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I was really, really excited to move into our 380 square foot place and challenge myself. As we were moving in I had this lingering thought…”How am I going to take blog photos in here?”
It’s so easy to see all of these women in their gorgeous, huge homes filled with white walls and bright light and feel inadequate. My walls are brown (we’re not allowed to paint), I have carpet (brown as well), and my apartment has 3 windows that are all on the same side. These are probably the most restrictive circumstances I’ve ever lived in, yet I’m happier each day with my blog photos and they continue to get better.
Restrictive circumstances will make you more creative and inventive, so keep an open mind and let yourself have fun! Whether you want to have beautiful images for your blog, business, or to give your Instagram feed a little boost, this post will give you my best tools and tricks to get you there.
1. PHOTO BOARD
Most of my flat lays are shot on my photo board. It’s a structured foam board that is white on one side and the other side has marble contact paper. It is so easy to set this up, stick it under a window, and use the natural light to my advantage. You can typically find these at your local Walmart or craft store.
2. CONTACT PAPER
I love love contact paper! Evan and I gave a temporary upgrade to our last apartment by using contact paper on the cabinets. You can use it to your advantage by purchasing some to go over your white board or a common surface you use (or just roll it out when you need it!). My favorite is the marble, but you can choose from a ton of options on Amazon.
3. ARTIFICIAL LIGHTING
If you’re unlike me and have a great apartment with a ton of natural light, then you may be able to skip this piece. I have a ring light and a smaller light I can attach to my camera and use for some of my photos. There are also lights you can attach to your smartphone. Natural light is the best light to use when you can, but I like to use my ring light to compliment the natural light since it’s limited in my space.
I highly recommend investing in some type of software if you really want beautiful photos. I use Photoshop to edit my photos and I have it with a $10 monthly subscription. That’s like two Starbucks drinks a month! I also used Lightroom previously and it worked great as well (if you’re a student you can get Lightroom at a discount). There are also some great editing apps on the Iphone. My favorites are VSCO (filters), Facetune (blurring and detail, spot removal), and Snapseed (general editing exposure, brightness, etc.). You will drive yourself crazy if you try to take a perfect photo. Having an app or software to take that perfect pressure off of you will help you focus on your image composition, not perfecting every detail. Below is a before and after of the same photo. The first image is straight from the camera, and the second is after a 3-minute photoshop edit.
5. CURATING YOUR LIFE AROUND PHOTOS
This isn’t as extreme as the bullet title makes it sound, but it’s really simple. When you’re shopping for a notebook, planner, or jewelry just take a moment and consider how the item will look in your photos. Have a vignette in mind (pink+grey+white/black+white+marble) and curate the items you need around those things. If you need a new notebook and marble is part of your vignette, try to find a marble notebook to compliment your photos. If you’re looking for candles, pick ones that will look great in photos. You will need some “props” for your photos, but I don’t recommend going out and buying everything at once. Use what you’ve got, and fill in any gaps along the way.
I have a Pinterest board dedicated to flat lays that helps me get inspiration. It gives me ideas on new ways to style things and what works really well. Sometimes I have difficulty thinking of items to add to my flat lay, so I do a little exercise. I find a photo I really like and first list the colors in the image, then I will list each item pictured. There may be items that I never considered adding or overlooked that I can try out in my own photos.
7. HANGING CANVAS
Since the walls in my apartment are brown and I want the freedom to shoot indoors, I purchased 4 yards of white Duck Canvas ($17 on sale) from Joann and hang it on a couple of hooks on my wall. I could have gotten a photo stand and backdrop from Amazon, but I didn’t want to spend very much and I knew that would be a lot to store. I also can lay the canvas flat which helps with larger flat lays (like with clothing). If you aren’t trying to take photos of yourself and just want to improve your flat lay game, you can always use a white sheet on the floor as a neutral backdrop.
Cell phone cameras have improved so much that it’s easier than ever to shoot amazing photos. If you’re ready take your photography to the next level, I highly recommend getting a DSLR. It sounds intimidating, but you can do so many things with them and they really make your photography pop. I shoot most of my photos with a Canon T5 with a 24mm lens, but a really great starter camera is the Canon T3i. You can get a better deal by purchasing the body and the lens separately.
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Creating beautiful photos can be intimidating, but with a few key tools and a little bit of creativity you can take beautiful photos, even in your tiny apartment. I hope this list helps you reach your photography goals!
What are your best tips for beautiful photos?
Thanks for stopping by!