This post is for the bloggers who write their own posts but for whatever reason are reluctant to use their own photographs. Instead, you spend hours trolling the Internet for images to match your words, your vision and the inspiration you had for your blog post.

Bloggers by nature are creative beings –photography is another tool to allow you to create, oftentimes when you use stock photos in your posts you take out a bit of yourself. For this reason, I started using my own photographs on my blog site.

If you are looking for the courage to introduce your own photography into your own blog I hope you will find them in Elizabeth Gilbert’s words, “you are allowed to have a voice and a vision of your own” (Big Magic, Creative Living Beyond Fear).

Creating effective photos for your blog…

“Photography is the story I fail to put into words.”
Destin Sparks

Back in September Megan Blackwell, Blackroom Photography came along to our monthly New Zealand Bloggers Network meeting to present a photography workshop titled “Create effective photos for your blog”.

Megan’s presentation covered photography using SLR cameras, point and shoot cameras, a smartphone or a tablet and included great tips and pointers.

Firstly though we were asked, “what is the style of your blog?”

Essential to know because as Megan explained photography is all about “communicating a story. Drawing in your viewer…creating dynamism and movement…while showing emotions.”

Know the style of your blog – as photography adds context…

“A professional headshot in front of a bookshelf says you’re an intellectual. A professional headshot peeking though a bookshelf says you’re probably under a restraining order.”
Ryan Lilly

I was lucky enough to attend the November Travcom Travel Photography Panel Event featuring speakers:

Yolanta’s presentation covered what she looks for, what works, what doesn’t and some tips and examples of how to provide travel photography that editor’s will love.

Given bloggers are generally writer, photographer, art director and editor we can learn a lot from how magazine Art Directors put together a publication. We may not have the luxury of a double page spread, however, the texture and subject matter of the photographs chosen by the Art Director enable us to dissect what will work for our blog sites.

Yolanta explained that her readers became invested in an article when they saw photographs of the people involved in the story or from the featured location. She also talked about mixing up shots particularly if the location is well-known location; suggesting we take photographs from a different angle, perhaps looking down on a location as opposed to choosing a panorama shot.

My biggest takeaway from this presentation was regarding the use of stock photos. Yolanta enforced my thoughts that photo’s taken from a shoot have a certain look and feel about them. Therefore, when a stock photo is inserted into the spread it tends to disrupt a story.

Don’t be afraid to…

John Loengard, the picture editor at Life, always used to tell me,

”If you want something to look interesting, don’t light all of it.”
Joe McNally, The Moment It Clicks: Photography Secrets from One of the World’s Top Shooters

Experiment with lighting
These days with the great editing apps available to us it is easy to dismiss lighting, however, if you have ever shot in the soft light of Europe you will understand that our harsh New Zealand sun strips mood and texture out of our photographs. This is why Megan said in her presentation “clouds are your friend.”

She also advised users of smartphone photo apps that using a light coloured case allows light to bounces back. Having completely forgotten this little gem, I will now experiment by taking my dark coloured case off on dull days.

Use negative spaces
Both presenters talked about the use of negative spaces and suggested that we do not always need to fill up the entire frame.

Rebecca explained that when framing people, frame between the limbs and give some breathing space in doing so there is breathing space for the story to unfold.

Using negative spaces to photograph landscapes may open up your subject matter and present a previously known vista in a new way.

Do use your own photography…

“What I like about photographs is that they capture a moment that’s gone forever, impossible to reproduce.”
Karl Lagerfeld

Karl Lagerfeld optimizes the idea of having a unique voice through photography.

“Karl has an eye,” Eric Pfrunder, image director of Chanel and another co-curator, told WWD. “He’s not taking 300 shots. He’s doing five, maybe six. Generally, it’s the first frame that is the best. He’s very fast because he has one vision, and that’s it… He knows exactly what he has in the frame. There are no accidents, no surprises.”

It is the “eye” – the way in which we see the world around us that makes our photography unique. We may not have the artistic genius of Karl Lagerfeld, each of us though has a perspective, the more we photograph it, the better our photos will become.

Given Yolanta Woldendorp’s advice on getting great photos to accompany your story is to “shoot the hell out of it” I encourage you to get out there and just do it.

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