With the rapid increase in Instagram users, and bloggers wanting to make their blogs really reflect their content and life visually, photography seems to have enjoyed a resurgence in interest. Many of my non-blogger friends have ‘big’ cameras (DSLRs that they mostly only use on auto), and the talk amongst bloggers is often about what cameras they should have for photography and/or vlogging. But there’s so many bloggers who use photos on their blogs but don’t show them off properly. They don’t edit their photos and it shows. You might never want to be a pro photographer, but I think you should always edit blog photos in some way.
When I look back at my first blog posts (probably my first year of posts), my posts were just text. Then gradually I started including a few photos. But my camera was on the way out, I had no idea about composition or lighting, I just snapped a few shots without thinking about them. Looking back at the limited photos I used, overall they really weren’t great.
My photos included everything that is poor when sharing photos on blogs:
- Grainy images or unfocused – not helped by them mostly being taken indoors
- Small photos that are hard to see
- Original sized photos, not optimised for online
My list could go on, I was guilty of them all.
Since then I’ve started to get into my photography but,
I’m never going to be a pro.
I don’t have nice clear walls or house.
I don’t have brilliant rooms with consistent lighting, and I work full time so photos outside are really hard to get during winter.
I don’t live near a beach for beautiful sunset shots.
I don’t have a baby.
I am, however, proud of the photos I put on my blog and I want to show them off to reflect our life and share the work and time I’ve spent in improving my photos.
But there’re simple things you can do without spending lots of money on courses and photography equipment to improve your blog photography. And if you’re denying there’s anything wrong with having small photos or you don’t want people to easily see your children in photos, then I’d ask you why you’re including them at all. You may as well just have text content, or use stock photos or drawings, and your blog would look a lot more professional than using photography that isn’t reflecting well on your content.
No-money solutions to improving your blog photos
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1, Do a free course
There are so many websites out there providing free courses, there’s no excuse (except finding the time). Digital photography school is great for tutorials and guidance, there are plenty of iphoneography (or just smartphone) courses and tips, and my favourite for learning to use a camera on manual is Emma Davis’ A Year With my Camera with its weekly free email classes (there’s an AYWMC workbook* alongside if you want more detailed learning).
2, Learn composition
If you have a smartphone with a reasonable camera (basically Samsung, Sony Xperia, newer iphones, Huawei) that’s all you really need if you have decent lighting – outside or good natural light inside. Most of photography is about good composition and learning what the eye likes to see. For a good start point, look up the rule of thirds, or leading lines.
3, Learn the style of photos you like
And find out how you can take similar styled shots.
Do you like documentary or posed, outdoors, moody, bright, black or white? Follow photographers who have that style and practice shooting in the same style.
4, Take a lot of photos
Good photography is all about practice. You don’t have to shoot on manual, but it helps at least understand how your camera works and how you can manipulate it. But if you don’t take photos every day you won’t improve.
5, Choose your favourites and use a good editing tool
You don’t need to pay. Picmonkey is easy to use and has a good free version (I pay for the upgraded Royale version). If you want to edit for Instagram don’t just put on a filter, use the edit settings, they’re usually good enough if you get a reasonable photo first of all. Snapseed or VSCO are good too, but harder to use.
Sign up to newsletters from editing or photography websites because they send out helpful tutorials on how to get the most out of their tools.
6, Don’t over edit
If you take a photo in decent enough light at the right exposure, mostly you’ll just need to brighten a little, maybe sharpen the image and that’s it. If you have a photography style, then use the same editing method to keep it consistent on your blog.
7, Make your photos full width
If you go to a blog with photos that are tiny vs one with full width photos it tells you the blogger with small photos either doesn’t care, doesn’t want you to see the photos, or they’re embarrassed about them. None are what you want readers to think. So be proud and make your photos the same width as the copy (and consistent – all photos should be the same width whether portrait or landscape).
So resize them when editing to the width of your blog page (eg mine are 640px wide)
And while you’re at it centralise your photos for a neater read.
8, Optimise your images
Don’t just upload the biggest images onto your blog. They’ll take up lots of storage and make it slower to load. Some people use plugins to compress images at the point of upload. But I’d recommend using something like tinyjpg.com to compress before uploading to ensure they’re optimised for the web without losing quality.
9, Think about black and white
If you’ve got a photo that’s not quite in focus or isn’t good enough in colour, try changing it to black and white. You might find it just about works.
Hopefully these tips will help with improving your photography. Sometimes you just desperately want to share a photo because it’s a great capture despite it not being perfect technically. I’ve done that especially for Project 365. The odd ‘dodgy‘ photo is fine, but you want to make your photos shine out on your blog not be an apologetic addition.
Some of the blogs I love for their photography include Capture by Lucy (for brights, pretty, country living style), Me and Orla (for clean, minimalist, thoughtful images) and Five Little Doves (pretty family shots). There are so many more, too many to mention.
Let me know what irritates you about photos you see on blogs (whether your own or on others) and any blogs that you love for their photography.
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