Recently, I’ve been getting a lot of questions about which camera and/or lens I use and how I make my outfit photos. I see this as a great compliment, because it probably means that you like my photos! So, thank you! First of all; credits to Ellen, Nathalie and my boyfriend, who currently shoot most of my outfits! So, I thought it would be fun to share my outfit photography tips with you; from which settings I use, to finding a background, to how to get bokeh effects and rainbows in your photos! Of course, I’m nothing like a professional photographer, but these are the things I do to get my photos to be as pretty as possible! I hope you like it!
Camera & Lens
Well, first things first; I use the Canon 700D (T5i in the US) with the 50mm f/1.8 lens. The lens is the most common used lens among fashion bloggers, for as far as I know, and for great reason! It’s pretty cheap compared to other lenses and it creates a beautiful dept of field. F/1.8 means that the lowest possible f-value of aperture is 1.8. The lower the f-value, the more dept of field you’ll have in your photo. This means that your object (you, in case of outfit photos) is sharp, while the background is blury. The lower the f-value, the blurrier your background. I chose the Canon 700D, because it also has an HD video option, a tilting screen and touch screen. But you could also get the Canon 1100D for example, which is much cheaper, but has less options and no video function. Of course, you can also start with a simple non-DSLR camera, but if you can afford it and you’re serious about blogging, I can really recommend getting a DSLR.
Finding a nice background
I always try to find pretty backgrounds for outfit shoots. Actually, it’s an ongoing process. When I’m out on the street or sitting on a bus of train, I can’t help myself but browse for pretty outfit shoot spots. Of course, you can also just grab your camera, go outside and see what kind of pretty spots you’ll bump into. I do this too sometimes. But usually, it saves a lot of time when you already know a nice spot!
There are a few things I look for in an outfit shoot location; does it add to the vibe of the outfit, don’t the colours clash with the outfit in a bad way, is it a light background, is it sunny, and most importantly, where’s the light coming from? I really like romantic backgrounds, like parks, a little bench, blossom trees, old light coloured buildings, the canals, stairs…
Some of my favorite outfit shoot backgrounds recently.
Finding pretty lighting
When you find a background you like, I think it’s really important to make some test shots, before you start taking tons of photos and get home to find out there are really weird shades on your face. It happens ;-) If the light is creating uncharming shadows on your face or you turn out very dark while the background is very light, it can help to take test pictures from different angles. In this outfit shoot, I turned out super dark (while the background was super light) when my boyfriend was standing right in front of me. The photos got so much better when he moved 3 meters to the right. So, the trick here is just trial and error. Sometimes, a location really ‘doesn’t work’ with the current light, and we continue to find a new location.
No uncharming shadows!
The sun is my holy grail
I know a lot of fashion bloggers really dislike sunshine when it comes to taking outfit pictures, because it creates really harsh shadows. It can make it seem like you have enormous bags under your eyes, due to the shadow. Not to mention the squinting eyes, when you don’t have any sunglasses with you. But actually, when the sun is shining from the right angle, it’s my holy grail of outfit shooting! The trick is not to shoot in the same direction of the light, with your face towards the light, but shoot against it, with your back against the light! This is an example of a shoot in which we shot against the light. There are no strange shadows on your face, your hair gets a sunny glow and you might even get some lovely bokeh effects or a rainbow in your photo!
A few side notes: not all cameras can handle this. A simple compact camera will not capture this effect and even some of the cheaper DSLRs might not. Of course, you can always give it a shot, to find out whether your camera is capable of it! Also, this only works with bright sunshine. When the sun is shining through a thin cloud or is less bright for any other reason, the photos will turn out flat and the object will be too dark, while the background will be too light. Also, you might need to photograph from a different angle than you planned, as you need the perfect angle to get this effect. Again, trial and error! It works best in the late afternoon (in spring or summer), but depending on your location, it might also work at noon. Usually, when the sun is out, I just give it a shot no matter what time it is, because I just love these effects so much. When it doesn’t work, we go looking for shadow ;-)
Photograph in RAW
I started shooting all my photos in RAW format last September. I had some issues with the light in my photos, so I searched the internet and found the tip of shooting in RAW. And ever since I switched to RAW, I never went back! It’s probably one of the best tips I can give you! One down point; not all camera’s have this option, but I think most DSLR camera’s do have it. If you’re thinking about getting a new camera, I would really look at that! Anyway, RAW is a bigger format than JPEG. Since I shoot in RAW, my SD cards are full much quicker, but it’s so worth it! The reason that RAW is bigger, is because it saves all the data from the sensor. This means that the quality is better, but it also means that more adjustments can be made after taking the photo. When I open a RAW file in Photoshop, it automatically opens the RAW editor. When you open the photos on your computer, and it seems that your settings weren’t as perfect as you thought they were, the RAW editor is the solution! In the RAW editor, you can easily ‘cure’ photos from being over- or underexposed. This is so much harder to do in a regular JPEG file. And the result won’t look nearly as good as when you shoot in RAW. Really, give it a shot!
Note: realize that you cannot upload RAW files on your blog directly, without at least opening them in a photo editing program first, and save them as a JPEG or PNG. I prefer the latter, as PNG have better quality.
First of all, I always use AV or M mode. M is the manual mode, in which you can adjust the most settings and AV mode is the lazier version, haha! AV automatically selects the shutter speed.
When you’re using a lens with low f-value, it’s important to realize how much space there is between you and the background. We shoot most outfit photos on auto focus (instead of manual focus), because I’m constantly moving, which makes it hard to focus manually. When you have a very low f-value and you’re standing in front of a wall, it’s very hard for the auto focus to determine what the object of the photo is. Which means that the photos will not be as sharp as they could be with a higher f-value. Also, it doesn’t really make sense to use a low f-value when you’re in front of a wall, because there’s hardly any dept of field in real life. Anyway, when you shoot in front of a wall, make sure to set your aperture f-value a little higher! Also, the lower your f-value, the lighter your photos will be. If your photos turn out too light, but you want to keep the f-value low to create dept of field, you can make the photo darker by adjusting ISO and/or shutter speed.
ISO: I usually set my ISO at 100 or 200. The higher your ISO, the higher the sensitivity to light. ISO 100 or 200 is usually great for outside shoots. However, sometimes it will be a little bit darker outside than usual, and you can set your ISO to 400 for example. A low ISO is usually better (as long as it’s possible with the light you’re dealing with), because the higher your ISO, the more grainy your pictures will be.
Shutter speed: shutter speed is in fractions of seconds. So, a shutter speed of 1/125 is faster than a shutter speed of 1/60. The higher the shutter speed, the faster the camera will take your photo and therefore, less light will come into your picture. There’s an interaction between ISO and shutter speed. When you want to take outfit pictures of you walking, you need a higher shutter speed. But wen there’s not enough light, your photos might turn out too dark, and you’ll need to use a higher ISO as well. For outfit shooting, 1/125 should be good. And for walking pictures 1/250. But when your photos turn out too dark, too light or blury, the situation might need higher or lower ISO or shutter speed. To make sure my settings are right, I always make some test shots first!
For detail shots or photos on which you’re standing still, it can be very convenient to use manual focus. To switch manual focus on, you only have to switch a little button on your lens. There can be a lot going on in detail shots; a hand, a bag, a skirt. Sometimes, the auto focus focusses on something else than you would like. Or even everything gets blury, because there’s too much going on in the shot. In those cases, manual focus is your best friend! If you have never used manual focus before, you might need some practice, but once you’re getting the hang of it, you will be able to take much sharper pictures!
Well, those were my photography tips for outfit shooting! These are the things which I think work well. I hope you found it useful! And if you have any further questions, I’ll be happy to answer them! And extra tips are very welcome as well, of course!