A Photography Lesson


You may or may not notice the quality of the photos here but if you haven’t, take a good look. My incredible husband, Anel, takes most of them and continues to amaze me with each shoot that we do together. We’ve grown as a team over the last few years, and now have it down to an art. I get so many questions on Instagram about how we take our photos that I finally decided to sit down with him to get the scoop.

The camera…

A Photography Lesson

{Anel and his camera}

I use a Canon 5D mark II digital camera and my favorite lens for outfit photos is my Canon 1:1.4 50mm lens. It’s not only light and easily packable,  but it has a very low aperture. This means that more light comes though the opening in the lens, allowing me to shoot in any kind of light. It also allows me to use a wider range of settings from ISO to aperture to shutter speed. Let’s talk about what all those settings mean…



The ISO level represents the level of sensitivity of your camera to surrounding light. The lower it is, the less sensitive it is to light, the higher it is, the more sensitive it is to light. A high ISO allows you to brighten your image without having to use a flash. If your ISO is too high, however, it will give you a grainy (noisy) image. I try to shoot at an ISO of 100-200 at most times. There are some cases (like indoor shoots) when I increase the ISO to 1600 because there isn’t enough natural light available. In those cases, I use a tripod to steady the camera and avoid extra graininess.

Shutter Speed:


The shutter speed on your camera represents the length of time that the camera shutter is open to allow light into the camera’s sensor. If the speed is too low, you may have a blurry photo. If it’s too high, you’re freezing the action completely meaning that there is no blur at all. I use higher shutter speeds so that our photos come out crisp and clear.



The aperture is a hole in the camera’s lens that you can make smaller and bigger depending on what you want in the image. This is also known as the “f-stop”. It’s represented in numbers from 1.4 (lowest)  to about 22 (highest). What can be confusing about this, is that the lower the number, the higher the aperture. This affects the depth of field aka which part of the image is in focus. I like to keep the f-stop at  around f 2.2 which blurs out the background slightly but keeps my subject in focus. I like the background to be visible but have Julia as the main focus of the image (note the slightly blurry water above).

White Balance: 


The white balance determines the color balance of the photo.This changes based on the setting of the photo shoot. Most DSLRs have an “auto” white balance setting which is what I stick to most of the time. In the photo above, the light was quite yellow so I played around with the light balance to make it look more natural.



If you don’t have a light defuser (which I highly recommend buying) try to find shade to shoot in. When you shoot in the shade you eliminate shadows from the face and other parts of the body. When we have to shoot in the sun (like in the photo below) I use a defuser which blocks out direct light and eliminates shadows. I change the camera settings to a low ISO of 100-200 and a high shutter speed of around 1/1000 (but play around with that) because you will have a washed out overexposed background. There is something beautiful about shooting in the sunlight but it has to be done at the right time of day, around sunset.


The Magic Hour…
Beach Hair

Time of day is key when it comes to shooting. The magic hour is the best possible time to shoot because the light is soft and not harsh. It happens twice a day, as the sun is rising and as it sets. I have a little secret tool that I use to find out the magic hour each day: An app called Lumy, which, based on your location, gives you an accurate magic hour times to shoot. The photo above was taken 6:30am in the most beautiful light. Notice how her face is pointed toward the sun. In the photo below, the sun is behind her which makes her face dark and the background back-lit.

A Photography Lesson for Fashion Bloggers

When you have to shoot inside…
A Good Night's Sleep Challenge

Shooting inside can be tricky. Again timing is key. If you do not have lighting (I don’t) you need to have enough light to get the shot. You will need to increase the ISO of your camera to allow more light it, Be super careful here because if you allow too much light the image will be too grainy.  I always use a defuser for indoor shots. It reduces the shadows and gives you a nice clean sharp image.

Check out some of Anel’s amazing prints for sale here and write any specific questions in the comments below. He’ll answer all of them!

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  1. Alyssa Thomas said:

    I’ve been shopping for a new camera. Thanks for the tips!

    Alyssa | Glitter and Grey

    9.16.15 · Reply
  2. All great tips! Thank you for sharing!

    xo, Laura

    9.16.15 · Reply
  3. Great tips!

    9.16.15 · Reply
  4. Preeti said:

    great tips thank you!!

    xoxo, Preeti

    9.16.15 · Reply
  5. Hi Anel & Julia,

    Thanks for these AWESOME tips! I love how you were able to take a complex skill and really simplify it down.

    A question for you: do you do any post-production on your images? What software do you use, and do you generally try to achieve a certain “look” so that all your images are cohesive? Any insight you have would be much appreciated.

    Happy Wednesday!

    9.16.15 · Reply
    • Hi Katie! I can answer that one. I do all of the editing in post-production. I use Photoshop to brighten the photos and then saturate them when needed. When we first started shooting together, I had to do a lot of edits but he’s so good now that is’ hardly anything!

      I try to always keep my look bright and slightly saturated and sometimes have to take down the yellows in the images. I hate photos that are too yellow 🙂

      9.16.15 · Reply
      • Hi Julia!

        Perfect. Thanks so much for letting me know. Keep up the great work! I completely agree – yellow in photos has got to go!

        9.17.15 · Reply
  6. Aubrey said:

    Great tips & love your instagram photos!

    xx. The Coastal Confidence

    9.16.15 · Reply
  7. Liz Holland said:

    Would love a recommendation on a good travel camera. Going to CHile and Peru next year and don’t want something too big. Thank yOou!

    9.16.15 · Reply
    • Anel said:

      Hey Liz, It all depends on your budget.

      9.16.15 · Reply
      • Liz Holland said:

        I’m thinking up to about $800. Would really like one with the option to switch out the lens.

        9.17.15 · Reply
        • Anel said:

          This is a very good camera. You can change the lenses and it small enough to carry around. http://bhpho.to/MOMpsO

          9.17.15 · Reply
  8. Erika Carbray (@seashell.lane) said:

    Thank you for these awesome tips!!! They are super helpful! What diffuser do you both recommend? I have a giant, handheld one (that I’ve never attempted to use because you need another person). Thank you so much!

    9.16.15 · Reply
    • Anel said:

      Hi Erika, I have a handheld one as well and i use my tripod to hook it up or prop it up against things. There is an diffuser stand i might invest in soon.

      9.16.15 · Reply
      • Christine Anderson said:

        Hi Julia,

        Would you be able to share the type of defuser you use? Do you use a stand for it? In particular I am curious about indoor photography.

        Thank you!
        Christine @bougiebuys.com

        9.18.17 · Reply
  9. Katie said:

    Love these tips!


    9.16.15 · Reply
  10. June Pope said:

    Thank you for the tips. Can you tell me where to find the striped dress with pockets in the next to last photo? Horizontal and vertical stripes. Thanks so much!
    I’m new to your blog and really enjoying it.

    9.17.15 · Reply
    • Yes! You can find it here: http://bit.ly/1EkzG5I Love that dress 🙂

      9.18.15 · Reply
      • June Pope said:

        Thank you! Just wanted to check with you on fit…I’m 5’2″ and normally wear a 2 or 2P. In WHBM and Gap I’m even a 0, but nowhere else. What do you think? 0P or a 2? I love it and can’t wait to order. June

        Sent from my iPad

        9.18.15 · Reply
  11. Eleni said:

    This is the best photography post I’ve read yet. I’m always looking for tips because I’m terrible at taking photos, and this was super helpful! Thanks for sharing!

    9.18.15 · Reply
  12. Ally said:

    Great tips and great photos!

    Xo Ally


    9.18.15 · Reply
  13. Jessica S said:

    Great tips! Thanks so much for sharing!!! I am going to have to pin it and remember it. 🙂


    9.18.15 · Reply
  14. Heidi D. said:

    This may be the most well written post on photography I have read! Concise and without a a lot of terminology that makes no sense. THANK YOU!

    Wishes & Reality

    9.20.15 · Reply
  15. Shannon McCarthy said:

    this is SO helpful and easy to follow! This is by far the best post I’ve come across regarding photography. Thanks for sharing!

    9.22.15 · Reply
  16. Sher said:

    great photos! your husband is one talented guy! i use a mkd as well, and love it but its definitely a challenge to get the hang of in the beginning


    9.23.15 · Reply
  17. Ashley said:

    If the Canon Mark camera is out of my price range, is there another Canon camera you recommend under $1000 to go with the 50mm 1.4 lens? Thank you both SO much for the info!

    11.2.15 · Reply
    • Anel said:

      Hi Ashley,

      The first camera I started with was a Canon Rebel. I’ve used it for 3-4 years before making the update to the Mark ii. Its a great started camera that will do the job and its affordable.

      This is the lens that is a EF 50mm 1.8F http://bhpho.to/1jRr1fx

      Hope this helps!

      11.2.15 · Reply
  18. Amanda said:

    Wonderful tips!
    Thank you for all the detailed explanations 🙂

    11.18.15 · Reply
  19. Atena said:

    Love this post! Thank you… Can you please link up which diffuser you use for you camera. Many thanks and best wishes. Atena


    1.31.16 · Reply
  20. Alyssa Loring said:

    Do you travel with a smaller camera at all? Looking for something that isn’t as big as my Canon Rebel

    7.13.16 · Reply
    • We actually travel with the big camera which is a huge pain but we’re looking for something smaller! Let me know if you find anything good 🙂

      7.13.16 · Reply
  21. found your blog from shopstyle collective post and I’m inlove.. i like that you add your personal touch to it and break out from the mold. i started blogging as a hobby but I wanted to reinvent it that’s why i’m looking for inspirations and you’ve become one.. thank you.. 😀


    7.22.16 · Reply
  22. Thank you for the great tips! I’m new to blogging and while researching a new camera lens I came upon your blog. I really appreciate your advice and thoroughness.

    8.22.16 · Reply
  23. Chad Murphy said:

    My wife swears she can buy the 50mm 1.4 Lense you recommend and the pictures will look exactly like above. May I ask how important editing of the pictures themselves are? We are having a nice debate about the importance of the editing of the photo. Great pictures BTW.

    11.23.16 · Reply