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A Short Guide to Photography in Blogging

May 2nd, 2014 by Sophie

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.

blogging photography A Short Guide to Photography in Blogging
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.

blogclub photography A Short Guide to Photography in Blogging

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.

Screen Shot 2014 05 01 at 13.23.18 A Short Guide to Photography in Blogging
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.

sammy iphone A Short Guide to Photography in Blogging

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.

camera sophie A Short Guide to Photography in Blogging
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!

Pic collage1 A Short Guide to Photography in Blogging

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.

camera A Short Guide to Photography in Blogging

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)

All photographs edited by Afterlight or PicMonkey. Image 1 via Wikipedia & Image 2 via Wikipedia Commons (both via Google’s Usage Rights search). All other images from VAN or Sophie Saint.

Quick tips for bloggers on how to build an online profile, make friends and influence people.

March 24th, 2014 by Melanie Peck

bonjor Quick tips for bloggers on how to build an online profile, make friends and influence people.

This week we chatted with Bristol based fashion and lifestyle blogger, Hayley Constantine, about how to build an online profile, make friends and develop a creative process. Hayley is the lady behind the awesome Bonjour Blogger website, so we thought we’d pick her brain to see what pearls of wisdom she could offer to budding writers and anyone looking to start a career as a blogger.

Q. Bonjour blogger has managed to build up a really strong online network of followers and friends. Do you have any advice for bloggers on how to start developing relationships with other writers and find new blogging BFFs?

A. Bonjour, Blogger! has only been around since May 2013, but I’ve been blogging since 2000! I think the best thing to build relationships with others is Twitter – it might sound so obvious, but it allows you to chat to anyone, without making any serious commitments – ideal when you’re starting out.

Q. Most online publishers are already using sites like Twitter, Google and Facebook to help promote their blogs, but learning how to use these tools effectively can be a bit of an art form. Do you have any tips for bloggers on how they should be using social media to build their follower network?

A. When you’re just starting out on Twitter, etc, then I’d say the best thing to do would be to get involved with the different hashtag chats – there are ones out there for pretty much every genre of blogs, so there’s bound to be something you can talk about! Twitter is probably my favourite social media platform because it’s so open – anyone can talk to anyone, you don’t have to be following each other. Following lots of your favourite bloggers is a good way to find who you enjoy reading in real time, rather than a planned out blog post – you might find that someone whose blog you love only ever retweets compliments and promotes their blog, which is kinda dull to follow.

Q. The comments section of a blog can be a great way to start chatting with your readers and allow people to share opinions about your posts. Unfortunately it’s also an open invitation for internet trolls to post spammy links and pointless comments. Do you have any suggestions on how to manage user feedback and get people chatting and engaging with your posts?

blog Quick tips for bloggers on how to build an online profile, make friends and influence people.

A. The best way to get people commenting on your posts is to go and comment as much as you can on other blogs. Leaving thoughtful/non generic comments on other posts means that others will want to click through to your blog – there’s a trend where some people will leave basic comments like “nice dress!” then a long list of links where you can find them. Why would anyone bother to look at what you’re saying on your blog if you can’t be bothered to find something interesting to say about a post?

Regarding the spammy comments, It’s often a good idea to implement a comment policy – it’s all common sense really – don’t spam, don’t post links in comments with your affiliate links (how rude is that?!) – I haven’t needed to enforce mine yet, but it’s good to have it there just in case.

Q. Building a strong blogging community isn’t just about making friends online. There’s nothing quite like face-to-face contact and networking groups can be a really easy way to meet new people. What’s the best way for bloggers to find out what’s going on in their local area or further afield?

A. Keeping an eye on on Twitter, of course, is important, but frustratingly, most bloggers seem to say that they didn’t know about an event until they see the recaps posted! There’s a blogging events calendar on Bonjour Blogger’s Event’s Diary, which people can add their own listings to, and subscribe to, so they can find out the next events. There are also groups like South West Bloggers on Facebook who hold events and publicise other peoples events.

Q. Going to networking events can be scary, especially if you haven’t been to many before. Do you have any tips on how to prepare.

A. Having someone to go with is awesome, because then you’re not feeling awkward at being the oldest person in the room (that might just be my fear). Talking to others on Twitter (I’m sorry! I just really love chatting to people online!) that are going to the event will help get rid of those nerves as well. Being prepared with things like blog business cards and making sure your camera is charged means you won’t be flustered when you are asked where you blog, or when you want to get a pic of everyone and realise your camera is dead. Here’s a checklist of handy things to prepare before you turn up at a networking event.

Q. We noticed that you have an awesome selection of blogger interviews and guest post on your site, how do you go about getting people to contribute content for your blog?

A. I’m lucky, because I’ve been around so long, I know some amazing bloggers, and have just asked if they would like to take part in the interview feature, or if they have specific skills, then if they would like to guest post. I feel very awkward asking though, like they’re going to turn me down because they don’t like the site!

Q. Bonjour Blogger is one of our favourite sites for finding practical advice and step by step ‘how to’ tips for bloggers. What kind of posts do you find are most popular and if you had to pick one post that you think every blogger should read, what would it be?

A. Thank you! I find that the discussion posts really get people commenting, because it’s easier to give an opinion on a post like “Is guest posting is over for SEO purposes?“ than on “Things to remember when posting a blog post“. As far as recommending a post that I think people should read goes; this is probably cheating, but I’d recommend checking out “Keeping your New Years blogging resolutions” because it’s a collection of links to previous posts on specific topics that I think bloggers could find really useful!

Q. Do you have any advice final advice for bloggers?

A. I think the main thing to remember with blogging is that it needs to be fun. Whether you’re a new blogger or a full time one with a huge audience, as soon as it doesn’t become enjoyable to do, then stop doing it, or rework what you’re doing. The blogs that are set up purely to get free things to review never last very long – you need to actually enjoy blogging to keep on going!