Taking decent pictures for your blog is easier than you think.
Recently, I received a few comments that surprised me. Several people thanked me for helping them feel brave enough to post some of their own pictures. Good for them! But why is is that we are so reluctant to post our own images?
I don’t think it’s because we are afraid to share ourselves, we share our words everyday. Bloggers often blog about the hard stuff, the personal things. Bloggers let you into their lives so that readers can empathize and connect.
Until it comes to pictures.
So, why is it that I post all my own pics? Am I a professional photographer? Is it just easy for me? Do I have all sorts of fancy equipment and computer programs to make these images?
Hell no. I’ll go so far as to say–Oh, hell no. I have a decent digital camera, but it is a snapshot camera not a professional one. I use an old version of Paint Shop Pro, because that’s what I have, and I know how it works. I use PSP8 even though it crashes on Windows 7 quite a bit, but it’s familiar and new software is so expensive. I have never taken a single photography class. I did take a small herd of fine arts classes when I was young. That helps me with taking pictures.
I have some time off work right now, so I thought that I might share some of what I know in a small series of blogs about how to post better pics. This is beginning stuff, meant for non-professionals like me.
“Why should I post my own pictures in my blog?” you seem to ask.
Connection- You write all these wonderful, personal words so that readers can connect with you, with your life and experiences, and with your ideas. And then you post some picture from a 1995 calendar that has nothing to do with any of it. As a blog reader, I love seeing personal pictures. It helps me connect to the writer. It lets me into their life a little, and gives me visuals to go with the words.
Reality- People write these real, sometimes gritty blog posts, and then add a pic of a cute fuzzy kitten. Ok, I’m really exaggerating. But our posts show a real slice of our lives, why can’t our pictures do that too? I have never once seen a snapshot in a post and thought, “Well, why did they post that pic? It’s terrible, the lighting’s bad, it makes me want to puke!” I see photos from blogger’s lives and I enjoy being able to share that moment with them. There’s no critique involved.
Plagiarism- Here’s the big one. Even on a personal blog, if you use someone else’s photography, you are plagiarizing it. It doesn’t matter if you aren’t making money from it, that pic belongs to someone else. Sure, you can look for royalty-free stock images, but why not post pictures that are original, fresh, and personal? It’s so easy if you have a digital camera or a smart phone.
Speaking of smart phones, I hear they have apps with filters. I don’t have a smart phone myself, but blogger and author Nathan Bransford posts his own pics on Facebook all the time. He uses a filter in the Instagram ap that makes everything he posts look cooler than it is. This would make pictures for blog posts so easy! If you have a smart phone, I suggest you use your Google-fu to look into it.
So, that’s a whole lot of words about why you should post your own photos. let’s have a short composition lesson to get you started:
Using the crop feature to improve composition-
My pics don’t start out perfect. My camera doesn’t always get as close as I’d like without losing focus. Sometimes my original shot has the subject dead center, or too much sky or street. Play with the crop feature on whatever editing software you have. Even Paint will crop. Wordpress will also crop if you use it’s “edit photo” feature. Main subjects look better if they are a little off center instead of smack dab in the middle. Subjects often pop if you crop off little bits of the edges that aren’t adding interest.
Here’s an example of a pic I used recently.
You can see the difference. A little closer, some of that goldenrod cropped out to focus on my bee, bee is a little dropped to the bottom and slightly right of center. Crop is all I used, but it turned a decent picture into one with a lot more impact. Get out your crop tool and play!