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!
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!
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.
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!
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.
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!
Great tips, thanks! Some of these are already second nature to me and some I still have to make habits out of. Thanks for reminding me 🙂
Great tips and tricks, ChiWei! And I’m so glad you pushed me over the edge to get LightRoom. Lovin’ it to pieces!
I’m still in learning mode, so these are great, ChiWei! Thanks for sharing them.
Great post. Everyone should use Lightroom! If not for the photo editing capabilities, just for the digital asset management and organizational uses.
Great tips, ChiWei!!
I admit, I still don’t put everything in one big folder like you do, cause I’m terrible with the keywords. But my workflow is getting better, and I found LR5 to be way better than LR3!
You’re welcome Sharon! So glad it can help you!
Yay! So glad you like it! It’s a game changer 🙂
Glad to help, Katie! I still forget a few things too, so it’s always a work in progress!
Great tips! Thanks a lot for sharing!
WOW these are GREAT tips! I definitely need to improve my photography….I’ve pinned this for future reference!
great tips! I always forget a square pic and then I’m not happy with how my cropped images look at link ups!! I NEED to remember!
Thanks for the tips! I’m always wishing I had that perfect picture, love your ideas.
Great tips there ChiWei – there’s a few there that I need to start doing! Thanks 🙂
These were great tips; thank you so much for putting this together! I’m not the greatest at photos yet, especially since my camera broke & I now take most of my pictures with my iPad. If you know of any great photo apps that you like,feel free to let me know! Have a great weekend!
These are great tips! I need to remember to take vertical and horizontal, and stage my photos more than one way…the thing I always try to remember is to leave an open space where I can add text. Thanks so much for sharing these!
I so need to get my camera out more and put into action these great tips you provided ChiWei. Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge.
Thanks for the great tips. Nice photos are soooooo important. 🙂
Thanks, ChiWei. I’m going to print this out and have it handy each time I take photos. It sure does save a lot of time and avoids disappointment. I can’t tell you how many times I thought I had the right shot so I went ahead and ate the photo subject only to discover later that I needed to take more. Problem was…my food was gone, lol.
I’ve never even heard of the Gawker sites–I’m going to go check those out!
Thanks for recommending Adobe Photoshop light room 5. .
These are all really great tips! Thanks so much 🙂 I really need to start taking more of my own photos to upload on my blog–I just think the camera that I am currently using sucks so hard (I have a small digital, but I cracked the screen on a trip recently and have been using the phone cam. I KNOW!)
Thanks for these great tips 🙂
Found your article on SITS. Thank you for sharing all these useful tips. Much apprecited.
Thank you for the great suggestions. I didn’t think of the different sizes for linkys vs Pinterest. I never can remember what the feature page size should be for WordPress? I try to size my blog post photos with PicMonkey for every shot and I like the uniformity.
Great tips! Coming over from SITS facebook page..glad I found you!!
These tips are excellent and I will try to incorporate.
Great information ChiWei and Thank you so much Bonnie for sharing this with us!
Fantastic tips! I had no idea you could put keywords in your photos. Will start this ASAP.
Thanks Kristen! Yup, if you add good keywords in your ALT tags, it’ll get picked up and it’s great for SEO!
Thank you Angelina! I hope it helps you!
Thanks Bonnie, and thank you for the share!
Yay, thank you!
Hi Dana, Actually, I don’t know if there is a set size for the feature image, or did you mean a feature page? I know my thumbnails are cropped into a square and I usually let it crop automatically. Sometimes, I’ll upload a 150×150 thumbnail that is already cropped if I’m feeling picky 🙂
You’re so welcome!
My small digital broke a long time ago, so I lug around this big thing everywhere. And my phone stinks 🙂
Thank you Jamie!
Lightroom is awesome! I had LR3, but upgraded and I love it so much more now!
They are such eye-candy sites! There’s craftgawker and foodgawker and stylegawker and dwellinggawker. There may be a weddinggawker too, but I’m not sure. I can get lost there for ..too long!
Me too! If I’m posting a recipe, it’s because I made it for dinner. So I’m frantically taking photos before everyone gets too hungry and just rushes the table. If I forget a shot, I’d have to make the whole thing again 🙂
You’re welcome Wanda! The more you do it, the more it’ll become second nature. Totally cliche, but true. 🙂
Oh, that’s right! I like to take a few with the subject off to one side a bit, or have a slightly wider angle shot so there’s a bit of room if I want to add text. Great tip Michelle!
Haha, Patty, I totally would, except I don’t have an iPad. And my Android phone is old and takes terrible photos. I’m very technologically behind when it comes to fun apps.
Yup, I have that problem too. Having a square pic in the mix helps so much!
Thanks for the pin Marilyn!
Thanks for sharing these! I have learned a lot! Bookmarked this so I can reference it!
I had lightroom once but I didn’t quite understand how it worked. I usually use my Photoshop Camera Raw to edit Raw/NEF files it’s definitely easier than editing jpg files. Those tips are awesome! Thanks I think I might try Lightroom again!
Great tips, thanks for sharing!
By the way, your illustrations are yummy too!
I’m here for the first time and I’m amaaaaazed by this informative post!!! I have never really thought about many of your tips like naming photos, as I never understood why or how you do that. I guess I’ll have to spend some time to learn the how-to’s for that. Oh, and I never thought about the photo orientation being better one way than the other. Good stuff 😀
Great tips ChiWei! I’ve created a document with all of the social media dimensions because every SM channel wants the picture differently! So frustrating. Enjoyed reading this as I’m just starting out!
Thank you! I usually forget to give my photos a good name and to add the ALT text. I’m going to keep vertical images in mind for Pinterest, too.
Wow, I never thought about number 7 and 12! I never even know about them at all! I am trying to come up with better photos for my blog so these are really great tips! Thanks!
How do you stage the valentines shot without a shadow?
Thanks for the great photography tips! I definitely need to be more careful about creating at least 2 crops of the same image. It’s come back to haunt me more than once.
great tips i have a simple Samsung SL600 what kind of camera do you suggest using to get good pictures
I’m a terrible photographer and stager. Thank you for a the helpful information. It’s given me a lot of ideas.
My problem with taking great photos is my camera. It’s old, the kiddo painted it with nail polish once and it doesn’t focus on anything close up. So detail work, glitter particles, makeup, etc is blurry and lost. Finding out what kind of camera to buy that will do all of that properly and beautifully I think is the hard part for me.
Super AWESOME tips! Thanks so much. I’m loving your blog. Can’t wait to dig deeper!
Thank you so much Debi!
A lot of that functionality is in the lens, not the camera. Well, a lot of quality is in the camera too, but it’s also the lens. Good luck with your purchase!
You’re so welcome! I’m pretty bad at staging too. I know the what I’m supposed to do, but don’t always have the eye or the accessories to pull it off 🙂
Wow, Becca, I don’t think I’m the right person to give camera advice! I have a basic DSLR, Canon xTi from several years ago and a 35mm lens. I think the equipment is important, but practice helps a lot too! My pictures used to be pretty bad and I’m still learning every time I pick up my camera.
Oh Alena, I’ve been there!
I twiddle a lot, lol! I try to shoot near a window, but not in direct sunlight. If the light is more ambient and not directional light, I can avoid getting shadows.
You’re welcome Jhanis!
Yeah, it was a total lightbulb moment when I started taking vertical images for Pinterest! Good luck!
That is a superb idea! I’m always forgetting which type of social media likes what type of pictures, so sometimes, I just guess 🙂 I’m glad this post can help you out!
Thanks Ellie! I’m glad I could help you out!
Thank you Emily!
Lightroom is awesome! And yes, it was a real eye-opener when I started using RAW files instead of JPGs!
I agree about the angles, because so many times you think one angle is great and it turns out wrong. Also, lots of pictures help you find just the right one.
I take lots because I’m never sure about the composition and the angle. It’s a bit of a pain to go through all those photos, but that’s how I roll 🙂
What a great post! Thanks for the tips – I will definitely be taking some of these on board!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Wow, just stumbled upon this and loving all the great tips!!
Thanks so much Diana! I hope it helps you 🙂
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.
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!
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?
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.
You’re welcome! If you don’t end up taking a vertical shot, you can always make a vertical collage too 🙂
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 🙂
Vertical collage – what a good idea. Thank you.
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.
You can also use the title tag to add even more keywords. But I would start with alt text first.
Another bit of advice, you should really use backlighting as much as possible.
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