How to create interesting images on a budget

23 Sep 2017

In the blogging world, there is a lot of...wanting to keep up with the Joneses, let's just say. The marble backdrops, white walls, perfect flat lays. I fail in all those regards. I recently bought a Canon EOS M10, a small, mirrorless camera - as much as I love DSLRs, I can't lug one about, especially if my chronic pain is flaring up a bit. Also, I didn't want to go for the Olympus PEN because damn, every blogger and their cat seems to have that camera. 

I have my own style of images, at least I like to hope I do! But one thing that's quite the investment if you haven't got one, is a darn camera. Now, if you went on Holly's blog, you wouldn't guess that all her pictures are taken on her phone...I KNOW, RIGHT? Shows that you don't have to fork out for a camera to create stunning images.

I remember at college, and when I was getting into photography back in 2011, that some people would say that you need the best camera, the best lenses. To be honest? That's bullshit. Sure, if you want sharp images with fantastic focus and all that - but to me? I find an image interesting for a variety of other reasons. The subject, the lighting, the way the photographer has altered the focus, and the way we, the viewer see the image.

What if I don't have the money for a DSLR?

Don't fret! In the past, I've used my phone. My favourite was the Moto X Play. Have a feeling that the image above was taken on it! As much as I love Apple, the Motorola range is one that I'm partial to. The camera on them has a circle which you can drag to change if it's the light or dark areas you want. So for the above image, I would have dragged the circle to that slither of light, et voila, dramatic self-portrait!

How can I make my images stand out?

Whenever I'm wanting a quick selfie sesh, I sometimes have a brief idea, but let me tell you...most of the time I don't. I'll grab something, and find a way to manipulate the image, in camera, or should I say in phone/device of your choice.

Things I have used to manipulate images include:

  • Mother Nature. 
    • For me, when the sun is at it's highest point, or setting, that's when I usually whip the camera out, for those dramatic slithers of light. I'd say those images are kind of I suppose?
  • Scarves (not heavy, thick ones!)
  • Cardboard
    • It was something I got in one of those shop that does cute (and hipster) knick-knacks, which had a little kaleidoscope lens built in. Only cost around £5-6. Look here to build something that gives you similar results!
  • A water bottle. Uhuh. That's a thing that happened. And to be truthful, the results were awesome.  
  • Net curtains
  • Mirrors 
    • Not the 'camera in shot' shot, but if the mirror has interesting edges, use them for your benefit to create distorted images!
  • A camera. Yup, you read that right. 
    • I sometimes use the viewfinder of a film camera I never use, to give pictures a slightly different look.
  • Thin material, which will link into my next topic...
You can use things around the home to create interesting images! Doesn't cost you a penny.

What if I want to play around with lights, but don't have a lighting set-up?

Let me introduce you to a magic thing called lamps. You probably have them around the house. Last year I bought one of those adjustable ones, you know, like the Pixar one in B&Q for £20, which you can find here. And you know what? It's a godsend. When first getting into photography, I'd use lamps at home to create dramatic self-portraits. And years on, I'm still doing the same. But for me, I like it. I wouldn't want to invest in light-boxes and all that - mainly because I don't have anywhere to store it, and not really enough room if I wanted to use it. So a lamp fulfills my selfie needs. 

You can adjust the light to an angle that suits your style, and shoot away! Whether that's holding the phone or camera in your hand, or sticking it on self do you. If you want to add some mood to a shot, get some thin material, and possibly hang it on something in front of your lamp, or if it's like mine, and the head is quite big and open, so doesn't get warm, then drape it on that. But remember to be safe, and try not to burn the house down! Keep an eye on it, okay?

How do you frame shots?

Let's be real. I don't have a theme. I don't even have a particular style. I have a way I like to take my images, and it works for me. But it varies all day, every day. Personally, I crop my head out of any outfit shots because I cannot pose for shit. But when I realise that I can do some weird poses without my face being in it? Well, then I have a field day!

Best app to edit images on?

It used to be VSCO Cam, until they decided to make it a thing you have to pay for. I mainly use A Colour Story, which you can create your own filters on, and save the particular adjustments you've used which I think is really handy! Sometimes I use Afterlight, Snapseed and on occasion, Instagram itself! We've got all this technology at our fingertips, so why not make the most of it?

What I'm trying to get at with this post, is that you shouldn't be disheartened if you can't afford a camera, or Lightroom. In this day and age, there's that struggle of trying to have the latest things, but also having jobs which don't leave you with much to spend on yourself. If you have a phone, then you can still create interesting pieces. Sure, that blogger style of image is nice, but I'm going to confess, it's quite boring. I find something interesting when it's not perfect. That's what makes it perfect in it's own way.

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