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12 Things to Remember When Taking Blog Photos

by | Blog

With all the things we, as bloggers/parents/grownups, have to do, we are all looking to work smarter, not harder.  So what is more frustrating than editing a series of blog photos and realizing that you didn’t quite get the photo you wanted, or you forgot one that you needed?  Or you finish editing and then realizing you shouldn’t have deleted those unused photos because there was one you did need after all.  We don’t always have time to recreate a dish, wait for a sunny day, or go through our digital trash to find a lost photo. Here’s a checklist you can use when you take and edit blog photos, so you can minimize frustration and maximize your time and effort!

12 Things to Remember when Taking Blog Photos | www.1dogwoof.com

1. Take both close-ups and wide angles of your subject

I love close-ups, and seeing all the details in super sharp splendor.  But if you submit to various submission sites, they like seeing subjects a little farther afield, so always remember to take a series of wider-angle shots.  You can always zoom in during editing, but you can’t zoom out!

Cherry Cobbler recipe
Cherry Cobbler, wide angle behind the scenes

Cherry Cobbler

2. If there’s daylight or sunshine, use it!

Pretty self-explanatory, right?  Get the best shot you can from the camera, so there’s less editing to do later, and there’s nothing like natural lighting to frame a good shot.

3. Take your photos at different angles

I like to take one down at the subject’s level (lying on the floor if I have to), one where I’m looking at it naturally which is about 3/4 of the way up, and one looking straight down at the subject.  You never know which one will work out the best.

playing with trains | www.1dogwoof.com

4. Stage your shot

I’ll use this metaphor that I read in one of my favorite books – spontaneity is great, but there’s also something to be said in a well-planned seduction.  So, it’s great to have this natural shot, but a well-staged one is great too!  Use plain white backgrounds if you like to keep things minimal, or use appropriate props to add color, texture and interest to your photo.  But remember to edit edit edit, because you don’t want to lose your subject in the staging!

Simple Chocolate Valentines
dove chocolate valentines | www.1dogwoof.com

5. Take both landscape and portrait shots

Pinterest and Google+ favor vertical images.  The Gawker submission sites and Looksi require square images.  Facebook and link parties also crop to a square.  So make sure you have shots in different orientations to give you options while editing.

Now that you have photos in your camera, let’s talk about editing tips.

6. Pick a photo editor

I use Adobe Photoshop Lightroom (affiliate link), and it’s pretty awesome.  But if you don’t have the bling bling to shell out, PicMonkey and Picasa are good alternatives too.  You’ll want to be able to crop, lighten, darken and add watermarks.

7. Name your photos with real names

I admit, I don’t always do this for personal photos, but I do make sure that the craft photos I use on my blog have real names with good keywords so they are searchable on Google.

8. Watermark your photos

There’s way too many sites out there that scrape your content and your photos, but if you have a watermark, there’s a possibility that a conscientious reader will go to your site to find the real deal.  Of course, there are those who will take the time to remove your watermark, but you can’t fight every battle.  I try to watermark close to the subject and not in a ton of white space, just to make it harder to crop out the watermark without affecting the photo.

9. Create a vertical image for Pinterest

As I mentioned above, in Pinterest, the eye is drawn to vertical images because the width is locked in.  So when your long edge is the width, your photo looks teeny tiny next to a photo with a vertical long edge.  This is where your portrait shots come in handy.  A good ratio is an image that is approximately twice as long as it is wide.  If you don’t have any vertical images, you can always create a vertical collage in PicMonkey.

Photo orientations for different submission sites | www.1dogwoof.com

10. Create a square, unmarked image for submission sites

The Gawkers (craftgawker, foodgawker, stylegawker) are fickle and picky, but they all require square photos with a minimum size of 600×600.  They also want the photos to be un-watermarked.  So, as you create all those watermarked images, make sure you have a few that are bare.  I say a few because you never know which one the Gawkers will want.

11. Size your photos appropriately

Chances are, the image coming out of your camera is ginormous.  If your content width is 600px, you don’t need to upload a photo that is 3000px wide, since that will just slow down your site’s load time.  If your content width is under 600px, remember to grab a few at 600px for the submission sites, but otherwise, the ones uploaded to your blog don’t need to be wider than what your site can display.  See here for more info on sizing photos.

12. Add keyword friendly ALT tags to your photos

In your img src tag, there’s an option to add keywords to your image using the alt=”..” tag.  Wordpress will allow you to do in the media library so you don’t have to edit the HTML.  What you put in the ALT tag is also what shows up as the Pin description when someone goes to pin your image.  Plus, labeling and adding titles help with SEO and searchability.

<img src="URL_HERE" alt="This is where you put in a description for your photo">

Whew, that seemed quite a lot to remember, but after a while, you get used to reviewing the checklist in your head as you shoot and as you edit.  Checking everything off on the first shot will hopefully save you time and headaches, so you can pull your head out from behind that monitor!

101 Comments

  1. Hellie's Corner

    Great tips and advice. I learnt the portrait photo tip for Pinterest about a month ago and now take most photos both landscape and portrait, it’s a bit more time consuming but worth it. I’m not sure about google+ my landscape photos seem to go full page rather than my portrait ones.

    Reply
    • ChiWei

      I’m actually not positive about my G+ photos either. I like the portrait ones there, but I’ve seen HUGE landscape ones and I’m not sure how they do it.

      Reply
  2. Traci

    There is a lot of great info packed into this little post. I have never consciously thought of taking both landscape and portrait pictures of the same subject. Thanks so much.

    Reply
  3. Reina

    Thanks ChiWei! I’m wondering if you can do a tutorial (or if you know if one exists) for how to make a really pretty banner like the one you did at the top of this blog! The taupe “12 things to remember when taking blog photos” with the raspberry color flag picture? Please and thank you!

    Reply
    • ChiWei

      Reina, that’s a great idea! I used Canva.com to create it, but yes, I can write up a tutorial – will put that on my list.

      Reply
  4. Diana

    Wow, just stumbled upon this and loving all the great tips!!

    Reply
    • ChiWei

      Thanks so much Diana! I hope it helps you 🙂

      Reply
  5. Lindsay - Practically Poppy

    Great tips, ChiWei! Of all the aspects of being a blogger, I think I have the most to learn about photography and editing, so really appreciate some of the tools you mentioned.

    Reply
    • ChiWei

      There’s so much to learn, isn’t there? It’s daunting at times, and when I remember one thing, I forget something else. I’m glad I can help you out a bit Lindsay, and thanks for stopping by!

      Reply
  6. Jen. Miller

    This was super helpful, thank you so much! I do have a question though- What is the best way to save pics and upload them onto your site if you are using your cell phone? I usually email the pic to myself, save it to my desktop, then upload from there but it seems so tedious. Im thinking there has got to be a better way that isn’t so… old fashioned. Tips?

    Thank you!

    Reply
    • ChiWei

      Honestly, I’m not very good with my phone. Although right now, my phone photos are saved to G+ and I can then go to G+ on my laptop, download to my drive and then upload to my site. Still tedious though 🙂

      Reply
  7. LeAllyson Meyer

    Thanks for such good practical tips. I take hundreds of photos of my jewelry, and I almost always forget to do a vertical one for Pinterest.

    Reply
    • ChiWei

      You’re welcome! If you don’t end up taking a vertical shot, you can always make a vertical collage too 🙂

      Reply
      • LeAllyson Meyer

        Vertical collage – what a good idea. Thank you.

  8. Denver Photographer

    I would say the easiest thing to do to make interior shots like that better, is to get a tripod. It’s so much easier to get natural light shots like that in a house with a tripod.

    Reply
  9. Dave Brown

    You can also use the title tag to add even more keywords. But I would start with alt text first.

    Reply
    • ChiWei

      Thank you!

      Reply
  10. alice

    Super helpful! Thx!!!
    This is my first time to visit your blog, and I love it!
    I mainly come by and say hi. I am a new blogger so browsing around blogs and blogs, I am trying to build up my blog.
    I found that the blogging sociality is very sweet, all blogger give very good advice and respect each other! Hopefully you like my other social network and follow mine too 🙂
    Hope we can support each other! <3 Have a good day xxx

    Reply

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