Tips for Magazine Quality Photography

December 8th, 2011

Hello all, thanks for the kind comments on this morning’s post on better home photography!  I have a great guest today, one I’ve had the pleasure to work with and observe create magic in front of and behind the lens.

Please welcome back Matthew Mead, the incredible stylist, writer, author, and photographer behind Holiday Magazine.  I invited him to share a few of his best tips for improving your photography, especially those detailed close ups he’s so brilliant at, and that desirable bokeh backdrop created with twinkle lights that we all love so much during the holidays. 

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”When it comes to taking beautiful images with your camera it truly is a “practice makes perfect” proposition.  But there certainly are some tricks of the trade that I have found repeatedly useful in photographing food and still life imagery.

tips for magazine quality photography

I own a Canon Rebel XTI camera which is truly my right arm when it comes to my work.  I have several different lens which I use for things like room shots and up close imagery like miniature items or tight details but the magic for me resides in the 50 mm 1.4 lens.  This lens allows me to select a sharp focal point with everything else in the frame falling off softly in a very palatable “out of focus” style.  I use multiple F-stops between 1.4 and 3.0 in order to achieve the desired degree of focus depending on the subject.

To begin, set your camera to manual. This will give you the most control over the image and allow you to manipulate the light to the best possible outcome.  I am a huge fan of auto focus and find it most helpful when shooting food to allow me to work quickly and select multiple focal points in just a few minutes.  The benefit of a manual shot also allows you to shoot RAW files which are the largest format file that you can create and will allow you the ability to manipulate your image in many different types of photo programs.

I shoot all daylight imagery so make sure you set yourself up in a situation that allows for plenty of light.  A shear curtain or “scrim” is useful in cutting the light if it’s too bright or harsh.  Remember that subjects that are light or white are best on the opposite side of the light source as they will become over lit or “blow out” in too much light.

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Ten Basics for Better Home Photography

December 8th, 2011

I’ve had a few emails recently requesting I write up a post offering tips for taking better pictures of interiors. I really don’t consider myself an expert by any means in the field, but I have learned over the years how to take a pretty good picture of a DIY project, vignette, or room reveal.    

I wrote an article last year about better blog images, and it was mostly about moving out of automatic settings and into manual mode. It’s a good read, and today’s post really piggybacks off what I wrote last year.  

As decorators and home bloggers, we are constantly surrounded by gorgeous interiors, whether it comes from shelter magazines, other blogs, or the newest sensation, Pinterest.  The bar continues to be set higher when it comes to photographing our projects and our homes. Don’t be discouraged by this, feel the opposite. Any novice can improve his or her ability to take great images of homes, projects, or spaces with patience and practice.  I know. I’m proof.  

I look back at my pictures from a few years ago and I cringe.  Just take a look at this and you’ll see what I mean. Back then I knew nothing about photography beyond the simple point and shoot. But I realized that I had to better my ability to take decent  pictures if I was going to grow as a blogger and have my work recognized and featured. I’ve been blogging for almost three years and along the way I’ve taught myself a few of the basics of better photography.     

So to answer the questions of a few readers, I’ve narrowed what I’ve learned to these ten very basic tips for taking better images of your interiors or projects.   

 ten basics for better home photography

 

1. Invest in a Good Camera

I’ve read a few posts here and there from bloggers who use a regular point-and-shoot camera, and yes, I do believe a more basic model has the ability to take a really good picture.  So does my iPhone.  However, a good SLR digital camera with variable settings (F-stop, shutter speed, ISO sensitivity, white balance, etc.) is the best ticket to high quality interior photography simply because it allows the user to manipulate the amount of light that enters the lens.  And if one thing is true, a great interior shot is all about proper light.     

Both Nikon and Canon offer excellent choices, personally I use a Nikon D90 and I stick mostly with two lenses, my 18-55 mm lens (the standard one that came with the camera) for close ups and a Tamron 10-24 mm lens for larger room shots.  A great camera will do most of the work for you, so I consider it a worthy investment. 

 

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Wintery Mantel

December 7th, 2011

Well it’s certainly looking a lot like Christmas around here which means some things are done like the tree and mantel, but much of it is not. I’m going very minimalist with the décor, perhaps it’s because I’ve had to bring it all out a few times this year, so I’m keeping it simple.  I’m in a ‘less is more’ mode right now and loving the fuss less look. 

Most of my holiday decorations are a mixture of white, gold, and silver, and every year I just pick a color to layer on top.  This year I’m loving crimson again. I’m infatuated with white ceramic things, you’ll spy a new snowfall tree from Z Gallerie and two white reindeer I picked up in an after Christmas sale last year ~ they’re both my favorites right now so they got the prominent placement on the wintery mantel.  

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And how about that gorgeous mirror?  It’s the Bellasol from Ballard looking lovely in the living room but it’s really just visiting ~ it’s destined for the powder room in January.  I found it on sale at Ballard with free shipping two weeks ago, the sale couldn’t have been better timed since I’ve had my eye on it for a year now for the bathroom.  I’m loving the way it bounces images around the room. 

Those are the same stockings from last year, just embellished with red yarn and pom poms. The iron fireplace screen was an antique faire find last spring, a steal at $40.

christmas mantel stockings

 

Yes, I have a giant 9 foot moss covered branch in my living room and yes I love it. The story behind it is here.  I’m obsessed with this branch, it’s like it fell off the tree because it wanted to live in my house. 

The new club chairs with nailhead trim were acquired from Joss & Main (I saved up enough credit over there to only have to pay cash for half of one) and if you love them too they’ll be available at my sale next week.  The white furry pillow is actually a reformed bath mat (read about it here) and the lamb’s wool “throw” is just the cover to the West Elm mongolian lamb’s wool pillow I’ve had for awhile (seen here).  Red velvet pillow from World Market, red sparkle pillow from Crate + Barrel.   

christmas mantel cg

 

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