I get a lot of questions about my photography on this blog so I thought I’d take this opportunity to share with you my process and some of my tips and tricks. I’ll start off by saying that I’m NOT a photographer. I’ve never taken a class nor have I read Photography for Dummies. Everything I do is intuitive and it’s a miracle my pictures are decent. I hope to someday take a course so I can improve.  This is just a roundup of my current method.

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1. I use an SLR camera, which immediately improved the quality of my pictures. The Husband was sweet enough to get me the Canon Rebel T1i for Christmas last year and it’s my most useful gift to date. I have a standard lens and a zoom lens, which I play around with a lot, especially when I’m taking food photos.

2. Natural light is my best friend forever. I couldn’t take a decent night picture if my life depended on it and I’m dreading winter and the short days. If I’m photographing food in the kitchen, I make sure all the lights are off and there’s only natural light coming through the windows. If it’s too dark, I take the food outside on my patio to shoot. This rule goes for any other shots I take. We have recessed lighting throughout our house, so I always turn the lights off to avoid an annoying glare.

3. I don’t use flash. I’ve never taken a good photo using flash so I avoid it at all costs.

4. I take approximately 140 pictures in one sitting and pray that at least one is useful. This is usually the time the Husband threatens divorce as he’s forced to watch me take shot after shot while his food gets cold. Or when we’re out in public and he’s dying of embarrassment while I endlessly photograph a mimosa!

5. I edit the hell out of my photos. I start off by tweaking the exposure/contrast/shadows/saturation/sharpness on my Mac. I also do a lot of cropping, which can turn an okay shot into a great one. It’s amazing how powerful cropping can be. Then I upload onto Picnik, which is a free online editing tool that has a million options I like to play around with. Most recently, I’ve been obsessed with the duo-tone function — the effects of which you can see in some of my latest photos.

And that’s all there is to it. To be honest, this is all so time consuming and some days I just want to lie down and take a nap. But then I think about your amazing compliments and I push on. Thank you sweet peas!

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15 thoughts on “Amateur

  1. Thanks for the tips, Sabra!! Sounds like lighting is my biggest problem!!

  2. OMG #4. Laughed OUT LOUD and then read it to my husband! Oh dear do I ever relate 🙂

  3. This all sounds very familiar… much like my process. I haven’t tried Picnik though. I’ll have to see what that’s all about. Thanks for sharing!

  4. I love this… I’m going to buy a SLR cam soon… I really wanted to get a medium format film camera but digital is so much easier! I love your pics! BOTH your originals and your copies! 🙂 I posted this to my FB page!

  5. designstiles says:

    For a split second I thought that image was you. Girl is really baring it most, I thought. I saw this while I was driving and almost died. That’s why I didn’t comment. Annnd because it’s probably not smart of me to check blogs while driving. One day I will learn. Photo cropping. I should look into that. I’ve used Picnik through way of flickr. Is that the same? Can’t wait to see how great you can make me look if you snap some photos of me when we meet. : )

  6. I’m glad I’m not the only one who takes a thousand pics to find the one. The quality of your images have always impressed me. Thanks for the heads up on those editing sites, off to check them out!

  7. I’ll have to check out that duo-tone function! I alse use Picnik, but starting with a great camera is key! I’m saving pennies for a nice SLR.

    And my Hubby is the same way! When he is embarrassed of my picture taking in public I always like to remind him how he is usually glad afterwards that we have them. They are good for memories! Except for food pics. Those really only please me. ha

  8. GREAT tips! I need to get a good camera stat!!!

  9. mewithmycamera says:

    sounds like what i do but i have a megazoom, looking to get an dslr soon

  10. #1-4 I’m all about too (including the husband complaints). #5 I will definitely check out. I love the finishing you’ve been giving your photos lately.

    You have that “eye” you lucky girl — keep it up!

  11. Vanessa says:

    Your husband and my boyfriend sound very similar. 🙂 We also have the same camera! Love hearing how other people get the shots I admire; I agree, taking photos is so fun, totally one of my new hobbies. I’d love to take a course sometime!

  12. Lily says:

    So many good tips !! Thanks for sharing.


  13. Julip Made says:

    It is amazing that you have had no formal training/ classes because your pics, especially foodies are fantastic! I am already on board with 2-5 and am hoping for 1 for the upcoming b-day. Number 4 has me belly laughing because this is the exact scenario that plays out in our house every food photo shoot I have. He sometimes also feels the need to explain to strangers/ waiters/ friends that “She has a blog” as if that explains why the crazy lady is standing on her chair trying to get the perfect overhead shot of the meal.

  14. Belen says:

    This is so helpful S! You do take fantastic pictures. I am on the hunt for a new camera and I think I might have found the one! 😉

  15. elizabeth says:

    Your pics are always gorgeous – I had never heard of picnik so that is a great resource! Hope Chicago was the bomb!
    -e (

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