I've had a lot of sweet compliments on how I style my photos for the 52 Lists project. So I thought I'd share some basic tips on how to style your own photos for your lists! You can also use these tips to just spice up your everyday photography for your blog or personal life :)
1. Natural Light is key! Let's be real, photos taken with a flash on even moderately nice cameras like my Canon t1i usually don't look so hot. So if you are taking photos indoors, try and find a spot in your space that has an even blanket of light. I take all of my photos for the 52 lists project about 3 feet from one of the windows in my studio.
I bought this camera for around $1000 including a lens and a few gadgets in 2009 and now it's only around $300. So if you are looking to upgrade from using just a little point and shoot to a better camera but need to stay on a budget, I'd recommend my camera! Right now I'm dreaming of the Canon 5D Mark III. sigh...
2. Experiment with textures. It looks like most of you are printing out your lists onto standard white sheets of paper or are hand writing them on to a piece of paper. As much fun as your font choices may be on the paper itself, the best way to really spice up your photography is my adding textural elements to the environment surrounding your pieces of paper. Using a background that is textured in someway really helps to make the image pop! As you can see above, I've experimented with a wooden backdrop, wrapping paper, snakeskin printed leather and more!
3. Create Layers. Because we are simply photographing a piece of paper, the paper itself on a flat background doesn't have much depth. So, to create more visual stimulation for the viewer and to add some contrast and depth to the photograph, try adding some layers of visual interest to your set up. Experiment with knick knacks you have laying around your house like layers of jewelry, cool fabrics, or small vignette objects like little cups filled with stones, sticks, and flowers.
4. Take Lots of Photos! When I took a photography class in college, I assumed that most digital photographers were just so good that they took one shot and it ended up being perfect as is. That's most often not true. You need to experiment with the camera, and let yourself take photos that you are going to end up not liking in the end. Notice in the options I shot above, the tilt of the paper is a tiny bit different in each image and the zoom in on the paper is slightly different on each image too. I experimented with a few different levels of zoom & tilt so that when I was looking at all the different options together later, I could better decided wich looks cleanest compositionally. Also, the clarity of all of these images did vary a little. So because I took quite a few shots, I was able to pick the image that was both the clearest to read & had the best composition.
5. Edit the Image. I've had a lot of experience playing around and working in Photoshop and I rarely post a photo on my blog that hasn't been cleaned up a little bit in photoshop. As you can see above, I needed to brighten up my chosen image. So I played with the levels, curves, contrast, and a few other things to get it to look the way I wanted it to. If you don't have much experience in Photoshop, you can use Actions to edit your photos. There are a million bazillion actions to best suit your particular photography style preference. I personally prefer photos that look pretty true to life or have a sort of moody rustic feel like the actions designed by VSCO. A few bloggers have their own specific action sets too like Mandi from Making Nice in the Midwest.