Instagram Roundup + FAQ

March 30, 2018

Happy Friday babes! For today’s post I have an Instagram roundup and I’m answering a few long-awaited FAQ’s regarding the photos I publish both to the blog as well as social media feeds. The most frequently asked questions I receive these days are about my photos, lighting setup and equipment. Many of you have requested I do a photography-related post so today I am serving up all the questions I get DM’d daily. More times than not the images I post on my feed are snaps from blog posts to let you guys know that a new post went live. On days in between when I don’t post to the blog the images are more about what I’m loving, beauty favorites, what’s going on at the moment, or details and things that inspire me.

Before we begin, all photos on this blog are taken by me. My photography “skills” and techniques are self-taught and works that are forever in progress. I’ve been blogging for little over four years now but photographing for close to 13, and I’m still learning new things every day – which for me is only half the fun because I love playing with angles, placement and lighting a lot. The biggest challenge in photographing beauty products is capturing the colors accurately, hands down, also in addition are complex and multi-colored shimmers as well as texture. This only accounts for what’s on the inside because there is also packaging finishes and details to deal with aside from reflective materials and glare. Beauty blogging takes a lot of hard work and practice but I wouldn’t change it for the world!

For convenience I have organized the questions by category and up first are the most common asked photography-related questions:

What camera do you use?
I’ve used only three cameras over the years, all Nikon, and at the moment I own the D3200 model that I purchased several years ago. Every Nikon model I’ve owned have lasted me forever. Nikon to me has amazing introductory cameras that are both affordable and not too bulky. I like that they are user-friendly, simple and straight-to-the-point. They deliver high-grade quality and in my opinion are some of the best DSLR’s on the market next to Canon. Personally I prefer Nikon over Canon any day, but to each their own. Both are very good brands that have tons of good reviews all across the board. They are easy to use and are a lot of fun to play with.

Lenses I use are a standard 18-55 mm and a 55-200 mm for more detailed shots.

What filter do you use?
None! I exclusively shoot in either sunlight or daylight.

What apps do you use?
I don’t take nor edit any pictures with my phone. Every image you see on my feed is taken with my Nikon. The only time I use my actual phone to take a picture is when I’m posting to my IG story.

What kind of lighting do you use?
100% of my images are either taken in regular daylight or direct sunlight. Thank god I live in Vegas where the weather is always nice! Whenever we do experience a cloudy day or when lighting is just not up to par, I simply don’t take photos and focus on writing instead. I have a certain expectation of myself and photos taken under cloudy or low-light situations just doesn’t give me the result I personally look for. Having good light is key, but you also need to know how to work your camera settings and be familiar with things like exposure, ISO, aperture, shutter speed, etc. Knowing these basics will make all the difference.

Since I do shoot in front of a window, at all times this means I only have one source providing all the light so I use this reflector from Amazon to counter one-sided lighting and to soften shadows when I take pictures on a white background. Using a reflector makes a HUGE difference in the way my photos turn out as you can see in below unedited image:

In what program do you edit your pictures?
Everything is edited in Photoshop.

How do you edit your pictures?
It differs from day to day and depending on the lighting. One of my biggest discoveries many years ago that changed how I go about taking photos was shooting in RAW. RAW gives the photographer full control over the editing process and you are able to improve anything from color balance, to shadows and highlight with just about everything in between. I rarely have to make a lot of adjustments or use multiple actions to achieve the look I want my images to have. Usually it’s a little color balance and color correction, but other than that it’s very minimal. I like bright, crisp images and most of that is achieved by the spot in my house where I have the perfect light source, which happens to be my office!

For reference, and to show you guys exactly what I adjust in most images depending on the lighting of course, below I have included a before/after of how an image looks coming from a RAW file vs the end result:

What are your camera settings?
I don’t have a set settings program because the circumstances I shoot under are never the same twice so I tweak my settings accordingly to my surroundings. I cannot express enough how important it is to actually get to know your camera and play with your settings to basically find, the sauce. You can invest thousands of dollars in fancy equipment but that doesn’t automatically translate to good photos. Practice makes perfect and I highly suggest getting to get to know the camera basics, always.

Home decor questions

Where do get your trays and stuff?
Confession, I own one too many trays. Trays are my decor vice of choice and I literally have one (or two) in every room of the house. I love looking and shopping for trays though because it helps me keep things organized but also streamlines a room or furniture piece you place it on. Most of my trays actually come from Marshalls, but below I will link some of the ones I found online:

Fashion/decor books

Where did you get those jars for your brushes?
Those jars are recycled Herbivore Botanicals jars!

Misc questions/comments

What is the white background you shoot on?
Just very simple white poster boards you can buy literally almost everywhere, including Michael’s, Target, Walmart, Office Depot, etc.

I wish I had marble in my home to shoot on! It looks so good 
Fake it ’til you make it tip: Amazon sells an array of these self-adhesive marble contact papers in just about every marble color you can think of. All you need is a flat surface, patience and preferably two sets of hands.

I can’t afford Photoshop …
Neither can I, but Adobe does offer a $10 p/month payment plan for Photoshop (including Lightroom) and other Adobe programs …

How do you keep your products so clean?
Okay so, I am very strict about keeping my products neat and clean even while I’m using them for not just aesthetic reasons but just for myself since I’m quite over the top in keeping a clean house … quite literally. Many products are prone to show fingerprints so I will buff those with a fiber cloth to clean up any areas of concern. For metallic packaging I actually use Windex and a paper towel to remove fingerprints as well other imperfections. To keep powder dust from settling into cracks and crannies inside compacts I swab them with a wet q-tip. It’s a little extra but I like things clean, especially my makeup. Reading this paragraph back to myself I have never felt more like Monica Geller in my life …

I hope you enjoyed this Instagram and FAQ roundup, fingers crossed that I answered most of your questions! If not, or if you want to see anything else, please let me know in the comments!

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