This topic comes at a time where I've just recently upgraded lights. I mostly consulted with 2 friends, Frankie and Sam, who have been AMAZING at giving advice. It was a very touching mix of dumbing it down for my level, but also being respectful enough in sharing information without judging as to what end I'd be needing it for. They really wanted to help me be great, guys :')
It was such a welcome and refreshing experience which stands in stark contrast to blogger advice I've received personally and over the internet. With that in mind, I recall 3 awful pieces of blog-related advice I've heard throughout the years:
What I heard: "Your digicam is fine, you don't need to worry about SLRs, just keep practicing." From people who would suddenly turn around, SLRs in hand, adjust manual settings and take ~fire~ photos.
What I would say: "What you don't pay for in equipment, you need to compensate for with skill and knowledge." Here's the thing. Digicam blogging is totally fine, and it's totally do-able. Beautiful photos like those test shots you see with your advertised your digicams are not in the realm of impossibility, but you must realize that a professional with years of experience took that shot, with $1000 lighting and maybe even post-processing. I, with 0 artistic background, relying on overcast sunlight, will definitely come up short.
I worked with my digicam for the longest time and I did luck out on some passable photos, but since I didn't know what I was doing, my photos looked like potatoes 75% of the time. Upgrading means the equipment is doing more of the work for me, which is something I needed to do a long time ago seeing as I have a don't have the skill to make digicam blogging work. I bought a PHP 20,000 Samsung NX Mini years ago and had I known then what I know now, I would've saved up a little bit longer to buy something like the Canon EOS M3 (PHP 30,000).
And the next time you ask someone how to take nice photos and they shrug you off saying never upgrade your digicam because digicams are so awesome - tell them you can't hear their hypocritical bullshit over their SLR's shutter clicks.
What I heard: "You don't need lighting! The sun is the best light, and it's free!"
What I would say: "Buy at least 1 big/nice light, and see what else you need."
There's a lot of light in my house. It never really clicked how I still didn't have enough because surely our huge-ass windows were enough?
Here is great advice if you're working with sunlight: Set up your subject where sunlight settles, open any other window, even the ones that don't touch your subject. And open all the room lights. Only then can you even consider working with sunlight.
I started by creating a makeshift light box and leaving it in my dad's old office, which had one window with perma-drawn curtains, one weak fluorescent light, and dark furniture. I moved on by chasing 10am-2pm sunlight, the cleanest light this house got. Unfortunately my photos were still dim because I was so focused on catching sunlight that it never occurred to me to open artificial light sources as well. By my eyes, they were fine, but obviously the camera wasn't picking up all that light.
Now I either take photos in the garden, in sunlight + fluorescent light or under a ring light and LED panel.
The truth is, sunlight is not all it's cracked up to be. The quality changes (i.e. it gets overcast,) it gets orange in the afternoon and is useless outside a window of 4 hours. When I bought my ringlight I thought all my problems were solved. The ring light was a great level-up for product photos for sure, but adding an LED panel made it even better.
What I heard: "You don't need photoshop or any photo editing program." I am saddened by this advice because I think it comes from a place of disrespect. I've talked to many professional photographers and none of them pass work that isn't altered in any way. I have had instances where I've felt like pros~ or artistés~ gave bad advice because they didn't think that blogs needed this level of quality and so gave me advice for mediocrity.
What I would say: "Increase brightness/exposure on any free program, study ALL the features and shop for a program worth your money."
90% of the time you're still going to end up with Adobe Photoshop, but if it were me giving advice I'd still like to impress upon the importance of learning what you're working with.
I am still working with Finder. At first I thought it was shit, but after sitting down and really getting to know the program, I am realizing that it does have what I've needed in photo editing. Once I start to feel boxed in, I'll consider getting Photoshop but there really is no need for it now.
I can't believe I started just on resizing. Then clicking auto levels (Finder's auto correct feature,) before even realizing that exposure did a lot for my brightness issues. Little by little, I started noticing the small details and there were some shoot days were tinkering with contrast, highlights, shadows, saturation, temperature or sharpness gave me the look I wanted. Beyond that, I really think its hypocritical to make people believe that photos are never altered. Filters alone make a world of difference.
Honestly, I think bad advice comes from pa-cool kids. Everybody wants to seem effortless and naturally kissed on the cheek by Jesus Himself. That's a lie. If you have people you admire and they can't articulate their work ethic to you, seek better sources of advice.
Upgrading is straightforward for professional bloggers. It's just part of their career path. But for people like me who consider blogging a hobby, it is so harmful to live by advice having us settle on mediocrity. True, we're not making money off our blogs, and so we technically don't need to have standards. But we do. This is our passion and I, at least, want to give dignity and respect to my interests and the time I spend on them.
I'm not saying simple blogging setups can never succeed. I'm just so bitter about having taken the above advice seriously because aside from mediocrity they all ring a common thread: that passion is all it takes and upgrades are cheating your way or a form of buying talent. It's become this ridiculous false dichotomy that somehow people who invest on equipement have no skill????
Sometimes equipment are so undervalued and taken for granted that there are so many times I am just shocked that a simple gear upgrade has solved 90% of my previous problems. While honing your skills on shitty equipment is great practice, it can also be limiting and create a sort of perceived ceiling in creative pursuits.
On bad advice:
I'm not ashamed to ask for advice. I don't worry about looking incompetent, because my endgame is to get the knowledge and expertise of more talented people. I appreciate advice shared, moreso when it comes from a place of respect. But there's nothing more useless than dumbed down advice, nor more frustrating than hypocritical advice.
Through it all, the best advice I've received is to keep creating, even if you think you're creating shit. This advice has never failed me despite all the other poor advice I've been victimized by. In constantly creating I have tangible things to review and improve upon - not just in blogging, but even in makeup artistry. I've taken in overhwelming information throughout the years, things I feel are too technical and not applicable to me. I just tuck them as useful information, soldier through, and keep learning until they do make sense. All these, due to that one good advice, have allowed me to have an extremely fulfilling and improving blogging and makeup career.