The #CGScreative June Photo Challenge - An Easy & Fun way to grow your Instagram Account

The #CGScreative June Photo Challenge - An Easy & Fun way to grow your Instagram Account

Hi friend!

Today I'm so excited to tell you all about the latest CGScreative Photo Challenge that is happening over on Instagram for the month of June. You may remember the first photo challenge I did in April this year (which was a huge success with over 1200 submissions from people all over the world!). I received so many emails from the CGScreative community asking me if there would be another one, and so I am delighted to give a big resounding YES to that question! 

First, a little bit more on the purpose of this challenge: 

Instagram is all about ENGAGEMENT, it always has been and always will be. A lot of people have gotten rather upset about the algorithm changes that have been slowly rolling out since April, but I want to tell you it's not all bad news! 

Instagram now aims to show us the content it thinks we like, based on our previous actions (ie. our likes and comments). This means that it is now more important than ever to be liking and commenting on those accounts that you really love and want to follow, rather than engaging with accounts that you hope will follow you if you spam their feed enough

With the above in mind, I started the CGScreative Photo Challenge in April, and have brought it back again for June. The challenge is a fun way for us all to engage with one another in a genuine way, while helping each other get seen by more people. Doing this grows your own audience and following as well as everyone else''s basically a win-win situation!

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A beginners guide to Blog Photography & Styling - What you need to get started

A beginners guide to Blog Photography & Styling - What you need to get started

I've been blogging for about 6 years now, and I do so because I genuinely love providing free, useful content for people. This blog is not a diary showcasing my life but rather I hope that it is a platform for you to learn new things (like my blogging tipstravel guides and posts about owning a dog in Korea) as well as a place to be inspired (by my travel posts, recipes and my photography). 

One thing that I have learned from all these years of tapping away at my keyboard is that the images on your blog can make or break your brand. 

These days technology has advanced so much, there really is no excuse for anyone to have poor quality images on their blog. This doesn't mean you have to own the fanciest camera on the market, your cellphone/ipad/tablet will work just fine.

In this post I'm going to be sharing with you what I use to style & take photographs for my blog. 

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How to easily make photo collages for your blog and Facebook: A Blogstomp Tutorial

How to easily make photo collages for your blog and Facebook: A Blogstomp Tutorial

In order to build a cohesive brand, it's important to make sure the images & graphics you share are aligned with the look and feel of your business. An easy way to do this is to share groups of images (collages) that tell a story. 

I use collages here on my blog when I want to share a lot of images, but I don't want to slow down my site loading speed. 

Using full sized images in a blog post means lots and lots and lots of scrolling for your readers. Creating beautiful collages is an easy way to make your blog posts look better, and it helps the back end of your site by making it faster to load.

In today's blog post I'm sharing with you how I create collages for my blog and Facebook page using Blogstomp.

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10 Things to Do with your New Camera - helpful tips for all camera owners + FREE Checklist

10 Things to Do with your New Camera - helpful tips for all camera owners + FREE Checklist

I recently upgraded my camera, moving from my beloved Nikon D700 to the fancy (and super lightweight) Nikon D750. I'm going to share my thoughts on this camera here on the blog soon, but in the mean time I'd thought I'd share with you some useful tips of what to do with your new camera.

I've also included a free checklist for you to print out to as a reminder. I have my checklist printed out and stuck up in my office at home. It acts as a mini-reminder of what I should be doing before leaving the house with my camera too (eg charge my batteries & format my memory card!).

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How To Take Better Photos For your Blog Using Your Phone + Free Checklist!

How to Take Better Photographs for your blog using your phone

You don’t have to have a fancy camera to take beautiful photographs for your blog. You can use your phone’s built-in camera, and with a few tips, you too can produce pretty photos to take your blog to the next level. Even though I own professional photography gear, sometimes I just want the ease of snapping a shot right in the moment. And a lot of the time when inspiration strikes, I don’t want to be fiddling around with settings and then end up missing the perfect shot. A lot of the images I produce for my blog are styled and I don’t have the time to get my camera, set it up, export the images to my computer, edit and then finally upload them to my blog. I find that using my iPhone and a few, easy-to-use (and free!) apps, I am able to produce pretty pictures that only take a few minutes to put together. Today I want to share with you how you can do the same.

All the images below were taken on my iPhone 4S and edited with VSCOCam to give them a grainy, film-like texture.

1. Clean your Lens

As with any camera, if your lens is dirty, your photographs aren’t going to come out very clear. It’s such a simple tip and yet has made the biggest change on images taken with my phone. Think about where you phone goes, and now think about the last time you wiped your camera lens clean. If this gives you the shivers, like it did to me, then whip out a piece of cloth and get wiping!

2. Natural Light

Wherever possible, use natural light. I take the majority of my photographs (using both my DSLR & my iPhone) during the day and try as much as possible to maximise the soft, natural light that comes through a window. Harsh midday light is just as hard to work with as a flash, whereas natural light, the kind that streams through a window, produces soft, clean images.

3. Click to Focus

On the iPhone camera app (the standard camera app that comes with the iPhone), there is a yellow square that automatically appears when you want to take a photo. This is your focus setting. You can allow the phone to automatically adjust the focus, or you can over-ride this by clicking where you want to focus when you take a photograph. This is especially useful when you want to create a slightly blurry background, with something in the picture in focus. I often use click-to-focus when I am photographing macro-type shots of make-up and stationery.

4. Self-Timer

I only found out about the self-timer feature on my iPhone when I updated my IOS to the latest version. This is especially handy when you want to take a ‘selfie’. Don’t forget to click to focus before you take the shot to ensure that your face is perfectly in focus and not blurry. 

5. Use a Tripod

Using a tripod (or any home-made version of a tripod) will stabilize your camera and help to avoid camera shake. It can be so frustrating when you set up the perfect shot, click to focus, and then bump the phone by accident and the photograph ends up coming out blurry. I often just use a book and wedge a drinks coaster underneath the phone to adjust the angle (and then set up the self-timer to get the perfect shot).

6. Avoid the Zoom

Especially on the iPhone built-in camera, when you use the zoom it decreases the quality of the photograph. Rather use your own built-in zoom (ie. your feet!) and position yourself to be nearer, or further away from your subject. Unless you have a snazzy new phone, like the Samsung Galaxy S4 or the iPhone 6, I would suggest avoiding all use of the zoom.

7. Background

Using a white background when shooting any product produces beautiful, professional looking shots. The white offsets all other colors and is always complimentary. It looks crisp and clear and really helps to make your subject stand out. Textured backgrounds also work well for product photography, but I find they can also distract from your subject. I have yet to take a photograph on a plain, white background that I didn’t like. 

How to take better photographs for your blog using your phone

8. Angles

Play around with angles. Have fun and go crazy with high and low, close up and far away shots. Use your body to zoom in on particular items if you are styling photographs for you blog. It’s okay to cut off parts of items, and this works particularly well when I shoot make-up or stationery. Consider the two photographs below. The one on the left is the full image, and the one on the right has been cropped therefore removing parts of the image. Can you see the difference? None of the props have been changed and the lighting is the same. The only difference is the angle.

How to take better photos for your blog using your phone

9. Apps

There are so many amazing apps you can use to really make your images pop, from overlaying text to added film effects or textures. My favourite go-to apps are:
– VSCOCam for editing the colour, brightness, cropping, straightening and adding film-like overlays.
– Studio for adding text and graphics.
– ABeautifulMess for hand-drawn overlays and creating collages
– Instagram for connecting with other creatives and sharing my images.
*All of the above apps come in Android and IOS versions.

10. Delete

There really is no point in having 10 of the same image. Be thorough and delete any and all of the ‘extra’ photographs so as to avoid wasting storage space and also to avoid having duplicates. The amount of times I upload the ‘not quite perfect’ image into a blog post and then realise I have to go back and search for the right photo is just annoying. And then I realise I often delete the perfect one and end up having to re-create my images again. Deleting all the nonsense saves you time and will make your life that much easier when it comes to blogging.

How to take better photographs for your blog using your phone

Most importantly, HAVE FUN! Taking photographs should be fun, and with all the great apps out there that are free and easy to use, blogging no longer has to be boring. With just a few minutes of practicing and playing around with your phone, your photographs can look just as good as the pros, and will take your blogging to the next level. I hope you found these tips useful. If you’d like to find out more about the apps I’ve mentioned above you can pop on over to my blog where I have reviewed the Studio App {Click Here} and the ABeautifulMess App {Click Here}.

To help you remember all these tips I've created a FREE printable checklist. It's in my FREE resource library, along with a whole bunch more resources AND free stock photographs just for you. Join the library by clicking the image below:

How To Clean your DSLR camera lens

How To Clean Your Camera Lens

The last time I was editing my photographs I realised I had a few funny small blotches on parts of my photos. After wiping my computer screen I realised with horror that the marks must have been from my camera. I have since gone about finding the best way to clean my lenses at home, without having to send them in. Here are few tips I've picked up as well as a few basic things to keep your camera in tip top condition.


Use an air blower, like the one pictured above to remove loose dust particles. Simply press the bulb end and air will be forced out of the spout. This is the easiest and safest thing to try first with your lens.

When dust and/or smudges are on your lens glass, use a microfiber cloth designed for optical lenses to wipe it off. Make sure to use a clean microfiber cloth, as those cloths can hold dust, dirt and oil from your fingertips which can then be transferred to your lens. Be careful when cleaning the glass. If you do get something like sand on your lens and you rub it with a cloth, you may scratch your lens. Use a soft brush to brush off dirt or sand. Do not rub those away as they may cause scratches.

Change your lenses indoors (or in your car if you are out and about) if you can manage it. If you are outdoors, try and block the wind with your body as it can blow dust, dirt and other nasties into your camera and lenses.

Once you change lenses, quickly place the end cap on the removed lens, to prevent dirt and dust from setting into it. Also, quickly attach the new lens to the camera, to prevent dust and dirt getting into your camera sensor. And, while changing lenses, point them downward so dust and dirt don’t settle in.


Keep the lens cap on the front glass when you're not using your lens. Even better, place the lens in the protective cover that comes with it, or put it away in your camera bag.

Use a filter or lens hood to protect the lens glass from getting scratched or broken. 

Do you have any other tips for cleaning your lenses and keeping them in tip top condition?

How to style photographs for your blog

How to style your own photographs for your blog

This post is all about helping you create beautiful photographs for your blog, using tools that you already have around the house. I want to show you that you don't need to have a big, fancy camera to create pretty pictures.  All of these photographs have been shot using an Iphone 4S, and when edited, they have been edited in Instagram.

The most important part of blog posts for me, is the images and photographs that go along with the text. If a blog post has terrible photographs, now matter how good their content is, I tend to move on to the next one and probably won't go back. I am a very visual person, and tend to skim over long, wordy blog posts but if a blog has pretty, creative photographs I can spend hours pouring over the details of the photo's, and I'm always left feeling inspired for my own blog. So this post is going to give you some tips for styling your photographs and making them look beautiful, without the need for any fancy equipment.


Step 1 {Think}

Think about the type of photograph you want to take. Are you going for soft and whimsical, or clear and bright? The kind of photo you want to create will determine the sorts of props you will need to make it happen. I wanted to create images images for this blog post that made use of the pretty bits if stationery I have. Most of my stationery colours are pastel and so I decided to go for a muted, warm feeling and added a candle for a little extra ambiance. If you want to style photographs for a recipe post, think about bright colours (possibly adding a variety utensils/fruit/bowls/chopping boards to the mix to give it a kitcheny feel). 

Step 2 {Studio Space}

The base for most styled shoots is a white background/surface so as not to distract from the actual content of your photograph. White also reflects light and when paired with natural light (place your products near a big window for the best natural light) creates a beautiful, soft glow and always looks very professional. I used 2 pieces of white foam board from my local stationery store. One piece for the 'table' or rather to cover my horrible green crates that I use for height, and then I used the other for the background in some of my images. When I didn't use the white board for the background I made sure to set up my 'studio' with a simple section of wallpaper in our apartment.

My studio (unedited). As you can see, you really don't need anything fancy. I used these crates instead of the table as I could move them to the big natural light source in our bedroom.

My studio (unedited). As you can see, you really don't need anything fancy. I used these crates instead of the table as I could move them to the big natural light source in our bedroom.

Step 3 {Play}

Now that you've got your space set up you need to play around with your props until you are happy. Try different angles, try playing with height, move objects around. The options are endless. This is the best and the worst part of styling for me. I love making things look pretty, but sometimes it can take up to 20 tries before I am happy with the photo's. 

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Once you feel you've got some great photos, delete the ones you don't like (there's no use having 50 photographs of the same thing when you only need about 5 - 10 good ones). 

Styling your photographs is don't even need to be a very creative person, just play round with your props and have fun! You can read about more tips and apps for editing your phone pictures by clicking here and here.


{Studio} My current favorite photo editing app

Studio Favourite App to Add Text To Photos

"What Instagram Did For Photography, This App Will Do For Design" Mashable


I love how easy it is for me to share pretty content with my readers through my iPhone camera. Of course, the quality is nowhere near as good as my fancy Nikon. But, it's so fast, easy to edit (with fantastic apps like Instagram and A Beautiful Mess…click here for more tips on those apps) and most importantly, it's so easy to share content, that a lot of what I do post here on my blog has been taken and put together with just my phone.

Today I want to share with you my new favorite app. It's called Studio and it's free. You're welcome.

The app has a whole bunch of free 'packs' of text/quote overlays/images/graphics that are organized by theme. You download them right through the app and they appear in your 'Overlay' folder ready for use. There are some really nice ones for purchase too, but all of the above images I created with free overlay graphics.

The app works a little like photoshop in that you work in layers. Your image becomes the base image and you add text, graphics, frames, shapes, textures and a whole lot more on top of your photograph. You can change the colour of each of these elements, as well as swopping between them very easily. A lot of image editing apps don't have an 'undo' button and you have to start over each time you make a mistake. But Studio is super easy to use and make changes when you want to. You can also create really nice graphics (without the need for an image or photograph) very easily. This is really useful if you want to create graphics for your Facebook page or blog.

Studio also works as a social sharing platform, a little like Instagram, and you can 'like' pictures and comment away on anything that takes your fancy. And they are on android too so everyone can make pretty pictures.

Download it here for free!

If you do create something pretty, share it with me on my Facebook Page...I'd love to see what you come up with.