At only 23 Lydia Collins has already completed a degree in photography and has worked with many top bloggers and influencers for their blog photography and Instagram shots. Lydia has also taken on the tough job of being a judge in the photography category for the UK Blog Awards 2017. Lydia’s beautiful street style photography is right on trend and is such hot stuff that bloggers are queueing to work with her. I was lucky enough to tie her down for a few minutes to answer a few of my burning photography questions. If you want to improve your photography for your blog or Instagram then you must read ahead. Lydia lets us know where is best to get that perfect foodie flatlay and where to get the
perfect street style shots.
WORKING AS A “BLOGRAPHER”
(Can I copyright that?)
What made you want to start photographing bloggers?
I actually never used to photograph people. A lot of my work was very fine art related, throughout my degree I use to explore abandoned places and it was throughout my final major project where I started taking self portraits in my mother’s wedding dress where I fell in love with capturing people. I had been following bloggers and influencers for a long time and I noticed that a lot of their photographs were taken by people they knew (boyfriends, mothers) and it got me thinking that I’d like to give it ago!
Who have you most liked working with and would love to work with?
I absolutely love working with a lot of different people, I think this is one of the main reasons I love what I do. Everyone I photograph has their own individual style, and I love having the challenge of capturing their uniqueness. There’s not a particular person that I would love to photograph but more where I would like to shoot. I absolutely love shooting around London but I would also like to start expanding my location portfolio and start shooting abroad. I think this would really challenge me and would be a great experience.
MUST HAVE EQUIPMENT
What camera do you use for your photography with bloggers and what is the best beginners camera for a blogger?
I am currently shooting on a Canon 70D, I also use my film camera, Hassleblad 500cm, for portraits. Like many photographers, I have an undying love for film photography. I’d suggest they begin with purchasing something more lightweight than a DLSR, something like the Olympus Pen ELP7 / ELP8 with a pancake lens or 45mm lens would be perfect. I have heard really good reviews about these cameras.
Which lens do you use for street style photography and flatlays?
I mainly shoot with my fixed 50mm 1.4 lens, but I also shoot on a 18-35mm 1.8 and a 35mm 1.4 – all of which are great lenses! For flatlays you want a lens that’s fairly wide angle to allow you to get everything in – I use my 18-35mm. You can crop and edit in post production so it’s better to get more in to begin with and then crop to your desire after.
Do you think you can achieve good fashion blog photography stuck in Auto setting?
For me, I always shoot in manual, with the Auto setting the camera controls everything, from how much light the camera is exposed to, to where the focal point is. Shooting in Auto just means you don’t get to control the camera and you are likely to have to take a lot more photographs until you get the shot. You are more likely to achieve the blurry background shot if you are shooting in manual.
What’s the best photo editor app or computer program?
TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE
What is the best time of day to shoot?
In the Winter I like to shoot between 9am – 3pm. In the summer I shoot anytime from sunrise to sunset. The best kind of light for street style is when it is sunny but the sun is sitting behind a thin layer of cloud, this allows for really sharp photographs without being overexposed.
Do you use a reflector and lights or simply rely on natural light sources to brighten your photography?
I always use natural light. I use the settings on my camera to control how much light the camera is exposed to. It changes depending on the time of day and where the sun is sitting in the sky. If I had someone helping me I would be tempted to use a reflector as they do give that little extra push of light that you sometimes need.
When you struggle with natural light in the UK what can you do (possibly in post) to make it look like a beautiful Spring Day?
You want to be looking at your curves and levels layers. These adjust and control the light and dark areas in your photographs. You may also need to use something like the magic wand tool to select different areas that you want lighter/darker than others.
LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION
Even though us bloggers all love a gorgeous depth of field on our blog photography, the background is key. Lydia seems to always find the best locations so I thought I would get her tips on some of the best spots in and around London.
I love shooting street style for fashion, I feel it gives a really natural look to the photo yet still focuses all attention on the model and clothing. I love shooting around Kensington for the red brick houses and wide streets. Notting Hill is great for the ‘white houses’ look and I love shooting around industrial areas – there are some great places around Shoreditch and along the Thames.
For me, I love capturing action shots for fitness as I feel it really expresses the clothes in the right way. People who buy fitness clothes are more likely to want to see what it looks like whilst exercising. Although some fitness clothes do look great in beautiful stationary shots. I think fitness photographs look great in places with symmetry, there’s a lovely place in Hyde Park which has a tunnel of ivy, I also really like shooting fitness in Industrial locations. I recently did a shoot under a tunnel near Kings Cross where there were multicoloured lights.
There are some beautiful streets around Notting Hill and Portobello where some of the houses are pink, these are great locations for street style, there is also a lovely road just of Kings Road in Chelsea.
I think a lovely cafe location would be perfect. It’s always great to mix up your shots. When I am shooting, I always like to get different angles and play with close ups and full length. Farm Girl Cafe near Portobello road is great for photos and very blogger friendly. There is also Sketch and for a nice flat lay cafe table shot, there are some lovely cafes around Bond Street and Marylebone.
SHOOTING WITH BLOGGERS
Do you think bloggers should hire professional photographers to help make their blog look more professional?
I don’t think bloggers and influencers need to shoot everything professionally as I think the whole idea of a blog is that it’s yours and I feel there needs to be an element of their own photography involved so they include their own uniqueness. But I do think a nice mixture and level of professional photography always looks so lovely! My favourite kind of Instagram accounts are ones where theres a mixture of Bokeh shots (blurry background) and photos where everything is in focus.
Do you struggle to shoot bloggers that have never been in front of the camera before?
Never. I absolutely love it. I really enjoy giving direction when I’m shooting.
What tips have you got for creating a popular Instagram account?
My favourite kind of accounts are where theres a mixture of different kinds of shots, I like accounts where there are action shots alongside posed shots. My favourite kind of photographs are the canny, caught in the moment photographs – these are usually captured when the model is unaware or when they are mid action. I think when it comes to Instagram, individuality and consistency is key. I view Instagram as an individual’s story and portfolio. I love finding people who shoot and create things completely different. I love street style accounts and also travel accounts, who doesn’t love a good palm tree and holiday shot.