DailyKaty & Beginner Photography Tips

Way back when I was finishing up high school, I really wanted to be a full-time photographer, but I just didn’t have the background and expertise for an art-based college education. I was always the girl carrying around a camera, borrowing my mom’s DSLR whenever I had the chance. But the truth is, I never really learned how to take beautiful photos aside from having a nice camera and letting it run on auto mode.

Beginner Photography Tips

One of the reasons I started this blog was that I was so drawn to the artistic visuals I saw on other blogs I was following. I never made it to photography school (business and marketing were a better fit for me), but I’m using this blog as an opportunity to learn. My photos have come a long way in the past year or so, but I have so much to learn. I’ve signed up for a few classes and I’m so excited to take this blog to the next level with what I learn.

Beginner Photography Tips

As I build my photography skills, I’m excited to share that Samsung is giving me the opportunity to try out their Samsung NX3000 camera for a few months! I’m already seeing a big difference in my pics and I’ll be sharing more about my experience using this camera in the coming months. I was drawn to this camera for a few reasons:

  • Great feedback from other bloggers and online reviews
  • Nice and compact but doesn’t sacrifice the features – fits right in my bag
  • Screen that flips out for fun selfies or pics taken using a tripod
  • Wifi connection for easy uploading to my computer, Instagram, etc.

And while we’re on the topic of my photography journey, I wanted to share a few beginner photography tips that have already made a huge difference in my pics. Lots more to come – and full disclaimer that I am certainly no expert and have a lot to learn!

Beginner Photography Tips

1. Lighting is important. Trust me, paying attention to this will drastically improve your photos. I’ve been finding it best to stage photos outside, a couple hours within sunrise or sunset, not in direct sunlight. This can be challenging during the winter months or when shooting home decor indoors, so I’ll be purchasing a ring light soon to help with those situations.

2. Aperture = that professional, blurry background look. Aperture is measured in “F numbers” – the lower the number, the more blurry your background will be. When I’m shooting portraits, recipes or products where I want the background to be blurry to focus on the subject, I tend to use f/4.0. If I’m taking a scenic shot, then I have f value higher, so it lets in more light and the whole frame is in focus. And since I haven’t quite learned how to use the manual settings, I’ve been using “Aperture Priority” setting, which allows me to select the aperture and the camera automatically picks the appropriate shutter speed.

3. Composition is where you can get creative. There are a few standard tips to keep in mind, but for the most part, this is how you make your photos your own. Composition basically is how you arrange items in your photo. In general, the rule of thirds will help – picture a 3×3 grid and then position the main subject at one of the corners of the center rectangle. From there, you can get creative and develop your own photography style.

4. Shutter speed + ISO sensitivity are also key. They’re the other 2/3 of what’s called the “exposure triangle,” along with aperture. I’m learning more about these, but I do know that shutter speed controls how quickly the shutter opens and closes – and the amount of light that is let in. ISO sensitivity is a bit more challenging to explain, so I plan on sharing examples in future posts. Usually, you’ll want the ISO to be lower to prevent “noise” in your photo unless you’re shooting at night or in the dark.

5. A little editing can go a long way. This is another area I have a long way to go on, but I started playing around with the basics on my iPhone using the VSCO Cam app and now I have Adobe Lightroom 5. It’s pretty amazing how easily you can transform your photos to make them so much more visually appealing. Changing the contrast and composure are the two things I’ve been focusing on.

Example below! The top photo was taken indoors using Aperture Priority setting on f/4.0 with no photo editing. The bottom was taken with the same aperture setting but was taken outdoors in natural light and then I edited it just a tiny bit in Lightroom.

Beginner Photography Tips

Update: Another great mirrorless camera option is the Sony a5100 or Sony a6000. The a5100 is super small but still gives you great results, and the a6000 is still small in size but has some nice updated features. I’ve been using the a6000 for a few weeks and love it so far!

What photography tips do you live by? Let us know in the comments below and feel free to include links to your favorite tutorial posts!

Friday Faves {October 10, 2014}

Friday is finally here! My travel schedule has been so crazy that I’m excited to finally have a long weekend home with very few plans other than a girls dinner tonight. Check out some of my favorite posts from this week below!

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  1. My 1st Fit & Fab Living Post! I’m so excited to have become a beauty contributor to Fit & Fab Living. Check out my first post here, featuring my “do’s and don’ts” of eye shadows, including some great tips from some of my favorite makeup brands, including bareMinerals, Laura Mercier, Mary Kay and Urban Decay. {fitandfabliving.com}
  2. Removable Wallpaper in Fab Prints. When I saw this removable wallpaper on Pinterest, I was tempted to hit order on Urban Outfitter’s website and decorate my cube and anything else I could in it. It’s amazing and I just need it. {urbanoutfitters.com}
  3. Personal Stylist Delivering Clothes to My Door. This was my second time trying out StitchFix and I have to say I am a huge fan! All you have to do is pay a $20 styling fee, fill out a very detailed profile and set a date that you want to receive your package. A stylist picks out clothes just for you and you keep and pay for only what you like. The styling fee goes toward that purchase. And if you like everything, you get 25% off! I’ve been getting so many compliments on the plaid shirt shown above. Check it out here. {stitchfix.com}
  4. Glittery Pumpkins. OK, I know I posted about fun pumpkin decorations last week, but I found more and had to share. I might need to glitter-ify some pumpkins to go along with my gold ones. {cosmopolitan.com}

Friday Faves {October 3, 2014}

I took today off from work and had a great day of productivity and me-time. Nothing feels better than crossing lots of things off of my never-ending to do list! Check out my Friday Faves below – and have a great weekend. :)

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  1. Beautiful home office decor by photographer Deborah Zoe. How perfect is that shelf with photos above the desk? And all the white! As the post says, it’s truly a “little slice of pink and gray heaven.” {stylemepretty.com}
  2. Perfect fall jacket by Barbour from Jcrew. It’s the Clearaway Quilted Jacket… and I think I need it. I love a nice quilted jacket – and this one even has a hood! {jcrew.com}
  3. Amazing book turned movie. Gone Girl was sold out this weekend at the movie theaters, but I can’t wait to see this movie. Not only was the book great… Ben Affleck makes it even more of a win. {pic via nestinthewest.com}
  4. Festive pumpkins. Because let’s face it… orange doesn’t go with anyone’s home decor that I can think of. These DIY pumpkins are so simple and easy! And I just love gold everything. {theglitterguide.com}

Buy Items Directly from an Image with new iPhone App Piccing {Review}

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Piccing. All opinions are 100% mine.

As a Pinterest addict, I was excited to try out a new iPhone app, Piccing, and share my first impression with you. From my experience trying out Piccing, I discovered that this app is a fun way to explore and “picc” visual content from categories ranging from women’s fashion, food and pets, to DIY, home decor, toys and more. The main differentiator between this app and others is that it’s designed to direct you to purchase items you see in the photos with just one click.

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How it works: Download the app, select a few categories that are of interest to you and begin browsing. If you see images that you like, go ahead and “picc” them, which is a similar experience to pinning an item to one of your boards on Pinterest. You can also add your own image by uploading through the website or by using your camera/photo album on your iPhone.

There are little orange circles on some of the images, which you can tap to browse similar items. When you do that, a list of items pops up and you can scroll through and click on items you like, which then brings you to a page outside of the app to purchase that item. You can also mark items within images you’re browsing or that you upload.

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Favorite things: I love the idea behind this app. On social media sites like Pinterest and Instagram, I follow lots of bloggers and brands and often click through to get more info on specific items I’m interested in. With Piccing, you click a few times and you can ideally purchase something similar very easily. The content on the app is great too, so I enjoyed browsing through the different categories and “piccing” items to my profile.

Not-so-favorite things: The main drawback to this app right now is that when you click on a mark, the items that come up to purchase aren’t similar to the item shown in the image. The purchase process is very easy and features lots of big brands, but it would be more useful if you could at least view items that are similar in color, style or brand. Additionally, many images don’t have marks at all. Finally, there are only eight categories to browse and add images to and it might be helpful down the road to add more or allow users to create their own. This app is brand new, so I’m guessing that as more people join, more brands sign on and more users begin marking images, these drawbacks will improve.

Learn more: Check out the video below, visit Piccing.com and follow the brand on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. To download the free iPhone app, go to MobileApp.Piccing.com.

Have you heard of Piccing? If so, what do you think? What are your favorite apps right now? Let us know in the comments below!

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Customized Photo Bracelets – Perfect for Mom on Mother’s Day & Beyond {Giveaway}

I’ve mentioned before that I’m a big fan of Etsy and purchased items from several different shops leading up to my wedding. My mom had done so much for us with the wedding that I wanted to get her a thoughtful, unique gift that she would truly love. That’s when I came across ShoreCrafty, an Etsy shop specializing in customized photo bracelets. These bracelets were the perfect way to combine my mom’s love for family photos with a special bracelet that she could wear on my wedding day.


These customized pearl bracelets come in a variety of different colors – silver, bronze, pink, smokey mauve, champagne, cream, white and light gold – and can be paired with 1, 2 or three photos of your choice. This particular style is the shop’s most popular, with photo frames that have mini hearts in the corners.


When I was picking out my mom’s bracelet, I went with the three photo option because I wanted to include a photo of my grandmother who had just passed away and couldn’t be with us on my wedding day. I turned the bracelet into a nice symbol of three generations of our family, with photos of my grandmother, mom and I. It’s up to you how you customize your bracelet!



These bracelets – which are $45 for one photo, $50 for two and $55 for three – are the perfect present for Mother’s Day or for any mother-of-the-bride or groom. To check out ShoreCrafty’s entire line of bracelets, visit ShoreCrafty.Etsy.com.

Giveaway: Enter to win one of these ShoreCrafty bracelets for you, your mom, your grandmother or another special person in your life below! The giveaway starts today and ends on Monday, April 21 at 11:59 p.m. EST.

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**While I was not compensated for this post, ShoreCrafty will be providing the giveaway prize.

Giveaway: Wooden Table Numbers from Etsy’s Wine Accents by Linda

I’m a big supporter and fan of Etsy shops and have been wanting to share a few of my favorites that I used for my wedding reception back in September. First up is Wine Accents by Linda, a shop that sells wooden table numbers, other wooden cutouts and wine accessories. Linda, the shop owner, is awesome to work with and she made some awesome table numbers for our reception.

table numbers 1

My favorite thing about the table numbers is that they’re 1 inch thick, so they stand up on their own. I was on the hunt for wooden table numbers after I saw a few examples on Pinterest, but I found that most of the DIY options required wooden stands. To me, that added an unnecessary step – and when you’re wedding planning, being as efficient as possible is a must for your own sanity.

The table numbers are available in three different sizes – 4″, 5″ and 6″ – and while these really are the ideal size for table numbers, she does offer additional sizes if you request them. Each number is cut on a scroll saw, then sanded smooth to make it easy for you to paint them to match your wedding colors or stain them if you prefer the wooden look.

table number sizes

As you’ll see below in a photo from our wedding, we spray painted the table numbers with gold paint and they came out great! If you check out Linda’s Etsy page, you can also see a few other examples from past brides show different ways that they can be painted and displayed.

wedding flowers

(Photo credit: TARA Photography)

Linda also offers wooden initials and Mr. & Mrs. signs that could be used on a sweetheart or candy table, or you could incorporate your last name initial onto a centerpiece at your reception as well. Not only is she open to custom projects, but she also is really great to work with! She answered all of my questions very quickly and was very friendly and helpful. As a result of my great experience working with Linda, as well as the great finished numbers, one of my friends is now using my table numbers for her own wedding!

The price per number or letter ranges from $4-$6 each for single letters and numbers, and double digit numbers range from $6-$9 each, which is actually a 25% discount off of two numbers. Based on my research, I found these prices to be really reasonable given the quality.

Are you engaged and planning a wedding, or know someone who is? Enter the giveaway below now through February 10, 2014 for a chance to win a set of 5 inch table numbers 1-15 from Wine Accents by Linda, valued at $90!

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**I was not compensated for this post and did not receive free product for the review. However, Wine Accents by Linda will be providing the giveaway prize at no cost.