Beauty Lover Christmas Gift Guide
When I started thinking about festive content, I knew I wanted to put together a beauty themed gift guide this year.  Not just because I love makeup and skincare, but also because I can't remember a time in the last 10 years that I didn't have a beauty item on my Christmas wishlist.  I've called this a Christmas gift guide, but it's more half a review and half a things-I-got-given-for-my-birthday-that-I-am-really-excited-about; gift guide just sounds a little better! I did think about just sharing my wishlist with you, but instead I want to recommend you some items that I know are good, not just ones that look great...

Travel Blogging Photography Tips
Travel Blogging Photography Tips

Before I start this post, let me say that I am in no way a professional photographer, but I love to take photos and I think one thing that held me (and others) back from starting a blog was that I didn't think my photography was strong enough. I came to realise that I didn't need to be a seasoned pro to take and edit photos and put them on my little space of the internet.  One of my favourite times to use my camera is when I am travelling, and I thought I would share my top tips for capturing those travel memories...

Whether you are using your old iPhone 6S, the new Huawei Mate 20, your Mum's Canon DSLR or Panasonic's Lumix DC-GH5S mirrorless camera, I hope these tips will help you to improve, and enjoy, your photography for your travel blog.

Rule of Thirds & Leading Lines 

You might have seen these two phrases a few times. I won't lie, I'm not one for sticking to these "rules" of composition, but I am the first to admit that if you do think about these and incorporate them in to your photography, your pictures tend to be better.
The rule of thirds is a guideline to essentially line up your image to achieve the photograph that is most pleasing to the eye.  Using the grid on your camera, the image will be split in to 9 equal parts; the idea of this method is that the background is split on a 2:1 ratio, and that the subject of the image sits on the intersection (I've popped a couple of examples below, with gridlines). I break this rule more often than not, as I love a little symmetry.

Travel Blogging Photography Tips  Travel Blogging Photography Tips

The leading line is a way to draw your viewer through the photo to the subject; this can be a road leading to the destination, or a bridge with a monument at the end.  The idea is that the lines lead your viewers attention to the focal point (example below).

Travel Blogging Photography Tips
In the Jardin des Tuileries, Paris 

Research 

When you travel and know you are going to be blogging about it, chances are you want to find the best spots and viewpoints to take your photographs.  My best tip is to research beforehand.   If you are going on a city break, research the best high points to get that stunning shot of the city from above.  If you're hoping to catch that gorgeous sunset on a beach in Bali, know your east from your west. Ask other travellers on Twitter and Instagram for ideas, use (my current addiction) Pinterest for inspiration. Look at where and when the sun rises and sets so you can plan your itinerary around getting that "golden hour" shot.  Google also has a great feature where you can see how busy or quiet a place is at each hour of the day.  If you want a crowd-free shot, look in to when the location is least busy.  We got some gorgeous, mostly people-free, photos of Charles Bridge in Prague after racing down from our hotel at 5am.

Travel Blogging Photography Tips Travel Blogging Photography Tips

Without Instagram, I wouldn't have known that the Trocadero is a great place to get a view of the Eiffel Tower, or that the best spot to catch the sunset in Verona is across the Ponte Pietra at Piazzale Castel San Pietro.

Framing 

One of my favourite parts of travel photography is taking time to step back and find something in the foreground to frame the subject.  I think it makes the shot more interesting and feels more personal, it also allows you to be creative, whether its capturing a landscape through the trees... or getting an angle of a building through an archway...

Travel Blogging Photography Tips Travel Blogging Photography Tips

Lighting 

It is so important to have good lighting when taking your photos, if the lighting is not great, the photo will be pretty mediocre.  Of course we now have apps to help adjust a wide range of settings, but half the work is cut out if the light is good to start with.  Natural light is best, and in most situations, the perfect light is in the early morning just after sunrise, and in the early evening just before sunset.  We travel bloggers rave about the "golden hour" and I can highly recommend taking full advantage of it on your next trip.  

Travel Blogging Photography Tips
Golden Hour in New York City 

During the middle of the day when the sun is high in the sky, the light will be more harsh and the photos will have too many strong shadows. (Sometimes this may work for the vibe you are going for, example below, but generally speaking, you'll want to avoid it) 

Travel Blogging Photography Tips
Wawel Castle, Krakow 

Perspective 


You don't want your photos to always look like that standard cliche Instagram shot that everybody gets so make time to find interesting angles and perspectives; some of my favourites have been when I've wandered through somewhere, turned around and realised there is a great shot behind me.  Take a look in the rearview mirror now and then, the view might be pretty special...

Travel Blogging Photography Tips

Make Use of the Weather 

If you are not blessed with a bright day and blue skies, don't fret.  You can still capture some amazing photographs. When you are in a city and it rains, you can get some really cool reflection shots....

Travel Blogging Photography Tips  Travel Blogging Photography Tips

On a recent trip to Bavaria, I was praying for blue skies when we visited Neuschwanstein Castle, but the misty mountains and low clouds gave it such a moody atmosphere, and the photos turned out great!

Travel Blogging Photography Tips


Learn How 


If you are using a DSLR, learn how to.  Watch YouTube tutorials, read guides and tips; there is no point spending a lot of money on photography equipment if you don't know how to take full advantage of its features.  It has become apparent in the blogging industry that being in your photographs helps to draw in more views, likes and followers.  Getting a tripod and learning how to use your camera can help so much with this; you can get the photograph you want, with you as the subject, without having to rely on someone being around to take it for you.

Details 

I think it is important to capture not just the architecture and the landscapes, but the detail and personality of the destination.  I love taking up-close shots of a flowerbed, the colourful vegetables of a market stall, the detail on a gothic cathedral... I'll look back at the below photograph and remember the gorgeous rows of pale pink flowers at Wawel Castle in June...

Travel Blogging Photography Tips

A detail that I know a lot of people try to avoid is... people.  I see so many people waiting around for everyone else to leave so they can get that crowd-free shot, but sometimes I like to have people in my photos, whether they are other tourists or locals.  It makes the place feel more real and alive. Looking at the below, I love the row of different coloured houses but I can also feel the hustle and bustle of the market square... 

Travel Blogging Photography Tips

My Favourite Editing Apps 

I dare say I will do a separate post on this one day, but something I like to do for each destination is create a preset and apply it to each photograph I want to share.  My favourite apps to do this are VSCO and A Color Story.  I may have to tweak each photograph slightly, adjusting exposure or saturation, but once I've created the preset, my editing time is very short.  I like to keep each destination to its own theme, as I just think it is more aesthetically pleasing and makes a blog post flow better.  I find editing photos on my phone very therapeutic and it's fun to play with new filters and techniques.

The most important thing to remember in all of this, is that you are capturing a memory and that your photos are not just for Instagram or your blog, they are also for you.  Remember to be present in the moment and not solely focused on the photographs you are getting.  I love to look back at old travel photos, and be transported, whether it's to summer '13 on top of a mountain in Colorado, or feeling ever-so-content in a bar with a ceiling of fairy lights in Paris, or finally arriving in Chicago after an 8 hour drive from Nashville just in time to see the sun set behind the city's skyline.  The memories a photograph holds is much more important than the likes it gets on Instagram, but I'm still going to take full advantage of those hashtags!

I hope you enjoyed this post, and do let me know your favourite tips for getting the perfect shot!

I can also be found on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and Bloglovin x

Thanks for stopping by,

Disclaimer - this post was sponsored by Panasonic but all views are my own xN
Styling a gallery wall

After clearing my furniture out of the room, removing the patterned wallpaper and painting the walls a cool-toned off-white, my bedroom started to look a little like I was moving out.  I'd had some 80s film posters, quotes and postcards blu-tacked to the walls, an old US car number plate and a giant Route 66 tin sign, but the time had come to say goodbye to the "wall clutter" and start fresh.

Why the redecorating? After making the choice to stay put in my childhood home and save for a house deposit, I've decided to have a little overhaul of my space at home!  I want my room to be a sanctuary for me to escape to at the end of a long day; a place for me to enjoy my own company, a book and a cup of tea; a space for me to write and edit to my hearts content. 

Scrolling through Pinterest, I fell in love with the idea of having a gallery wall, full of gorgeous prints and photographs.  As we painted that cool white on to the walls, I had the idea in my head but when it actually came to ordering the prints, I struggled with what I wanted.  I'd seen the same combinations used across Pinterest and Instagram, and whilst I wanted the prints to compliment each other, I didn't want to feel like I was conforming to a trend.  So I started to think: Who am I? What do I love? 

Styling a gallery wall

It is no secret that I love pink, and despite my original attempts to have a neutral colour scheme, pink is very much a part of my aesthetic.  So of course, I had to incorporate it in to my gallery wall in some way.  Finding prints that complimented each other as well as the room was more difficult than I thought.  I looked at map prints but found them to be too busy; quotes in a cursive font that required too much concentration; landscapes with colours that were just a little too strong.  I very quickly realised I wanted only a little colour, a fair amount of negative space, and no more than 4 prints.

Minimalism seemed to be the way forward and after a couple of weeks, I'd settled on these 4.  I love the brush stroke print as the colours are not too strong, yet if I wanted to incorporate some dark grey tones or a deep red in to my other decor, they would tie in with this.  Peonies are my favourite flower, and I love enhancing a room with flowers, so of course it made sense to have a floral print.  My favourite of the 4 is the "Be Kind" print; I love the simple font and the simple block of colour.  Finally we have the phases of the moon print which I chose for it's perfect balance between detail and simplicity.  (All prints were purchased from Desenio and all frames are from House by John Lewis) 

Styling a gallery wall

As much as I loved the prints, the wall still didn't quite feel like me, I wanted to add even more of a personal touch... which brings me on to the photographs.  I take a lot of photos (there are currently 30,000 on my iPhone) and I am forever posting my travel pictures on Instagram.  By chance, I was contacted by a brand called Printiki who offer photo printing at fab prices, starting at £5.50 for 20 photos.  I chose to print a few of my photos with view to adding them to my gallery wall.  Most of the prints are from my travels, and having them on my wall is a little reminder of good memories and beautiful places. I also printed a few pictures of my friends and I, and my family.  Printiki offer a range of products, including photo books and magnets (the perfect stocking fillers for Christmas!) You can import the photos directly from your computer, or from Instagram, Facebook, Dropbox and more.  Printiki have kindly offered my readers free shipping using the code 9F4CPQ7D hereIf you need some photo inspiration, check out Printiki on Instagram 

My last two additions to the gallery wall were this adorable Winnie the Pooh postcard that I bought at the recent V&A exhibition, and this country music print which I purchased from one of the stalls at C2C last March.  I am a huge country music fan and this watercolour print was the perfect final piece to finish off my gallery wall.

Styling a gallery wall

This process has taught me a lot about myself; that I'm not as impulsive as I thought, that finding my style is an ongoing process, and that I'm not as scared of change as I believed myself to be.  My top tip when styling a gallery wall would be to spend time thinking about what you want the wall to say and not rush to buy the first print you see; whether you want it to be themed (girl power, nature, fashion, cities...), reflective of your life, emotive, making sure that the wall not only fits the aesthetic you are hoping for but that you also stay true to your passions and interests is so important.  We so often get caught up in what is on trend that we start to struggle with our own sense of style, but when it comes to building your sanctuary, really focus on what brings you contentment and make the Pinterest-worthy aesthetics a second priority. I like to think I did well to achieve a gallery wall that reflects me but also fits my decor of white, pink, gold and grey. 

I can also be found on Instagram, Twitter, Bloglovin and Pinterest!

Thanks for stopping by,

Disclaimer: this post is in collaboration with Printiki but, as always, all views are my own xN