Blogging & Business

MY FAVORITE GEAR FOR PRODUCT PHOTOGRAPHY

One of the biggest struggles I faced when I first began my photography journey was wondering whether or not the gear I was using was good enough. I wondered what the pros were using? How were they creating such magical pictures? ... And how could I do the same? One thing I want to encourage you in is believing in yourself and not in your gear. Your gear is simply the tools you use to create your images, but with practice, a little ingenuity, and trusting yourself, you can make magical photos.

Today I'm sharing my favorite gear for product photography and I'm also going to share a few tips and tricks for alternatives. 

Cameras

Nikon D700 : The Nikon D700 has been retired, but here is it's counterpart. The Nikon D700 is ideal for me when shooting products because it's full frame, allowing me to get more into frame. I often pair the D700 with the 50mm. If you're shooting with a crop sensor camera body and you're struggling to get everything in frame, the 35mm would be great to pair with it. 

Nikon D300s : The Nikon D300s is also retired, but we love this camera because it has video. We don't do a lot of video right now, but it’s one of our favorite camera’s to use on the go. I pair the 35mm with the Nikon D300s because it allows us to get a lot in frame.

Alternatives : Nearly all the DSLR's that are released these days are phenomenal. Learn your camera, read your camera manual and really learn lighting, and you'll be making magical photos in no time. 

Lenses

Nikkor 35mm : As I mentioned above, I often pair the 35mm with the Nikon D300s. This is a solid shooting lens with a 1.8 aperture, great taking product photos with beautiful blurry backdrops.

Nikkor 50mm : The 50mm is what I pair with the Nikon D700. For my personal preferences I don't like to pair anything under the 50mm with the D700 because it's a bit to wide. If you were shooting something like landscapes or cityscapes, wide angle lenses are ideal, but I think the 50mm is perfect for products and lifestyle.

Alternatives: In photography, lenses really do make all the difference. I would recommend investing in your lenses before you do anything else. The 50mm and the 35mm are both great jumping off points. If you are shooting with the stock lens that came with your camera don't be discouraged. I would encourage you to (1) practice shooting outside where you don't have to fight the light. Fighting light is often the biggest struggle. (2) Learn what your lens and camera are capable of by shooting at different apertures. 

Extras

Softboxes : I haven't always shot with softboxes, but I do really love them because they are incredibly convenient. Softboxes aren't necessary when shooting products or lifestle, but they are helpful when trying to fill out the light in a room. I prefer to shoot with natural light, but if your light is uneven then softboxes really help.

Alternatives: Amazon has a variety of softboxes to choose from ranging in price. If your industrious and enjoy DIYs you can find a variety of DIY softboxes online too. 

Manfrotto Tripod : This tripod is not specific to Flatlay, as an ideal Flatlay tripod would have a horizontal harm like this one. But this particular tripod has been working great for me, so I love it. I have had this tripod for years and since it is working for me, I have never felt the need to get something different. This one works well because it has a ball head which allows me to turn the camera face down. 

Light Reflector Set : My light reflector is maybe one of my favorite and most used photography accessory. I have used it in different situations to reflect light, but I also use it to diffuse light. Diffusing light is what I use it for most these days, as I need soft even light.

Alternatives: There are a variety of items that you can use as an alternative to diffuse and reflect light. White foam core boards are perfect for reflecting light and if you need to diffuse and soften light a white sheet does the job.  

Great photography comes from more then just the gear we use. It comes from practice, patience, study, and hard work. What are some of your favorite photography accessories? What are some of your favorite photography hacks? xoxo. Samantha


5 WAYS TO USE STOCK PHOTOS TO REDUCE STRESS THIS HOLIDAY SEASON

5 WAYS TO UE STOCK PHOTOS TO REDUCE STRESS THIS HOLIDAY SEASON

The holidays are upon us… tomorrow is November 1 and before we know it, it will be Thanksgiving! Our calendars will soon fill up with holiday gatherings, travel, family traditions, and baking Christmas goodies. This is one of my favorite times of year, but I also know it can be a stressful time of year. Each year, Tyler and I, travel for the holidays, so it’s important for me to do a lot of prep work for this space. I spend a lot of time looking at my calendar, planning content ahead of time, and making sure I don’t go overboard.

Styled stock photos is one of the easiest ways to reduce stress this holiday season. It’s the perfect way to take a little something off your plate and look amazing great doing it!

1 | CREATE EYE CATCHING HOLIDAY PROMOTIONS

The holidays are a perfect time to promote your shop and plan your holiday sales! With Christmas styled stock photos you can create eye catching holiday graphics to promote your shop, highlight a special sale, or offer something extra special this holiday season! Now is the perfect time to give back to your holiday shoppers. Can you offer a little something extra for purchases over $100? Get creative and have fun!

2 | CREATE HOLIDAY CHEER ON INSTAGRAM AND FACEBOOK

Social media can be demanding and with all the holiday gatherings that take place this holiday season, social media can sometimes take a back seat. But it doesn’t have to. You can use styled stock photos to plan your social media posts ahead of time. My favorite app to use for Instagram is Later. I can upload photos, write the captions and pick the perfect time for the post to go live. You don’t have to do this for every post, but when you know you’re going to be busy and on the fly, you can ease the busy burden.

3 | CREATE BEAUTIFUL PRODUCT MOCKUPS

Do you have a beautiful product that you would love to promote this holiday season? Stock photos are an ideal option. You can easily mockup your products with stock photos and they can have all the Christmas feels without you having to plan hours and hours of photo shoots and editing.

 

NEED STOCK PHOTOS FOR MORE THEN JUST THE HOLIDAYS? DOWN 15 FREE STOCK PHOTOS BELOW.

 

4 | DRIVE TRAFFIC TO YOUR SITE WITH PINTEREST-WORTHY CONTENT

Are you creating amazing holiday content for your blog? Stock photos are perfect for creating Pinterest images to drive traffic to your holiday content! Sharing “5 Tips For An Amazing Holiday Gathering?” Use styled stock photos to create the perfect hero image.

5 | CREATE STUNNING EMAIL CAMPAIGNS

Ready to wow your customers? Create stunning email campaigns with your beautiful sales graphics! Your customers won’t know you’re having a sale unless you let them know. Building your email list and sending out stunning email campaigns will help drive traffic to your site and get your product in front of my customers!

Reduce stress this holiday season, create amazing content, and have time for celebrating with your favorite people! xoxo. Samantha

REFRESH OLD CONTENT WITH STOCK PHOTOS

REFRESH OLD CONTENT WITH STOCK PHOTOS

One of the easiest things you can do to refresh your brand and create a consistent aesthetic across all aspects of your brand is to refresh old content or blog posts with styled stock photos. This is as easy as updating the main photo or pinnable photos with something new. I’ve actually been working on this and the great thing about this is that you’re not under any pressure to get it done right away. You can work on updating old posts with new photos over time. Refreshing old content with new photos can make old posts more relevant and it’s a perfect way to make them more pinnable too.

Something I’ve really loved about this in my own brand journey is that as my brand has developed and I have made changes to the Elah Tree aesthetic, I’ve needed to update old blog posts to better fit my brand and I’ve used the stock photos I create to do just that. It’s so easy and it helps to keep my brand aesthetic consent in all aspects of the content I produce. Here are a few steps to make it even easier on you.

1 | MAKE A LIST OF OLD CONTENT THAT YOU WANT TO REFRESH

Start with your archives and begin by writing down old posts that you want to freshen up with new photos. I created a list in Google Docs that way I could reference them every time I worked on marketing materials. This didn’t mean that I updated old posts every time I worked on marketing stuff, but it kept them fresh in my mind so that I would remember to work on them a little bit at a time.

2 | CHECK GOOGLE ANALYTICS

Not only did I make a list of the posts I wanted to update simply for the sake of having them be consistent with my brand, but I also checked Google analytics to determine what my highest performing posts were. If these posts were driving traffic to my site I wanted to make sure they were in-line with my brand aesthetic. I added these high performing posts to my list.

3 | DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE STOCK PHOTOS

You can’t start refreshing old blog posts without stock photos first, and I’ve got you covered. I have 15 FREE stock photos just for you and you can download them below. Pick out the ones that are perfect for your brand and give your posts an instant face-lift.

4 | CUSTOMIZE YOUR STOCK PHOTOS

Now that you’re all set with your stock photos your final step is to customize your photos. The easiest way to do this is with Canva. I have an entire post dedicated utilizing Canva with your stock photos here. Once you’ve created images that are perfect for your content and brand update your blog posts and pin your new images.

Refreshing old content can be just the thing to tie in older aspects of your brand with your current aesthetic. Make your list, download your photo, and starting creating. xoxo! Samantha

5 PODCASTS FOR LIFE & BUSINESS

5 PODCASTS FOR LIFE & BUSINESS

Listening to podcasts is new to me. This is the first year that I started to really listening to podcasts on a consistent bases. I started with The Goal Digger Podcast, then moved onto Building a Story Brand, then stumbled unto This Sounds Fun, then added Business Boutique and the minute I hear about another possibly good podcast, I add it to my list.

Here's how I feel about podcasts, find the ones that YOU really love. I've listened to podcasts that weren't my favorite so I don't listen to them. And then I find podcasts that I really love and that's what I'm sharing today. 4 of my favorite podcasts and 1 that I'm about to test out because I need it, haha! I also really love podcasts that are more conversational, funny, and that teach me stuff, versus typical business-speak podcasts... if that makes sense. I kind of check out if a podcast immediately starts out with Instagram strategy. We all need Instagram strategy, but, you know, give it to me in a funny hilarious way. So, here we go...

Business Boutique with Christy Wright: This is my go-to podcast most days. Honesty, I just really like Christy Wright. I think she's funny. I think she genuinely wants to help women grow their businesses and she provides actionable steps to help you grow your business right now. Every day steps to get you one step closer to your dream. 

Building A Story Brand with Donald Miller: I started listening to Building a Story Brand after I read Donald's book. His book helped me understand my brand's message. I'm still in the process of flushing out that message, but Donald's guidance has been fundamental and I love his podcast. Lots of business advice at your fingertips in a conversational way. 

That Sounds Fun with Annie F Downs: I follow Annie on Instagram and listen to her podcast simply for fun. She's funny, she loves Jesus, and she makes you feel like you could BFFs. 

Online Marketing Made Easy with Amy Porterfield: Amy's podcast is on my must-listen list. My marketing game always needs help. I am on the struggle bus when it comes to marketing and I definitely need marketing made easy in my life, haha! 

Rise Podcast with Rachel Hollis: I just started listening to Rachel Hollis and following her on Instagram. I appreciate how honest she is and I think she's funny. I actually heard about her through Christy's podcast. I basically hear about all other podcasts through Christy's podcasts, haha! I also just added her new book, Girl, Wash Your Face to my must-read list. 

If I was to sum up my favorite type of podcasts they would probably be funny or they would be with people who like to crack jokes and laugh, even if they are simply cracking jokes for themselves. I feel like that's what I do, I'm just cracking jokes to make myself laugh, even if no one else thinks they're funny! Tell me your favorite type of podcasts to listen to and who your favorites are! Share below! xoxo. Samantha