How To Take Bright Photos With Your DSLR

Tips on how to take brighter photos with your DSLR
Tips on how to take brighter photos with your DSLR | edited versus not edited

Trust me, I completely understand if you feel disheartened and can’t quite figure out how to take bright photos for your blog. That is something I really struggled with when I first started blogging, and I would always get really disheartened when taking photos. It got to the point where I wouldn’t blog consistently simply because I hated the way my pictures turned out. Honestly, this was a problem for me up until a few months ago. Now, I really like taking photos because I’ve finally gotten into the groove of things. My pictures are in no way perfect and I’m not an expert by any means. I still get really frustrated at times, but these simple tips really helped me and I hope they help you too!

How To Take Bright Photos

Natural lighting

I haven’t been able to look back ever since I discovered the wonders of natural lighting. I basically have no life on Sundays because during the day I spend several hours taking photographs. Even if you don’t have a lot of natural light in your home (like me), I suggest still using natural light and then playing around with editing afterwards.

Tips on how to take brighter photos with your DSLR

How to take brighter photos with your DSLR | Not edited with natural lighting

Reflect light

Reflecting light is a great way to amp up the brightness even if you have limited lighting. You can buy reflectors or you can use a white foam board/ poster board, which is what I use for my photography setup.

Use light backgrounds

This kind of goes hand in hand with reflecting light. Using light colored backgrounds will reflect light and make your pictures brighter. If you use a lot of dark backgrounds then your images of course will come out darker.

Avoid direct sunlight

If you do use natural light, avoid direct sunlight. Direct sunlight can cause harsh shadows. I personally take photos during the day when no direct sunlight is in the room. Overcast days are my favorite because it gives a very even diffused light.

Use artificial light

Natural lighting can be very finicky and difficult to work with, and balancing a full time job/school means you’ll most likely have to take pictures at night sometimes. In that case, invest in artificial lights. I used to use umbrella lights until February of this year when I purchased some soft boxes.

Use daylight bulbs

If you do use artificial light, make sure you use daylight bulbs. Basically, daylight bulbs with a color temperature of 5500K are ideal because they’re not too yellow or too blue in tone. Never ever use regular yellow bulbs because those will make your pictures way too yellow!

The exposure triangle

If you have a DSLR then you should really get to know “the exposure triangle.” The exposure triangle consists of ISO, aperture, and shutter speed.

ISO: if you have really dim lighting then up the ISO because this will add brightness to your pictures. But, make sure you don’t go over 800 because that is when your pictures can start to get a bit grainy.

Aperture: this is the f stop number. Aperture can be confusing, but basically a lower number will allow more light to come in. A higher number will allow less light to come in. If you hear someone say high or wide aperture that really means the number is lower (i.e. f/ 1.8) and vice versa. Aperture also affects depth of field. A higher aperture (low number) is great if you want a blurred background with focus on one object. A lower aperture (high number i.e. f/ 16) means more will be in focus, but remember that will allow less light in.

Shutter Speed: this is the amount of time the shutter speed is open. A lower number means it’s going to be quicker, while a higher shutter speed means it’s going to be open longer. Shutter speed deals with blur and motion in a picture, but it can also affect brightness. Basically, without getting too complicated, a slower shutter speed (lower number) will make your images brighter. But, a number too high or too low will be affected by camera shake.

Take brighter photos with your DSLR camera by upping the ISO

Take brighter photos with your DSLR camera by upping the ISO


Camera shake indirectly affects brightness, which is why I think a tripod is a really good investment. Investing in a tripod will allow you to have a slower shutter speed and that will brighten your photos while still being clear and crisp.

Adjust your white balance

Your camera’s white balance is really important if you don’t want your pictures to come out too yellow or blue toned. I personally use “AWB” which is the auto white balance, and think it works great. But, you can use the other settings depending on your lighting and even set your own custom white balance. Basically, take a picture of a white piece of paper in the lighting you’re using and choose the custom white balance option.

Don’t use flash

I used to use my camera’s flash all the time because I thought it would help brighten up my photos. But, it really just gives causes your photos to have uneven lighting and harsh shadows, which is no good if you’re trying to have evenly lit bright photos.

Focus on editing

Lastly, editing really makes all the difference! Upping your exposure, highlights, adjusting your curves, and adjusting the temperature are just a few things you can do to make your images much brighter.

Tips on how to take brighter photos with your DSLR

Tips on how to take brighter photos with your DSLR | edited versus not edited

What do you do to make your photos brighter? What are some of your photography questions? Let me know in the comments below!

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  • Great tips, thanks for the post!
    Jen / Velvet Spring x

  • Stephanie Hartley

    I’ve found turning my flash off really useful too recently! I find it’s so much better because your photos have less glare and you can add in extra brightness when you edit that the flash would have given

    Steph –

    • Yes! I used to think flash was a must, but it actually makes things worse.

  • Thanks for the tips, Nida! I find understanding exposure triangle really helps, and maybe it’s the 1st thing we should learn when picking up DSLR. Slight change of shutter-speed really affect the whole image.

    Selene Addicted

    • Yes! The exposure triangle is so important. I wish I had researched more about it when I first started taking pictures.

  • Such great tips! I never go over 100 ISO just because the bigger you make your photos the more grainy they get which annoys me so much. I also think natural lighting really does make the biggest difference, I never shoot without it
    Kathy x

    • Same! I stay in the 100-200 range. I used to use ISO 800! Now that makes me cringe lol

  • Ah this has so much useful info! I’m always so confused about the whole exposure triangle thing so this really cleared a lot up! :)

    Nicole | In The Life of NM

    • Yay, I’m glad it helped :). The exposure triangle is really confusing, but really playing around with my camera and trial and error really helped me :)

  • Tiffany Tales

    Great tips, these are so helpful. Thanks for sharing x

    Tiffany Tales – A British Beauty & Lifestyle Blog

  • Thank you so much for these helpful tips. I love natural lighting, but during the winter it can be rough! I need to invest in some lighting.

    • Thanks for reading :). The winter is a lot harder! I like my soft boxes for those days when I need more help.

  • i need to think about using reflective props to get a even whiter light! thx for the good advice!!<3

    xx from italy
    Cate ღ kate/

  • Lovely tips :) I don’t use the flash on my camera but I use a flashgun to bounce light off the ceiling and it works wonders and looks so natural. They’re pricey but such a worthwhile investment, especially on darker days or in dim lit rooms!

    Gemma Louise

    • I really wanted to get a flash gun, but they are pricey! I’ll have to look into them. Thanks! xx

  • I always struggle with this! LOL You gave some really good tips. Natural light works so well. I have to capture things at a certain time. The rainy weather hasn’t helped. LOL Saving this post. Thanks.

    • I’m glad you found it helpful :). Natural light really is my favorite xx

  • Ms Tantrum

    Great tips. I have saved your post for future reference. I do have soft boxes but I have a pre schooler son who is everywhere all the time.. Lol. I should use my proper photography set up. I love your pictures ????

    Ash |

  • Elizabeth Hisle

    Do you have a tripod that does flatlays? Because mine doesn’t and I have always wondered how people do that unless there is some sort of branch that reaches out and holds the camera? Or do I have no idea what is going on?

    • I don’t have the tripod that does take flatlays since they tend to be really expensive, but you can get tripods that have an extension for overhead flatlays. They’re generally around $150!

  • So many helpful tips :) thank you xx