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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. Dana@chocolateandsunshine

    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 post!!

    Reply
    • ChiWei

      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 🙂

      Reply
    • ChiWei

      Yay, thank you!

      Reply
    • Angelina-JoJo and Eloise

      Great information ChiWei and Thank you so much Bonnie for sharing this with us!
      xoxo

      Reply
      • ChiWei

        Thank you Angelina! I hope it helps you!

    • ChiWei

      Thanks Bonnie, and thank you for the share!

      Reply
  2. Diatta Harris

    These tips are excellent and I will try to incorporate.

    Reply
    • ChiWei

      Thanks Diatta!

      Reply
  3. Kristen

    Fantastic tips! I had no idea you could put keywords in your photos. Will start this ASAP.

    Reply
    • ChiWei

      Thanks Kristen! Yup, if you add good keywords in your ALT tags, it’ll get picked up and it’s great for SEO!

      Reply
  4. Emily M. Hammann

    Thanks for sharing these! I have learned a lot! Bookmarked this so I can reference it!

    Reply
    • ChiWei

      Thank you Emily!

      Reply
  5. Camila

    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!

    XOXO
    Cami

    Reply
    • ChiWei

      Lightroom is awesome! And yes, it was a real eye-opener when I started using RAW files instead of JPGs!

      Reply
  6. Ellie@Fit for the soul

    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 😀

    Reply
    • ChiWei

      Thanks Ellie! I’m glad I could help you out!

      Reply
  7. Jess | Daughter Deerest

    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!

    Reply
    • ChiWei

      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!

      Reply
  8. Adastra @Flexines

    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.

    Reply
    • ChiWei

      Yeah, it was a total lightbulb moment when I started taking vertical images for Pinterest! Good luck!

      Reply
  9. Jhanis

    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!

    Reply
    • ChiWei

      You’re welcome Jhanis!

      Reply
  10. Erin

    How do you stage the valentines shot without a shadow?

    Reply
    • ChiWei

      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.

      Reply
  11. Alena@TheHomemadeCreative

    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.

    Reply
    • ChiWei

      Oh Alena, I’ve been there!

      Reply
  12. becca

    great tips i have a simple Samsung SL600 what kind of camera do you suggest using to get good pictures

    Reply
    • ChiWei

      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.

      Reply
  13. Winter

    I’m a terrible photographer and stager. Thank you for a the helpful information. It’s given me a lot of ideas.

    Reply
    • ChiWei

      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 🙂

      Reply
  14. Kimberly

    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.

    Reply
    • ChiWei

      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!

      Reply
  15. Debi Stangeland

    Super AWESOME tips! Thanks so much. I’m loving your blog. Can’t wait to dig deeper!

    Reply
    • ChiWei

      Thank you so much Debi!

      Reply
  16. Betty

    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.

    Reply
    • ChiWei

      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 🙂

      Reply
  17. Laura @ Me & Mr Jones

    What a great post! Thanks for the tips – I will definitely be taking some of these on board!

    Reply

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