Blog Photography

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 |

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 |

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

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!