This blog post “How I’ve Been Improving My Photography and Editing” contains affiliate links to the products, books and courses I recommend. It is not sponsored. I am an Amazon Associate, meaning I earn a commission on any qualifying purchases.
Over the past year, I’ve been working on improving my photography and editing skills.
My intentions were:
1. To create photos I’m proud of.
2. Make my blog and Instagram look more aesthetically pleasing.
3. Save time while taking and editing photos.
Today I’ll be sharing my best tips from what I’ve learned!
- How I’ve Been Improving My Photography and Editing, and my Top Tips!
- Camera Settings
- Courses & Ebooks!
My Photography and Editing Equipment:
- Sony A5100 Mirrorless Camera.
- Huawei P20 Lite Phone (I use this for on-the-go photos, and for a lot of my Instagram pictures).
- Neewer Softbox lighting for indoor photography.
- Lightroom and occasionally Photoshop for editing. (I have a Creative Cloud subscription, if you’re a student you can get a discount!).
- I also sometimes use the VSCO app for quick editing on my phone for Instagram.
St Paul’s Cathedral, taken with my phone in one shot, and edited in Lightroom.
How I’ve Been Improving My Photography and Editing, and my Top Tips!
The first tip I have for improving any photography is to mess around with your camera settings. I spent so long just using my camera in auto mode, and while that is great in certain situations and a time-saver, my best photos have been taken on manual mode.
Spend some time learning about aperture, white balance and focus to make your photographs immediately look much more professional! It’ll be worth the time you invested.
There are so many resources, e-courses, tutorials, and tips online to help you out. My favourite is the Photography Super Bundle, I’ll go into more detail about it later! Skillshare is also a great platform for learning and improving your creative skills, there are lots of amazing photography courses you can take for free with their unlimited 2-month trial.
Shoot in RAW
If your camera has a RAW capability setting, use it! RAW photographs are much better to edit with and are much higher quality. This is because RAW photos capture all of the image data, and don’t compress the photo as JPEGs do.
JPEG photographs record 256 levels of brightness, while RAW records between 4,096 and 16,384 levels! They’re also much easier to adjust white balance and exposure in post-production than JPEG.
Any adjustments to RAW images do not overwrite the original files, meaning you can easily go back to the original photo without hassle, and not lose any quality like you would with JPEG.
Printing is also better with RAW, due to their finer tone and colour gradients.
Kew Gardens Orchid Festival. Taken in RAW with my mirrorless camera, edited in Lightroom.
Of course, I wanted the beautiful orchid palace to be the focus in the above photo, so I made sure my camera settings on manual mode were correct. I liked how the leaves in the foreground framed the image, without drawing attention away from the main focal point.
While editing, I adjusted the white balance very slightly, so it looked as naturally spectacular as it was in real life! I didn’t need a preset or a filter, because the natural flower colours were lovely.
Using the rule of thirds at a Melanie Martinez concert!
Think about composition
I have spent many years taking hundreds of photos, thinking to myself “I can fix this in Photoshop if I need to”. To save myself time, storage space on my SD card, and make my photos look better, I began taking my time with composition before snapping away.
If you’re photographing small objects or making a flat-lay, make sure you arrange everything exactly how you want before taking pictures. I usually have a look through the camera lens to see what everything looks like, and how it fits in the frame, re-arrange if necessary, then take the photos. If you’d like more flat-lay tips, I have a blog post for that!
I like to follow the rule of thirds. It’s simple, but effective. Many cameras (and phone cameras!) have a grid setting, which can be incredibly useful when taking photos of scenery or buildings. This helps you see if buildings are straight, or check the horizon in landscape pictures, saving editing time or cropping later.
Make use of early hours for outdoor photography! Sunshine is wonderful for photos, so I like to bulk-shoot many blog photos on a sunny summer day. For self-portraits, standing or sitting in front of a window is so much better than taking pictures in unnatural lighting. Speaking of self-portraits, the absolute master of self-portraits, Sorelle Amore, has a brilliant course available on Skillshare!
The warm lighting in the above photograph of the Roman Forum is totally natural. I actually won a photography prize at university for it!
I also invested in some softbox lighting for indoor photography – they’re especially useful for creating a natural lighting look during the darker seasons.
… but don’t be afraid of the flash!
Sometimes a flash is necessary. I know. Bloggers can be afraid of using the flash, but I’ve taken some lovely pictures using it! Just make sure your white balance is right, and edit later if necessary. Brightening up using the flash, makes your photos look much crisper and detailed than increasing exposure when editing.
I avoid the flash when taking portraits, but for close-up object photography, it can do wonders! I used the flash on my phone for the above book photo, as it was a dark Autumn day with not much natural light.
I personally use Lightroom for the majority of my photo editing, it’s a very intuitive system, and it’s great for organising and editing a collection of pictures. I still occasionally use Photoshop for certain edits, but I find that Lightroom is more than sufficient for my blog, Instagram, and holiday photos!
Since I’ve been using Lightroom so much, I have made my own presets to give my photos a similar look. This is especially useful for creating a cohesive Instagram theme, and makes the editing process much easier!
I also purchased Sorelle Amore’s ‘Hipster AF’ preset pack (can you tell I love her?). I’ve been enjoying her presets for travel photos! The above photo was taken on my phone at Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park, then edited using one of Sorelle’s presets.
I went for a ‘moody’ editing style by reducing the highlights in the below photograph of the Capitoline Museum in Rome, to match the rainy weather. I framed the two columns on each side to create an interesting perspective.
Check your export settings
There wouldn’t be much point in improving my photography and editing skills if my export settings were ruining my photos! After experimenting in Lightroom and using online resources, I’m now essentially happy with my export settings for my blog.
After editing, your pictures may look amazing in Lightroom, but not so much once they’ve been exported and uploaded to your blog or Instagram. Make sure you check your export settings and figure out which are best for your intended use.
I resize my blog photos to fit my WordPress theme layout, and I make the ‘featured images’ (the first ones in a post), a bit larger for effect. I also make sure to reduce the file sizes, so they load quicker on my blog and don’t take up too much bandwidth.
Lightroom can also add custom watermarks to your exported photos, which is great for bloggers and website owners who don’t want their photographs stolen! It has happened to me on many occasions, unfortunately.
Courses & Ebooks!
I’ve been using courses, ebooks and online tutorials for improving my photography and editing over the years.
Many tips can be found through Pinterest, but sometimes it’s worth investing in a well-written e-course. I’ve followed a few in my time, for everything from productivity and finance, to photography. I’m a big fan of an ebook! Anyway, here’s a huge bundle of resources that I recommend and have purchased myself to take my photography to the next level:
The 2019 Photography Super Bundle is a limited edition, wonderful collection of ebooks and courses, curated to improve your photography skills. You can pick up the bundle worth $1,195.98 for $49.97, an amazing deal for such brilliant resources.
The 2019 Photography Super Bundle contains 12 eCourses, 6 eBooks, templates & presets, plus bonuses! These resources include tailored advice and tutorials on editing, portrait photography, lifestyle photography (such as wildlife and travel), lighting and composition, organisation, and how to take pro photos using your phone. Most importantly, the courses include how to make the most out of your camera by using manual mode, and if you’re lucky enough to own a DSLR, how to use it properly.
Ultimate Bundles are truly a brilliant resource, and they offer a 30-day money-back guarantee. I’ve read a lot of their resources for photography, planning, and finance, and I thoroughly recommend them.