Photography Tips: How To Take Good Photos Without A Professional Photographer

One of the best things you could do for your brand is to have good photography. And although many times I have a photographer take and edit my photos, sometimes I need to take matters into my own hands. So today I wanted to share a few of my photography tips for people who aren’t even close to being a photographer (aka myself and Matt).

Photography Tips: How To Take Good Photos Without A Professional Photographer by NYC fashion blogger Dana of Pink Champagne Problems

I almost always shoot with Allie, but May and June were so busy for us because we were both traveling a ton. That’s when I heavily rely on my boyfriend, Matt, to help me get good content for Pink Champagne Problems. Luckily, over the last few months Matt has gotten really good at using a DSLR.

When I was looking at getting my own camera before my cruise with Royal Caribbean, I honestly had no idea what I was actually looking for. I just assumed I needed to spend a ton of money to get quality photos. Thankfully, Allie talked me out of it and told me that I needed. And it only came out to about $500 total for the body and lens.

Full disclosure, I’m not a photographer…not even close. So the below information is just based on my personal experience with my camera and lenses.

The Body

To be honest, I’m really happy I went with the Canon Rebel T6s. I know it’s not the best, or fanciest. But there are a lot of features that I really like about it, specifically the lightweight body and the WiFi capabilities. It’s nice to be able to get a great shot and upload it immediately to my phone. It has all of the standard features of a Canon camera, and pretty user friendly once you get the hang of it!

The 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens, $125

Photography Tips: How To Take Good Photos Without A Professional Photographer by NYC fashion blogger Dana of Pink Champagne Problems

Matt was probably 50 feet away from me to get this shot.

This ridiculously inexpensive lens was a great beginner’s lens. It was perfect for simple outfit shots. There’s a slight issue (that can certainly be looked over if you’re not looking to invest in a lens): Since my camera body isn’t a full-frame camera and it’s a crop sensor, the lens shoots VERY close. Matt would have to be really far away from me just to get a full body shot. So basically, this lens wasn’t very practical for interior shots because it was pretty “zoomed” in. I worked with this lens for about 9 months until Matt started taking more and more of my outfit photos. So I decided to upgrade.

The 35mm f/2 IS USM Wide-Angle Lens

Photography Tips: How To Take Good Photos Without A Professional Photographer by NYC fashion blogger Dana of Pink Champagne Problems

Matt was verrrry close to me to get this shot…didn’t have to stand across the street or anything;)

I decided to upgrade to this lens after realizing how annoying it was to take interior shots of The Merchant Salem. Knowing we were going to Newport, I needed to act fast. After consulting both Allie and Lauren and using some of their photography tips, I decided to go with this 35mm lens. AND I LOVE IT. It’s definitely a bigger investment, but it really helps enhance your photos. Matt loves it too which means he’s more open to really learning how to use the camera.

Check out the difference between my 50mm lens and my 35mm lens by looking at the full posts — I think the 35mm creates a much better image when it’s a full body shot. Three quarter photos (close up images) photographed really well on my 50mm lens too.

How I Learned To Use A DSLR

Thanks to Allie (again), she gave me a crash course in how to shoot in manual and ever since then, I started slowly learning the settings. Things like f-stop, shutter speed, aperture, and ISO meant nothing to me a few months ago…and now I know when to change what. For the most part. It’s definitely not natural to me yet, so Matt and I still need to do a couple of test shots to get it right. And it works for us.

When I first got my camera, Matt and I didn’t shoot too much because we really didn’t know what we were doing. After I needed him more and more to shoot (due to scheduling conflicts with Allie), he started becoming better and better. Which means we started shooting more and more. One of the biggest tips I have is to just enjoy the learning process. Yes, it’s frustrating when we can’t get the settings right and the photos don’t come out as I had hoped. But when the photos do come out the way I want, it’s such a success. It’s also definitely a plus that it’s something Matt and I do together!

Photography Tips…from a fashion blogger

TIME TO SHOOT I really like shooting in the early morning (even though it’s so hard for me to wake up) or right after work. The lighting is perfect and the temperature (at least in the summer) is just right.

WHERE TO SHOOT If I absolutely MUST shoot in the middle of the day when the sun is beaming, I try to find the most shaded area. It’s tough to shoot directly in sunlight, and since I’m not super great with the camera, the photos don’t come out great.

RAW vs. JPEG One of the first things Allie told me was to shoot in RAW. This allows you to do SO much more with your photos when you’re editing. Although they’re a gigantic file, they capture the most detail when you’re shooting. Lightroom automatically coverts them so they’re ready for editing. I always save mine in JPEG format when finished.

EDITING I purchased Lightroom to edit my photos when Matt takes them. I also purchased Mastin Labs presets to help along the editing process. You should check out Kelly’s tutorial on how she edits her photos. I loved it and still look at it from time to time! Something I’m really hoping to get better at is saving my photos with SEO already as well as fixing my image size. I’ve noticed my photos are massive, but I’m not too sure about what a good size is — please let me know if you have an answer for me!

PS: I mentioned this before…but I highly recommend shooting in manual!

And there ya have it! Some of my little photography tips as well as what I use when I don’t shoot with a photographer. If you have any other tips, please let me know below — I’m all ears when it comes to learning new things!

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  1. 7.5.17
    Gentry said:

    Great great great post!! I have a DSLR but am looking to learn how to actually use it so that I can bolster my own blog content 🙂

    • 7.5.17
      Dana Mannarino said:

      Thank you, Gentry!
      Right? It’s like I bought one and kind of put it off for a while. I really enjoy shooting and editing my own content from time to time!

  2. 7.5.17
    Rachel said:

    Such a great post Dana! I have been itching to get the 35 mm lens for the last few months, I’ll have to make the purchase soon!

    As per photo size – I’ve heard the best size is to do double the amount of pixels of your blog post width so that’s what I’ve been doing! And once you have the right size and the images are optimized for the web, it’ll help with your SEO because they’ll load faster thus, increasing your site speed and user experience! Which are both two important Google Ranking Factors!

    Rachel /

    • 7.5.17
      Dana Mannarino said:

      The 35mm is amazing! I really love shooting with it and like I said, it’s not a SUPER large investment (relatively speaking).

      Oooooh thank you so much for this! My photos are definitely not helping with site speed, so I need to fix this issue ASAP.

  3. 7.5.17

    This is such a great post gal! I really need to update my lens. I have the 50mm and like you said, Joshua has to stand forever away. Which is a huge pain and I feel can hurt the quality of the photo quite a bit. Also, loving that post from Kelly, thanks for sharing.

    xo Laura Leigh

    • 7.5.17
      Dana Mannarino said:

      It was so annoying. I’d have to legit scream to talk to Matt because he was so far away!
      I highly recommend the 35mm lens. I definitely won’t be needing to upgrade any time soon because it’s such a big difference!

  4. 7.5.17

    Love this post, such great tips! I’ve never shot in RAW before, but I think I might need to try it!

    • 7.5.17
      Dana Mannarino said:

      Thank you! And yes! I highly recommend shooting in RAW. Your camera should also have a RAW+JPEG setting which means when you go to edit, it’ll upload both and you can choose!

  5. 7.5.17
    Jenn Lake said:

    Yay! So excited for you guys! ?

  6. 7.5.17

    This post reminds me that I desperately need to get a 35mm lens too! These are the best tips!

  7. 7.6.17

    Such a great post, Dana!! I shoot with a 35mm and love it! I knew nothing about photography when I started, neither did hubs, but it’s so fun to learn! xo Bryn

  8. 7.6.17

    Awesome tips girl! I’m obsessed with our Canon 85mm lens.

    Xx Taylor