How to Take Stellar Blog Photos in Your Home

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Whether you’re a food blogger, a crafting blogger, or a party planning blogger, chances are you know the pains of trying to take good blog photos within the walls of your own home. Not all homes are designed for great photography, after all (especially rentals), and as bloggers we often have to make a photo shooting session work in less-than-ideal conditions. If this description speaks to you, here are some tips for taking better photos for your blog inside your home.

Use natural sunlight.

There truly is no substitute for natural sunlight in photos taken indoors, and many great bloggers will plan their indoor photo shoots around when natural sunlight will be streaming in through their windows. This can be tricky, as the sun travels throughout the day, and it might require you to study how sunlight travels through your home throughout the day. A kitchen window that sees a lot of sunlight in the morning, for example, might be relatively dark come late afternoon. Locate areas in your home that see a great deal of sunlight and determine when the best hours to shoot in those locations are. And whatever you do, avoid the temptation to supplement natural sunlight with indoor lighting. Incandescent lighting tends to give off an overly warm hue—and fluorescent lighting a green one—so it will only throw off your white balance. Instead of flipping on that light switch, up the ISO as needed.

Don’t be afraid to move furniture.

Subsequently, you might need to move furniture around in order to have the right surface to shoot on when sunlight is hitting a certain window in your home. Maybe, for example, the sunlight hitting your living room window at 4 p.m. is perfect for doing some food photography, but the area immediately next to that window is largely empty. Go ahead and move the coffee table over and shoot on that. You may feel silly doing it, but you’d be surprised at what bloggers will do just to get the right photo.

...or to take photos in a weird location.

On a similar note, don’t be afraid to take photos in a location that seemingly doesn’t make sense. If you’re a food blogger, for example, don’t feel confined to taking photos in your kitchen. Some kitchens, after all, simply don’t get good lighting. Even if your bedroom, of all places, sees the best sunlight in your home, don’t be afraid to create a little setup next to your bedroom window using a small coffee table and a backdrop.

Use mobile backdrops.

You may be wondering with all of this shooting in odd locations how exactly you can keep your photos looking professional. The key here is working with mobile backdrops. It’s a good idea to have some go-to materials that you can always lay out over a flat surface and photograph on. If you were to lay out some kraft paper over a coffee table, for example, and photograph a few cupcakes on that, no one would know just by looking at the photo that you actually took the photo in your living room. Here are a few examples of great backdrops:

  • A roll of kraft paper
  • A chalkboard table runner
  • Large poster boards (like Canson art boards)
  • Faux marble contact paper
  • A large slab of marble (yes, food bloggers own these)
  • Faux wood planks

Trick the viewer with framing.

With the odd-location and mobile-backdrop tips in mind, this next tip is key: you can trick the viewer with how you frame the photo. Simply put, if you zoom in enough so that all edges of your backdrop lie outside of the photo’s frame, no one is going to know whether you took the photo in a kitchen, in a bedroom, or in a bathroom.

Set up a studio if you need to.

If studio-style photography is more your forté when it comes to photos for your blog, then you might benefit from setting up a small studio somewhere in your home. A great photo studio doesn’t need a lot of fancy equipment, either. You might, for example, only need a white muslin backdrop, a couple of light stands for off-camera flashes, and some umbrellas to diffuse the light. You can set a studio up in your basement or in a spare bedroom—or even in your garage, as this post mentions.

7 Things Only (Boy-Girl) Twins Will Understand

Monday, April 4, 2016

Fun fact about me: I’m a twin. I have a twin broski named Carl. I like to call him my “former wombmate.” It’s funny, because every time someone asks me what it feels like to be a twin, my response is something weird like, “I feel like it would be weirder to be born by yourself.” Ha, I simply don’t know what it’s like to not be a twin because being a twin is the norm for me. And that kind of got me thinking about what other things might seem normal to me even though they’re really only things that twins would understand. So. Without further are seven things that I think only (boy-girl) twins would understand.

Note: Since some, but not all, of these things apply to boy-girl twins exclusively, I put “boy-girl” in parentheses in the title of this post ;)

Some people actually think a boy and a girl can be identical.

The funniest question Carl and I got when people found out we were twins—and we got this frequently—was, “Are you guys identical or fraternal?” I used to always think people were joking when they asked this, but much of the time this question was asked in all seriousness; so I quickly taught myself not to laugh when this was asked. But really, guys? Know your biology ;)

You were mistaken for someone of the opposite gender on the phone growing up.

Ha, so this one is really specific. But there was this era growing up—before either of us hit puberty, of course—when either me or Carl would answer the phone and constantly get mistaken for each other. So if I answered the phone, one of my parents’ friends would respond by saying, “Carl, is that you?” Apparently we sounded very similar on the phone, which to us was funny because what girl wants to be mistaken for a boy on the phone, or vice versa??

People in high school thought you were dating your sibling.

Most people we knew in high school knew that Carl and I were twins, but there were always those select few who simply thought we got along super well. Carl and I ran track together, drove to and from school together, and sat together at lunch whenever we had the same lunch, so I suppose I can see why people jumped to this conclusion. Ew, though.

If you’re the girl twin, being taller than your twin brother for a second was awesome.

Girls tend to hit puberty before boys, so there was a brief period in middle school when I was actually taller than Carl. It was glorious.

A birthday is a shared experience.

A birthday party just for me? What? This one is probably obvious, and of course it applies to all sets of twins—not just boy-girl twins. But how could I not include the central part of being a twin? Maybe some twins grow up celebrating their birthdays separately, but for me and Carl, our birthday was definitely a shared experience. Double birthday parties like this, sharing birthday presents, fighting over what type of cake we would get or which restaurant we would go all happened. Not that I’m complaining, since sharing your birthday with someone can always make for a bigger party. It’s odd though because my brother and I live in different places now, and for the first time ever we’re starting to have solo birthday parties. We hardly know what to do with all of the singular attention.

You share more than just a birthday.

Again, this applies to all twin sets, but I couldn’t leave this central part of being a twin out, either. Being a twin is about more than simply sharing a birthday growing up. You share gifts, bedrooms, friends, etc. I like to think being a twin has made me a more compassionate person in this way (maybe?)

The older twin can always brag about being born first.

Being older wouldn’t matter, except for the fact that we’ve been asked who is the older twin numerous times. I happen to be the older twin in this duo. By one minute. I never let Carl forget this between 7:00 and 7:01 p.m. on our birthday.

St. George with Victortilla

Monday, March 14, 2016

Guys, I'm back! I know a lot of bloggers apologize for long absences, but honestly I think it's silly to (it's your blog, after all!), so I won't :) But I thought I'd start off my return to posting regularly with some pics I took a few weekends back on a trip my friend Victoria and I took to St. George, Utah. We basically just needed to get out of town for the weekend, and it was so so refreshing to feel some 70-degree air after so many weeks of snow and coldness. So. Here is a tiny little photo shoot that ended up happening at the St. George LDS temple. As usual, I'm not in many pics since I'm the photographer. Ah, well. Such is photographer life ;)

I really like this one because I feel like Victoria's hair flips up sixties style haha.

...and my personal fave (along with proof that I was there)...the SLR selfie! For some reason I've never been able to master the art of phone selfies, but alas, now I don't need to! I can just look like a goof with my giant camera instead ;)

Happy Monday!

6 Sweet Things to Come from Sweden

Monday, February 1, 2016

Fun fact about me: I had four different Swedish au pairs when I was little. Eating Swedish Fish while listening to Ace of Base was my every day. Apparently I even spoke some Swedish. So basically I was conditioned to be obsessed with Sweden (and really, the whole of Scandinavia) from a young age.

Alright, so I might be a little biased. But I think Sweden is pretty great. And I’m actually super jealous of people who have EU citizenship and could totally just get up and more there if they wanted to (open borders, say whaa??) I wanted to create a list along the lines of “the 10 best things to come from Sweden,” but 1) I feel like that’s too decisive, and 2) I didn’t want it to seem like I was defining. So. With that said, here are some of my favorite things that just-so-happen to be Swedish.

Swedish Fish

Well...duh Swedish Fish are Swedish haha. But no, I’m not talking about the red Swedish Fish that come in the yellow plastic bags at the grocery stores here in the U.S. (granted, those are great as well.) Those are actually an Americanized version of the fish candy you’ll find in Sweden. I’m talking about the pastel colored, fish-shaped wine gums called pastellfiskar—literally, “pale colored fish”—and you’ll find them in the bulk candy section at many-a-grocery store in Sweden. If you love Swedish Fish, you’ll love pastellfiskar even more. They have a slightly more delicate taste than the Swedish Fish we’re used to, and it’s basically impossible to get sick of them.


Pronounced in Swedish: ee-kay-UH. For decades now, IKEA has provided a solution to the predicament of having just moved into a new apartment and needing to furnish it all at once. It thrives on a business model where young adults and families alike will flock to its stores to fulfill all of their home furnishing needs in one fell swoop, despite the fact that these stores are located in less-than-convenient locations. If you’ve ever gone away to college, you can probably thank IKEA for at least one memory of a broken chair or furniture assembling pizza party.


Speaking of stores that help you save sweet munz, H&M (Hennes & Mauritz) is another worldwide phenomenon that actually originated in Sweden. It’s actually the world’s largest clothing retailer in terms of annual revenue—beating out the likes of Zara and Gap, Inc.—and it hosts over 200 retail stores in the U.S. alone. H&M operates on the “fast fashion” model and seeks to replicate high fashion with its apparel, and it has collaborated with more than a few big-name designers on its clothings lines, as well.

Hövding Bicycle Helmet

Do you remember this video from a few years back about an “invisible” bicycle helmet developed by two young Swedish female students? The helmet itself is pretty ingenious, as it essentially functions as an airbag for your head, maintaining the appearance of a thick neck scarf only until it detects an accident—at which point the helmet instantaneously inflates. The helmet has some other pretty nifty features as well, such as a black box for more serious accidents and easy charging through a computer using a USB cable.

Lykke Li

Guys...this girl is phenomenal. What an artist. Lykke Li is an indie pop singer from Sweden. There are very few albums where I truly can’t choose which track is my fave, but her 2014 album I Never Learn is one of them. Get out some sweet headphones right after reading this and listen to it all the way through.

Swedish Cars

Ha, so this one is kinda broad, but I think people often forget about the beauty of Swedish cars. I’m no car connoisseur, but I’ve always had a place in my heart for Volvos in particular. (I actually even drove around the Volvo headquarters near Göteborg once when I was in Sweden.) Meanwhile, the now-defunct Saab reminds me of Jerry Seinfeld’s car of choice in Seinfeld (rest in peace, Saab). And then there are cars like the new “underground” Koenigsegg One:1 supercar, which you can read more about here if you like.