It’s been my mission this year to really improve my photography. I bought myself a compact system camera last year, did a couple of courses to learn how to use manual, and also the theory behind photography with composition, colour, and all the various techniques and more. So I’ve been challenging myself to try other things, and hopefully there’s been some improvement in the photography I’m taking and therefore sharing on my blog.
But I’m not sure I’m really striving for the perfect blog photo.
Yes, there are people who are obsessive about their photos – food photography and styling in particular. Katy Orme’s styling talk at Britmums Live was amazing for seeing what lengths people will really go to to take the perfect shot. But really, is it about the photography itself (it has something to do with it – understanding apertures really does help with a lot of different photography genres), or is it more about the perfection of the item they’re photographing and getting it just so?
We all have blogs that we love for their photography. Capture by Lucy is a great example, I also love Claire’s photography at Maybush Studio, Maria’s at One Tiny Leap, and Annie’s at Mammasaurus. Their photography is beautiful and really draws me in. They have clear, focused images, all there for a reason, and they make me want to experience what they’re showing.
But blog photography can be very different to those beautiful instagram feeds – styled perfectly, or beautiful landscape shots that I can only dream of taking myself (might help if we ever went on holiday to places more exotic than Weymouth).
A blog is about the reflection of the blogger and will always depend on the subject written about. Excluding photography blogs, most use photography to illustrate the story and often life. Life isn’t always perfect and therefore photos aren’t.
I read a lot of parenting and lifestyle blogs and it’s really noticeable how different people’s photos are. Photographing children is hard at the best of times, especially when they’re temperamental, always on the move and often the light’s not good if you’re inside in winter. But if they tell the story well, weave in photos to illustrate that, then I’m going to appreciate them whether they’re perfectly taken and set up, or whether they’re more candid and fluke.
I do think there’s certain essentials if you want people to enjoy your photos and blog. And they’re not about having perfect technical photos. It’s more about the reader experience.
The 7 essentials for the perfect blog photo
1. Tell the story
As I said before, no point plonking a photo in a blog post if it doesn’t show the reader what it’s about.
2. Fill the space
Don’t be embarrassed by your photos. There’s no point uploading a tiny photo that people can’t see (or have to click into to make visible). If it’s telling the story, the photo should be there, loud and proud. Otherwise you may as well not bother.
Especially if you join in photography linkys…make them big (fill the width of your content space, not the size of the photo which needs to be compressed to aid loading of the page)
3. Make them all the same width
This is what tidies up a blog and makes it more professional. Make every photo whether it’s landscape or portrait, the same width (to fill the space). If you don’t like having to scroll down for long portrait shots, then either crop them, or make a point of only having landscape or square images on your blog.
4. Make them clear
Ok, we know that winter is horrendous for photos, dark evenings and mornings, lots of dreary indoor light, and it really means you need to work on your photos. My new camera has a great lens with a wide aperture and it’s really made a difference to my low light photos. No more having to use rubbish grainy phone photos. If you don’t have cameras with great lenses, then fake it (use white sheets or boards as reflectors, only take photos at certain times of the day when there is light, or do what editing you can afterwards).
The rest of the time there’s no excuse apart from learning to use your camera, focusing well, and using a tripod and/or remote if needed to avoid blur.
I have some terrible photos from earlier on with my blog, but I’ve kept them because I know they’re there for a reason, and they show how much I’ve improved. But I do wish I’d known more and been more interested in photography and more serious about my blog from the start to make my photos good from the start.
5. Don’t write all over them
This might be a strange one, but some people insist on annotating over all their photos. Yes by all means have one hero for a post that is pinnable, but not every one.
6. Compress your photos
Everyone expects fast website loading nowadays (unless you live where we do and then slow loading is the norm) so compressing blog photos is essential to ensure readers don’t leave your blog while they’re waiting to load it.
It took me a while to work out that my blog photos weren’t really being compressed properly by just changing the size of them. Now I compress them in Picmonkey which is my go to photo editor. The best way to compress photos is to do it before uploading to the blog. You can use plugins to compress the photos across your blog, but I think it’s much safer doing it prior to upload in case something goes wrong with the plugin.
7. Don’t panic about having a style
We all see the amazing instagram feeds or blog photos which are instantly recognisable as belonging to a certain photographer or blogger. Gingerlillytea has beautiful ethereal photos, in particular those of her nypmph-like daughters in meadows and woods; there’s certainly no way you can mistake her photos for anyone elses. But not everyone has a particular style. Sometimes it’s good to be more eclectic.
I’d love to have a photo style, but because I like to photograph lots of different items – architecture, my son, nature, landscape, flowers – it’s hard to have a particular style.
As long as you enjoy your photos, are proud of them and they make you smile, that’s all that really matters.
What makes a blog photo perfect for you?