17 things every blogger should know about photography

Photography tips for bloggers
Attract more readers, make your posts shareable and your blog beautiful.

1. Make your featured image eye catching

Make your post stand out amongst the sea of new content published every day. Take your main photo yourself to add some personality to your blog, or find images online through reputable suppliers. (See this post for great places to find royalty free images online.)

2. Don’t use images you find online without getting the photographer’s permission

It’s illegal, it breaches copyright, it can land you with a big damages claim, and it’s just not polite. Ask the photographer for permission before you use their photo. If you can’t find who took the photo, don’t use it. There are plenty of places to find legal photos without needing to steal them (see link in point 1).

3. Fill in the alt tag on your image if you want Google to find your image

Google doesn’t index photos, but it does index the text associated with an image. If you want Google to register the fact you are writing about baby sleep tips, then fill in “baby sleep tips” in the alt tag of the photo of a sleeping baby that you include in your post.

4. Name your images

Google will also index the names you give to your photos. Don’t publish a photo named ‘DSC000435.jpg’. Change the name to ‘sleeping-baby.jpg’ before you publish. Google apparently reads hyphens (“-“) as spaces and underscores (“_”) as joiners, so use hyphens for preference.

5. Resize your images to save storage space

Your blog platform probably resizes your images for you to fit your post page size, but you can save space on your server (and reduce upload times) if you downsize them to the largest you are likely to need before you upload. I rarely upload anything bigger than 1000px wide.

6. Have a friendly headshot of yourself on your site

People like people. They are more likely to read your blog if they can see who you are and what you look like. Use the same photo as your social media profile photo so that your readers will recognise you when they come across you not on your blog.

7. It’s all about the light

Most blog photos are too dark. Learn how to get correct exposure on your camera, make sure you have enough light, and compensate in post processing if your photo is underexposed.

8. If it’s not about the light it’s about the background

Distracting backgrounds spoil millions of blog photos every day. Clear up the clutter, change your viewpoint, put a plain board behind your subject – do what it takes to get a clean background.

9. Don’t use watermarks just because everyone else is

Watermarks are generally ugly and distracting. Before you decide to use them, make sure you’ve considered all the pros and cons. Have a read of my post “Why you should (maybe not) watermark your photos“.

10. Get your horizontal eye in

Blog posts need letterbox shaped images. Always have that in mind when you are taking photos, and practice composing horizontally. The exception to this rule is Pinterest. If you want to include a Pinnable image, frame it vertically, or make a tall and thin collage. Canva is a free graphic design tool which has amazing Pinterest optimised templates.

11. Learn how to edit

Your photos don’t come out of the camera ready to use. At the very least you will need to check the exposure and maybe do some cropping, but you can do plenty more if you play with the contrast and saturation. Photoshop is the gold standard photo editor, but cheaper software like Adobe Lightroom, or free online software like PicMonkey, does everything you need.

12. Backup

Backup your photos in 2 places. Don’t leave them on your camera and don’t just download them to your laptop. Download once to an external hard drive, and once to the cloud or somewhere offsite. Doing anything else leaves you vulnerable to losing your photos to theft, fire, flood, computer virus and hard drive crashes. Have a read of my “quick and dirty, something is better than nothing” post on backing up photos.

13. Learn how to style a photo

It doesn’t matter what you blog about – food, fashion, lifestyle, parenting, travel, craft, gardening – if you take photos of stuff to illustrate your blog, those photos would be better with a bit of styling. All this means is that you think about your photo before you take it. Start with a blank canvas and only add in things that will enhance your photo. Have a limited colour palette and try to tell a story with your subject and props.

14. You don’t need a DSLR

You can take fantastic photos with your phone or with a point a shoot. You are not taking photos to hang on the wall, so file size doesn’t matter (this post explains why: “The more megapixels the better?“). Practise getting great light, good exposure and fabulous composition, and you will have all the eye catching photos you need. Taken with my iPhone:

15. Love microblogging

Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook – if you pick one and regularly post photo updates you will find the engagement with your readers going up. More traffic, more conversations, more feedback. Make it easy for followers to find your blog – put a hotlink URL in your bio or profile description.

16. Don’t listen to the photo snobs

Be careful who you take advice from. Photographers are notoriously particular about how to take photos – you can spend thousands of dollars and lose all your self esteem if you listen too closely. Only take blog photo advice from a photographer if they actually have a great blog. And don’t listen to anyone who says you can’t take a fantastic photo on your phone.

17. Develop your own style

A lot of popular bloggers have a definite photography style. It might be vintage, grunge, or they might use lots of white and pink, or overlay text in a funky font. There’s no problem in being inspired by other bloggers, but your blog will become more recognisable when you start to develop your own style which is unique to you. This is one of the hardest things to do as a photographer, so don’t feel you have to do it overnight. It can take years.

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