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3 Best Free Newborn Lightroom Presets

The birth of a baby is one of the most important events in a person’s life, and as such, newborn baby photography plays a major role in documenting this special time. If you’re the photographer whose task it is to memorialize the first days of the new family member, you want the newborn photos to be nothing short of perfect. And, that’s even more true if you’re the newborn’s parent–you want to preserve these precious days for the rest of your life.

While newborns are naturally photogenic, if you want to achieve those perfect photographs that will last a lifetime, it’s almost a given you’ll have to do some post-production processing. Using Lightroom presets makes that job much easier. Presets are premade filters that you’ll apply to your photos, in this case, using the well-known photo editing program, Adobe Lightroom.

Because we know how crucial baby photography is, we’d like to help by highlighting the three best free newborn Lightroom presets.

Newborns are naturally photogenic, as seen with this baby, but to get those perfect photos, you’ll likely need to do some post-production processing.
Newborns are naturally photogenic, but to get those perfect photos, you’ll likely need to do some post-production processing.

1. Angelic Newborn Lightroom Presets Collection

These presets are part of our Angelic Newborn Lightroom Presets Collection. These 3 free presets for Lightroom help you to create photos that parents will cherish forever. And, with these presets, editing and post-production will be a breeze. You also get one newborn brush, and six before and after photos for inspiration.

Free Download

Additionally, the beauty of using these free newborn Lightroom presets is that you can create that incredible image regardless of whether you’re a first-time parent who’s never photographed a newborn before or a seasoned professional. The presets are easy to use, and they’re all you need to make sure your baby photos are flawless every single time.

Use these free Lightroom presets to get those angelic images, like the baby in this photo.
Use these free Lightroom presets to get those angelic images

2. BéArt Newborn Baby Lightroom Preset

This free Lightroom preset is part of BéArt’s Newborn Lightroom Presets Collection. This particular preset is extremely versatile. It offers beautiful soft, subtle edits for newborn baby photos, and it can be used on any image taken in either natural or studio light.

This Lightroom preset will give you creamy skin and clean color, and it’s beautifully soft, which makes it perfect for editing newborn images. It’s also suitable for weddings, senior photography, photos of children and family, and for maternity sessions.

Free Download

This free Lightroom preset is compatible with Adobe Lightroom 4 – 7, as well as Classic and Creative Cloud (CC) Adobe versions. Additionally, it’s compatible with JPG and RAW images, and both MAC and PC. You also receive detailed installation instructions and lifetime free updates.

These presets can help you create that clean color that makes those newborn images unforgettable, like the baby seen here.
These presets can help you create that clean color that makes those newborn images unforgettable

3. PresetsH Newborn Baby Lightroom Presets

These free Newborn Lightroom Presets from PresetsH can help you give your newborn photos a unique look. They allow you to apply fadeable color effects, and you can easily adjust the settings and tone to your preferences. That makes them completely customizable so that you can achieve the look you want. These presets are also great for family photography.

Free Download

Included in this offer are two free professional presets that allow you to achieve a unique result with just one click–you’ll agree the results you get with these presets are awesome. These free presets are compatible with Lightroom 4 and both CC versions, and they’re also compatible with either JPG or RAW images. You’ll also receive complete instructions for installation and usage.

These newborn presets are great for the family too, as seen in this image of mother and child.
These newborn presets are great for the family too

By applying these three free newborn photography Lightroom presets, you can create those soft, subtle, angelic photos of newborn babies that parents and family will love. And, you’ll be able to achieve those results easily and fast. These presets allow you to apply the perfect image adjustments with just one click. It doesn’t get much easier than that, and the result will be images that will bring a lifetime of joy to the parents and family of the beloved newborn.

Whether you’re a professional photographer or just a newborn parent who wants those perfect images of the newest member of the family, these free presets will help you create the kinds of photographs that will invoke those strong feelings of love and nostalgia every time you see them–even if you’re looking at them 50 years from now.

These free Lightroom presets will help you create those images that parents will treasure for the rest of their lives, like this image of a father holding his newborn baby.
These free Lightroom presets will help you create those images that parents will treasure for the rest of their lives

When mothers and fathers look back on these images, they’ll remember the precious moments they spent with their babies, and those strong feelings of love they felt as they held their baby in their arms. Time flies–always much faster than we’d like–so it’s important to capture those important moments with perfect photos, and these presets will help you do just that.



9 Quick and Essential Tips for Interior Photography

While there are many times when you’re taking photographs indoors, when the pros are talking about interior photography, they are usually talking about those beautiful, detail-oriented images of interior design spaces. It’s different from real estate photography, because the focus is about the interior of homes or other spaces. But, as with many other photographic shoots that may take place indoors, there are several challenges to think about.

We have created a quick video with some tips on how to shoot interior photography:

Let’s take a look at 9 essential tips that will help you create beautiful interior space images. These tips are presented under some general challenges that the interior photographer typically faces: 

What Type of Light Should an Interior Photographer Use?

1. One of the biggest challenges for any kind of indoor photography is what type of light you should use, so let’s discuss how to approach that particular problem. The experts agree that you want to use natural light for interior photography.

Even with interior photography, you want to use natural light to avoid shadows and unwanted color casts, so open the windows to let as much light in as possible, as seen in this living room image.
Even with interior photography, you want to use natural light to avoid shadows and unwanted color casts, so open the windows to let as much light in as possible.

Light bulbs cause shadows and color casts that will give your images an unpleasant, yellow hue. If at all possible, you want to turn off any indoor lighting, and open all the shades to let in as much natural light as possible. But, sometimes that’s not enough, or you might need to photograph the lighting options in the interior space.

2. If you have to use artificial sources of light, then use LED bulbs. Fluorescent lighting will give you the most trouble, but LEDs are able to mimic natural sunlight. Most architects and designers are already using LED lighting because of this feature, but you should be sure to bring your own bulbs in case you have to replace a dud.

For interior photographs of darker spaces, you can use tools to bounce the light and shape it for the kinds of shadows you want, as seen in this kitchen.
For interior photographs of darker spaces, you can use tools to bounce the light and shape it for the kinds of shadows you want.

3. Bounce the light using shoot-through umbrellas, reflectors, and bounce cards, to both direct the light and shape it so that it lights the interior and creates the types of shadows you want.

What Camera Settings Should an Interior Photographer Use?

4. Shoot in RAW–This is one of the best tips for most types of photographic shoots, because shooting in RAW gives you the most flexibility in post-production processing. This gives you much more control over your final image.

5. Aperture settings–Because you’re shooting interiors, you’ll likely want a more open aperture, and that means a smaller f stop number. But, it also depends on what you’re shooting since the aperture setting also controls your depth of field.

So, if you’re shooting a whole room, and you want everything in the shot to be in sharp focus, you have to have a more closed aperture (higher f stop number) to achieve the focus, but you still need it to be open enough (lower f stop number) to let in enough light. That’s a delicate balancing act, and that means you’ll need to practice with your particular camera.

As any good photographer knows, you have to have a strong understanding of your own camera’s settings and how they affect the images, but to help you out, you should know that most interior photographs are shot in the f/8 to f/16 range.

By adjusting your camera’s aperture, shutter speed, and ISO settings, you can get great low light images, as seen in this image of a computer desk bathed in soft, purple light.
By adjusting your camera’s aperture, shutter speed, and ISO settings, you can get great low light images.

It’s also helpful to bracket your images. Bracketing is where you take a series of shots at slightly different exposures. For example, you want 3 – 4 shots at varying exposures for any image with a window in it. This allows you to not only select the best exposure, but to actually layer the various exposures together in one image in order to create a perfectly exposed photograph.

6. Shutter Speed and ISO settings are also important considerations in lower light settings as is typical for interior photography. A slower shutter speed lets more light in, but it also makes the image more sensitive to motion blur. Thus, if you want everything to be in focus, you usually want a faster shutter speed. But, low light conditions necessitate a slower shutter speed.

It’s a balancing act with your aperture and ISO settings. For aperture settings between f/8 and f/16, your shutter speed will typically be between 2 and 8 seconds. Again, by bracketing your shots, you can vary the settings to get the best exposure or layer the exposures for the perfect image. 

The ISO is another setting that determines your camera’s sensitivity to the available light. In low light settings, you want a higher ISO, but the problem with higher ISOs is that it dramatically increases the image noise–that is, the pixelated effect on the image. Noise can be reduced in post-production, but only so much, so it’s better to use a lower ISO settings for most images.

There is, however, a little room to play with–the most common ISO settings are 100, 200, 400, and 800, but if you have a compact camera, ISO settings of 50-200 usually produce an acceptable level of image noise. For digital SLR cameras, the range is 50-800, and sometimes even higher. Again, you should practice with your camera so that you know how these settings will affect your images.



How Do You Stage the Scene?

7. Shoot Straight–You don’t want to introduce odd angles, so you should make sure you’re shooting straight. Point your camera so that it aligns perfectly with one of the walls to make sure you’re shooting straight on. You can use a grid on your viewfinder to make sure the wall’s horizontal and vertical lines are lining up; that will ensure you’re not creating an angle in the image. This allows for a more harmonious composition, and it gives you better options for cropping the image in post-production.

For the best interior photographs, you want to shoot straight and from waist level, as can be seen in this image of a kitchen.
For the best interior photographs, you want to shoot straight and from waist level.

It’s also helpful to shoot from waist level. If you shoot from a standing position, that will result in a downward angle, and if you’re emphasizing furniture and decor, you won’t want that angled perspective.

8. Create Depth in the Room--Creating depth in the room can add interest and give the space a luxurious feel. One of the best tips is to remove any clutter in the room. Think carefully about what you want to include to give the image the feel you want it to have.

Next, as you set up your shot, think about where you want the viewer’s eye to land, and are there items that lead the eye to where you want it to land, or is there something that distracts the eye. For example, something on the edge of the photograph that is sneaking into the foreground can be a distracting feature if it is too brightly colored, or maybe, if it’s too in-focus, or if there’s too much of it.

You want to have the decorative items that appear in the image lead the viewer’s eye toward the main focus of the photograph–that might be in the foreground, the middle, or the background. So, remove anything that’s distracting and try to capture the leading lines that will take the viewer where you want them to go.

For interior photography, you want the lines of the space to lead the viewer’s eye to the main focus, as seen in this image of bookshelves and a person taking a book from the highest shelf.
For interior photography, you want the lines of the space to lead the viewer’s eye to the main focus.

9. Don’t Go Too Wide–With real estate photography, you want to show the size of the space by utilizing dramatic wide shots, but with interior photography, it’s all about the design. So, you want to have tighter compositions, and add to those with lots of vignettes and detail. For that reason, for interior photography, you don’t want a wide angle lens that is any wider than 24mm.

The experts agree that you don’t want to go too wide for interior photographs--most are more narrowly framed, as seen in this dining room.
The experts agree that you don’t want to go too wide for interior photographs--most are more narrowly framed.

By using these tips, you can create some stunning interior photos that show the beauty and flow of the space. With a little creativity and a good understanding of your camera, you can capture the features that make the space unique.

If you have a good grasp of aperture, shutter speed,and ISO settings and how they affect your camera’s images, you can use those settings to capture enough natural light to flood the space without the use of artificial light sources. You can also bounce the light to fill in areas with deep shadows, and if you must use an artificial light source, LED bulbs are good because they mimic sunlight. But, it’s still likely you’ll do some post-production processing, and shooting in RAW will make that much easier.

Of course, key to beautiful interior photos is the way the scene is set up. You want to remove clutter, and arrange the scene so that it is free of distracting objects and the lines created by the decor lead the viewer’s eye to where you intend it to go. It helps to shoot straight on rather than at an angle, and shooting from the waist can help eliminate angles created by shooting in a standing position.

Finally, remember that unlike real estate photography, you don’t want to shoot too wide. The experts recommend going no wider than 24mm. By using these 9 interior photography tips, and experimenting/practicing just a little, you’ll find that you’ll be able to capture some stunning interior images that will bring out the story of the space, and in doing so, bring it to life for the viewer. 

Interior photography involves shooting images that emphasize interior spaces, like the colorful living room in this photo.
Interior photography involves shooting images that emphasize interior spaces.


Frequently Asked Questions about Interior Photography

What is the best lens for interior photography?

As is often the case, there are many options out there, but among those consistently rated highly are the Canon TS-E 17mm f/4L, and the less expensive Sigma 10-20 mm F4-5.6 EX DC. Both produce sharp, high quality images. The Canon lens is the gold standard, but if your budget is a consideration, the Sigma lens works well too.

What is the best camera for interior photography?

Again, there are various choices, but one camera that is consistently rated highly is the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Full Frame Digital SLR. It has an incredible dynamic range that allows for the megapixels to be distributed over a larger area–that means less noise and greater sharpness.

What is the best aperture for indoor photography?

Again, it depends on the indoor situation, but if you’re talking about interior design photography, the aperture will likely be set somewhere between f/8 and f/16, and even more ideally between f/8 and f/11. But, if the lighting is lower and you need to open the aperture more, you can also adjust the shutter speed and ISO settings to get similar results. This is why it is important to understand the way your camera works and how its settings impact the image.

What is the best ISO setting for indoor photography?

This is another question where it depends on the lighting situation. Typically, an ISO setting between 200 – 400 should work well without introducing too much noise, but depending on your camera, you may be able to go even higher with an acceptable level of noise. That’s why it’s important to practice with your specific camera–by experimenting, you’ll know how high you can go.

How to Batch Edit in Lightroom

Remember the good ole’ days of editing each photo individually? Thanks to Adobe Lightroom, photographers no longer have to process each photo one by one. You can save lots of time and energy by learning how to batch edit in lightroom.

In this tutorial, we will teach you exactly how to do that, as well as provide multiple techniques you can use to speed up your workflow all while maintaining high-quality, well-edited photos. This is one of the most powerful features of Adobe Lightroom, so stick around and let’s learn how to batch process some photos!

What is Batch Editing?

For those who aren’t familiar with batch editing, it’s basically a post-processing technique that allows you to edit multiple or even hundreds of photos at once. If you have photos with similar lighting conditions and exposures, you can save tons of time by applying the same settings across all photos. This is an amazing feature that Adobe Lightroom has implemented in their system.

Batch Editing in Adobe Lightroom

Batch Editing in Adobe Lightroom

Batch processing in Adobe Lightroom is more powerful than other applications because you can selectively decide which settings to batch process. This is a non-destructive way to edit your photos in case you need to go back and fine tune each image individually.

Adobe Lightroom Presets

As mentioned above, Lightroom CC offers free presets for users, but there are many beautiful presets available online. Depending on the type of photography you do, you can easily find gorgeous presets specifically for food photography, fashion, landscapes, portraits, and many more.

Choosing the correct preset for your photos will have a powerful aesthetic impact on your photography. You can explore our wide collection of Adobe Lightroom Presets before beginning the batch editing process. Post production has never been easier and more accessible than with Adobe’s creative presets and brush options. 

How to Apply the Edits to Multiple Photos

Step 1: Import your photos

Step 1: Import your photos. There are a few ways to do this:

  • Locate the Import button in the lower-left corner of the Library module.
  • Select File > Import Photos And Video.
  • Drag your photos or folder from your computer into the Grid view.
Copy photos as DNG files

Once your photos have been imported, decide how you want to add them to the catalog. There are several ways to add them in Lightroom:

  • Copy as DNG files: This converts your raw files to Adobe’s Digital Negative Format (DNG).
  • Copy: Basic copying of your files to the selected folder.
  • Move: Move files from another folder to the current folder.
  • Add: Select this when you want to keep the  files in the current location.
use the preview pane to select the files

Next, you’ll want to select the files you want to import from the preview pane. Check all the ones you’re planning to batch edit. 

Step 2: Select a Preset to Edit Multiple Photos.

One of the fastest ways to start batch editing is to use Lightroom’s free presets. This is offered by Lightroom CC. Once your photos have been imported, go to the Library tab. Find the Quick Develop button on the right side of the screen. 

At the drop-down menu next to Saved Preset, select the preset of your choice. You can keep experimenting until you find the right preset. As soon as you click on a preset, the image will update and the preset should automatically apply. 

Once you’ve found the perfect preset for your photo, select Command + A (Mac) or Ctrl + A (PC) to select all of your photos. You may also hold down the Command or Ctrl key while selecting on the specific files you want the preset to be applied.

Step 2: Selecting a Preset to Edit Multiple Photos in Lightroom

Step 3:  Apply the Preset to your Photos

To apply the preset to all the selected photos, press the Sync button. A pop-up box will appear where you can fine-tune the settings you want to be applied. Once you’re happy with the selections, click Synchronize to apply the settings to all your photos. Notice the thumbnails below will change and transform to your selected preset. 

Step 3: Applying the Preset to your Photos in Lightroom

Step 4: Fine Tune and Apply Your Own Edits

Still not happy with the edits? No problem. You can easily apply your own edits to your photos under the Develop tab. 

Select a photo from the thumbnail and let’s start editing! On the right side of the screen, notice the variety of editing tools you can choose to edit your photos. We won’t go into great detail of the myriad of Lightroom tools and features, but let’s skim over the basics. 

Select the Basic tab to view some of the most common editing features. You can adjust the temperature, exposure, contrast, highlights and shadows. Often times playing around with the basic settings can make a huge difference already. 



basic view for accessing editing features

You can also go to the Black and White tab to transform your photos into black and white. Adjust the clarity and contrast for extra sharpness and dimension. 

Once you’re happy with the edits, select all your photos in the thumbnail and click Auto Sync. A pop-up box will appear and proceed to click on Synchronize to apply all the chosen edits. All of the photos in your thumbnail should transform to the new edits. How easy is that? Batch editing makes post processing a breeze!

Step 4: Applying your own edits and fine tuning the presets in lightroom

Step 5: Syncing Selective Edits 

Here’s where things get a little interesting. Adobe Lightroom has a feature that allows you to selectively sync your edits. Why is this useful? Well, imagine you are editing one of your photos and want to crop it into a square image. Then, you decide the exposure was too dark so you brightened it up a bit. Unless you want all your photos to be cropped into a square and they have the exact same exposure, you’ll want to use this powerful feature to selectively sync your edits.

Remember the pop-up box that appears before you click Synchronize? You’ll want to revisit this pop-up box to select which settings you want to apply to all your photos. For the above scenario mentioned, you’ll want to uncheck the Local Adjustments and Crop Settings. This will prevent all your images from being cropped into a square and brightened up too much.

You can easily check and uncheck the different settings in this box depending on the types of edits you’re doing. You would be surprised how powerful this feature is in Adobe Lightroom, saving you a lot of time and stress.

Step 6: Resetting the batch edits in lightroom

Step 6: Resetting or Un-doing your Batch Edits.

Adobe Lightroom is very forgiving when it comes to making corrections or resetting your edits. You can easily reverse your edits or simply reset everything back to its original state.

First, click on the Reset button located on the bottom right of the screen. This will reset everything on the selected photo.

If you want to reset all your photos in the thumbnail, simply select all of the photos and press Shift – Command – R or Shift – Control – R to reset the photos’ Develop Settings.

Batch Editing in Adobe Lightroom

Conclusion

As you can see, batch editing is a wonderful way to transform your images easily and quickly. You should definitely use this feature as a part of your everyday work process to save lots of time and energy. With just a few clicks of a button, you can efficiently batch edit your images.

Keep in mind that each photo’s edits may look differently even with the same preset, so you be sure to fine-tune it by going into the Develop tab and make micro adjustments for quality results. This will keep your images looking professional and consistent across the board. 

Have you tried batch editing in Lightroom? Let us know in the comments below your work editing process!



15 Creative Product Photography Ideas

If you’re a product photographer, you want to try to and get images of the product that not only highlight its features, you want to do that in a creative way that will capture the consumer’s attention. But, before we talk about the different creative ideas for product photography, let’s start with the basics. 

What is Product Photography?

Simply put, product photography is a branch of commercial photography, which is done to advertise products or services. There are a number of different ways to shoot products, including–among others–on a white background, in lifestyle shots, on a table, in motion, or while being packaged.

Creative Product Photography Ideas

In today’s highly competitive world of product photography, it helps to do something different and innovative. You want to photograph your product in a way that is different from what everyone else is doing. So, how do you do that? Well, here are 15 product photography ideas that will take any image from ho-hum to wow!

Highly-Creative-Product-Photography-Ideas-one second before

1. One second before…

This innovative idea is to photograph the product one second before something happens, such as it hits the ground or water, or just before something hits it. This can be used to illustrate how durable the product is as well as create an eye-catching image.

product-photography-smoke-technique

2. Smoke

This is a great technique in product photography. Smoke add a dramatic, or even mysterious, look to the product photos. It also makes it seem more alluring. This can easily be done with a Photoshop (or other photo editing program) brush.

floating-camera-product-photo-idea-creative

3. Floating

By hanging products, you create more of a three dimensional perspective to your product photos, and it can be used to add drama to the image as well. It’s easy to do–just use a rope, wire, or line to hang something, and then remove that from the image using Photoshop.

15-Highly-Creative-Product-Photography-Ideas-reflections

4. Reflections

Using a reflective surface for photographing your product can add a three dimensional perspective to the image as well as a splash of color. You’ll want to experiment with different angles that can really bring out the reflective properties you want to capture. This technique can help you to capture really dramatic and artistic images that your audience will love.

Creative-Product-Photo-Ideas-series

5. Product series

Grouping products together is one of those product photography ideas that can create a number of effects. It can make the product appear ‘zoomed in’ or it can allow the intended customers to compare related products. Potential customers can see the products together, which will help them to understand the size and shape differences as well as how they work together. It can also persuade them to buy the whole package–it’s a great marketing tool.

Product-Photography-Ideas-symmetry

6. Dynamic symmetry

For this technique, you’ll need to use different angles, and you can put the product together with props like leaves or other items that create a nice symmetrical design in the product photos. Doing so will allow you to capture great details and accentuate the product’s best features. The one thing you need to be aware of, however, is that you have to be careful not to misrepresent the product.

product-photography-humor

7. Humor

If you can use humor effectively, it will go far to capture the customer’s attention. It’s a great way to accentuate the features of your product and to relate to your audience, particularly if they’re younger. You have to be careful that you don’t use anything that would be offensive, but many photographers choose something neutral–like animals or drawings–that they place with the product. Using those ideas, you can create funny product photos that everyone will appreciate.

creative-product-photography-ideas

8. Color

There are  many product photography ideas that help create imaginative product photos, but using color to accentuate the product is one of the best. Highlighting the color of the product, and contrasting it with an appropriate background color can make the product appear more fashionable. And, it can help capture your audience’s attention.

It can also make for some stunning product photos. You should always remember that you don’t want to draw attention away from the product, but if you’re using the color of the product itself to catch the viewer’s eye, you can’t go wrong.



9. Imprints

This is a great idea for product photos. Photographers use a variety of materials like sand, clay, snow, or even lipstick to create a product imprint. It’s innovative, and you can highlight certain product features like the logo or even the color. This is a creative idea that yields photos that will definitely grab the customer’s attention.

Creative-Product-Photography-Ideas-human-touch

10. The human touch

Here we’re talking about using some element of the human body, like hands or arms in your photos in order to accentuate the product or how it is used. This can give the image a more mysterious element or a more utilitarian element. For example, you can use this technique to show how the product is used, or you can make it appear as though a hand is coming out of nowhere to grab the product. There are a number of creative ways you can use this idea to produce great product photos.

Product-Photography-Ideas-absorption

11. Product absorption

This is a great way to get incredible product photos. This technique makes it appear as though the product is being absorbed in something that helps to highlight the product. You might, for example, have the product being absorbed by sand or water.

Alternatively, you can use other materials or even designs to make it appear as though the product is being absorbed by the background. You can also make it look like the product is emerging out of the background.

broken-product-photography-idea

12. Broken product

This is one of those product photography ideas that works for specific products, and it can evoke interest or provoke pity. It can work well with a certain type of product, like, for example,  potato chips or cookies. The broken crumbs can stimulate the viewer’s appetite, both for food and a great image.

Creative-Photography-Ideas-models

13. Models

This is a great way to get stunning product photos. Using models can help to highlight specific product features. This is especially true for a product that is worn–clothing, eyeglasses, or even jewelry. And, the model can generate creative ideas for displaying the product.

Creative-Product-Photography-Ideas-surreal

14. Surrealism

A surrealistic image is great for billboard or magazine advertisements. These creative product photography ideas can really draw out certain product features. Typically, this kind of image is taken in the studio using special lighting, and sometimes, digital drawing techniques.

15-Highly-Creative-Product-Photo-Ideas-Motion

15. Motion

In product photography, motion is a great way to create stunning photos. Motion can be effectively used to highlight certain products, like cars, for example. These kinds of photos often invoke youthful or fashionable concepts as they show off the product capabilities. Additionally, motion really makes the image pop!

These 15 creative product photography ideas can help you take your product photography to the next level. But, you might be wondering what it takes to get such photos, what kind of photography equipment you might need.  Let’s look at the basics.



What Equipment Do You Need for Product Photography?

You want to get innovative, original, and creative images, but you don’t actually need a lot off photography equipment to do that. There are some basic needs, but once you have the most important pieces of photography equipment, you’ll find that a little imagination–along with a few good photography products and a few tips–will take you a long way. Here are the basics of what you need. 

  • Camera–while costly systems have great features, it isn’t really necessary for product photography. You can start with any camera that you have including your smartphone. But, a good, inexpensive, and excellent camera for product photography is the Canon PowerShot SX530 HS Digital Camera. It’s inexpensive ($274.95), and it produces images with bright, warm colors displaying a great level of saturation. The images also show a great level of product detail.
  • Tripod–for most types of photography, a tripod is a must. In the case of product photography, you’re going to want to set your camera to a very small aperture. That will allow you to have the most depth of field possible for your camera, which gets you in close to the product. That will define the area of sharp focus, but because you’re using a smaller aperture (large f/stop number, such as f/8), you’ll need a slower shutter speed to allow more light in. That means you won’t be able to hold the camera steady with your hands. You’ll need a tripod, but luckily they’re not very expensive. There are many available for under $30.
  • White sweep–a sweep is a light box table. It’s easy to use–you arrange the product and your props in the box, and start shooting. As photography equipment goes, a light box table is not very expensive, and they make it much easier to photograph your product with a white background. Most also come with different colored backdrops so that you can switch out the white background for a different color as well. It’s a small investment for a product that will make your life much easier.
  • White/black bounce cards–bounce cards are great photography lighting assets. They are light reflectors that you use to direct the light wherever needed. You can make these from foam board in both black and white. The white can be used to brighten up dark areas, and the black foam boards are used to deepen the shadows. You can create exactly the desired light you want by positioning both black and white bounce cards around the product. You can buy foam board at the drugstore or online. It’s inexpensive, and these are great tools that every photographer needs.
  • Table–you need a good table to set up your product scenes. It should be big enough to hold whatever props you might need to accentuate the products–24-27 inches should do–and you want to make sure you have a light colored table top. White is best, but if not, a white table cloth should do the job.
  • Tape–this can come in handy for several reasons. It can help with your sweep, and it can also be used to help secure product props. You can also use clamps to secure various props and the product itself in a sturdier way.
  • The right room–the room in which you take your photos is very important. It’s ideal to have a room where you can put your table right next to a window. The window can be a great source of natural light. And, you can vary the location of the table to change the quality and distribution of the light. If you’re closer to the window, you’ll get a softer light with dark, softer shadows. If you move the table further away from the window, you’ll get a more even light and the shadows will be lighter, but sharper.
  • Post production/photo editing software–photo editing software is one of the most important pieces of equipment for any kind of photographer. For product photography, you can use it to create certain effects like smoke, and you can use it to remove lines for floating products or change the color saturation, brightness, and contrast. It’s an indispensable tool. Most photographers prefer Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom. They’re the most common software packages for post processing any kind of photograph, and if you’re considering photography as a profession, you’ll be glad you invested in these kinds of products.

Product photography is an interesting and lucrative field for any photographer, but it’s also competitive. To be among the best, you’ll need innovative, creative product photography ideas and a few helpful product photography tips. Using the product photography tips we’ve discussed will help you get images of products that will capture their features and captivate your audience.

These simple tips–like adding smoke or the right color for the background–can make your product stand out from the rest, and it can help you make a name for yourself in products photography. By using these simple and creative tips for shooting your product, you can capture images that will help you build your reputation and sell the products you’ve photographed. And, you’ll find that as you use these innovative techniques, it will stimulate your imagination for trying new, creative product photography ideas.



Frequently Asked Questions:

What is the best lens for product photography?

There are many good options, but the Nikon AF FX NIKKOR 85mm f/1.8G fixed lens is a great, affordable option. It’s got one of the sharpest 85mm lenses Nikon makes. It’s lightweight, capable of focusing close up, and captures sharp photos even in low light situations.

How to choose the right color scheme for a product?

There are a number of considerations when thinking about appropriate colors to accompany the product. Among the most important tips, however, is that you don’t want to take the attention away from the product. That’s why it’s best to stick with neutral colors.

How does the rule of thirds apply to product photography?

Imagine there are two horizontal and two vertical lines equally spaced that are dividing up the shot into thirds from right to left and top to bottom. You’ll want to position the product’s most important elements along these lines or where they cross. That creates a great composition for the photograph.

What angles make product photos look more unique?

You have to be careful with the angles, because you can distort the product. But, you can get some innovative shots by doing things like hanging the product or using props to position it. Then, you can take images from underneath or above the product. And, you can use eye-level shots to highlight the best features.

Want to learn more? Here are some recommended product photography courses:

How to Install Lightroom Presets

step-by-step tutorial on how to install lightroom presets

Adobe Lightroom is one of the best softwares for photo retouching, and using the Presets developed for Lightroom, photographers can save a lot of time.

We have put together a detailed step-by-step tutorial on how to install Lightroom Presets.

Tutorial for Installing Presets in Lightroom 8.1 and newer versions (including LR 9.1)

1. Launch the Lightroom Application and click on the Develop module.

Import-Presets-Step-1

2. Go to the Presets panel, and in the top right hand corner of the Presets panel, click on ‘+’ icon and then click Import Preset.

Import-Presets-Step-2

3. Locate the purchased presets collection folder and choose the zip file (you can also add XMP or Lrtemplate files if they’re already unzipped).

Import-Presets-Step-3

4. Once the import is complete, you should see imported presets in a new list of category titles in the Presets panel or in the User Presets category. You can easily rename the folder to something specific by right clicking on it.

Import-Presets-Step-4

5. Enjoy your new Presets!

Tutorial for Installing Presets in Lightroom 7.2 and older versions

1. Locate the downloaded preset pack on your computer.

step 1 for importing lightroom presets

2. Unzip / extract the downloaded .zip file. Open the extracted folder and check its contents:

  • Presets folder (LRtemplate)
  • Presets folder (XMP)
  • Installation guide
  • Before/After images
step 2 for importing and adding lightroom presets

3. Copy the Presets folder (LRtemplate).

step 3 for installing presets

4. Launch Lightroom. On Windows, go to the top menu and then click Edit > Preferences.
On Mac, click Lightroom > Preferences.

Import-presets-4

5. Go to the Presets tab and click on “Show Lightroom Presets Folder”.

Import-presets-5

6. Double click on “Lightroom” folder.

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7. Double click on “Develop Presets” folder.

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8. Paste the Presets folder (LRtemplate) into the Develop Presets folder.

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9. Restart Lightroom application.

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10. Enjoy your new Presets!

Tip: Stay organized by creating specifically-named folders for every presets collection pack that you may install.

How to Use These 11 Types of Lighting in Photography

11 most common types of lighting

Lighting is the most important consideration in photography. It’s what makes the photograph possible. So, let’s get a better understanding of what we are talking about when we are discussing the types of light.

What is Light in Photography?

Light is the fundamental element in photography. In fact, the word photography was formed by merging the Greek words for light and drawing. Photographers create an image by capturing light particles on a light sensitive medium. Without light, it would not be possible to have photographs.

What Type of Lighting is Best for Photography?

That depends on the picture you’re taking. Many photographers prefer to have a speedlight or flash because they are portable and flexible, but it often happens that using the ambient light works better. It all depends on your subject and the mood you want to create.

Types of Photographic Lighting and How to Use Them

Whatever type of lighting you’re using for your images, there are different reasons to choose certain lighting for photography. Here we describe 11 types of photography lighting and how to use them: 

1. Ambient light

Ambient light is defined as lighting that is not added to the scene by the photographer. Sunlight can be ambient lighting, but so can a streetlight, and don’t forget about moonlight. None of these are added to the scene by a photographer.

The goal with ambient lighting is often to get a soft, evenly distributed light that can bounce from one surface to another. This kind of lighting works particularly well for landscape photography.

This landscape image is one form of ambient light
The light seen here is one form of ambient light

Some photographers make a distinction between ambient light from natural sources, such as sunlight, and ambient light produced by artificial lighting from manmade fixtures, such as a streetlight. You should be aware of that and take care to describe the lighting more specifically for your images.

It’s also important to describe any modifiers you might use to direct the ambient light you have available. One technique is to reflect ambient natural light into a shaded area in order to create a more diffuse light. This is called open shade, and it gives your subject a soft, even, and gentle glow.

Otherwise, the way you ‘set up’ ambient light depends on the look you want. You can use modifiers to reflect it. You can also either have your subject move around until you achieve the desired lighting or you can move around your subject. 

2. Flat lighting

Flat lighting is when you have the light source facing directly onto the front of your subject. If you’re photographing a person, it will mean that their face is well lit, and that you won’t see any shadows on their face.

Shadows tend to draw out imperfections, and so, this is a great technique to use if your subject has acne, other blemishes or wrinkles. It’s not normally preferred as a lighting technique for portraiture photography since shadows bring the face to life, but with a subject who is self-conscious of their skin imperfections, this would be the way to go.

It also works well if your subject is oozing with character. In that case, flat lighting will allow the natural appeal to shine through. To set up, you simply place your light in front of and slightly above your subject’s face. You can angle it until it lies ‘flat’ on the face.  

3. Broad light

Broad lighting is actually a type of side lighting. It’s where the most well-lit side of your subject is facing the camera, and the less well-lit side is away from the camera.

If we’re talking about a subject’s face, this type of lighting can work well for a person with a narrow face since it makes the face look fuller. It would be less desirable, however, if the subject already has a full face.

Broad lighting can make thin faces look fuller, as seen in this image of a woman.
Broad lighting can make a thin face look fuller

Broad lighting is also a technique that gives more contrast to the image than other types of lighting.

To set this up, you simply place your light source at a forty five degree angle from your subject, and then have your subject turn away from the main light source until you achieve the desired effect.

4. Short light

Short lighting is the opposite of broad lighting. This is where the shadow falls on the side of the face closest to the camera. This technique is flattering to most facial types, but in particular, it works well to make a full face look thinner.

Short lighting is ideal for low-key images, in part because of the heavy contrast it provides. It’s also good if you’re trying to create images with more depth, and it can be used to hide imperfections.

The set up for this is similar to that for broad lighting. You start with the light source positioned at a forty five degree angle from your subject. But, unlike with broad lighting, this time you have your subject turn toward the light–you want the brightest part of your subject’s face to be the short side.

5. Split light

Split lighting is where the light source hits the subject from the side at a ninety degree angle. It creates a split of light and shadow–half of your subject will be in the light and half will be in the shadow.

This technique tends to create more dramatic images. It often makes your subject appear tough and more masculine. This type of lighting also tends to emphasize the texture of the skin and the details of the face. It gives a sense of assertiveness and can also be used to emphasize glamour.

It’s quite easy to set this up. You simply put the light source at a ninety degree angle to the direction your camera is shooting, and it should be hitting your subject on their side. It also helps if the light is slightly behind the subject. Then you can move your subject around until you get a ‘split’ of the light–half of your subject lit and the other half in shadows. 

Split lighting is set up by putting the light source to the side of the subject, which results in half of the face lit up and the other half in shadow as seen in this image of a man's face.
Split lighting is set up by putting the light source to the side of the subject, and it results in half light and half shadow

The technique can be made more or less dramatic by softer or harder light sources. Sources of harder light will make the shadows more dramatic and the image will be more intense.

6. Backlighting

Backlighting is just what it sounds like–the light source is behind your subject. It can be used to create silhouettes, or you can combine it with certain atmospheric conditions–like fog–to get more dramatic images.

One of the problems with this lighting technique is that you can lose clarity in your subject because it is backlit. For that reason, it might help to use reflectors to reflect some of the light back onto your subject (if you don’t want a silhouette), or you can use a technique called the semi-silhouette where you only allow the light to just barely enter the frame. That creates a nice glow that is a welcome contrast to the dark background.



7. Rim light

Rim lighting is where the light hits the subject at an angle, such that it creates highlights along the edges of your subject. This highlights the shape of your subject and it’s a great technique to use to separate your subject from the background.

You can create this in the studio with a single light source positioned behind your subject. Then, have your subject turn until the light creates a rim highlight along the edges.

Rim lighting creates edges of light, as seen on these hills, that emphasize the shapes.
Rims lighting creates edges of light that emphasize the shape of the subject

If you want to use natural light, it’s better to try this technique on a sunny day. Then, you position your subject so the light is above and behind them. Contrast is a key factor with this technique–with lower contrast the rim effect will be minimized.

8. Butterfly light

This technique is named for the distinctive shadow it creates below the nose of your subject. You set this up by placing the light in front of and above your subject. It will create a small butterfly-shaped shadow under their nose.

On the plus side, it highlights prominent cheekbones, which is why many women like it. But, on the negative side, it also emphasizes shadows from deep-set eyes. Thus, you’ll want to take your subject’s unique features into consideration before choosing this technique.

This lighting technique is also referred to as paramount lighting, and it is flattering to most people, making it a favorite for portraiture photography.

9. Loop light

Loop lighting is another go-to technique for portraiture photography because it is flattering for almost every subject. It is less dramatic than other lighting types, but it creates more depth than flat lighting. It does all of this by still keeping the subject well-lit.

It’s easy to set up–you simply pose your model, and then set the light at a forty five degree angle to your model and slightly above eye level. This creates a loop-shaped shadow–hence the name–under the nose of your subject on the opposite side of their face from the light source.

Loop lighting creates a loop-shaped shadow under the nose, as seen in this image of a woman.
Loop lighting creates a loop-shaped image under the nose

You can vary the light’s intensity by moving it closer to or further away from your subject. And, you can vary the shape of the shadow by raising or lowering your light source.

10. Soft light

Soft light is light where shadow edges are soft and open, and there is less contrast. It is achieved with a larger, broader light placed closer to the subject. Overcast days are a great opportunity for outdoor soft lighting.

This type of lighting can be achieved by diffusing your artificial light. This can be achieved in the studio by using a full diffusion panel or softbox that is placed between the light source and the subject. Window lighting can also be a great source for softer light. 

Soft light is used mostly for portraiture, macro, and nature photography. It can also be used to make a subject appear more youthful.

11. Hard light

Hard light is the opposite of soft light–it creates strong shadows and high contrast. It creates more dramatic and edgier images. In the studio, you can position the light source where you would with soft light, but you don’t use diffusers to soften the light.

Hard light creates sharp, dramatic shadows, as seen in this portrait of a woman.
Hard light creates sharp, dramatic shadows

You can also make the hard light look like a spotlight, and that will increase the shadows in the image. One of the things to keep in mind though, is that not everyone looks good in hard light.

It can accentuate skin imperfections and the shadows created by deep set eyes, for example. Thus, you have to consider your model’s unique features before choosing this type of light. 

All of these types of lighting are great for different reasons. It depends on what kind of mood you’re trying to create as well as the subject you’re photographing. Whatever the image you want to create, light is crucial to creating the mood you want.

Many people think of the photographer as similar to the artist who paints. The difference is that the photographer is painting their portrait with light instead of paint. That’s why an understanding of exactly how to create the looks you want is vital for every photographer. 



Frequently Asked Questions:

What are the types of natural photography light?

There are a number of types of natural photography light. These are categorized by position (front, back, top, side), degree of light diffusion (harsh–little or no diffusion and soft—diffused light), and whether the light is direct or indirect (e.g., reflected light).

What are the 3 basic types of light?

The first would be ambient lighting–which can be natural (e.g., the sun) or manmade (e.g., indoor lights). The second is accent lighting–light used to accent a particular feature or achieve a desired effect. The third would be modified light (e.g., diffused).

Which types of light should you use for a portrait?

The most common types of lighting for a portrait are the following:

  • Flat lighting; 
  • Loop lighting; 
  • Rembrandt lighting; 
  • Short lighting; 
  • Broad lighting;
  • Butterfly lighting.

What are the types of artificial lighting?

The main types of artificial lighting include the following:

  • Incandescent lights (banned in many countries); 
  • CFLs (created to replace incandescent light bulbs); 
  • LED lights (bulbs or panels); 
  • Strobe lights / speedlights / speedlites–all of which are commonly used by many photographers.

What is Editorial Photography?

Editorial photography involves images that depict real events, such as this photo of colorfully dressed women dancing.
Editorial photography involves images that depict real events

Many people confuse editorial photography with commercial photography, documentary photography, and photojournalism, but there are important–though subtle–differences. Let’s start by defining editorial photography, and then we’ll discuss the differences with the other genres.

What is Editorial Photography?

Editorial photography tells a story with images. These are frequently used by magazines or newspapers. An editorial photographer produces a polished image, one that might involve some alteration, but the intent is to illustrate a concept rather than to sell a product or service.

Editorial photography conveys a concept through images, as this photo of the terracotta warriors in China conveys a concept of antiquity or Chinese heritage.
Editorial photographs convey concepts, such as the concept of antiquity or heritage conveyed with this image

What is the Difference Between Editorial and Commercial Photography?

Both types of photography involve polished or altered images, but unlike editorial photography, the commercial photographer uses images for advertising purposes. This genre serves commercial clients. That means photographing products or depicting expertise–as might be the case with corporate portraits–for commercial purposes.

Documentary Photography

This is probably the most similar genre to editorial photography. Like editorial photography, it is telling a story with images, but this genre lies between editorial photography and photojournalism in terms of how much leeway the photographer has to modify the scene and direct subjects.

Editorial photographers have more leeway in their effort to produce a polished image. Documentary photographers strive to take more objective images, although they do have some leeway to change the scene, modify the lighting, and direct subjects–just not as much as the editorial photographer.

Photojournalism

Photojournalism is the most objective of these genres. Photojournalists have virtually no leeway to change the scene or alter things like the lighting conditions. They are solely documenting what is happening–or what they are seeing–in images with no alterations. 

To sum up the differences between these genres, the main differences lie in the freedom of the photographer to alter the scene, whether that is achieved by directing subjects or changing something like, for example, providing better lighting. On a scale from most objective to least objective, the line up would be as follows: 

  • Photojournalism
  • Documentary Photography
  • Editorial Photography
  • Commercial Photography

Like photojournalism and documentary photography, editorial images document real-life issues, current events, and human interest stories in a truthful manner, and these images are frequently used to strengthen magazine or newspaper articles. Editorial photography, however, is not used for advertising purposes.

Editorial photographers document real places and events, but they can use those images to convey concepts, like this image of Big Ben, which could illustrate a story about England.
Editorial photographers document real places and events, but they can use those images to illustrate a broader story--as this image might strengthen a story about England

Unlike documentary photography and photojournalism, the editorial photographer has more leeway to change the scene or modify it by directing subjects or altering the exposure, for example. The goal is to produce polished images that will help to tell an important story, but the image must maintain the realism of the subject. That means that, although the photographer might tweak the exposure, contrast, or alter the color slightly, it is not permissible to do things like add filters or apply artistic treatments.

A Few Examples

It might help to illustrate the differences with a few examples: 

Consider an event like a presidential visit to another country. Photojournalists would document each stage of the visit exactly as it occurred.

Documentary photographers might also document the visit exactly as it occurs, but their images might be used to accompany a story about the importance of presidential visits abroad to national security, and so they might ‘clean up’ the images to polish them for that story. Photojournalists would not alter their images in any way.

Meanwhile, editorial photographers might use images that are not even part of the presidential visit to illustrate a concept or idea related to the contents of their story.

For example, the President sits down with the Queen of England for tea in a meeting where reporters are not allowed. Photojournalists and documentary photographers might publish images of the Queen and the President walking into Buckingham Palace where they will have tea. Editorial photographers, on the other hand, might use an image of a teacup to illustrate the part of the story related to the prominence of afternoon tea in British culture.

Let’s take another example–consider a story about fashion. Whereas the editorial photographer might use models wearing a particular clothing line in scenes that are set up to illustrate the fashion element of the story, the documentary photographer would take images of real people wearing the clothes.

Editorial photographers have more leeway to modify scenes and direct subjects in order to tell their story, as seen in this image of a woman in fashionable apparel.
Editorial photographers have more leeway to modify scenes and direct subjects in order to tell a compelling story

Both are photographing real clothing lines, but the editorial photographer has more leeway to set up the scene using models, good lighting, and props.

The documentary photographer would take images of real people wearing the clothing–possibly that he or she is directing or in a scene that is set up, but not to the extent that happens with editorial photography.

And, the photojournalist would simply take pictures to document the actual fashion show, without directing anyone or setting up any scenes. Or, the photojournalist might take pictures of real people wearing the clothing, but again, without any direction or scene modification.



You’ll notice that both examples above don’t discuss the role of the commercial photographer. But, editorial photography basically walks right up to the line of commercial photography. In the fashion example, the editorial photographs could conceivably be used for advertising the clothing line, and in that case, the images would have a commercial purpose. The difference there is in the intent for the use of the images. 

The editorial photographer is doing it to illustrate a story about fashion, but the commercial photographer’s intent would be to sell the clothing line. The images may be identical, but the intent is what distinguishes commercial photography from editorial photography. 

And, that intent makes an important legal difference. If you’re using an image to promote a product or service, you must have signed release forms from any models used–whether these are professional models or simply people in your image–and you must have a signed property release form from the owners of any property that is visible within the image. The word property would signify the clothing in our example here.

Here are some examples of where you can and cannot use editorial use only images:

Editorial use only images can be used in the following contexts:

  • Newspaper or magazine articles;
  • In a blog or website for descriptive purposes;
  • In non-commercial presentations; 
  • Textbooks; 
  • Documentaries; 
  • Essays and journal articles;
  • News broadcasts; 
  • Editorial features;
  • Stock photos. 
Editorial use only images can be used in certain contexts like documentaries as illustrated by this photo of a religious festival.
Editorial use only images an be used in contexts like documentaries about religious festivals

Editorial use only images cannot be used in the following: 

  • Advertisements or promotional materials;
  • Advertorial purposes where a third party pays for the placement of the image.

Both of the latter (advertisements and advertorial purposes) would constitute commercial photography, and as such, they would require release forms for any people or property depicted in the images.



Editorial Photography Tips

With that understanding, here are a few tips on taking good editorial photos:

  • Have a Concept in Mind: Consider the subject and the backstory, and have a few concepts in mind for the photos you want to get. 
  • More than Pretty Photos: Images may be gritty or tell a story that isn’t particularly pretty, but that’s the realistic part of editorial photography, and this lets you get really creative. 
Editorial photos are more than just pretty pictures. They often depict the grittiness of real life, as seen in this image of a family carrying bananas.
Editorial images are more than just pretty pictures, they often depict the grittiness of real life
  • The Pressure is On: You have to be ready to handle pressure. The timing may be short, the weather may be bad, and the subjects may be uncomfortable, but the best editorial photographers are versatile enough to roll with the flow. 
  • Get the Point: The most important part of editorial photography is that the images need to illustrate the main concept of the story. 
  • Connect with the Subjects: The best editorial photographers are the ones who can connect with their subjects and help them relax. 
  • Practice: Doing all of this takes practice–so, practice taking photos for stories you have in mind. That will help you develop these valuable skills.

One of the best things about editorial photography is the ability to get creative with your images. You’re telling a story and that gives you a lot of leeway in choosing the subjects and locations for your shots.

As an editorial photographer, you have greater creative license to choose your subjects. An image such as this temple could convey ideas about a particular religion or broader concepts like faith.
As an editorial photographer, you have greater creative license in choosing your subjects--this image could convey an idea about a particular religion or the broader concept of faith itself

It also allows you to have more versatility with your photography, because you’re not just documenting what is happening, you’re expressing concepts with your images. What’s more, as you develop your own creative editorial style, you’ll learn to document the story in a way that few people get to do. That makes editorial photography one of the more exciting and rewarding genres!



Frequently Asked Questions:

What makes editorial photography different?

The creativity it gives you as a photographer. Photojournalists and documentary photographers are more objective, commercial photographers need to please the client, but you’re telling a story. 

What are the main types of editorial photography?

The main types of editorial photography include: 

  • Editorial street photography
  • Editorial wedding photography
  • Editorial fashion photography
  • Editorial travel photography
  • Stock photography

Each type demands a slightly different style and skill set, but you’re still telling a story with your images.

What is a magazine editorial?

A magazine editorial is an article written by the senior editorial staff or publisher of the magazine. It might express an opinion of the writer or the publication on a particular topic, but editorials frequently also address letters to the editor.

How much does an editorial photographer make?

The national average salary is $34,041 (as a base pay), but it depends on your area, and the publication for which you work. Higher end salaries pay up to $60,000 per year or more, and you can also make additional money by freelancing–for example, by producing stock photos.

7 Best Lenses For Bokeh Photography

Bokeh photography gives your images a dream-like appearance, such as that seen in this image of a woman holding Christmas tree lights.

What Does Bokeh Mean?

Have you seen those photographs with an almost dream-like quality? Usually what you’re looking at is what is known as bokeh photography. The word bokeh comes from the Japanese word boke (ボケ), which means blur or haze. It’s pronounced BOH-kay.

What is Bokeh Photography?

Bokeh photography is the soft, out-of-focus background effect you get when you are shooting a subject with a fast lens set at the widest aperture. That results in a pleasing aesthetic quality of an out-of-focus blur in the image. You see the bokeh effect frequently used in portrait photography to really enhance the appearance of the subject.

The bokeh effect is achieved using a fast lens set at a wide aperture which results in a blurred background as seen in this picture of a hand holding a flower.
The bokeh effect creates a pleasingly blurred background which focuses attention on the subject

Why is the Lens Important for Bokeh?

To achieve the perfect bokeh effect, you’ll need a fast lens–in fact, the faster the better. You want at least an f/2.8 aperture, but faster apertures, like f/2, f/1.8, and f/1.4, are even better.

Why does the Aperture Shape Matter?

Aside from the speed of the lens, the shape of the diaphragm blades–the aperture–is also important. A lens with more circular shaped diaphragm blades will result in softer, more rounded orbs created by out-of-focus highlights. A hexagonal-shaped aperture will reflect that shape in the out-of-focus highlights.

The shape of the aperture is reflected in the out-of-focus highlights, as seen in this image with hexagonal highlights.
The shape of the aperture is reflected in the out-of-focus highlights

What are the Best Lenses for Bokeh Photography?

Okay, so now you have a better understanding of bokeh and why the lens is important. So, what are the best lenses for this effect? Here are a list of 7 lenses professional photographers prefer:

1. Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 105mm f/1.4E ED Lens

This mid-telephoto prime lens produces a beautiful bokeh while at the same time producing superior image quality with distortion correction and a smooth creamy background when shooting with a shallow depth of field. It has a maximum aperture of f/1.4 and a diaphragm with 9 blades. It also has Extra-Low Dispersion–or ED–elements that help to reduce flare, ghosting (a type of lens flare), and chromatic aberration (color fringing around objects). 

Here are the specifications for Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 105mm

  • Focal Length: 105mm
  • Minimum to Maximum aperture: f/16 to f/1.4
  • Lens construction of 14 elements in 9 groups
  • Diaphragm Blades: 9
  • Weight = 985g
  • Price: $1896.95

2. Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM ART Lens

This wide-angle lens has a maximum aperture of f/1.4–that results in a very shallow depth of field–and it has a rounded aperture ring that produces a soft, natural blur effect. It also has an advanced low-light shooting capability, an ultra-fast autofocus, high-end optics with a multi-layer coating to reduce flare and ghosting, and it’s compatible with multiple mounts including Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Sigma, and Sony.

Here are the specifications for Sigma 35mm:

  • Focal Length: 35mm
  • Minimum to Maximum Aperture: f/16 to f/1.4
  • Lens Construction of 13 elements in 11 groups
  • Diaphragm blades: 9
  • Weight: 665g
  • Price: $649

3. Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM Lens

The Canon EF 85mm is a great medium telephoto lens that produces a dreamy bokeh for a variety of different photographic subjects including landscapes, action photos, and even videos. It has circular aperture blades that make it easy to create the blur effect. It also has a fast autofocus, an ultra-sharp image quality, and optimized lens element shaping that suppresses flare and ghosting. Additionally, it’s durable and weather-sealed to protect it from moisture and dust.

Here are the specifications for Canon EF 85mm:

  • Focal Length: 85mm
  • Minimum to Maximum Aperture: f/16 to f/1.2
  • Lens Construction of 8 elements in 7 groups
  • Diaphragm Blades: 8
  • Weight: 1,025g
  • Price: $1849

4. Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G AF-S VR II Nikkor ED-IF Lens

This ultra-fast telephoto zoom lens has a wide aperture of f/2.8 and a circular diaphragm for a dreamy bokeh. It also features ED optical glass with an anti-reflective Nano Crystal coat for incredible sharpness, reduced ghosting and flare, and minimized chromatic aberrations.

Here are the specifications for Nikon 70-200mm:

  • Focal Length: 70-200mm
  • Minimum to Maximum Aperture: f/22 to f/2.8
  • Lens Construction of 21 elements in 16 groups
  • Diaphragm Blades: 9
  • Weight: 1,540g
  • Price: $2,146.95



5. Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 Apo Planar ZF.2 Series Lens

This premium short lens offers outstanding image correction as well as elimination of chromatic and spherical aberrations. It produces incredibly sharp images with a creamy bokeh, and it is available for both Canon and Nikon mounts.  It has nine aperture blades and a maximum aperture of f/1.4 that results in a shallow depth of field.

Here are the specifications for Zeiss Otus 85mm:

  • Focal Length: 85mm
  • Minimum to Maximum Aperture: f/16 to f/1.4
  • Lens Construction of 11 elements in 9 groups
  • Diaphragm Blades: 9
  • Weight: 1,200g
  • Price: $3,816

6. Opteka 85mm f/1.8 Aspherical Lens

This is one of the best low-priced short telephoto lenses for Nikon SLR and DSLR cameras. It is a fully manual lens that has no autofocus, so if you prefer hands-on, this is the lens for you. Its maximum aperture of f/1.8 produces a perfect bokeh effect, and it has low-dispersion, high-index multi-coated HD optical glass that prevents flare and ghosting. It has six rounded aperture blades that capture high level accuracy in the depth of field and the orbs of light in the blurred background.

Here are the specifications for Opteka 85mm:

  • Focal Length: 85mm
  • Minimum to Maximum Aperture: f/22 to f/1.8
  • Lens of Construction of 10 elements in 7 groups with 1 aspherical element
  • Diaphragm Blades: 6
  • Weight: 380g
  • Price: $109

7. Sony SEL28F20 FE 28mm f/2-22 Lens

This is one of the best standard lenses for photographers who use mirrorless cameras, and with a maximum aperture of f/2, it creates a dreamy bokeh effect. The circular aperture has 9 blades, and produces beautiful rounded orbs of light. The lens is made with ED (Extra-Low Dispersion) glass that also has multi-coated layers that reduce flare, ghosting, and chromatic aberrations. The aspherical lens helps reduce spherical aberration, which is when the misalignment of light rays creates blurred edges.

Here are the specifications for Sony SEL28F20 FE 28mm:

  • Focal Length: 28mm
  • Minimum to Maximum Aperture: f/22 to f/2
  • Lens Construction of 9 elements in 8 groups with 2 ED glass elements, 2 aspheric elements, and one advanced aspheric element
  • Diaphragm Blades: 9
  • Weight: 198g
  • Price: $448

Now that you’ve got a good idea about the best lenses for bokeh photography, let’s discuss a few tips to create that dreamy effect.



Bokeh Photography Tips

We’ve already discussed perhaps the most important tip – use fast lenses with wide open apertures. But, there are a few other things you can do to create that beautiful bokeh. Here are a few tips:

  • Increase the distance between your subject and the background: This will enhance the bokeh by further blurring the background.
  • Get in close: At the same time that you’re increasing the distance between your subject and the background, you want to get in close to your subject. This will increase the bokeh effect. 
By getting in close to your subject and increasing the distance from your subject to the background, you can create a beautiful bokeh, as seen in this image of a parrot.
Increasing the distance from your subject to the background and getting in close to your subject produces a beautiful bokeh
  • Use longer focal lengths: Zooming to the maximum focal length of your lens will increase the area of the bokeh. If you have a lens with a focal length of 200mm or more, you can increase the blurred areas in your image significantly. 
  • Choose subjects that have highlights in the area that will be blurred: When we’re talking about highlights, that means the light sources for the image. So, for example, if you have a subject posed in front of trees with sunlight shining through the leaves, that will produce beautiful orbs.
  • Set groups on the same plane: If you’re shooting more than one subject, set them on the same focal plane and have them touching at some point. For example, you could have their cheeks touching. Then, focus your camera on the point where they’re touching. A good rule of thumb when shooting more than one subject is to increase the f stop number to the same number as the number of subjects you have–you don’t need to go above f/4– and that will ensure that everyone is in focus.
To produce a beautiful bokeh when photographing more than one subject, have them on the same focal plane and touching, as seen in this photograph of a group on the beach
To produce a beautiful bokeh when photographing more than one subject, have them on the same focal plane and touching

With the right lens, and by following these tips, you can create images with a beautiful bokeh that viewers are sure to love. The perfect bokeh effect will give your images a dreamy appearance, and you can turn a not-so-picturesque background into a beautiful setting for your subject. It’s a common technique for portraits, and by using backlighting, side lighting, or hair lighting, you can give a positively angelic appearance to your subject.

Key to achieving the right bokeh effect is the lens you use. You want a fast lens, and lenses with more blades create a more circular aperture, which results in a more pleasing bokeh effect. Additionally, the best lenses to use are prime lenses–that means a lens with a fixed focal length as opposed to a zoom lens. But, as we’ve discussed, you can achieve a great bokeh by zooming to the maximum focal length. And, the best lenses for bokeh photography that we’ve discussed include lenses for every budget and various mounts. 

A beautiful bokeh can turn a ho-hum image into one where the subject jumps off the page, as seen in this image of a woman on a bridge.
A beautiful bokeh can turn a ho-hum image into one where the subject jumps off the page

By creating a creamy, smooth bokeh, you can take a ho-hum image and turn it into one where the subject seems to jump off the page; one that viewers feel they can reach out and touch. All it takes to get images you’ll love is a good lens, the right subject, a good setting, some nice highlights, and lots of practice. 

What are Lightroom Presets?

find out how to create and install lightroom presets

Even if you’re a beginner photographer, you probably know that a good photo editing software is an essential tool for professional photographers. And, even if you’re not a professional, photo editing programs can help you dramatically improve your photos. But, what do people mean when they talk about presets, and specifically, Lightroom Presets?

What are Lightroom Presets?

Probably the easiest way to explain Adobe Lightroom Presets is that they are preset editing settings. When you’re using Lightroom to edit your photographs, you move controls–called sliders–to change settings like color saturation, brightness, and contrast. If you get a particular combination of settings to your liking, you can then save that combination of settings as a preset–it’s pre-set, get it?

When you apply the preset to your photos, it will automatically adjust all of the settings that you had saved. You can create and save your own presets in Lightroom, or you can purchase groups of presets to achieve particular looks for your photos, like a Wedding Preset Collection that has settings designed to create images with a romantic mood.

Advantages of Using Lightroom Presets

There are a number of different uses for Adobe Lightroom presets. They can greatly assist you as you edit photographs. Here are just a couple of ways in which they can be of use to you:

  • They can help you speed up batch editing — If you’ve got several similar photographs, such as a group of images you took on a sunny day at the beach, then you can apply the same preset for that type of photograph. It’s not going to make every single image perfect, but it will reduce the number of edits you have to do for each. 
With Lightroom presets, you can edit multiple images at once, giving, for example, sunny beach days a consistent look, as seen in this beach photo.
  • They allow you to create a consistent theme — Again, if you’ve got a batch of photos that all come from the same–or a similar–location, then by applying a preset, there will be the same tonal theme and style that resonates through all of the images. Sure, you will have to customize some images as needed, but the same general theme will be present that will tie them all together–even if that means they all have a similar saturation or shade of red, the theme will be consistent.
  • Presets greatly simplify the editing process — If you’ve ever spent hours editing images, this benefit will catch your interest. Presets save you so much time by doing most of the work for you. There will be many images that won’t even need further editing, and the ones that do–well, they’ll take a lot less work. 
  • Presets allow you to customize the styles of the images — Since you can edit the image once the preset is applied, you can customize the style of particular images. You’re likely to have more than one shot of at least some of the images, particularly if you’re shooting in burst mode. Each of the images taken will look slightly different after the preset is applied, You might want to customize one of the images or even a part of an image, and Lightroom lets you do just that by using a brush tool.
  • You can experiment with different looks for the same images — While consistency is great, so is variety. You’ll find presets for different times of day, alternative lighting, and even different kinds of scenery. For example, you can find or create presets for sunset or sunrise, sunny days at the beach, or low light forest environments. That gives you a variety of looks that you can apply to any image, and changing the preset will completely change the mood of the image.
Lightroom presets let you experiment with different looks--like a nostalgic look seen in this beach picture--for the same photograph.
  • Affordable — Lastly, Lightroom presets are affordable, and considering how much time they will save you, and how much easier they will make the editing process, they are well worth the money. And, you can create your own Lightroom presets too! 

How to Create Lightroom Presets

If you don’t want to buy Lightroom Presets, you can just create your own. It’s easy to do. Here’s how: 

  • You can either create your own preset from scratch, or you can first apply another preset and then adjust it until you have the look you like. Once you’re happy with the look, you can save it.
creating a preset in lightroom
  • To save your preset, go to the Presets panel, and in the top right hand corner of the Presets panel, click on ‘+’ icon. Then, you just have to name the preset and click Create.
saving a new preset in lightroom
  • Once you’ve saved your preset, you should see it listed in the User Presets category on the Presets panel. From there, you can apply it to any other image in your photo library.
Step2

How to Use Lightroom Presets

Now that you’ve got your new presets, you’ll want to use them often. Here’s how you use them:

  • You start with the image you want to edit, and then go to the Develop module. Under the Presets column (on the left hand side under Navigator section), you’ll see a list of category titles. Click on the one you want, to access the presets in that category. 
Step3a
  • If you want to preview how a specific preset will look on a particular photo, just hover over the preset, but don’t click on it. You can now see how the photo will look after you’ll apply the preset.
Step3b
  • Once you’ve decided on a preset you like, just click on the preset to apply it to the image you’ve selected.
Step3c
  • You can also remove the preset by simply using the Undo Preset command in the Edit Menu, or the Reset button in the bottom right corner (using Reset will return the photo to it’s original look).
Step3d
  • If you would like to experiment with applying different presets to the same photo, that’s easy to do–just choose Photo > Create Virtual Copy, and that will make a copy of the picture. Then, you can apply a different preset to that copy.
Step3e
Step3f

How to Install Lightroom Presets

Installing Lightroom presets is very easy to do using the preset import feature. The steps are as follows:

  • Open Lightroom and Switch to the Develop Module.
Step4a
  • The Lightroom Presets panel is to the left, and in the top right hand corner of the Presets panel is a ‘+’ icon. Click on that.
Step4b
  • In the popup menu that displays, click on the Import Presets option.
Step4c
  • That displays a dialog box where you can select the presets you want to import. Select multiple presets by holding down the shift key while clicking on the first and last preset in the group you want to import.
  • Once the import is complete, you should see imported presets in a new list of category titles in the Presets panel or in the User Presets category. That contains all your new presets. You can rename that folder to something specific by right clicking on it.

Presets are a great way to rapidly edit multiple photographs at once. They will save you valuable time, allow you to customize your photos, apply consistent themes to multiple photos, and greatly simplify the photo editing process.

No matter how good of a photographer you are, you will benefit from understanding how to use Lightroom presets.

Want to give Lightroom Presets a try? Here are our top 3 collections:

If you are going to use Lightroom for the first time, we have added a detailed workflow tutorial video with each one of our packages, to guide you step-by-step.

This wedding presets collection includes 42 presets and 57 brushes you can use to easily create perfect wedding photos. Whether you’re softening the light or creating a vintage look, these presets will give your wedding photos that special, romantic feel.

The food presets collection includes 66 presets and 44 brushes. With these presets you can take your food photography from bland to beautiful by creating those mouth-watering images that will leave viewers salivating.

The winter presets collection includes 66 presets and 30 brushes that will help you create a veritable winter wonderland. With plenty of options to choose from, you can create any mood in your winter-themed photographs with these presets.

What is Lifestyle Photography?

Lifestyle photography captures those authentic moments that tell a story about your subject, such as this picture of a woman having a picnic in a beautiful outdoor setting.
Lifestyle photography captures those authentic moments that tell a story about your subject

This seems like it would be easy to answer, but there is more than one answer to the question, “What is Lifestyle Photography?” It’s a much more complicated subject than you might think. To explain more about this popular form of photography, let’s begin by looking at the history of this important genre.

Slim Aarons was one of the most famous lifestyle photographers. He used to like to say that he was simply, “photographing attractive people doing attractive things in attractive places.” 

Slim Aarons said that lifestyle photography was, "taking photographs of attractive people doing attractive things in attractive places," like this attractive woman on a sailboat.
Slim Aarons said that lifestyle photography was, "taking photographs of attractive people doing attractive things in attractive places."

He was famous for his photographs of celebrities and the rich and famous, and he took those shots without interrupting what they were doing. He would go to their parties and reunions, and photograph them without the use of a makeup artist, even though his photographs were published in some of the well known and most popular photography magazines

That may account for the common idea that lifestyle photography should be done without any direction from the photographer. Many people think it is candid shots without any posing–just photographs of people living their lives–but in reality, it is much more involved than that.

Most modern photographers in this genre acknowledge that their shots are posed and directed, at least to some degree. Some even admit that the sessions are, in fact, very well-organized, heavily directed, and always posed. They believe it’s really about creating a mood, and that takes preparation as well as direction.

You might be wondering if that holds true even for family photographers, and the answer would be well, sort of. And, that also has an interesting history. Originally, people used family photography to show their standard of living, giving these photographs value as both a form of ethnographic and historic documentation. 

In the modern world, family photographs are used to show the loving and fun side of the family, though that still serves as a form of ethnographic documentation, and it takes some direction, though you want to use as little as possible.

In the modern world, family photographs show the fun-loving side of families, like this family enjoying the beach.
Modern family photography shows the fun-loving side of the family

Lifestyle Photography Definition

Perhaps the best modern definition of lifestyle photography is that it seeks to capture real-life events in an artistic manner. It seeks to portray the art of the everyday. That merges the concepts of candid, undirected shots with those that do involve posing and significant direction.

Some would argue, in fact, that lifestyle photography is halfway between posed portraits and candid documentary photography. You are seeking to photograph life as it is, but rather than waiting for those moments to naturally occur, you create a shoot that helps create those moments. So, how exactly do you do that?

Lifestyle Photography Tips

Follow these 11 simple tips for lifestyle photography to capture better photos:

#1. Make a Plan

The key to making a plan is knowing what it is that your model likes. What kinds of activities do they like to do? Where do they feel most comfortable? When you know what they like, you can plan a shoot filled with those kinds of activities.

For great lifestyle photographs, include activities your subjects like doing, like this couple playing the guitar.
For great lifestyle photographs, plan to include activities your subjects like doing

You don’t have to do everything they like, but you will be able to plan a few things where you can know they will relax and act more naturally.

#2. Choose Locations from Your Model’s Life

This goes along with making a plan. You want to find locations where you model or models will feel most comfortable. That may be indoors or outdoors. It may be in their home or someplace where they like to play. And, it’s fine to plan for more than one location. That will give you options if something interferes with one of the locations, like bad weather–you can easily move to another location if that happens.

If possible, scout the locations out ahead of time to plan for the type of lighting you will have and the best time to capture the best shots. For example, maybe the Golden Hour is when you want to plan that shot at the beach.

#3. Prepare

Your goal as a lifestyle photographer is to become inconspicuous while your model(s) are engaging in activities they like to do. That may mean that you fade into the background as you take photographs, or it may mean that you get involved in the action with your models.

Whatever the case, to be successful at this, you’ll need to prepare the scene first. If you’re trying to disappear or if you’re involved in the action, it won’t work if you’re also having to move props around or set up lighting equipment. Get that all done first so that you don’t interfere with your own shots.



#4. Look for Authenticity

Lifestyle photographs are never 100% authentic because there will be some planning and preparation, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to catch those authentic moments when they do happen.

To capture great lifestyle photographs, you want to catch those authentic moments when you're subjects are living life to the fullest, like these children playing.
To capture great lifestyle photographs, you have to look for and catch those authentic moments

The setting and activities you’ve planned will help, but you should also let your models be comfortable in clothing they like and normally wear, and you should encourage them to use props they already have or are accustomed to using. That will help to relax them and get them interacting in a natural way. 

#5. Guide, Don’t Pose

The goal here is to strike a happy medium between spontaneity and directed poses. Since your models are engaging in activities they like at locations where they feel comfortable, that should help to get natural photographs.

But, sometimes models will freeze up when they know they’re being watched, and even more so when they know they’re being photographed. For that reason, it may be necessary to give more direction, and maybe even pose the shots.

Do as little posing as possible, but be ready to do more should the situation call for it. Also, don’t be afraid to move on to another activity if the one you’ve chosen isn’t working.

#6. Keep it Fun

This is particularly valuable for capturing lifestyle photos of children. It’s easier to keep your models happy and having fun if they’re not hungry and the shoot is planned around a time of day when they feel awake and active. It’s important to know your models, and that’s why you need to learn about their likes and dislikes as well as their routines.

Learning your subjects' likes and dislikes can help keep the session fun, as seen in this image of children in superhero costumes.
Learning your subjects' likes and dislikes can help keep the session fun

#7. Anticipate

The shots you want to get will happen on a moment’s notice, and so, you’ve got to be ready. First, keep your camera set on burst mode so that you can catch the seconds before and after that perfect moment.

Second, anticipate their behavior. It’s kind of like wildlife photography in that by knowing your subjects, you can somewhat predict their behavior. For example, if someone tells a joke, you can anticipate laughter.

You’ll also find great shots by moving around the scene–great composition can make for an image that is as captivating as that candid smile.



#8. Create

You want to create a story around your subjects. Try taking shots of the environment as well as the subjects, and be sure to get the details. Taking a picture of the family pet sleeping by the fireplace, for example, will provide context for your models’ lives.

Create a story with your lifestyle photographs by including all members of the family, like this picture of children with the family dog.
Create a story with your lifestyle photographs by including all members of the family

Taking wide angle shots of the environment helps create a story about what they like. It gives the story with much more depth, and it provides you an opportunity to get a variety of different images. 

#9. Get Help

An assistant is a great asset to a lifestyle shoot. They can help set up and move equipment as well as entertaining the kids and directing the models. Working with help will make your life much easier when you’re trying to capture those real life moments.

While you’re moving around looking for the perfect shots, your assistant can help to keep the action going or set up extra props. Hire an assistant–you’ll be glad you did.

#10. Details

As mentioned, details provide context for your models’ lives, and they fill in the story about what your subjects like and even feel as they live their lives. Capturing the details will add depth and emotion to the photographs you take.

Capture the details to add depth to your lifestyle photographs, as seen in this closeup image of a child's face with a colorful leaf.
Capture the details to add depth to your lifestyle photographs

#11. Travel

Travel photography is an excellent way to get some incredible lifestyle photographs. It gives you an opportunity to capture some compelling, candid street photographs, and if you’re traveling with other people, you can get some great shots of interactions within the group.

You can capture great, candid lifestyle photographs when traveling, as seen in this photograph of a woman in a market.
You can capture great, candid lifestyle photographs while traveling

In sum, lifestyle photography is capturing authentic, natural moments in your subjects’ lives, but with a little help. It involves some guidance, but preferably very little posing, and it acts as a form of documentary photography. It is one of the more engaging genres as you strive to create those situations that will bring out a true sense of how your subjects live their lives.

By planning, finding those comfortable locations, preparing the scene ahead of time, and guiding your subjects as they engage in the activities they love, you will be able to find those authentic moments where you can anticipate the best shots and create a story to remember.

Having an assistant will help you catch the most important details, and you can always take your show on the road to get authentic documentary photographs involving the everyday activities and lives of people all over the world.

It’s an exciting and fun genre that will help you make as many memories as those you are capturing for your subjects. There are few careers where you can say the same thing.