Outfit Photography Tips for Fashion Bloggers -
May 11, 2015

Hi loves!

Recently, I’ve been getting a lot of questions about which camera and/or lens I use and how I make my outfit photos. I see this as a great compliment, because it probably means that you like my photos! So, thank you! First of all; credits to Ellen, Nathalie and my boyfriend, who currently shoot most of my outfits! So, I thought it would be fun to share my outfit photography tips with you; from which settings I use, to finding a background, to how to get bokeh effects and rainbows in your photos! Of course, I’m nothing like a professional photographer, but these are the things I do to get my photos to be as pretty as possible! I hope you like it!

Fashion Blogger Outfit Photography Tips - Shoot, Blury background, bokeh effect

Camera & Lens

Well, first things first; I use the Canon 700D (T5i in the US) with the 50mm f/1.8 lens. The lens is the most common used lens among fashion bloggers, for as far as I know, and for great reason! It’s pretty cheap compared to other lenses and it creates a beautiful dept of field. F/1.8 means that the lowest possible f-value of aperture is 1.8. The lower the f-value, the more dept of field you’ll have in your photo. This means that your object (you, in case of outfit photos) is sharp, while the background is blury. The lower the f-value, the blurrier your background. I chose the Canon 700D, because it also has an HD video option, a tilting screen and touch screen. But you could also get the Canon 1100D for example, which is much cheaper, but has less options and no video function. Of course, you can also start with a simple non-DSLR camera, but if you can afford it and you’re serious about blogging, I can really recommend getting a DSLR.

Finding a nice background

I always try to find pretty backgrounds for outfit shoots. Actually, it’s an ongoing process. When I’m out on the street or sitting on a bus of train, I can’t help myself but browse for pretty outfit shoot spots. Of course, you can also just grab your camera, go outside and see what kind of pretty spots you’ll bump into. I do this too sometimes. But usually, it saves a lot of time when you already know a nice spot!

There are a few things I look for in an outfit shoot location; does it add to the vibe of the outfit, don’t the colours clash with the outfit in a bad way, is it a light background, is it sunny, and most importantly, where’s the light coming from? I really like romantic backgrounds, like parks, a little bench, blossom trees, old light coloured buildings, the canals, stairs…

Fashion Blogger Outfit Photography Tips - Shoot, Blury background, bokeh effect
Some of my favorite outfit shoot backgrounds recently.

Finding pretty lighting

When you find a background you like, I think it’s really important to make some test shots, before you start taking tons of photos and get home to find out there are really weird shades on your face. It happens ;-) If the light is creating uncharming shadows on your face or you turn out very dark while the background is very light, it can help to take test pictures from different angles. In this outfit shoot, I turned out super dark (while the background was super light) when my boyfriend was standing right in front of me. The photos got so much better when he moved 3 meters to the right. So, the trick here is just trial and error. Sometimes, a location really ‘doesn’t work’ with the current light, and we continue to find a new location.

Fashion Blogger Outfit Photography Tips - Shoot, Blury background, bokeh effect
Uncharming shadow.

Fashion Blogger Outfit Photography Tips - Shoot, Blury background, bokeh effect
No uncharming shadows!

The sun is my holy grail

I know a lot of fashion bloggers really dislike sunshine when it comes to taking outfit pictures, because it creates really harsh shadows. It can make it seem like you have enormous bags under your eyes, due to the shadow. Not to mention the squinting eyes, when you don’t have any sunglasses with you. But actually, when the sun is shining from the right angle, it’s my holy grail of outfit shooting! The trick is not to shoot in the same direction of the light, with your face towards the light, but shoot against it, with your back against the light! This is an example of a shoot in which we shot against the light. There are no strange shadows on your face, your hair gets a sunny glow and you might even get some lovely bokeh effects or a rainbow in your photo!

A few side notes: not all cameras can handle this. A simple compact camera will not capture this effect and even some of the cheaper DSLRs might not. Of course, you can always give it a shot, to find out whether your camera is capable of it! Also, this only works with bright sunshine. When the sun is shining through a thin cloud or is less bright for any other reason, the photos will turn out flat and the object will be too dark, while the background will be too light. Also, you might need to photograph from a different angle than you planned, as you need the perfect angle to get this effect. Again, trial and error! It works best in the late afternoon (in spring or summer), but depending on your location, it might also work at noon. Usually, when the sun is out, I just give it a shot no matter what time it is, because I just love these effects so much. When it doesn’t work, we go looking for shadow ;-)

Fashion Blogger Outfit Photography Tips - Shoot, Blury background, bokeh effect

Photograph in RAW

I started shooting all my photos in RAW format last September. I had some issues with the light in my photos, so I searched the internet and found the tip of shooting in RAW. And ever since I switched to RAW, I never went back! It’s probably one of the best tips I can give you! One down point; not all camera’s have this option, but I think most DSLR camera’s do have it. If you’re thinking about getting a new camera, I would really look at that! Anyway, RAW is a bigger format than JPEG. Since I shoot in RAW, my SD cards are full much quicker, but it’s so worth it! The reason that RAW is bigger, is because it saves all the data from the sensor. This means that the quality is better, but it also means that more adjustments can be made after taking the photo. When I open a RAW file in Photoshop, it automatically opens the RAW editor. When you open the photos on your computer, and it seems that your settings weren’t as perfect as you thought they were, the RAW editor is the solution! In the RAW editor, you can easily ‘cure’ photos from being over- or underexposed. This is so much harder to do in a regular JPEG file. And the result won’t look nearly as good as when you shoot in RAW. Really, give it a shot!

Note: realize that you cannot upload RAW files on your blog directly, without at least opening them in a photo editing program first, and save them as a JPEG or PNG. I prefer the latter, as PNG have better quality.

Fashion Blogger Outfit Photography Tips - Shoot, Blury background, bokeh effect

Settings

First of all, I always use AV or M mode. M is the manual mode, in which you can adjust the most settings and AV mode is the lazier version, haha! AV automatically selects the shutter speed.

When you’re using a lens with low f-value, it’s important to realize how much space there is between you and the background. We shoot most outfit photos on auto focus (instead of manual focus), because I’m constantly moving, which makes it hard to focus manually. When you have a very low f-value and you’re standing in front of a wall, it’s very hard for the auto focus to determine what the object of the photo is. Which means that the photos will not be as sharp as they could be with a higher f-value. Also, it doesn’t really make sense to use a low f-value when you’re in front of a wall, because there’s hardly any dept of field in real life. Anyway, when you shoot in front of a wall, make sure to set your aperture f-value a little higher! Also, the lower your f-value, the lighter your photos will be. If your photos turn out too light, but you want to keep the f-value low to create dept of field, you can make the photo darker by adjusting ISO and/or shutter speed.

ISO: I usually set my ISO at 100 or 200. The higher your ISO, the higher the sensitivity to light. ISO 100 or 200 is usually great for outside shoots. However, sometimes it will be a little bit darker outside than usual, and you can set your ISO to 400 for example. A low ISO is usually better (as long as it’s possible with the light you’re dealing with), because the higher your ISO, the more grainy your pictures will be.

Shutter speed: shutter speed is in fractions of seconds. So, a shutter speed of 1/125 is faster than a shutter speed of 1/60. The higher the shutter speed, the faster the camera will take your photo and therefore, less light will come into your picture. There’s an interaction between ISO and shutter speed. When you want to take outfit pictures of you walking, you need a higher shutter speed. But wen there’s not enough light, your photos might turn out too dark, and you’ll need to use a higher ISO as well. For outfit shooting, 1/125 should be good. And for walking pictures 1/250. But when your photos turn out too dark, too light or blury, the situation might need higher or lower ISO or shutter speed. To make sure my settings are right, I always make some test shots first!

Fashion Blogger Outfit Photography Tips - Shoot, Blury background, bokeh effect

Detail shots

For detail shots or photos on which you’re standing still, it can be very convenient to use manual focus. To switch manual focus on, you only have to switch a little button on your lens. There can be a lot going on in detail shots; a hand, a bag, a skirt. Sometimes, the auto focus focusses on something else than you would like. Or even everything gets blury, because there’s too much going on in the shot. In those cases, manual focus is your best friend! If you have never used manual focus before, you might need some practice, but once you’re getting the hang of it, you will be able to take much sharper pictures!

Well, those were my photography tips for outfit shooting! These are the things which I think work well. I hope you found it useful! And if you have any further questions, I’ll be happy to answer them! And extra tips are very welcome as well, of course!

Love,

Sonja

Retro Sonja | Vintage Fashion Blog

32 comments on “My Outfit Photography Tips”
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    Monday May 11th, 2015

    I need a DSLR…

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    Monday May 11th, 2015

    I really love your photos and was wondering how you pulled it off, so thank you so much for sharing these tips! Yet, I’m still a bit puzzled about how you shoot against the sunlight and not get a dark silhouette. Do you use a fill in flash or something?

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    Monday May 11th, 2015

    Thank you so much Brenda! I really don’t do anything special when I shoot against the sunlight and I also don’t use flash. I guess it really depends on the angle your shooting in, the time of day and whether your camera can deal with it. At the moment, here in the Netherlands, it works best around 4 in the afternoon. If I were you, I would just try some different angles! And it can help to use a metering mode for backlit subjects :-)

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    Monday May 11th, 2015

    Dit artikel komt echt op het juiste moment. Ik ben net begonnen met het maken van outfit foto’s voor mijn blog, maar het resultaat is nog niet zoals ik het in mijn hoofd heb. Deze tips zijn echt HEEL erg handig. Bedankt voor de goede uitleg!

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    Monday May 11th, 2015

    Wat fijn om te horen Esmée! En leuk dat je sinds kort ook outfit foto’s maakt!

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    Monday May 11th, 2015

    Wat een ontzettend handig artikel!

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    Monday May 11th, 2015

    Ah wat een fijne post zeg! Zelf heb ik een 1200D, een nieuwe, goedkope en prima beginnerscamera. Ik heb nu alleen nog de kitlens, maar hier gebruik ik altijd manual focus omdat hij niet zo goed scherpstelt. Ook één van de redenen waarom ik een 50 mm lens wil haha… In RAW fotograferen wil ik ook eens proberen, al heb ik geen Photoshop, maar de kwaliteit van de foto is dus echt beter?
    X Emma

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    Monday May 11th, 2015

    Fijn om te horen dat je het een handige post vond! Als je in RAW fotografeert ben je wel ‘verplicht’ eigenlijk om de foto’s te editen, omdat ze anders rare kleuren gaan weergeven als je ze onbewerkt upload. Of dan op zijn minst openen in een bewerkprogrammea en vervolgens als JPEG of PNG (laatste doe ik altijd, net betere kwaliteit) opslaan. Misschien moet ik dat ook nog even in de post zetten! Maar wellicht zijn er ook andere RAW editors behalve in Photoshop!

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    Monday May 11th, 2015

    De kwaliteit is overigens wel echt beter, maar je hebt er alleen wat aan als je ze voor het uploaden opent in een fotobewerkingsprogramma :-)

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    Monday May 11th, 2015

    Super handig artikel zeg ! Ik gebruik zelf de canon 1200D ik ga het morgen eens uitproberen.

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    Monday May 11th, 2015

    Leuk om te horen! Succes! Ik ben benieuwd of het gaat lukken!

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    Monday May 11th, 2015

    Super bedankt voor je tips! Ik heb meteen mijn camera erbij gepakt en de instelling op RAW gezet. Ben benieuwd of ik het verschil zie :)

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    Monday May 11th, 2015

    Jee, superleuk om te horen! Waar je wel op moet letten is dat je RAW bestanden voordat je ze op je blog upload moet openen in een fotobewerkingsprogramma en opslaan als JPEG of PNG.

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    Monday May 11th, 2015

    Super tips! Ik ben altijd gek op jouw outfit foto’s! :)

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    Tuesday May 12th, 2015

    Leuk om te lezen en perfecte timing ik wil zelf namelijk ook weer een Canon DSLR kopen. Goede tips zeg!

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    Tuesday May 12th, 2015

    Handige tips! Ik had al eerder wat over RAW gelezen, maar wist nog niet helemaal of het voor mijn blog handig zou zijn. Heb meteen mijn camera erbij gepakt. Helaas kwam ik er nu achter dat mijn spiegelreflex niet in RAW kan fotograferen..

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    Tuesday May 12th, 2015

    Fijn dat je de tips handig vindt! En jammer dat je camera niet in RAW kan fotograferen! Extra goed opletten dat je belichting van je foto’s goed is tijdens het shooten dan :-)

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    Tuesday May 12th, 2015

    Heel handig en leuk om te lezen! Bedankt voor de tips :)

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    Tuesday May 12th, 2015

    Superfijn artikel! Ik heb de DSLR, de 50mm lens en woon in de perfecte stad voor mooie achtergronden, maar helaas kan ik niet echt iemand vinden die foto’s kan maken. Snel op zoek zodat ik deze tips kan toepassen :)

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    Tuesday May 12th, 2015

    This is great. I’m going to forward it to my bf who takes all my photos :)

    Nadia
    The Girl Who Looks Like a Cake

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    Tuesday May 12th, 2015

    Onwijs blij met je tips over de camera instellingen. Ga ik sowieso uitproberen! Bedankt.
    X Wilmke

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    Tuesday May 12th, 2015

    Super tips! thank you Sonja for sharing with us!

    Kisses from Italy

    Lalla

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    Wednesday May 13th, 2015

    Amazing tips! Thank you so much for sharing! I’ve actually been looking for a new lens for my camera :)

    Erika
    http://whaterikawears.com/

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    Wednesday May 13th, 2015

    These tips are so helpful! At the moment I have a semi peoffessional camera and I’m looking to save up for your exact camera! It sounds so confusing and until now I couldn’t find a blog post this helpful. Thank you! Xxx

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    Wednesday May 13th, 2015

    Ohh.. these are great tips! Thank you so much, Sonja. They are really helpful :)

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    Thursday May 14th, 2015

    Great post! I’m a professional photographer so I really can say that these tipps here are right! :)
    Well done lady.

    XX,
    Christina Key
    http://christinakey.com

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    Thursday May 14th, 2015

    Oh wow, that’s so good to hear! Thank you so much! :D

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    Friday May 15th, 2015

    Wat een geweldige en uitgebreide tips Sonja! Ik wilde laatst ook in RAW foto’s maken, maar ik kreeg ze met geen enkel programma geopend. Terwijl ik wel gewoon photoshop heb, zo raar!

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    Friday May 15th, 2015

    Really helpful tips, thank you so much Sonja! x

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    Tuesday June 23rd, 2015

    You’re such a lifesaver! I’ve been trying to find a fashion blogger who uses the 700d and the 50 mm lens for a while and I finally found you! I love your photos and I definitely will get this camera and the lens now xx

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    Wednesday August 5th, 2015

    Nice way of translating the camera. I admire your ways and settings. Sorry for this but I am having a free preset for photoshop via my website (hope you don’t mind me sharing it here).

    After this nice explanation you can edit your images and I have a free curve for photoshop which will tone your images:
    http://freespiritedsouls.com/free-photoshop-curve/

    MZ

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    Monday December 28th, 2015

    Great tips, Sonja) Thank you for sharing) Can I repost it?
    Have a nice holidays,
    4Styler
    http://www.4Styler.com

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