Photography is likely an essential part of your blog, but investing in all that equipment might not be the right move for you.
Jennifer Borget from Cherish 365 joins Jenny Guy, our Director of Marketing, in a conversation on how to determine the branding of your images and what type of photography equipment to invest in based on your blogging needs.
Tune in to find out Jennifer’s tips and tricks to get better photos today! (Originally aired 02/11/2021)
Watch the video here or check out the transcript below.
Making Photography a Priority This Year
JENNY GUY: Happy Thursday. It is February 11. And since the last time we talked, that lovable groundhog/jerk-face Punxsutawney Phil gifted us with six more weeks of winter.
JENNIFER BORGET: Dang.
JENNY GUY: That revelation brought a great big duh from me because winter is on full display right outside my window here in Oklahoma, and I am not a fan. What is the weather like in your neck of the woods?
Say hi in the comments and tell us why you think cold weather is stupid, or if that’s just me. Maybe you love cold weather. I don’t want to hate on you if you love cold weather. Just say hi, and tell us what the weather’s like.
And as content creators ourselves at Mediavine, we are very well aware that it can be overwhelming to decide where to focus your limited time and energy. However, dedicating time to our topic today is a no-brainer.
Photography is relevant to pretty much all digital content creators regardless of niche. Improving your images pays dividends on your website and social media, which leads to more traffic which leads to more revenue. But how do we get those improvements? My guest today is the perfect person to show us the way.
Jennifer Borget is a former journalist turned award winning digital creator. At Cherish 365 she chronicles her life as a mom of three, covering everything from parenting to education to home to diversity and inclusion, all through the lens of encouraging others to cherish every day. Welcome to Teal Talk, Jennifer.
Thank you for joining us for today’s episode of Teal Talk. I’m Jenny Guy. I’m Mediavine’s Director of Marketing and your host on this show, all about the business of content creation. Sometimes we’re asked how we come up with so many different topics and guests for the show.
And the truth is, there is never a shortage of relevant topics for content creators because there are so many things that you guys are expected to know about. And all of them are essential. SEO, copywriting, video, taxes for small business owners, first-party data, the list just goes on and on and on.
JENNIFER BORGET: Hi. [LAUGHS]
JENNY GUY: Thank you so much–
JENNIFER BORGET: Hi, Jenny.
JENNY GUY: –for coming.
JENNIFER BORGET: Hi, Jenny. No, thanks for having me. I’m really excited.
JENNY GUY: I’m so excited, yep.
JENNIFER BORGET: And you’re always so informative so honored to be on this end. [LAUGHS]
JENNY GUY: Well, we’re honored to have you. We couldn’t ask for a better expert. If you guys have questions for Jennifer or me, post them in the comments. We will make sure that we mention them to her. OK, before I start quizzing Jennifer, I have a question for the audience that will help us guide this conversation.
What parts of photography do you wish you knew more about? Tell us in the comments. What are the things that you’re struggling with? And before– I’m going to go ahead and jump in. We heard in your bio that you have a very specific and clever way of weaving photography into even just your bio.
So tell us about your journey with content creation and photography. Your skills are very noted. You speak all over the blogging circuit back when we used to travel. And those skills have led you to some pretty impressive places like teaching for Canon and a viral post shared by none other than Oprah. So there is a lot of amazing stuff. Can you tell us how you got there from where you started?
JENNIFER BORGET: Yeah, I mean, so I started as a journalist. And I’ve just always been a storyteller, which I think of that has gotten a lot of us into blogging. We’re like telling stories one way or another, whether it’s our story through cooking or other skills and things that we enjoy.
So for me, it was a chance for me to share more about my life because so much of what I was doing on the journalism side was learning and sharing about other people. So this is a creative outlet for me and why I started my blog.
But what I learned in journalism through storytelling and visual storytelling, specifically with video, and I mean, a lot of that works the same with still photography. You have a lot of the same types of rules like rule of thirds and lighting.
And I know some people are intimidated by video, but I’m like, once you get photography down, it really translates easily the other direction either way, really. So yeah, I mean, I really enjoy it. My kids are my favorite subjects, and I think they’re really cute. So that makes taking pictures easy for me.
I think whatever your subject matter is, it’s probably what you’re leaning to and what you’re interested in. And that makes taking pictures of that really fun. And for me making what I’m doing fine is top priority for my work. So I think it’s important to remember that when we’re thinking about these photography tips.
I may be talking about using portraits and people as an example. But if you’re a food photographer into food or cooking, maybe you want to think about it that way.
JENNY GUY: Great answer. You are definitely not b– I mean, you’re probably are biased about your kids, but they are–
JENNIFER BORGET: I’m totally biased!
JENNY GUY: –absolutely–
JENNIFER BORGET: [LAUGHS]
JENNY GUY: –adorable. No, but you’re also not wrong. That’s a good– I’ve creeped on your Instagram. I’ve seen a lot of your stuff. Let’s share Jennifer’s Instagram. She’s not wrong. Her kids are fricking adorable. So they are easy, but your photography is next level.
And we’ve got so many questions from people. We’ve got people asking about composition with backgrounds, especially with very limited space. We’re definitely going to talk about composition. We’re going to talk about picking a camera lens that’s not $1 million.
Do I need an elaborate set fancy camera to create images that are impactful and fit the current day expectations? iPhone camera versus DSLR, so many things. We’re going to get to all of them.
JENNIFER BORGET: Yeah, those are good.
JENNY GUY: But let’s start with more of a basic question about photography in general. I think we can all agree, all of us content creators and anyone that consumes content as well that photography is an intrinsic part of a website.
It is very much everything that we see. And it’s the most visual element most of the time, unless you’re bringing a lot of video that people have on the site. So how does photography influence our branding? And more specifically, should branding influence photography or the other way around?
JENNIFER BORGET: I think they kind of go hand in hand. I think when we’re looking into branding, how big is photography going to be a part of your br– photography is going to be a part of your brand. What type of photography, may be where the influence part comes in.
So for me, I rarely use stock photography. It’s not my thing. So I feel like a part of my branding is the lifestyle images that you see of my family. It’s so interwoven together. But it doesn’t have to be like that for everyone.
If we have a more magazine style blog or something else or obviously if you have a food blog, you’re probably taking pictures of your own food. But it has more of maybe a magazine stock kind of feel to it. So I think it definitely can influence your branding, but I don’t think that we have to keep ourselves in a box.
For instance, when I first was blogging and getting into photography, I mean you’d scroll to my feed and you would see these striking images. And that is what drew you to my feed. But now it’s kind of like a dime a dozen.
A lot of people have great photography. What am I adding to those photos and thinking about the caption and thinking about how that goes hand in hand with your brand. So I think just having an idea of what you want people to see and how you want them to feel when they come to your website and how you want them to remember you, that is kind of what you want to have in mind when you’re thinking–
If you’re starting from scratch or if you’re maybe thinking of starting over, that’s what you want to think about. How do you want people to feel? What do you want them to see? What do you want them to remember about your images? Because like you said, I mean, every site is going to have some kinds of pictures or images on it.
JENNY GUY: I love what you said there because saying that really being intentional and thinking about how you want people to feel when they come to your site, I think that is so important. And I love that. That’s a great way to start out with when you’re starting over.
But also now, even if you’re just looking– because I think once you get intentional and you think about the way you want people to feel, there’s nothing to stop you from working towards that aesthetic in your photography at any point in your journey.
If you feel like your photos aren’t matching what you were wanting to be putting out, how do you get there? OK, so how do you pick what your style is? And can you use data? Can you stats and analytics to help you figure out what type of photos you need to be taking? What type of pictures work for you?
JENNIFER BORGET: Yeah, I think you can. I mean, I think with so many different platforms, there’s different types of photos that will perform differently on different things. So they start on our blog, and there’s one. And maybe you’ll have a family photo or something, and then maybe later on in your post, you have a close-up of one child.
What’s the topic of the post and what are you doing? And I think some of those images will perform differently on different platforms that we’re sharing our blog to. I think about that with Pinterest. OK, well, faces, I love photography with faces and people looking at the camera and whatnot, but that doesn’t always perform as well on Pinterest.
Sometimes people like the more stock look, like not putting a specific person with your image. So I might decide to make my pin graphic with not a family photo looking straight forward but something where we’re more candid and not engaging with the camera.
But then on Instagram, it’s the opposite. They love seeing you looking at the camera and feeling like, oh, here’s someone looking at me as you’re scrolling by, and that makes them stop. So I’m intentional when I’m wanting to get people to come over and read my blog post.
I have something in my Instagram image that is going to grab people and get them interested in looking and reading more. So I think it’s good to have a variety but also– yeah, I mean, I just think it’s good to have a variety and to look at, if you’re pin-testing, like, OK, I’m going to try this and see how this works and how people respond to this.
And same with on Instagram and looking at your analytics there and then which is driving more traffic to your site and how can you compare those things.
JENNY GUY: That’s a great question. And I want to dive in more about how you’re choosing a static. But there are so many questions, and we’re getting so much. So I kind of want to skip ahead. And I want to talk a little bit about gear, because that seems to be a big question.
So we can’t have a conversation about photography without talking about gear. Everybody always–
JENNIFER BORGET: Right.
JENNY GUY: –gear, because that stuff is real expensive. It doesn’t take long to figure out that photography is a very expensive hobby. And when you become a content creator, it’s an expensive part of everything that you’re doing.
So what is enough to start with and then where are good places to invest if you’re ready to make an upgrade? And we had some very specific questions about a DSLR versus an iPhone. Is it possible to get great stuff with an iPhone?
JENNIFER BORGET: So absolutely, it’s possible to get great stuff with an iPhone. I think it just depends what you’re doing and what your goal is. My iPhone is like 100% of my Instagram stories’ content and for a lot of my selfies. But adding real life or life to my images is a big thing.
So my iPhone, I think, comes in handy when I’m going for a very in-the-moment type of capture and share. And that’s fine, and it works especially for social media. But the blog– I rarely use iPhone images on my blog. I mean that’s just me. I do. Sometimes if it’s something I’ve already edited and fixed up for Instagram, I might– hey, just repurpose it and use it for the blog.
But a lot of my blog images are very intentional. And I’m taking the pictures on my camera, on my DSLR, and the quality is really good and I know how to use my gear to make it look exactly how I want it to look. So I mean, you don’t have to have a super expensive top of the line full frame DSLR.
You can get like a Canon Rebel is my favorite starter camera. You don’t even have to get the latest and greatest line. You can get a couple older versions of it. And it works great. And it’s under $1,000. I think it’s even maybe around $500. It’s not that much, I mean relatively speaking, compared to–
JENNY GUY: Sure.
JENNIFER BORGET: –other– it can be very expensive. And then the first thing that they could get is the– they call it the nifty 50. It’s a 50-millimeter lens. It’s under $100 or right around $100. And it takes gorgeous portraits. I think it works really good for food if you can get a good distance away from it.
But it’s really good for capturing product and branded work or anything that you’re crafting. As long as you have some space to back away, it’s going to work really well because it allows you a lot of freedom to take pictures when you maybe don’t have the best lighting all the time.
JENNY GUY: That is very helpful. And we’re going to talk about lighting in a second. So just to run that down, and can we actually post in the comments what she said? You said a nifty 50 lens is around $50, but then what was the–
JENNIFER BORGET: Oh, sorry. So it’s 50-millimeter lens for $100. So it’s kind of like–
JENNY GUY: 50-millimeter lens for $100.
JENNIFER BORGET: Mm-hmm.
JENNY GUY: Got it. And then the camera was?
JENNIFER BORGET: Canon Rebel is my favorite starter camera.
JENNY GUY: Canon Rebel.
JENNIFER BORGET: Mm-hmm.
JENNY GUY: OK, fantastic. Both great recommendations. Are there any places that you recommend to go look for information about camera gear? Are there any favorite blogs or websites? We shared a post from your website that talks about choosing a great camera, but are there any–
JENNIFER BORGET: Oh, great. Yeah, that was great. [LAUGHS]
JENNY GUY: Yes, come on.
JENNIFER BORGET: That one, and I have a lens one too.
JENNY GUY: Fantastic.
JENNIFER BORGET: Yeah, but I mean, they’re always updating and changing, right? So I really like looking at reviews on– let’s see, Adorama is a good site. I’m trying to think of how to spell it. But it’s kind of like a B&H type camera store, but I like that site for looking at a bunch of different gear.
And you can select different models and compare features and stuff. Clickin Moms I think has some good resources on how to use your camera and good tips and stuff from different photographers and moms who have been learning how to use their gear. Years and years of archives and stuff.
So those are some good places to look and compare things. And then the blog post that you guys shared of mine are good too for just breaking down exactly what things mean and what they do and why I like them in case it’s overwhelming seeing all of the different stuff and trying to decide on an option.
JENNY GUY: Oh, why, it is overwhelming. I looked at it before and it’s really difficult to try to– and it’s really refreshing to hear that it doesn’t have to be bigger, better, always the most expensive. So thank you for sharing those resources.
Because it is intimidating, and it can be cost prohibitive, especially if you don’t know that you’re going to be great at it. So do you want to put a whole lot of money in– like I was talking about before I started the conversation with you, there are so many places for content creators to spend their money, their time, their–
JENNIFER BORGET: Yeah, right.
JENNY GUY: So it’s– so why–
JENNIFER BORGET: Yeah, investing. Yeah.
JENNY GUY: I wanted to ask you just before we go on to the next question, what made you pick photography? And what makes you think that it’s a place– why would you advocate for photography to be a place where content creators spend time?
JENNIFER BORGET: I think because so much of what people consume and what we consume is visual, and unless you’re on like Clubhouse, a platform that is completely not visual at all, I mean everything else has some kind of visual component. And you can hire a photographer.
It’s like, yes, it’s something you can hire out. But I feel like it’s kind of becoming financially independent or something like– if you want to become as independent as possible, if worse came to worse, you had to slash, slash, slash, slash things, things that you’re outsourcing, I feel like photography is something that is nice to always have as a fallback.
Because you’re always going to need images. And if you have those skills and you need to save money and cut back on a photographer one month, it’s nice knowing that you can do it yourself.
And I mean, I personally think it’s really fun and it’s great because it goes into more than just your business if you want to, more than just your website, you can use those skills for your family and for friends or others and trading with people. It’s just a skill that’s very useful beyond just for the website.
JENNY GUY: And if you get great at it, it’s always a great side hustle too. A place to hire–
JENNIFER BORGET: Yeah, honestly, I was debating saying that, but I mean, it’s true. I’ve totally thought that, like, OK, if this starts going down or this– I could always– it is. It’s a great side hustle, because especially in the fall, people are always looking for family pictures. And just knowing how to work it, it’s–
I mean, I’m not trying to undercut the photography market out there, but I mean it’s a skill. It’s a really good skill.
JENNY GUY: And people in the content creation industry a lot of times are looking to outsource food photography, all sorts of stuff. They’re places to go if you–
JENNIFER BORGET: Totally.
JENNY GUY: If you can get good at this. So for people that already have gotten past maybe the basics, do you have any special things that you’d suggest to add to kind of up your game, maybe one or two special gadgets or tools?
JENNIFER BORGET: It would be lenses. When people are deciding on what to upgrade and what to get, I would always say glass before body. Just upgrade your lens before you worry about upgrading the body of your camera. Because you can do so much more with a different style of lens.
So I would say, so the 50-millimeter is like a quick affordable upgrade. Next, I would look for a wider angle upgrade. One that I really like that– LaShawn, I know you had her on here not too long ago, I’ve been–
JENNY GUY: Yeah, she’s good.
JENNIFER BORGET: –telling her for years about this lens that I love. It’s a 17 to 40-millimeter lens. It’s a zoom lens, so you can shoot in this– close as 45, I think, and then as far as 17. So that is going to give you a lot of variety if you are a travel photographer or– not right now, I know, but– or if you’re a food photographer, lifestyle, that’s just going to widen your horizon on the type of things you can take pictures of.
So definitely a wide-angle lens or a zoom. Some people really like the static lenses but I really love zoom lenses. So that’s one that I would invest in for sure. And then looking like the aftermarket, because you don’t have to pay brand new prices all the time. If someone took care of their lens, you can buy used and save some money that way.
Yeah, that would probably be the main thing I would say is upgrading that. And then depending on what style of photography, I would put you in one direction or the other if you should get a longer portrait lens or a 35-millimeter wide-angle lens for food.
People in the comments, are they saying what kind of stuff they take pictures of or what kind of photography they are–
JENNY GUY: No, that’s a great question. Guys, tell us what type of photography you’re doing. Tell us what your niche is. Are you wanting to take more people, animals, food, travel?
JENNIFER BORGET: I don’t like food, like– I mean, I love food, but food photography is not my thing at all. So I don’t have a 35-millimeter lens, but that is a favorite for a lot of food photographers. So I tend to have a lot more of the portrait style, longer lenses because I’m taking pictures of people and things far away or macro, up close, and things like that.
JENNY GUY: We’re getting– OK, we’ve got– Michelle said food and some travel. Camilla says, I do food. Lynn says, crafts, how-tos, and finished products. So we’ve got kind of the gamut here of lenses–
JENNIFER BORGET: OK. Yeah, OK, great. So yeah, a lot of those I would look into the 35-millimeter lens. Oh really? OK. I was down in the comments now. OK, Camilla likes the 100. That is one of my favorite lenses. I love it for portraits, and it’s great for really, really close up– like a macro lens, you can get really close to details.
I think that would be really great for crafting if she says she does crafts. And she says she loves food so I don’t– I hardly even look at pictures of food, because I’m like–
JENNY GUY: I feel it.
JENNIFER BORGET: –it stresses me out. Like that is–
JENNY GUY: We all have our own thing.
JENNIFER BORGET: That is talent, like the flat lays and everything. That’s funny, she hates photographing people. And it doesn’t smile. [LAUGHS]
JENNY GUY: Lynn, that’s–
JENNIFER BORGET: That’s so funny. I know.
JENNY GUY: No. I mean, it’s true. It’s not a lie.
JENNIFER BORGET: It’s true.
JENNY GUY: Camilla said, yeah, you were talking about my fav lens is a 100-millimeter. And she does food. So lots of interesting–
JENNIFER BORGET: So that could be here. Because if that works for food– because that would be the only reason I wouldn’t recommend it is like, oh, I don’t know if food photography people use it for that. If she does, that surprises me because I would think that you’d want a wider lens for that. But like I said, I don’t photograph food much at all.
Because it’s like, click with my phone really quick, but that is a great lens for a portrait, gorgeous portrait. It’s my favorite, favorite one. It’s smooth, buttery, very striking images with that lens. So if it works for food too, that could be a good one to put on your wish list.
JENNY GUY: Other things that we want to talk about our purchasing or finding is setting the scene for a great photo with props, background, and lighting. So how do you use all of those things to help set your scene and really communicate your branding with your images? And then do you have any favorite places to buy props and backgrounds?
JENNIFER BORGET: So with my brand, I try to go for lifestyle, organic, just– I don’t want to say candid, because it’s not always candid. But very minimal setup is what I go for. So the most I’ll try to do usually is like get somebody near a window or something where I’m going to get great natural light.
Of course, I do have umbrella lights and ring lights and things which come in handy for when you need a studio setup. So I used those a lot when I did my stop motion videos when Aliyah was a little baby. And some of those went viral. And, I mean, I needed static light that wasn’t going to change.
Window daylight would not work for that because it’s taking several pictures over a long period of time. And the sun is going to change and that doesn’t work. So static light– if you have food, crafts, things like that, you’re going to want static light. So I really like just– I mean, I do not go all out with expensive, like hundreds and hundreds of–
I got a maybe $200 light setup that had three stands. It came up with the stands, umbrellas, lights. If you don’t like the bulbs that come with it, you can switch them out for more daylight. So if you’re going to choose which lighting to get, I would go for the daylight coloring versus the warm light and get those bulbs in there.
I think it was like maybe $160 or something. It was not much. And that has lasted me for years. Yeah, so that’s something I would invest in. A ring light if you’re doing lots of video or pictures of yourself. I think ring lights are good, especially if you have to record a lot of content at night or if you don’t have the daylight or if you don’t have a good window light. A ring light is really good for that.
Yeah, so those are things– backgrounds, I don’t have many backgrounds anymore. I’m trying to think, I don’t anymore. But if you’re doing crafts and food, I mean, you don’t need like this whole prop on your wall. You can just get little slabs of things at craft stores and things and make it look like that’s your background. That’s really nice.
But when it comes to people, I’m not investing in it big. We’ll just find a nice wall inside or outside or something that works for a background.
JENNY GUY: Love hearing that you’re going around and finding things as you go along. So can you give tips for when you’re out traveling? If you’re doing travel or you’re doing people or you’re even doing food, what types of stuff are you looking to shoot up against? What backgrounds are you looking for in your natural habitat?
JENNIFER BORGET: Yeah, so something that’s not too busy in the background is usually what I’m going for, unless I’m going for something busy. But usually I want something that’s not very distracting away from the main image that I’m trying to capture.
So if I’m capturing a moment of my kids playing a game or something like that, I want to make sure that the background isn’t super cluttered. I mean, our house is always cluttered. So I’m either moving stuff out of the way or I’m stopping down my f-stop so that it’s really blurry in the background and you know there’s something there but you don’t know what it is. And it’s not distracting.
So that’s usually what I’m trying to do. I’m a very playful brand, mine’s very light. a I’m not necessarily the– what’s the word that people look for? Like the picture-perfect, aspirational–
JENNY GUY: Totally, yeah.
JENNIFER BORGET: –I’m not very aspirational.
JENNIFER BORGET: I’m more real, not overly messy. My office is a disaster right now so I’m not going to purposely show that unless I’m trying to make a point.
JENNY GUY: [LAUGHS]
JENNIFER BORGET: But I’m not the aspirational, all white this and that– but that’s not my brand. So I think those things really can come into play. I know some different influencers and people will– their brand is to have props for every picture. They have backgrounds and balloons and props and things that they’re bringing in for their images.
But I knew that wasn’t going to work for me because that takes way too much planning. And I’d rather just capture a beautiful image that fits more with what I’m going for. So for me, that’s not too cluttered but traditional.
There’s so much you can change– if your lifestyle brand and you’re looking for pictures you can take, I mean, maybe you’re looking at an image one direction but there’s all that stuff on the side. What if you shifted everything a little bit this way? That can completely change the image.
So I would just say be aware of what’s around and think about different angles, because if you shift this way, that changes things. If you come down and take a picture from below and you’re shooting up more, or if standing higher and shooting down, all of those are completely different images. So just being aware of how you’re going to feel when you take that picture and how you want others to feel.
JENNY GUY: Very helpful. So we got a question in advance. You touched on it a little bit, but on lighting. We could easily spend an entire episode talking about lighting because it’s a big topic in photography, but Senn asked us on Twitter, I live in Canada, where we have a lot of overcast days in winter. How can I continue to make beautiful photos despite that?
JENNIFER BORGET: So OK, I think– and I don’t know if she’s taking pictures inside or outside– if outside, overcast days are my favorite days to take pictures. I love overcast days. It’s like the lighting is diffused so beautifully. You don’t have to worry about shadows. You don’t have to worry about squinting.
That actually makes for gorgeous pictures, unless you’re shooting the sky. If you’re shooting the sky, yeah, that’s probably not as pretty to have a gray sky. But if that’s your goal and you’re looking for a blue sky, and you’re like, oh, it’s overcast, you can do that and edit.
There are so many apps out there now where you can swap the sky or change the background and things like that. But photographing anything else besides the sky, I think, is beautiful on overcast days because you don’t have to worry about diffusers and filters and things like that.
If you’re inside and it darkens your room and stuff so much more, that is really tough. But something I would try to do is change out all of your lights in your house, instead of that tungsten yellow to a white light, to a sunlight. I think that automatically will brighten up your house more.
And if you have them in all of your different areas of light, it’s going to help from the shadows and things like that. You can get dimmer switches to help. I like doing as much as I can like that preemptively so that I’m not having to bust out my lighting and set everything up.
So those are some things that I would do. Yeah, if she’s taking pictures outside, I would say enjoy it and take advantage, because overcast days are so much easier to take pictures on than super sunny days.
JENNY GUY: I love that. OK, we’ve got a couple other questions. We’ll get there in a second. Are there any other top lighting tips? And then pretty much for what you’re saying in terms of lighting, your top tip is switching out your bulbs, having more natural sunlight than that yellow light, and doing the same thing with the lighting equipment.
You said you didn’t really go all in on investing on major lighting equipment. You bought one set and then replaced the bulbs. Is that your top tip pretty much for lighting?
JENNIFER BORGET: OK, I’m looking now at the top tips for finding the right light. I mean, you’re going to find the best light near your windows. And that is going to just change everything with your pictures. If you’re close to a window, you can just angle yourself like–
I mean, my favorite place to put my kids if I’m taking a picture of them is to position myself the windows here, and then I’m here and they are here. So my back is to the window, and I’m photographing them. And the light is just hitting them right in the face. So I mean, your best light in your house– forget the light bulbs and everything else, your best light is going to be near the windows for sure.
And if it’s dark like I have some spaces in my house that are really dark, I’ll even open a door to the outside and just let some more of light come in for a little bit because natural light is going to be your best light for sure.
And then when you get into the overcast days inside and things like that, that’s when those other tips like switching out bulbs and stuff will help a little bit before you have to invest in additional lighting equipment.
JENNY GUY: Very helpful. OK, we’ve got a question here. Toni Harvey says, I have a Sony mirrorless a6000 with a 16 to 50-millimeter kit lens and a 55 to 210-millimeter lens. I want something in the middle that will allow more zoom than the 16 to 50 but less than the 55 to 210 so I can shoot low stop images of DIY projects in my home office. Any suggestions?
JENNIFER BORGET: Yeah, so my favorite lens for a long time was like a 28 to 75 or– so it’s going to be different for different brands. That was a Tamron lens that I bought for my Canon. But I think it comes in like 35 to 75 or 25 to 75, something like that, in different versions.
So I would look for something like that. Mine was a 2.8. So it does have a lower f-stop. I mean it’s not a 1.4 or a 1.8 but 2.8 usually gets me really good focal and also lets in for a lot of light without having to stop too high. And then you still get a better zoom range.
So I would look for something like that for your Sony. I’m not as familiar with their lineup, or maybe if you can use one of their compatibility brackets maybe you could put one of the Canon ones on it too.
JENNY GUY: Excellent. That helped. OK, I want to jump to another topic, editing. You have already mentioned that there are so many apps out there that can change the sky, very true. Do you have favorite tools and software that you would recommend? And maybe for people at different levels, if there’s a good beginner and then there’s a good more advanced one too, that would be really helpful.
JENNIFER BORGET: Yeah, so I have so many apps on my phone, but the ones that I’m always going to are– Snapseed is my favorite one. I go to that for adjusting the curves and the brightness and the highlights and things like that, just taking a picture and making the tweaks if I don’t want to have to bring it on to my computer.
And then A Color Story is another one that I like that has different filters, but I really like– there’s little things that you can buy for– it’s free, and then it’s like, OK, buy this pack for $2.99 or whatever. So I did that for some of the things like sun flares.
And they have them for all sorts of– they have skies and stuff like that too. So that’s another app that I like. Adobe I think also has one that works. That’s a similar type of thing. So those are a handful of my favorites. And then Snapseed has a little retouch area too that I like.
JENNY GUY: Oh, nice.
JENNIFER BORGET: –like to use. Yeah. So those are my go-to apps. I mean, there are so many out there. I try not to do anything that I have to pay a membership for but those that get you pretty far.
JENNY GUY: Fantastic. And are there any other tips you can give us on editing? I know it’s a big thing. How is your workflow? How do you edit? How does it work for you?
JENNIFER BORGET: Usually take all of my pictures and then I just import them on my computer. A lot of people like to use Lightroom to edit. I edit all my pictures in Photoshop. So my Lightroom equivalent is like Camera Raw. And there, I’ll go through and just automatically light up the vibrance because my images, I like to be very vibrant and colorful.
I’ll usually try to take my pictures a little brighter than I need knowing that I can dim them a little bit if I want. So I’ll usually lower the highlights a little bit so that it’s not too white and bright on the face. I dim that a little bit.
And then I open it up and then I’ll tweak the contrast and things like that and get my images. I have actions saved that I’ll just run through some of my pictures so that I know they all fit with my branding and theme.
So it doesn’t take very long, but I guess one step I missed in between– once I put them on my computer, I go through because I take way more pictures than I need and then I rate my favorites. So I go through really quick and see which ones catch my eye and give them like a four or five-star rating.
And then I go back there again and then see if there’s any I missed. And then I narrow down and then maybe there’s five that I’ll pick and then edit down and stuff. So that’s usually what I do. And then I resize it to be optimized for my websites and save it and then upload it to my blog.
So that’s usually my process. I know there’s a bunch of different ways to do it. But I try to keep all of my pictures organized as I go because it makes it so much easier when you need to go back later and find– I kind of feel like I have my own stock library, where oh, I need something–
I’m talking about movies or watching– movie night, like, let me search movies. And then things pop up, and I can see other images I’ve taken in the past. So the more organized you are as you’re uploading, it helps later on.
JENNY GUY: We’re going to talk a little bit more about organization here in a second. But I wanted to ask you, how many pictures are you taking for blog posts? Do you have a set number that you do, or what are you shooting for as a goal?
JENNIFER BORGET: That’s a good question. It kind of depends on the post, I guess. If it’s a post where I know I’m going to have graphics and other things involved in it, then I maybe won’t have as many pictures. I always have at least one, but I love when I have three.
If it’s a list, then I try to have one for each item. So it kind of just depends a little bit but always at least one. But I’m like, if I’m taking pictures for a blog post then I’m like, I might as well take a few variety. And usually on my blog I like horizontal, but then on Instagram I like vertical.
So I’m taking a little bit of variety, and I know that I can stick a few in. I will just stick some extra pictures there. So I mean, I guess it depends how long the blog post is and stuff. So I don’t really have a set goal usually, unless I know it’s like, OK, I’m talking about this. And I have four main points, so I want a picture of each point. That would be the only time that I set a goal going into my shoot.
JENNY GUY: Another question in that area is, are you writing your post first and then taking the pictures or are you–
JENNIFER BORGET: Oh, that’s a really good question. I’ve tried it both ways. I can’t say that I have to do it this way.
JENNY GUY: Interesting.
JENNIFER BORGET: Because it really depends. Sometimes the words just come to– the way that I blog and how I blog, it’s more like a journal. And then tips and stuff are secondary. I’m getting better at that now. Now with Mediavine and like right now, like, OK, let me make more obtainable stuff than just my life.
And so I guess with a lot of my list posts and things that are kind of more for Pinterest, I might have the post written before I go and take pictures. Or if it’s like this passionate post where the words are just coming out of me, I’ll just write, write, write, write, write. But a lot of times it’s not like, oh, let me go take a picture to go with this, because I usually have something somewhere–
JENNY GUY: Interesting.
JENNIFER BORGET: –in my archives that works. But then sometimes I’m just taking pictures of my kids or I’m taking pictures for a brand or doing something else. And then I’m like, OK, throw away the package, the brand. Let me take a few more and then I’ll use that for a blog post. So I don’t really have to do it one way or the other. It kind of depends on the circumstance.
JENNY GUY: I love hearing– I’m excited to get more into that here in a second about your filing system and how you keep everything organized. Because it sounds like once you go to the trouble of setting up a photo shoot, even though it’s not as big a deal for you, but if you go to that trouble and you have everyone there, then you’re doing as much as you can to maximize the amount of shots that you get in different places.
JENNIFER BORGET: Yes. Yes, absolute– like today for this, I was like, OK, I’m doing my hair and getting makeup on. So I go, let me make sure that I’m taking some pictures while I’m actually dressed and not wearing my robe and my hair is down, like let’s capitalize on this and get a little bit of content.
Yeah, that’s definitely something that I’m trying to be better at this year. Because I realized, looking through some of my pictures a couple of years ago– I was going back through, and I was like, oh, man, so much of my work was for friends. And that was when I was taking pictures, and this picture is cute but we’re holding a box of cereal or whatever, which is OK.
JENNY GUY: Right.
JENNIFER BORGET: But, I mean, now I’m getting better at, OK, now set that aside and let’s just take a few more. And it’s nice because later on– and it’s so easy to just throw in an extra picture for a blog post or for a social media update or something like that, just to have that extra content.
And it took no extra time, because you’re already ready and set up and you already have your lighting as the way you want it and everything. You can just take a couple extra pictures. And it definitely saves time.
JENNY GUY: I’m actually curious to know about our audience too. Do you take your pictures first and then write your content, or are you writing your content and then taking your pictures? I want to know just for curiosity’s sake. Mediavine’s–
JENNIFER BORGET: Yeah, me too.
JENNY GUY: –media relations specialist, Alicia, just said, I snap and then write. She said now she’s intrigued about the other way around and what that’s like. She does a lot of travel so that makes sense. OK, we’ve got awesome images. We’ve got our lighting. We’ve got our gear. We’ve got editing. We’ve got all that stuff done. Now, we’re ready to share it.
And you mentioned a concept that I was really interested in, which is engagement goal. I want to know about captioning, and you said that’s such an important part number. No, It’s not enough just to have great photos. You need a lot of stuff to go along with it to really grab people. So tell us your strategies, please.
JENNIFER BORGET: Yeah, for sure. So I mean, sometimes I just get a picture that I know is going to do really well. And I’m like, OK, I’m not going to post it right away. I’m going to save it for a time or a day when I know I have the perfect caption to go with that.
And sometimes it’s the other way around like, oh, this is news of the day. This is hot. I want to jump on this and write about it. What pictures do I have that I could use? Or what’s a picture that I could run out and take really quick? So I mean, captioning like– there are so many different thingsout there that you see people doing, like starting with a question or–
I’m thinking Instagram specifically for captioning, starting with the question or like double tap if, getting that engagement right away. For me, it’s like the thing that I’ve noticed for my audience that grabs them is some kind of story like, I remember when dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, or a quote like, I can’t believe you said that, my daughter told me when dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, just starting something– kind of thinking if you’re opening the first page of a book and you’re deciding if this interests you.
It’s kind of like that. Like how are you going to grab people right away? So for me I’m noticing it’s storytelling, really, really works and grabs people. So those are some of the things that I do.
And then at the end of my caption, I do try to open some kind of question or some kind of call to action, whether it’s like read more here or head to my stories or tell me what you think or have you ever dah, dah, dah, dah? That’s usually what I try to do and what I’ve noticed lately is helping me a little bit.
JENNY GUY: We all know engagement is so important. And especially on social media with all the algorithms, you want to get the engagement. So how often are you posting on Instagram? You mentioned LaShawn earlier. She posts so much, so many times a day. She is an Instagram whisperer. And how often are you posting? And how much time are you spending responding with your engaged audience?
JENNIFER BORGET: Yeah, so I usually post Monday through Friday is kind of my goal depending on how much sponsored content I’m doing and what season we’re in. So I usually have my sponsored content scheduled like, OK, Tuesday, Thursday. Or if I’m going to do Monday, Wednesday, or Monday, Wednesday, Friday or something.
And then I try to make sure I have other stuff to buffer so it’s not like back-to-back sponsored content. If I know I have two sponsors in a week, then I know I’m going to have three non-sponsored. So it’s going to be a full week of five days’ posting. And that’s not counting stories, where I feel like I’m always trying to feed that hamster wheel.
And so I’m getting better. I’ve noticed with planning, just looking ahead, looking at things like, what day is it– I’m trying to remember the website. I have it bookmarked. But it’s like, every day it’s some kind of national holiday. So–
JENNY GUY: Very true.
JENNIFER BORGET: –I would go and look ahead, and it’s like, OK, National Ice Cream Day or Donut Day or Say Hi to Your Best Friend Day or Your Dog’s Friend Day or whatever. I’ll look at the beginning of the month and see and take note of what’s happening. That way I know I’m ahead of it, and I can schedule my stuff around that even if nothing exciting happened in my life or if I don’t have a blog post to share.
Like, OK, today’s World Kindness Day, or World Kindness Day is next week so let me write this out and think of a cute picture that I already have saved of my kids hugging or something. And then I can have some kind of caption that’s helpful. You’re ahead of it. You have time to– if you want it–
Now, a big thing that’s helping people is having a slide that has text on it, maybe a quote or something that’s sharable. So looking ahead has helped me a lot, just being prepared– for instance, MLK Day, I knew day of, everyone would be sharing about MLK Day.
So this year, I posted the day before on Sunday, the night. I didn’t do it way early. I did it late at night around 11 o’clock. And I posted about like MLK Day and books and a blog post with a list of books and all this stuff. And it did great. It kicked off at night. And I think it got people like, oh yeah, today. We’re doing this thing.
JENNY GUY: It’s tomorrow, yay.
JENNIFER BORGET: So that’s a little trick that I learned this year, kind of just– I’m not a super, super organized person. But that’s a little thing that has helped me feel way more organized, just kind of being aware of what’s coming up and knowing that like, OK. I can throw something in here.
And since it fits, it’s timely, people are more likely to share it also. And I’m sure a lot of people here have crafts and food and other things that can tie into these different types of days, or it kind of makes you think creatively of how you can reshare some of your content.
JENNY GUY: I’m obsessed with the idea of posting right before, the night before. Because you’re jumping on that bandwagon. And plus–
JENNIFER BORGET: Right.
JENNY GUY: –I don’t know, everyone I talk to scrolls first– sometimes they’ll scroll first thing in the morning when they’re on the Peloton or when they’re just getting out of bed.
They’re going to start doing– they’ll allow themselves 15, 20 minutes of scroll. And your post is there greeting people as soon as they get up.
JENNIFER BORGET: Right.
JENNY GUY: I love that. So smart.
JENNIFER BORGET: Yeah.
JENNY GUY: OK, so let’s do– we’ve got just a little bit of time left. I want to talk about your organizational system and how you back up, how you sort things, and then the way that you have things set up so you can reuse, recycle your pictures.
JENNIFER BORGET: Yeah, so the way that I organize is just like every year I start a new Photos folder on my computer. I don’t use iPhoto. I just found it like– it’s hard to access in my Finder– like I have to go into that app. I prefer just to be able to search what I’m looking for in my Finder. I have a Mac.
So I always start like, OK, 2021, and then January 2021. And then in that month, I have each event that I’m taking pictures for. So if I’m doing three-branded shoots one day, all of those will be in one folder. Like, OK, today I shot for this, this, and this. And then if I did some candid photos, those will all be in that same folder like just–
If we’re wearing the same outfits, it’s in the same folder pretty much. And that’s how I organize per month. So I do year, month, events. And then when the month’s over, I start a new one. At the end of the year what I like to do is go back into all those folders. End of the month would be ideal, but sometimes end of the year is my cutoff, and just delete all the extras that I didn’t edit, didn’t like, don’t need just to free up some space.
And then I’m left with my favorites. And then I can go back in. And if I want to add little tags to my photos, I always try to title my events and my pictures with as much– kind of like you’re thinking alt tags or something, just words that I know I might be searching for later like family photo, movies or Lee-Lee, happy, or swings, outside playing.
Just little things that will– like the person’s name and maybe what they were doing and what the mood is, and things that I think I might be searching for later. So it’s pretty easy for me to go back and find those later.
Like yesterday, I posted something on Instagram yesterday and I was like, oh, I need a picture that’s striking with me and one of the kids.
And I was like, oh, I know. I have some mommy and me pictures. So I just searched mommy and me. And I came up with all of them, and I found the exact one I was looking for. So that’s kind of how I try to organize my stuff. And that’s been pretty helpful for me.
JENNY GUY: Really helpful. Loving the– Yeah, the alt tags idea is super helpful, because you’re not going to be like, I remember back in February of 2019 we were having popcorn. And I need a popcorn pic. But if you saved it under movie night–
JENNIFER BORGET: Exactly
JENNY GUY: –of course, that, you’ll find. Yes.
JENNIFER BORGET: Right. Right. Yeah.
JENNY GUY: OK, Michelle–
JENNIFER BORGET: So I try to change the titles from the numbered photos to a theme, yeah.
JENNY GUY: Very helpful. Michelle Price said, deleting photos? What?
JENNY GUY: I mean to me, that sounds like a very healthy way to like turn the page, turn the calendar, and just delete whatever the extraneous–
JENNIFER BORGET: I mean, I try to save bad photos. I kind of think like, what will I need later? I was taking pictures of my youngest last week. And she was smiling in all these photos but in one picture she just had the biggest frown, the biggest frown. And it was so cute, and I know–
It was for a brand. I’m like I’m not including this picture, but she didn’t– there wasn’t any product or anything she was holding. So I’m like, OK, I’m not sending this to them but this will work perfect someday for something. [LAUGHS] It’s going to be great.
So that’s one that I wouldn’t delete. It’s not for the event that I was looking for, but I know it’s an image I will be looking for later. So I’ll save it as like pout-face Lilly or something. And then it will pop up with others that I have of her.
But if it’s like someone blinking or maybe you’d save it is an outtake. But you don’t need like four pictures of someone blinking and the same– so I just kind of lean back a little bit on– but I take a lot of pictures. I may have like 100 pictures. So I’m scaling it down to 10, which is cutting out a lot but I’m probably not going to need more than that from that too.
JENNY GUY: Very helpful. OK, so we are almost out of time. And what we always like to end with here is action items. So I would love to hear from you what two or three things any content creator can do today to step up their photography game.
And it would be awesome if you could include– if you had any courses or websites or places like that that are your go-to when you have questions about photography. And I’m going to let you think about that while I make a couple of announcements.
JENNIFER BORGET: OK.
JENNY GUY: OK, so on the next Teal Talk, guys, it’s in two weeks. It is Thursday, February 24 at 3:00 PM Eastern time. We have Carmen Stinson and Ashland Huckabee of the Mediavine Publisher Support team. We are going to be talking about what is broken on your site, and what are the most common questions that our support team receives.
It’s basically going to be a live breakdown of all the things that they are fixing for our publishers on a daily basis. We are super excited about that. And that’s in two weeks on February 24.
In the meantime, if you are watching, we hope you have already subscribed to our YouTube channel and liked us on Facebook. We are celebrating Black History Month. All the month of February, we’re sharing some of the incredible black content creators that Mediavine is privileged to work with.
And earlier this week, we shared a beautiful blog post from Mediavine’s support specialist Ashland, who I talked about that will be on Teal Talk in a couple of weeks that we encourage you to give a read. We’re very excited about all of that. And before we say, bye, Jennifer, give us these action items, please.
JENNIFER BORGET: Yeah, OK. So if you’re wanting to up your game and just learn how to use your camera, you’re not sure where to start, Canon has a great– I did a course with them on photographing children, active children. And it’s free now. They have it on YouTube.
So if you just go to Youtube.com/canonusa, you can find not only my course but tons of different courses for learning about different types of photography. So that is one place I would go. YouTube is awesome. You can learn anything there, really.
JENNY GUY: True.
JENNIFER BORGET: And Clickin Moms is another great site that has more– if you’re not as much of a– I mean, a lot of us are visual but sometimes you just want to like read the content not watch. And you feel like you’re waiting like, let me just skim and find the part that I’m looking for.
So that website is really good for learning those types of tips. I have great posts on finding the right gear broken down really simply, and how to use your gear breaking down with different settings and things like that, I mean on your camera.
And just find the lights. Always look for Windows and be aware of that natural light. I think that is the simplest, quickest way to up your photography game is to be aware of where the light is.
JENNY GUY: Love all of those tips. You’ve been wonderful. Where can we find you if we want to find you?
JENNIFER BORGET: Instagram, Jennifer Borget—
JENNY GUY: You definitely do!
JENNIFER BORGET: –I’m always there. You can message me, and I’ll reply. @jenniferborget, it’s just my name. And then Cherish365.com is where I have all sorts of blogging stuff. So I have lots of camera stuff there under the Cherish 365 section that has a lot of my photography tips and journaling tips and things like that for connecting with your family. And then there’s a lot of other resources on there. Well–
JENNY GUY: You have been an absolute treat. And we know that your children are demanding your time, so we’re going to let you go for now, but thank–
JENNIFER BORGET: I know, and I think I’m really quiet, honestly–
JENNY GUY: That’s super duper quiet. I’m a little nervous.
JENNY GUY: So really, thank you so much for coming, everyone. Thank you for watching. And we’ll see you in a couple of weeks. Jennifer, you’re the best. Goodbye.
JENNIFER BORGET: Thank you. Bye.
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