This post comes from the ever lovely Kate at Picklebums.
Using beautiful, interesting photos in your blog post can attract the eye of a reader, break up large expanses of text, help to tell a story or convey information and is an important tool when crafting fabulous posts. Using your own photos not only gives a unique and personal touch to your posts, you can also tailor the image to really match your content.
Not all of us have a talent for photography, and not all of us have a fancy, top of the range, DSLR camera, but you don’t need either of these things to make your own photos look great on your blog. I am far from a professional photographer but here are a few tips and tricks I use when putting my own photos on my blog, Picklebums.
Taking the Photos.
Even a point and shoot camera, or your smart phone can take great blog photos if you use them wisely.
Get In Close – If you are taking a photo of a person or an object to illustrate a main topic or point then get in close, really close. You don’t need any of the surrounding background or objects, take a step forward and fill all of your frame with your main subject.
Use Natural Light – Lighting can be difficult to master (I struggle with this a lot) but using natural light is far better than using your standard tiny flash. The best light is filtered natural light, the kind you get on a cloudy but bright day. Set up subjects in front of a window, or outside if you can.
Take Lots of Photos! – The joy of digital photography is that you can afford to take lots and lots and LOTS of photos. To get one really good shot you might need to take 30 not so great ones. Often the image that looks perfect to me on the tiny camera screen turns out to be not so perfect when I get it up on the big screen. So take more photos than you think you’ll need.
Editing Your Photos
You don’t need to own fancy photo editing software or do lots of fancy editing, just one or two simple adjustments can make a big difference. You can do all of the following editing suggestions using photoshop, photoshop elements, photoshop express (free online editing), gimp (free downloaded software), picnik (free online editing), Aviary (free online editing) and many other tools.
Crop – If you didn’t manage to get in close when you took the photo, or if there is something in the frame that you’d rather not share, crop your images to really focus on the subject.
Light Balance – Often your camera’s automatic light balance will need a little tweaking after the image has been taken. To really make your photo ‘pop’ play with the levels/exposure to make your whites whiter and your blacks blacker.
Fix Any Problems – Edit out any major problems in your photo. Things like removing red eye and correcting colour casts are easy to do automatically with most editing software. You can get more complex and clone out any offending boogers or even blur a cluttered background to bring the focus back to your subject.
Save For Web
It is important that you optimise your photos for uploading to the web. Images that are too big in either size or resolution can slow the loading of your blog and frustrate readers.
Re-size – It is best to re-size your images to the exact size you want them to appear on your blog. How wide is the content area of your blog? Re-size your photos using your photo editing software so that they fit into the content area of your blog without spilling over or being too small and getting lost.
Save For Web – Use your photo editing software to save your image in a format and at a resolution that is optimised for web viewing. The most common format for photos is jpg and a jpg compression size of about 8 is usually good, but play around with the settings to get your photos as small a file size as possible without loosing quality.
Name Your Image – It’s a good idea to give your image a meaningful name when you save it. It helps you to find it later, and will help with SEO. Use a dash (-) to separate words in file names for the best SEO
Getting Your Photo onto Your Blog.
Each blogging platform and theme uploads and displays photos a little differently, but the following tips are useful regardless of whether you use wordpress, blogger or other blogging software.
Original Size – You have already resized your image to make it the perfect size for your blog, so now you need to make sure you check the ‘original size’ option when you upload it. Using the size options on your blog to shrink a larger image will use up your bandwidth (and your reader’s) and make your blog slower to load.
Use the ‘Alt’ Field – The ‘Alt’ tag
(alt=" ") is the text that is displayed if, for any reason, your image can’t be shown. It also helps your image rank in search engines. Self hosted wordpress bloggers get an option to fill this in when they upload a photo – use it! If you use photobucket to store your photos you also have an option to fill it in. If you use blogger you will have to manually add them – it looks like this
alt="put photo description here" and you can put it anywhere inside your image’s html tags. Lauren Wayne has a good explanation and example of adding alt tags here.
Where Should It Go? - An image at the top of your posts works well to entice people to read your content. It is usually more pleasing for a reader to see a stand alone image centred within your content. Images which are embedded within content usually work well if they are smaller and left justified. But play around with all the options until you find something that suits your own person style and content.
Style Your Image – Look at what options your blog theme has for adding frames, shadows or other styles to your images and decide if you want to use them. Adding a caption is another way to add style and interest to your images.
Protecting Your Photos
Many people are worried about having their photos ‘stolen’ or shared. There is no fail-safe way to stop images or content being used without your permission, so be aware of this when you choose what photos you use on your blog.
Copyright – Add a copyright notice to your blog so that readers know what is ok when it comes to using and sharing your work. A Creative Commons licence is clear understandable way to make sure people know what is and isn’t ok.
Watermark Your Images – Add a simple, transparent ‘©picklebums.com’ (use dark text and the soft light or overlay blend mode to make unobtrusive transparent text) to your images. Or add a small logo to the corner of your images which also helps with branding when your images are shown on other sites like pinterest etc.
Kate is an ex-preschool teacher, mother of four, lapsed digital scrap booker, and secret blog designer. Living on ten acres of weeds in rural Victoria you’ll find posts about parenting, family cooking, gardening, activities for kids and printables at her blog Picklebums.