A few questions I get a lot on Instagram and my blog are: how do you take photos for your blog? Do you take your own photos? Do you hire someone? So today I wanted to breakdown my blogging photography journey and what works for me for Emma’s Edition.
How I found my first photographer for my blog:
I started blogging my senior year of college (2013-2014) and I knew I needed a photographer. I was watching bloggers like Aimee Song, Gabriella @nanyscloset, and @happilygrey rise into fashion and their photography was incredible. I knew I needed to figure out a way to take photos for my blog, so I knew I needed a photographer. So I decided to turn to my friend Holly Phan.
Holly had previously only shot race cars. And when she came on to the Victoria’s Secret PINK team, she started taking photos of the team for social media. I finally summed up the courage to ask Holly if she would be open to shooting me for Emma’s Edition. And since she hadn’t ever shot people before, she wanted the practice so she agreed.
Year 1 of Blogging:
That first year of blogging, Holly and I probably shot once a month. We probably spent one hour in each outfit because we both were learning. I was learning how to be in front of the camera and Holly was learning how to shoot people/lifestyle/fashion shoots. Holly agreed to shoot me for free and I promised her that once I got a full time job, I would pay her. I was a broke college student – literally surviving off $30 a week in groceries and paying for last two years of college on my own (loans, grants, scholarships, and working part time).
Here is one of my first blog posts that Holly shot: Spring Casual Chic. I was still learning how to pose!
Year 2 of Blogging:
It wasn’t until I graduated and finally started working full time that I could afford to pay for photography. In my second year of blogging, I was lucky if I shot only once a month and paid $25-50 a photo shoot. I was drowning at my first corporate job and I was so focus on trying to succeed then trying to find a new job in my first year. I really threw blogging to the wayside because I was just trying to get through the first year of the real world.
Here are is one of my favorite blog posts from year two: San Clemente – my first blog post when I moved down to Orange County, CA!
Year 3 of Blogging – Present:
In my third year of blogging/second year out of college, I moved back to Seattle and started working with Holly again. I work and pay her (of course) at last once a month! I also have worked with other photographers like Karya, Miriam, Lauren, and Jenna. After my first big brand partnership with American Eagle Outfitters, I really found my blogging groove. Now I try to shoot 1-2 times a month with both Holly and Karya.
I look back now and am so grateful that Holly and I were able to work and learn how to shoot together. So now I wanted to share a few tips on how you can take photos for your blog with and without a photographer.
Before I jump into sharing tips on how you can take photos for your blog with or without a photographer, let me ask you this:
1. What are your strengths and areas of opportunity around blogging and Instagram?
2. What are your commitments and time constraints around blogging and/or a full time job, or taking care of a family, or being a student?
I ask you these two questions because it can help you determine whether or not you should insource or outsource your photography. If you have the time and capacity to learn a new skillset, then I would recommend pursuing how to do photography yourself. If you’re like me, and you’re balancing a full time job with grad school, I would recommend at least outsourcing blog photography. But this is just my opinion and the way I look at insourcing and outsourcing skillsets I may or may not have.
If you decide to outsource photography – here are a few tips to finding the right photographer for you:
1. To find a photographer, I recommend getting on Instagram and looking up a location specific hashtag like: #seattlephotographer.
When I’m traveling to a city where I want blog photos, I always use this tactic to find a photographer. This is how I found my photographer friends in Kauai, New York, and LA!
2. For a more long term photographer, I’d recommend finding someone who also would make a great friend
Holly and I have grown so much together – her as a photographer and me as a blogger over the years. One thing I really value working with Holly is she knows how I move in front of the camera. She knows my poses, what types of shots I like, and understands the type of shot I want to create when I describe it.
3 .It’s okay to negotiate rates
You’re a blogger and he/she is a photographer – so guess what? You both are creatives out there who understand how difficult it is to hustle. If you’re budget for photography is really tight, you can always ask to negotiate. Maybe you can request for less photos and less time spent shooting for a lower rate. Or you can negotiate and figure out if you can work together for the next 3 months (one photo shoot a month) so you’re guaranteed photos and they’re guaranteed work.
4. Ask to meet for coffee or a test shoot
If you and a photographer are trying figure out whether you want to work together, I’d recommend asking to meet for coffee so you can meet face to face. Then you can discuss what you’re looking for, you can negotiate price in person, and maybe you can even do a test shoot to see if you two vibe.
If you want to keep your photography in-house or don’t have the funds yet to pay for a photographer, here’s my advice for you:
1. Find another blogger or friend and take each other’s photos
You’ll have to figure out how to edit, but learning how to edit photos is a valuable life skill!
2. Get a tripod off Amazon and take your own photos for your blog
Sometimes if I don’t have Holly or Karya, I set up my tripod and my iPhone on 10 second timer and take my own outfit photos for Instagram. And if you’re just starting out, I’d recommend taking this route so you become comfortable being in front of the camera.
3 Find another college student photographer and trade services
Maybe you can provide instagram advice/help in exchange for photos! Chances are there’s someone out there looking to build up their portfolio and you’re looking to build your Instagram.
How do you usually take photos for your blog? Do you have a photographer or do you take your own photos for your blog?
Thank you for reading! I hope you enjoyed learning how you can take photos for your blog today!
Photos: Karya Schanilec