Hopefully, it is not news to your ears (or should I say eyes) that photography in blogs is incredibly important. Whether you write your own or obsessively trawl blogs on your lunch break, you’re bound to notice that images on sites can either make or break the post that you’re scouring! But the prospect of photography and image handling can sometimes be quite an intimidating affair for amateur photographers, especially when faced with a plethora of stunning pictures on Tumblr/Pinterest/Instagram. A lot of those shots can get you welling with photo-envy, but we’ve collated the basics (plus some useful hacks) that every blogger should know to make pictures pop.
We’re well aware of the short attention span that everyone online reportedly has. Readers want to flick their eyes up and down a page (in a F-shape according to studies) and quickly glean the sought after information. Unfortunately, sometimes content isn’t king and you need to give your readers a helping hand in maintaining their undivided attention. It’s easy to lose them in a post that is too text heavy. You need to break up that copy; jazz it up a bit and illustrate those points! The top way of achieving this is by displaying visually satisfying images that compliment your content whilst also keeping the layout looking great! Sounds like a lot, but great photographs really are that integral to a blog.
The main benefit of taking your own photographs is that you’ll avoid getting stung by copywriting infringements from angry photographers. Sure, you might credit the image from whatever website you found it on but sometimes that isn’t enough for a photographer. If they discover that you have ‘nicked’ their image, they can hunt you down and make you pay. Literally.
There is Flickr’s Creative Commons section that clearly lays out what images are under what licenses, and Google Image search now allows users to search according to ‘Usage Rights’, but taking your own images add that personal and creative touch.
The first problem to tackle is the age-old question: What camera to use?
Digital point-and-shoot cameras flood the market now, spoiling you for choice and dazzling you with technological jargon. It’s always best to reach out to blogger/twitter friends for recommendations to avoid expensive trial and error experiences. At last months #BlogClub, I got to try out Hayley’s Sony NEX-5 which I absolutely loved. It’s a DSLR that has been stripped of unnecessary components making it real simple for inexperienced camera users. It has an easy menu system with an in-built guide to help you get those great shots, plus interchangeable lenses to give you a professional experience.
Nikons and Canons are the cherished favourites of the DSLR world. I always have my trusty Canon Rebel T3 at hand for capturing those travel shots for Travelettes, and as Canon is yet to fail me I would highly recommend their simple models. However, many bloggers would correctly argue that it doesn’t matter what model you have, but it’s all about the quality of lens that you use. Amen, sisters.
Hold up though. Before you go splashing that cash on flashy cameras, stop and have a look in your pocket. Smart phones these days have come leaps and bounds – an in-built flashlight is no longer the most exciting thing they have to offer! Welcome to the 21st century, people, and get snapping on your iPhone/Nokia etc for your blogging. Smart phones contain cameras that rival those regular cameras that can’t call your mum. They now have fantastic technologies making it the top most accessible (and shareable) way of capturing images.
Hopefully iPhones won’t eradicate cameras, as in the words of Apple, “it just makes more sense to teach iPhone how to take a great picture rather than teach people how to be expert photographers.” Yeeesh… You won’t get the same level of control as a DSLR as you can’t control the depth of field and lighting, but lets face it, they are so simple and easy.
If you thought that this blog post would explain how to take a perfect and awesome photograph, then I successfully tricked you (so not sorry!). Even though Apple believes that an iPhone is the way to go to perfect a shot, if you take a picture of a load of crud… you’re still taking a picture of a load of crud… no matter how well your lens auto-adjusts, face-recognises, etc. Practise makes perfect and the more you snap, the better eye you’ll develop for great scenes to capture.
Timing, subjects, lighting, positioning and luck – all this comes into play to get a great photo. If you’ve been shooting for months and you still feel that a toddler with an etch-a-sketch could still beat your photos, then don’t despair! That is what editing was created for. Whack a few filters on, ‘clarify’, adjust some settings (do you dare to sun flare?) and soon your average picture will be deep, meaningful and arty.
Yes, this brings me perfectly onto the art of editing and the apps you can use. Don’t worry, it wont be a big rant about Instagram. Sure Instagram pioneered the means of filtering an image to within an inch of its life, but now there’s a plethora of apps available. At #BlogClub, the top two phone apps that got mentioned was Afterlight and VSCO. Afterlight has about 60 filters that dominate over Instagram’s stale ones. There are also cool features, such as, sun flares, ‘dust on the film’ effect and crop shapes to experiment with. VSCO is supposed to be one of the most innovative photo apps out at the moment with great effects for shooting and editing, for example, locking and unlocking exposure of different areas of a scene. Check out Emil Pakarklis’s guide to this app, or just download it for free and have a play. Other fun apps include Quad Camera and Touch Retouch to give your images a bit more pizazz.
Alternatively, you may have actually taken a photo on a DSLR or digital camera and now want to give it a boost… or write some fancy cursive lettering on it. No, you don’t have to sell your cat and spend a fortune on PhotoShop or Adobe PhotoShop Lightroom (this one is ace though!) due to the fact that there are so many free online programs that will help you out. We’ve done a great synopsis of all the top programs, such as Ribbet, Pic Monkey and BeFunky, so check them out. They are guaranteed to do everything you have ever dreamt of and more!
If you’re still keen to have a go with PhotoShop, try out PhotoShop Free Online which will allow you to get to grips with some of the features before having to pay up for the full version. Top Tip: be sure to resize your images as it may take an age them to upload for your viewers. Don’t forget our whole “I’m online and impatient and want everything fast” personas that your readers surely have. Do you think they’ll really hang around for 10 minutes as each image slowly ebbs into view? No. I wouldn’t, so resize those images before uploading into your blog.
Hopefully this has broken down any photography fears or queries you may have concerning your blog. Don’t forget about the power of the blogosphere and how many bloggers out there probably have a few years experience under their belt when it comes to tackling images. Sometimes pro-bloggers/amateur photographers are the best for advice as they’ve done the learning curve and can explain how they reached their current level in colloquial and relatable language. Not too much buzzwords or jargon to confuse you.
So I’ll leave you with some helpful links to further your education. Read on and get snapping!
The Craft of Photography (The Daily Post)
DSLR Online Simulator
PhotoBlogging Tips (Mashable)
Photography Tips & Inspiration (A Beautiful Mess)
Secrets to Successful Fashion Blogging (Pretty Shiny Sparkly)