Why You Should DIY Your Own Stock Photos

Why you should DIY your own stock photos + a free 14 day challenge for bloggers! | via @loveandlocalbiz | loveandlocal.biz

Can we have a moment of #realtalk for a second?

I was going through a certain hashtag on Instagram the other day looking for examples of great brand photography from other creatives to feature in an upcoming blog post, and I kept coming across the same photo. Over and over and over again.

And while it was a really nice photo, I knew it wasn’t a regram. It was a stock photo.

I know this because I used the same photo as the background of my Powerpoint presentation in my Mass Communications class last year.

It’s official.

We’ve come to a point of #stockphotooversaturation

and the only cure is to DIY your own stock photos.

There are only so many stock photo sites, and many of them are catering to one or two particular aesthetics. If your branding isn’t extremely bright and feminine, or if you’re looking for particular props in your brand colors, you’re at a loss. And chances are, your audience is following others in your niche or Instagram accounts that are similar to yours, and experiencing this #stockphotooversaturation themselves.

How many times have you thought,

“If I see another damn flat lay of rustic tools on a wooden background and the same all white desk with pink peonies in a vase, I’m going to scream!”?

Yea, that’s what your readers are thinking too.

As a blogger and small business owner, you wear all the hats, ALL.THE.TIME. And when that means creating original blog content, creating original social media content, and creating original email content, sometimes creating original visual content gets sent to the bottom of the never-ending Master To Do list.

But, your blog and social media visuals aren't just part of your content, they're part of your branding.

And how can your brand stand out from the rest when you're representing yourself using the same graphics as everyone else?

So, to combat this epidemic, I’m hosting a free 14 day challenge for bloggers!

Create an action plan to DIY your own stock photos with this FREE 14 day branding & photography challenge for bloggers! via @loveandlocalbiz | loveandlocal.biz

From June 1 - 14, you’ll receive daily email prompts that will help you to get clear about your branding and help you to incorporate it into your blog photography. You'll also receive worksheets, video tutorials, and the support of a private Slack community!

By the end of the challenge, you’ll have your own step-by-step plan to DIY-ing your own stock photos from scratch that matches your schedule and budget. Whether you have one weekend or just one hour, this challenge will help you plan out exactly what you need to make it happen.

5 iPhone Photo Apps for Bloggers (+ a free guide to 20 more!)

If you're using your iPhone for your blog or business photos, here's 5 apps that you should be using. Plus a free guide with 20 more apps if you're ready to take your visual content to the next level! | #blogging #blogphotography #branding |  from loveandlocal.biz

It's no secret

I'm an app addict.

If you were to take a look at my phone right now, you'd find a folder with over 50 photo apps. Yes, fifty apps. And that's just what's currently on my phone right now.

I spend a lot of time researching and experimenting with apps because, as I mentioned in this blog post with 7 Tips for Boosting Your iPhoneography Game, I take all of my blog and business photos with my iPhone. No fancy lighting equipment or expensive DSLR here, just an iPhone and a ton of apps. And out of all of those apps, there are five that stick out the most. They are the ones I use every day for my business, and the ones I recommend more for any bloggers wanting to DIY their photos like a pro. Today I want to share those apps with you, along with some examples of how I've used each one.

You’ve likely already heard of VSCO, as it’s been one of the most popular photography apps for the past year or two. The filter presets are meant to mimic the look of various analog film types, giving your photos a professional yet artistic look. This has long been my go-to editing app for all of my photography. I shoot all of my iPhone photos using their camera mode with very few tweaks to the manual settings, and usually edit the photos using a set of paid presets.

Tip: Check their app and email newsletter weekly for sales on presets. While most of the preset packs can be purchased for $2.99 for a set of 10 filters, I snagged nearly all of the preset packs during a sale for only $0.99.

This app is quite new, but is quickly stealing VSCO's spot in my heart. 

Made by the Japanese company LINE, this app was specifically made to make iPhone food photography look gorgeous. It comes with several free filters split into various categories for different types of food - Crunchy, Sweet, BBQ, and Fresh - but the presets can make any photo Instagram-worthy. I’ve personally used the “Yummy” presets to edit most of my blog photography recently, and love how it makes the colors really pop. The Blur feature, which works just like the one in Instagram, appears more natural and realistic in this app than any other I've found.

Tip: There’s also a “Flatlay Finder” feature that lets you know when your phone is perfectly aligned overtop of your subject, letting you take the perfect flat lay without any wonky perspective issues to correct later.



If you’re looking to add text to your photos or create collages, MOLDIV is the app for you. The app has tons of collage layouts to choose from (both free and paid), and recently introduced their “Magazine Layouts”, which makes it very simple to create DIY magazine spreads right from your phone. There is a great selection of fonts available within the app, so you can ensure your photos and collages match your existing branding.

Tip: Upload your own images as backgrounds to create quote posts and social media graphics on the go (like my Q&A Thursday post for the Love and Local Biz Buddies community). All of your images will be saved to a folder marked “MOLDIV” on your iPhone - navigate to that folder from your social media platform to see all of your images that are ready to post!

A Color Story

The famous app by the lovely minds behind the DIY and design blog A Beautiful Mess, it’s no surprise this app nearly broke Instagram with it’s pre-launch campaign. Known for their fun personalities and bright pops of color, the ABM team created an app with filters and editing features that create beautiful Instagram-worthy images. While the free filter choice is a bit limited, the real magic is the Curves adjustments feature, which gives you more Photoshop-like control within an easy to use iPhone app. Other features include the ability to save editing steps (like Afterlight), and added elements like light leaks, booked effects and color fog. The paid filters and upgrades range from $0.99 to $1.99 for 10-20 filter presets, with new ones released periodically.

Tip: I’ve noticed this app works best with photos featuring lighter color palettes. Experiment with a combination of filters and Curves adjustments to find the perfect editing style for your photo. Once you find one that works for you, save your editing steps to use later to apply the same exact filters and adjustments to all of your photos for a more cohesive look.

LINE Camera

Another one by LINE, this app seriously has more features than I can begin to list, but my favorite is the "blemish" feature. It allows you to cover up little blemishes in your photos, which is perfect for those pesky bumps that always seem to pop up on the morning of your headshot photoshoot. I also use it to clean up any crumbs or spots on the plate in my food photography that I might have missed. Other features include the ability to create “stickers” from other photos, and a huge selection of illustrations and graphic elements that can be overlayed on top of your photos. Think cute kawaii faces on cupcakes and pandas swimming in your coffee cup, but also the ability to create “stickers” from your face, products, or anything you choose!

Tip: When using the blemish feature, use a smaller brush size. This will ensure that the corrections aren't noticeable! I used LINE Camera to remove little pieces of lint on my phone screen in the image featured in this GIF.


Remember all of that "researching and experimenting" I mentioned earlier? I've done a lot of the hard work already so you don't have to. To save you the hassle of doing it on your own, I've created a 5-page resource guide filled with 20 more apps for bloggers who want to get even more creative. There's everything from apps for adding text to creating GIFs, and even a few that will give you DSLR manual controls right from your iPhone.


What are some of your favorite editing apps? What do you like and/or dislike about them? Let me know in the comments below!

7 Tips for Better iPhone Blog Photos (+ a FREE email course!)

Learn how to take great blog photos with your iPhone with these 7 actionable tips plus a free 5 day email course to really take your iPhoneography to the next level! | via Love and Local Business | loveandlocal.biz

When I first started my food blog and began posting my recipe photos to Instagram, the most common questions I received were not on the recipes, but on my photography. People would ask what type of camera and equipment I was using, where I earned my photography degree, and if I was available to shoot events.

But the truth is, I don't own any fancy equipment, I don't have a photography degree, and I had never done any sort of professional photography before in my life.

Oh, and the whole camera thing? I don't even own a digital camera. 


And to be completely honest, I edit them all with my iPhone too. Even though I'm a graphic designer and know my way around Photoshop, I absolutely love the ease and convenience of using my phone.

Today we're covering seven actionable things you can do to boost your iPhoneography right now. And if you want to take it a step further, I've created a free 5 day e-mail course that provides in-depth lessons on each of the tips covered below.

7 Actionable Tips to Boost Your iPhoneography Game

1. Natural lighting is your best friend

I know, I know. This is one of those basic rules that everyone always says in these kinds of posts. But it’s SO true. Using natural light allows you to take photos with colors that are brighter and more white than photos taken under your normal house lighting, which usually has a yellow tint. Starting off with correctly lit photographs helps make editing a lot easier later on.


Taken with overhead indoor lighting

Taken with natural light next to a window


Notice in the images above that the natural sunlight coming from an angle creates shadows across the surface of the pizza, showing depth and texture.

Take Action: Create a DIY sunlight map of your space. Make notes of the times that your space receives the best light and the quality and source of the light you receive (directly overhead, ambient but not too bright, bouncing off your neighbors car, etc.). Do this for a week each season and you’ll know exactly when you have the best lighting available to you.

2. Steer clear of the native Camera app

Seriously. There are tons of free (and paid) apps that offer advanced features for better control over your photos. Again, starting off with better photos will make editing a lot easier.

Take Action: Sign up for “iPhoneography Basics for Bloggers” for a full lesson on selecting the best editing app for you, plus the exact apps and processes I use to edit my photos!

3. Pay attention to details

We’ve all seen the bedroom mirror selfies with the streaks on the mirror and piles of dirty clothes on the floor. And we all know that no one is really paying attention to that new haircut or outfit. People pay attention to those things. Be sure to move all clutter out of the frame, give the countertop a quick dusting and straighten those picture frames in the background.

Take Action: Go through your recent photos and look to see if there are any details you missed. Now make a mental note to fix those things before you snap that next picture! If you batch your photography tasks, try to schedule your photo shoots right after you clean/tidy up each week. That way you know your space will be clean and ready to go when you start taking photos.

4. Use the grid

You know those lines all across your camera screen? That’s the grid. Make it your best friend (along with Natural Lighting in #1). It goes off of the Rule of Thirds and helps you create dynamic, interesting photos.

Take Action: Experiment with negative space by just filling the bottom 1/3 of the frame, or create more visual flow by hitting the four “sweet spots” where the grid lines intersect.

5. Edit wisely

Remember when Instagram first came out and people were putting dark filters over grainy bar photos and vignetting all over the place? Don’t be that guy. Experiment with different filters from various editing apps, and find one (or a combination!) that works well with your own visual branding & aesthetic, but doesn’t leave your photos too dark, grainy, over saturated, etc.

Take Action: Use an app like Afterlight or A Color Story to experiment with different filters and effects. Both apps allow you to create your own customer filter combinations and save them for later use!

6. Experiment

You know the saying “practice makes perfect”? Experimentation is practice, too! Don’t be afraid to take out your phone when you feel inspired or see something interesting, and experiment with capturing it from different angles or in various types of lighting. The more you experiment, the more you will begin to find your own unique photography style and what works best for you.

Take Action: Challenge yourself to take at least one photo every day and give yourself permission to experiment! You can even join a challenge like the 100 Day Project for an extra push of motivation and burst of inspiration from others challenging themselves to create a consistent habit.

7. Wipe off your lens!

This is the single most important thing you can do to consistently take the best photos possible with your iPhone, or any camera. If your iPhone is anything like mine, it spends a lot of time in my pocket or at the bottom of my bag, picking up lint and random specks along the way even if it’s protected by a case. Be sure to use a soft cloth that won’t scratch the lens.

Take Action: Find a soft cloth that you can keep handy in your bag or purse to clean your screen before your next photo shoot!

How to Banish Blurry Canva Downloads Forever


It's no secret:
 I love Canva.

Even as a graphic designer, I would choose Canva over Photoshop or Illustrator for most everyday tasks. It's just that good.

But sometimes when you download your images from Canva as a JPG or PNG, your text may appear a little blurry or pixelated.

Here's an example. I used Canva to create the Love and Local Biz Facebook Page cover graphic, and downloaded the image as both a JPG and PNG

Image: for Web (JPG)

IMAGE: high quality (PNG)

On smaller screens you may not notice as much (depending on the purpose of your design), but on larger screens you can definitely see the difference.

So WTF can you do to fix it?

meet SmallPDF, your new best friend.

SmallPDF let's you convert one file type to another. In this case, we're going to use it to convert a crisp & clear PDF from Canva to a crisp & clear JPG image.


(pdf converted to jpg using smallpdf.com)


The best part? It seriously only take less than 2 minutes. Here's a step-by-step guide:


1. From the Download menu, select "PDF: for print"



2. Head over to smallpdf.com


3. Select the bright yellow "PDF to JPG" button



4. Upload your PDF file using one of the options listed:

  • drag & drop PDF from desktop

  • choose file from computer

  • select file from Dropbox

  • select file from Google Drive



5. Select "Convert entire pages" option


6. Then select "Choose option" button



7. Once your file has processed, scroll down & click the thumbnail of your image to download the crisp & clear JPG version!


And there you have it! Crisp and clear JPG versions of your original image from Canva.

Want more tech trainings and resources like this?

Use the form below and I’ll keep you updated when new tutorials are released!