I taught myself how to develop and design my website, write and publish content, SEO, affiliate marketing and so on. To be successful I was reliant upon visual content which meant hiring photographers to take professional photos for me because that was the one trade I did not have. After years of paying nearly an annual mortgage it hit me how to take professional photos of yourself and save money.
Whether you are a blogger like me, or someone who wants quality photos of your family holiday’s, vacations or self this article is for you. Good news! You do not need a professional camera to take great photos. You can capture a solid shot with a camera phone. In this article I am going to focus on the iPhone, DxO One and Canon because those are the cameras I use, however, there are several devices, smartphones included, that can do the trick.
If you are just starting out and do not want to shell out top dollar for a camera I recommend using the DxO One. It retails for $149.99. I use this digital camera on location shoots because I can capture motion photos easily and quickly without ever needing to use a self timer. It connects to your phone through the lightning connector and shoots RAW and SUPER RAW DSLR images and video. The easy to use DxO One app and wifi feature allow you to see the image on your camera while shooting photos making it convenient to adjust as you shoot. The DxO One is lightweight and portable for traveling. There are a few drawbacks such as the battery life, but I carry an external battery pack to keep powered when I am on the go. This is a great beginner/intermediate camera that will easily help you get acquainted with using shooting techniques: Shutter, Aperture and ISO.
If you have the money and want more bang for your buck I recommend using: Canon 5D Mark iv or Canon 6D with a 50mm, 40mm and 35mm lens. Nikon and Sony offer amazing equipment, too, but I am currently using the DxO one, Canon Mark iv and iPhone XS Max. If you are using an iPhone one thing to note about the iPhone XS Max is how advanced the camera specs are. This is definitely a great alternative camera.
Finding the perfect lighting can be challenging, but with a few tricks you can master the art of transforming a bad photo into a great photo. I haven’t conquered the art of manipulating artificial lighting completely, but there are several lighting kits that will help enhance a dull photo. The two most common lights are ring lights and softbox lights. I use both. Ring lights are best for framing the face for portraits, or in my case, makeup tutorials/makeup photos. They add a ring around your face which give you a flawless glow. Beauty gurus swear by them because of the flattering light they produce.
If you are not shooting in natural light I recommend using a softbox for photos. A softbox comes in handy when you are fighting indoor locations, rain or dark spaces. I have floor to ceiling windows in my house and lots of natural light and sometimes there is still not enough light to capture a great shot. I invested in a moderately priced softbox kit. The kit I bought is great because it comes with a green screen, background screens, umbrella and two soft box lights. The softbox lights are inexpensive and are easy to set-up and take down. They decrease the risk of shadows and/or harsh lighting. Although, if you know how to work with shadows they add an artistic element and drama to photo’s that I love.
Tons of people shoot with a reflector for all of their photos. I use a reflector to bounce off the light and brighten up my photos when the light is uneven or brighter on one side. Reflectors are also great for flat lay photos.
Using a tripod can be tricky. I have taken photos balancing a camera on my foot, in one hand, on a book shelf, desk or anything I could prop it against while using the shutter release or a bluetooth remote. It is not easy. Situations like this make it great to have an extra set of hands or tripod. It is important to invest in the right, quality tripod so you don’t run the risk of it wobbling, breaking, or being the wrong size. There are a variety of tripods: Tabletop tripods, pocket tripods, travel tripods, medium duty and studio tripods. Knowing which tripod you need will eliminate the headache of blurry photos, performing a balancing act or leaving someone out of the shot. I use a tabletop tripod and flexible tripod for makeup tutorials and medium duty tripod for shooting indoor and on location. A tripod that is portable is essential for travel and location shoots.
Using a bluetooth remote or self timer feature on your camera/phone is key to taking photos of yourself. This is the single most valuable tool I use that has changed my blogging career. The DxO One and Canon both have app’s you can set up via wi-fi that make it easy to connect your device. Once you set it up you can take photos with a live preview which means fewer bad photos. You can adjust all the settings right there in the app. Trust me, you will love it! Using a bluetooth remote is challenging at first but once you get the hang of it you won’t leave home without it. And if you are savvy with Photoshop you will learn editing techniques to remove the remote from the photo if it accidentally appears it in a shot. I wouldn’t trade my bluetooth remote for a photographer any day!
Here are a few photos I shot with a bluetooth remote and self timer on my own. I challenge you to do the same. I hope you all enjoyed this article and the tips I shared. If you have any questions about taking photos of yourself please leave them in the comments below and I will follow-up with them asap. Be sure to checkout my Instagram to see more self timer and bluetooth remote photos! xx