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  • Writer's pictureDani Sauter

That's Money, Honey: Behind the Perfect Photo

The truth behind the perfect Instagram photo. The truth is, it likely wasn't perfect to shoot, but as an influencers, we tend to make it look like it was.

Last week for example, I had an early morning shoot with Arielle. I had one concept I already had planned in advance, and the second I thought up on a whim, but it screeched to a halt when the venue I wanted to shoot at was not set up the way I had envisioned. We ended up having to find something else on the same block, but since we've been working together so long, we were able to come up something fast that we knew matched both of our aesthetics. While it worked out this time, I'm not always that lucky....

People staring while you're taking photos are a very real occurrence, lol.

Photography is a huge part of blogging, and is something that you should definitely consider investing in if you are looking to take your blog to the next level. I still remember some of my first shoots- my dad used to take my photos for me, and then after I realized I couldn't edit the photos well, I decided to start working with a pro photographer who could edit the photos perfectly (ahem, Arielle Lewis Studios!). Perfect is the emphasis here- although the photo may be perfect, it likely took a ton of blood, sweat, and tears to make it perfect. Today in the next That's Money, Honey Blogging 101 series, Roxanne and I are sharing the truth behind our photos and our process in creating them.

The truth here is, the perfect Instagram photo takes a ton of planning. On full creative shoots, I create a mood board, share it with Arielle (Arielle also took all of the photos in this post), search for props ( and buy props if needed), find a location, obtain permission to shoot in the desired venue if needed, and if the outfit or product wasn't provided by a brand, then I find that too. Sometimes figuring out the perfect outfit to go with the shoot concept or product can take me from 3 minutes to 3 hours- and I'm not even joking.

On the left- the BTS for the final on the right. Painted gold, wearing sweat pants, a shower curtain as a background, lighting, and a light reflector as the table:

Since leaning more into creative-style photos, I have learned a ton from mistakes and progresses I've made, and today I'm sharing with you tips on how to prepare, plan, and capture that perfect Instagram and blog photo:

1. Location. I keep a running tab of places I want to shoot. This helps when I'm feeling stumped or if another idea falls through.

2. Plan. Some of my most liked photos are ones that took me a ton of research, planning, and creative brainstorming. You gotta be prepared- whats that saying, by failing to prepare you prepare to fail? That's exactly what I think of creative photos.

3. Be quick on your feet. Sometimes shoots aren't going to go as planned. A venue you thought would work doesn't, or maybe the lighting is terrible. Keep your mind open and try new things- you never know what will work until you try it. As an example, back in February I had a whole shoot planned for a really cool and creative photo where I was dying my hair blue (yes, blue!)- but there was a huge hair mishap. It made me 1.5 hours late to the shoot (thank goodness for Arielle) and I no longer had a concept. Instead, we just started playing around with lighting and the outfits I had from the previous concept, and we created some of my favorite work out of nothing- see the photos below:

BTS of this lipstick mirror pic and the final:

BTS on the left- see the set and lighting, and the final on the right:

BTS on the left- since I was grasping for a last minute concept, I had the idea to show all the photo equipment. Arielle and I moved all the equipment onto the set which I ended up liking so much I used them as finals!

4. Create mood boards. This helps me so much- not only does it help to envision the creative shoot, but it helps me convey what I'm looking for to Arielle.

5. Get dirty. I know, you're prob like WTF does that mean, lol. I've sat on dusty Lower East Side stairwells in NYC, painted myself gold, laid down on dirty Georgetown sidewalks, trekked through snow and mud, been rained on, and had general onlookers look at me like I'm crazy posing in an over the top outfit at 7am on a Tuesday. But guess what? It's all part of photography. You must be willing to go to the next level to get the most creative shots.

Climbing through slippery snow, mud, and melting ice coming down at me from tree branches above, all for the photo on the right:

Be sure to head over to Roxanne's post to see Inside her Photo Shoots!


Blonde in the District

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