The Life of Jennifer Dawn: Behind the Scenes: Blog Photos

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Behind the Scenes: Blog Photos

I'm coming clean today and sharing secrets on what goes on behind the scenes. From setting-up to editing, it's an unfiltered look at what you don't see when presented with the polished photos in a post. See what really goes on when the camera starts clicking. {Cue the suspenseful music.}

Oooo... Exciting!

It's really not as dramatic as all of that. But in this third installment of the Behind the Blog Series, I am taking you beyond the blog's photos to see how it all comes together. We're going from the creation of a craft or recipe to a finished post...

Camera and Equipment
I started blogging with a simple point and shoot camera. I bought it in my favorite color--pink. The color was the only reason why I even liked the thing. Then I tried a DSLR camera for the first time. Now that was love at first click. For years, I've continued to use that same DSLR camera that convinced me to leave the pink point and shoot behind.

So what's in my camera bag?
  • Nikon D3100
  • loads of memory chips
  • lens hoods (which I never use)
  • lens filters (which I couldn't live without)
  • camera cleaning kit
  • Nikon 50 mm f/1.4 G (use all the time and LOVE)
  • Nikon 18-55 mm f/3.5-5.6 G (sometimes use)
  • Nikon 55-200 mm f/4-5.6 G (rarely use)

I use the paid version of PicMonkey. It's user-friendly and inexpensive--two characteristics that I appreciate.

Through the years, I've gotten creative and used a lot of things around the house for backdrops. Yeah, it's real high tech here.

  • poster board
  • ceramic tiles
  • placemats
  • scrapbook paper
  • beadboard
  • foam board
  • trays
  • wooden tables or benches
  • furniture

Scrapbook paper

Cardboard Placemat

Poster Board

Beadboard (back) and foam board (surface)

Photo Set-up
My setup when I'm taking photos for a recipe or tutorial is not at all fancy. I've learned where the best light in the house is and set up there.

My Indoor Photo Set-up Steps:
  1. I ensure that there is still plenty of good, natural light left in the day. (I use to take photos at night under artificial light, and they were never as good. Now I only take photos during the day in natural light. Daylight Savings is this American blogger's favorite time of the year.)
  2. Then I go to the kitchen--the room with the best light. I open the blinds and turn off all artificial lights.
  3. Next I pull up a bench and chair. Those pieces of furniture are used to hold my backdrops.
  4. Finally I begin shooting. I always take more photos than I need to ensure there's enough to work with when I go to edit. Note: Tutorials may require photos of each step. Foods posts sometimes get some extra staging with fresh ingredients and relevant props.
No matter how tranquil the photo may seem, the photo set-up area is always buzzing with activity. On the left you can see the photo I took. On the right, you see what was really happening on set. The kids are always there with me--like bees to honey. Well, in this case it was more like bees to citrus. I was making citrus dough, and they couldn't wait to get their hands on it.

Sometimes I even go outside to take pictures because the light is so much better there. Here's an example...

You see this...

But if we pan out just a bit, you'll see that I was really enjoying the view outside on an unseasonably mild day in winter.

What's goes on behind the scenes?
One of the most integral parts of the whole process doesn't always show up in the photos I share. It's how involved my kids are in the whole blogging process. They know the look I get when I have a creative idea in my head that I just have to try out. This is when my husband typically goes into hiding. He just doesn't appreciate the creative process, aka the mess.

There I am rummaging through cabinets or the craft closet to find everything I need. "Mommy is making something! Mommy is making something!" Eli is usually the first to shout out to the other two when I begin setting things out for a DIY project, craft, or recipe. They come running and I immediately hear a scrrrrrrrrraping sound as they start pushing chairs up to the table or counter. "Oh, I'll go get your camera and memory chip," Lydia Grace announces. "What are we going to make, Mommy?" Eli asks. Caleb follows him up by repeating, "Mama, wha goin' mae?" Notice they say, "We." They're right there waiting--usually impatiently-- to stir, glue, paint, or create right along with me.

The scene described above is very common in our household. It was a common scene when I was growing up too--minus the whole camera/memory chip bit. My mom was always baking, sewing, or knitting something and my sister and I were right by her side learning to cook, cross stitch, and create. I grew up with a creative mother. Blogs just didn't exist at the time, so it wasn't something she could use as a creative outlet.

The pictures on the blog fall short of telling the whole story though.

You see the finished product...

But I had little ones helping me stir...

You see the yummy recipe...

But we've left a huge mess.

You see the popsicles...

But missed the front yard, pool party where we ate them to cool off on a hot day. 
You see what we've made...

But I know what made it special.

Even those smudges on the glass have a story to go along with them. And that's where I sometimes fail. I fall short of telling the story, but that's something I want to change. It's part of the motivation behind this entire seriesI want to try harder to show glimpses of what goes on behind the scenes because that's where the real story lies.

More "Behind the Scenes" Looks...
This post is the third installment of a series I'm doing with several other bloggers. Each month we'll be sharing what goes on behind the scenes of blogging. This month's theme was Behind the Photos. You can read more about the series and past posts here. Grab a cup of coffee, get cozy, and take some time to check out theses fantastic posts! I can guarantee you'll pick up some great photography tips in the process!

Happy reading!
Image Map
*Disclaimer: Affiliate links are present in this post.


  1. What a fantastic post! I love the behind the scenes photos as well as the main post images. ;)

  2. This is such a fun post! I love seeing being-the-scenes of blogs that I read! So much fun :) Thanks for sharing!

  3. I love seeing what goes on behind the scenes. Posts like this also show how blogging really is hard work. Your hard work has paid off - your photos are gorgeous and you have a wonderful blog!

  4. I love this, and feel so inspired by your lovely photos. Also I feel a bit less crazy about being out in the back garden in my PJ's taking photos when it's stopped raining for just a second in the winter!

  5. You have gorgeous photos! It really is amazing the crazy things that go on behind the scenes when trying to get that picture just right. I love how you've shared it here.

  6. I absolutely LOVE this post, Jennifer! It's so true that a lot goes unsaid with the photography (and what goes on in the background and to make the images actually happen), so I loved reading this. I especially liked the zoom outs and what happened after the photos were snapped. As my daughter grows, I look forward to documenting the behind-the-scenes with her!

  7. I love seeing behind the scenes photos... and your food photos are always fantastic!! Kristy

  8. I love this so much! That is exactly how it is here (though my pictures are not nearly as beautiful as yours) and I love seeing that others have the same "behind the scenes" experiences.

  9. So fun and so true! I'm relatively new to blogging but it's the disaster that surrounds the pretty picture that tells the real story of the project. My kids are still young but my oldest (7) now uses the word "blog" as part of her little vocab. So funny! Visiting from Wednesday Showcase.


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