Most of you who read my blog or follow me on Instagram know I’m a full-time writer/editor for a lifestyle magazine in Los Angeles and a full-time mom to a 1 year old. I work from home which means I am simultaneously juggling my career and parenting. It is basically like juggling chain saws while riding a unicycle at times—especially now that my son is walking and getting into everything.
That being said, content creation is still very much my passion project and I love sharing with my readers what I’m up to, baking, and wearing.
However, I’ve noticed there’s a common misconception about content creation, especially when I am with my family or friends who tell me, “Wow, all you do is snap a photo in 5 minutes and make money?!?! Anyone could do that!” Well, no. I don’t just randomly snap a photo and no, it certainly doesn’t take me only 5 minutes. I wish it took me that little time to shoot and write an Instagram caption or blog post but there’s actually a lot of effort, time management, multitasking, and money involved in creating quality content. That being said, I wanted to provide a behind the scenes peek at what it takes to “get the shot” and a few tips on how to make the most of your time.
Even before I plan a shoot, I’m always thinking about what I want to do/make/where I want to shoot when I’m drinking my morning coffee. I love to read magazines or scroll Pinterest for inspiration for future shoots. I find myself continuously inspired by other creatives, whether they’re bloggers or not.
Lighting and location go hand in hand when choosing where and when to shoot. I always make the effort to schedule a slot of time to shoot during good lighting hours. Having good natural lighting is key, otherwise the image will be blurry. And, the better the location is, the better the photo is. However, no matter how great the location is, once it’s dark outside, it’s a lot harder and labor intensive to capture a great image. I prefer to shoot outside with greenery in the background for a more natural and softer look. If I’m shooting inside (for recipe or beauty-related posts), I like to shoot by a window so natural light can stream in.
When I’m planning a shoot, a shot list helps me stay organized on the day of. Before the shoot, I curate similar styles of what I’m looking for and save them in my phone to use as a reference. There’s nothing worse than getting home from a shoot and realizing you’re missing a shot you meant to get but forgot.
Being prepared for a shoot is a definite must! I have make sure I plan my outfit/obtain props before the shoot date. I like to make a note in my phone of what I plan to wear, as well as a list of items I need to buy (such as flowers). If I’m shooting food, I choose plates based on what I feel best showcases the food and makes it visually appealing as opposed to using a simple white plate. Buying props is an investment but one that pays off as using the right ones (that complement not compete with the subject!) can greatly enhance the photo. For example, if I’m wearing soft pastel clothing, a neon orange prop such as an umbrella will be way too loud.
After the shoot comes the fun part—seeing your hard work and preparation pay off! Editing the photos is a very long process that involves a lot of focus. After loading the photos onto my computer, I go through the entire downloaded images (which, depending on the project, can be upwards of 1,000) and narrow them down to about 25. From this step, I upload the photos into an editing program (I like Lightroom) where I begin the process of color balancing (making sure the photo isn’t too red or blue), performing any necessary cropping (ie if something is out of place or distracting in the background), and adding enough exposure. Editing can definitely be a long and tedious process but also magical when you see how much adding a little exposure, contrast, and saturation can make your image pop! I block out a big chunk of time during the day, put on some headphones, and zone out on the task.
Of course, regardless of my original plan, I always end up playing with composition or how the objects I’m shooting relate to another. Even if I think the original way I’ve laid out the props is the best, 10/10 times I can come up with a better alternative as I keep playing with the props and shooting from various angles. There’s no real way to learn what looks best other than trial and error and through building experience. It’s always worth it to me to take the extra time to strive for a better shot.
Loving what you do always makes shooting new content fun! Like I mentioned earlier, blogging and creating content is truly a passion of mine. Growing up, I’ve always been the friend who others go to for advice on boys and what to wear. And I love to share my baking recipes! Personally, I get so intimidated with complicated recipes, so I make sure that everything from clothes to recipes I do share with my readers is relateable since not everyone has the time or money to craft a multi course meal with ingredients like “pomegranate molasses” or “chestnut paste” (yes, it’s a thing) or wear exclusively Chanel (I wish!). It really makes me excited to know I’m helping my readers discover something new and that motivates me to keep creating…even when I’ve had an exhausting week of work deadlines and fussy toddler. I also think having a creative outlet is important for everyone—whether you’re a parent or not. Blogging fulfills that void for me and makes all the effort into creating quality content worth it.
Thank you to Catalog for sponsoring this post.