I get many messages on Instagram, where people ask me, how I take and edit my pictures. I’m not a professional photographer, and when I started taking my pictures, I had no clue what I was doing. It took me about one year, before I was satisfied with the quality of my pictures, and I’m still learning. My pictures are far from professional, but I’m happy with my progress for now. I think it’s nice to help each other, and I don’t want to be the kind of “instagrammer”, who doesn’t want to help others, because of the huge “competition” there is, to get noticed by the companies. Anyway, here’s a more detailed description on how I take my pics for those who are interested. I’ll writhe another post, on how I edit my pictures.
The light is the most important factor, if you want to take good quality pictures. It’s better to invest money in a good light source, in stead of an expensive camera, especially if there’s no possibility to take the pictures during the day. I’m actually just using daylight when taking all of my pictures. I do have a ring light, but I didn’t bring it with me, when we moved to the U.S. I bought it actually for some other purposes, and didn’t really use it for my makeup pictures. Any way, I wish I had it, because all my windows are facing east, so the light isn’t always good enough. It’ s almost impossible for me to take a good quality shot a e.g. on a rainy or very cloudy day. Some days, I even have to go outside to get a good picture, with the risk of getting strange looks from people who are passing by. I usually then pretend to take pictures of the flowers or my dog. I have also recently bought two soft boxes, please see picture below. There’s only one socket in each, so they can hold one bulb each. I actually regret, that I didn’t get one of those, which have space for four bulbs in stead of, because I don’t think they provide enough light. I use them mostly for blog post pics, and have also placed one of them next to the window, for more brightness. The bulbs that I’m using do provide a nice daylight ( 5500 K ).
Anyway, I think that it’s better to take pictures that are a bit darker, than too bright, because it’s easier to edit them brighter. It’s too difficult to darken over-exposed pictures. Direct sunlight on my face, never worked out nicely for my makeup shots.
For the close up pictures of my eyes, and lips, I’m using my camera ; Sony a5100 with the standard lens ( 16-50 mm) that came with it. Please see the picture below. The camera is about two years old, and I have unfortunately had some issues with it, so I would actually not recommend it. The flash, is not working, and it’s too expensive to repair it, so I’ll probably get a new camera from another brand. The auto settings on the camera ( intelligent auto, superior auto, and the detail mode – the one with the flower icon ), are after my opinion not very good for the makeup close ups, because they do wash the colors out, and the glitters are not very visible and shiny. The saturation of the colors can be edited afterwards, but I’m not very fond of this technique. In stead of, I’m using manual settings “M”, where I have to adjust the ISO, f/stop and shutter speed depending on the light source. Yes, it sometimes feel like rocket science to adjust those correctly, but I guess it’s easier if you are using the same light source every time ( ring light etc. ) , so the settings should be the same. As I mentioned before, I’m not a professional photographer, so this is my way on how to adjust the settings. I usually keep the f/stop as low as possible. On my camera, the lowest f/stop possible is usually 4,5. The ISO should also be as low as possible, because if it’s too high, the pictures tend to become more grainy. I usually start with adjusting the shutter speed. If the light source is good, then the shutter speed can be high. I usually set the shutter speed to be around 100 – 160, because it usually makes the glitters and shimmers pop. I tend to set it on 160 on nice and sunny days, with an ISO on 100 – 200. It’s really all about playing around with the settings, so you’ll get the quality you’re happy with. I like to take my pictures, so they are under-exposed , like fore example 0,3 or 0,7. It makes the glitters pop more. I then edit the brightness on my phone or computer.
My camera has also different zoom options. I’m using the “manual zoom”, where I have to adjust the focus on every picture that I take. The focus is adjusted by turning the lens left and right.
I do not use flash, because it’s not working on my camera. I have few times before succeeded in taking good pictures with flash, but I would still recommend to adjust it under the settings and not take them under too bright light conditions.
You have probably already heard of the Instagram makeup. What looks good on Instagram, doesn’t always look good in real life. When I do my make up that I’m planning to photograph afterwards, I put much more effort in making it look more HD – perfect. Every week, I actually shave different parts of my face with a tiny razor. I do pluck my brows every second day, and my chick mustache once every week, but the razor removes all the tiny peach fuzz hairs that I have on my forehead and under my lips. When taking pictures for Instagram, I do also always use full coverage foundation and concealer, and clean up the edges of my eye brows. When taking pictures of my whole face, I do also exaggerate my contouring and highlighting. When using a powder highlight, I usually dab a bit facial oil on the spots where I want the highlighter to be. It makes it more shiny, but I would not use this technique for every day use. When photographing my lips, I actually apply a huge amount of lip gloss to make it more shiny and visible.