Want to have better than awesome photographs on your website and social media accounts? You CAN! Get started with these tips about blog photography basics.
Let’s first be clear about who I am and who I am not. I am NOT a professional photographer. If you are, these tips are not going to be very helpful to you.
However, I AM someone who started blogging with ZERO photography skills…as in I didn’t even know how to use a DSLR and I didn’t even own a camera phone back then. And from our chats in the Blogging Bits Facebook Group I know many bloggers who start out exactly the same way. I am also someone who makes a full-time living via blogging income.
So if like me, you are starting with very little photography knowledge and you’re looking for some quick tips and easy tweaks you can make so that your photos stand out, then you’re in the right place. Though I was not formerly a photography expert, through a bit of research I was able to teach myself and find the best tools so that I can now create fantastic images all on my own.
I tell you this not to discount my credibility but to show you that with a tiny bit of knowledge you can do quite a bit. Blogging is a long journey and we slowly fine tune skills as we go. Let’s get started on improving those photography skills together.
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See the Video
If you’d rather learn these tips and additional suggestions in the full video, pop over to the Blogging Bits Facebook Group to see the full replay.
What? Content for your Photos
When you first start taking photos for your website it might be unclear what to focus in on and what is unnecessary. This will definitely vary based on your niche, but in short you should be taking pictures of:
Anything that visually tells your story to your readers
- materials you are using
- in action steps
- final products
- products in use–especially if you are selling something–in use tends to gain more traction than a static product photo
- you, if your website is a lifestyle blog
Stage your materials to engage readers
Also think about what you can put with your photo to give a more complete picture. Instead of just placing an object on a plain background, add elements that give the photo more of a story.
For example in food photography you will notice that when people post a photo of a pie they made they do not just show a whole pie sitting on the counter. Instead they will cut a piece, put it on a pretty plate, have a fork sitting next to it and maybe a napkin or something that adds a bit of texture and dimension to their photo. Similar to staging a home for sale, you want people to see themselves eating that pie.
Think about how you can stage your photos to be more engaging and memorable for your readers.
Where? Setup is KEY
Unless you have a light kit that you know how to use well, always use a natural light source when possible.
Take note of where the lighting is around your home at different points of the day. Go where the light is best.
When shooting photos, the light should be coming from behind you and facing the object you are photographing. Head on lighting can be too harsh, so try to go where the light is slightly diffused. One helpful tip is to hang very thin sheer curtains or a cloth to diffuse the light if needed.
What is around you matters, too. FIRST it impacts your lighting. SECOND think about what can be seen in the background of your pictures. Make sure no personal info is showing, and generally keep the space clear or position your camera to show only what you want to be seen.
Think about what you are shooting ON. You don’t want to use a surface that is going to give off a glare. Instead a flat, non-shiny surface is preferred. In order to camouflage an area you can use tablecloths, foam board (available at Dollar Tree!), poster board, purchased paper rolls or scrapbook paper if your subject is small enough.
If you still need additional light, try a light ring. I use this light ring when I need to take photos and the lighting is not ideal (like in winter!). I also use it any time I makea video. I set it up near the door and utilize natural light while balancing out the other side of the shot with the light from the light ring.
How? Camera Tips
Tips to keep in mind when using any camera:
- Shoot in MANUAL mode.
- Trun off the flash.
- Adjust your ISO (which impacts the light sensitivity). Use a lower ISO if you are shooting in a really bright area and a higher ISO if you are shooting in a low light area or want to get your image to be brighter.
- Retest and adjust the ISO every time you do a photo shoot to make sure it matches the needs of your subject and the current lighting.
- When taking photos get as close as you think you should be, then get closer. Show a big, clear image that emphasizes exactly the aspects you want your audience to see.
- Take a TON more photos than you think you need, especially the beginning. This will help give you options to choose from in the editing stage.
A few tools to impove images using a DSLR
You can do a ton with your standard DSLR, but if you want to step it up a notch a new lens can be a huge help. The bloggers I work with closest affectionately refer to their favorite Canon lens as a the “Magic Lens.” They all swear by it. So you may not need a new camera. You might be able to add new life to your photos with a new lens for your exsiting one!
Super tool for adding a bit of light to your photos without lighting! Someone recommended this low cost tool to help me about 4 years ago and I have been using it ever since. It’s a Lightscoop, and it costs around $20. It helps bounce the light you have off the walls and diffuse it a bit to get better lighting. It was definitely worth the purchase, and I never shoot without it anymore.
No DSLR No problem!
You can still capture high quality pictures using the camera on your smart phone. Some camera phones are now even better than a DSLR. You can even add special lenses and tools to improve the quality.
Bring it all Together with Consistent Branding
Just like your website has a cohesive look and feel, your photos should also reflect your overall branding. If you do not already have clear branding in mind, start thinking about the colors, fonts, and styles you want to reflect your brand so when someone sees one of your images they know it is YOU!
Still not sure where to start?
Research other bloggers in your niche and see what styles you gravitate towards. Combine aspects that you like and your own unique touch, and move in that direction.
Statistically what grabs people’s attention the most?
Some people have asked what types of photos or color schemes grab people’s attention the most. While there are different opinions and statistics on this, the research seems uncertain.
BUT what I found does work is high quality, crisp, clear, photos with good lighting. Hands down!
Make sure you give some thought to the types of overlays and text you want to include on your images in the editing stage.
These should fit cohesively with your design as well.
Make it Standout with Editing Tools
The editing process is where you take your photos fromg good to viral-worthy. The slightest tweaks can be a huge help in getting people to stop scrolling and focus in on your image, leading to more click throughs from social media and longer time spent on your blog posts.
Tips for Editing
- Keep your original unedited photos. I did not do this when I first started, and it is one of my biggest blogging regrets. If you keep them, you can go back and edit them differently later if needed to reflect new skills you’ve learned, new branding choices and to share multiple image options to extend social media reach.
- And BACK UP YOUR PHOTOS!!!! If you do nothing else that I’ve recommended in this post, please back up your photos. It’s a sad day when a blogging friend shares that they’ve lost everything because it wasn’t backed up. Don’t let that happen to you.
- Choose an editing program. There are a lot of options out there from very basic to very sophisticated. I recommend starting with something simple like PicMonkey or Canva. While I like some of Canva’s features, for straight photo editing and collage making, PicMonkey has always been my photo editor of choice.
- Inside the editing program decide on the standard image sizes you will use for your website. For my website I make at least one square (600 x 600), one horizontal (600 x 400), and one vertical (600 x 900). All the widths are the same so as you scroll down the site they look the same. These different image sizes give me the preferred formats to use in different social media outlet.
- In the editing stage you can crop to zoom in a bit if needed, increase the lighting, remove any blue or red tinting, crisp up the photo, even edit it out a smudge on the table. Play around with your chosen program to see what it can do for you!
- Take note of your image file sizes so that you don’t slow down your website and use up too much of your storage space. Most of the time it is recommended that image files be 100kb or smaller. There are compression tools and optimization plugins you can use if your current images are very large.
Alright, you’re ready! Head on out there and take some amazing photos. If you test out any of these tips, we’d love for you to come share your new photos in the Blogging Bits Facebook Group! It’s a great place to connect with other bloggers and ask those pressing blogging questions.