DailyMorningCoffee is pleased to welcome Imogen Reed with his first Guest Article.
Taking and Choosing Great Photos to Accompany Blog Posts
A blog that doesn’t have vibrant photos looks bland. That statement may not be a news flash, but it’s surprising how many bloggers ignore the power of photo essays, and insert one small shot at the top or bottom. Does it look like an afterthought? Sure, it does.
No matter what the topic, there should be a few photos that are relevant, even if it’s just a photo of sky, nature, children, pets or a leather sectional. True, you can pay for photos on photo stock companies such as iStock, or source photos from your friends or from free photo providers such as Wikimedia. But by far the simplest way to go about adding photos is to take them yourself. This may lead you to ask the following question: How do you take and choose the best pictures?
These days, you don’t need an expensive camera, just a fairly nice one that has both an SD card with a large amount of storage space and a good, rechargeable battery pack. Digital photography makes it easy for bloggers to shoot a library’s worth of photos for virtually nothing at all. For best quality use: a tripod, a bendable tripod, or a mini tripod that’s easy to carry or keep in your car.
Bring your camera. Create your own database of useable photos by toting your camera with you as much as possible. Take photos of the ordinary and the extraordinary. Buy a large storage system so that you can keep these extra files on hand without clogging up the space on your home computer and slowing it down.
Feature people. A group of researchers at MIT recently conducted a study that scored images for their memorability. The photos that stayed in peoples’ minds longer were those that had the faces of human beings. Those were followed by places where people were likely to be seen; for example, the empty shots of offices and supermarket aisles were the next best remembered. In last place were landscapes. Beautiful though they may be, landscapes were the least well-remembered out of all kinds of images. Therefore, to make the greatest impact on your readers, images with people in them and those using warm colors are recommend over landscapes or shots using cooler colors. Legally speaking, your photos are usually alright if shot in a public place and used for editorial purposes, but check further guidelines for photo usage of strangers if you’re not completely sure. If all else fails, use your tripod and get yourself into the action.
Crop for more dramatic shots. Cut out extra ‘white space’, empty parts of photos that add nothing to the overall look of the shot. Many photographers recommend following the ‘Rule of Thirds’. This ‘Rule’ is a guideline that says an image should be divided into nine equal parts. This is done by imagining by two equally-spaced horizontal lines and two equally-spaced vertical lines. The main featured person or object that is the subject of your picture should lie on at least one, and preferably at the intersections of these lines (see photo). The ‘Rule of Thirds’ is also used in television production to create eye lines, and to vary the look of shots from one scene to another. It’s useful in blogs because a variety of different shots will add a dynamic element to your blog entries, and present a more elegant visual aesthetic.
Add a blue sky for a cheerful picture. If you’re fortunate enough to have Photoshop at your disposal, and have a rudimentary understanding of how to process photographs, then replacing a washed out or ‘blown out’ sky with a blue one is a change that will make a dramatic impact on your photographs. We can’t call up a sunny day at will, but most photographers keep a file of blue-sky shots on hand and use them to replace dreary skies when they need to. If you are a Photoshop novice, there are several tutorials online that will walk you through it step by step. For one of those tutorials, click here.
The worst thing that you can do in blogging is post blurry pictures that are irrelevant to the topic you are writing about. Clear photos that have at least a partial link are fine, however. You may also choose to place a widget in your sidebar that displays your favorite photos.
If you focus on both words and images, you’ll be remembered for the information you provide, but also for giving your readers drama and tension through photographs as well. Oh, there’s one last thing…
Don’t forget to caption the photos and to give yourself the credit yourself for taking them. It would be a shame if your readers had no notion of how multi-talented you are.