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!