Welcome to our 4th session in the So You Want to Blog series! Just joining us? No worries. Let’s get you caught up. This series is mainly for the newbie blogger, and everyone who has been wanting to start a blog, but doesn’t know how to go about it. In this series, my aim is to ginger you to get started, and sharing the things I’ve learned that I think you should know at this point. Sure, you may be already savvy in these things, but I’m sure you could still learn a thing or two!
Week 2, we talked about ‘Choosing The Best Blogging Platform For You’
Week 3, we started talking about your blog content. In this post, we talked about appearances, and some notes about your Writing. Read this here.
Welcome to Week 4, and the word of the day is Images. Let’s talk about your Photos and Graphic Art!
Remember when I said you didn’t need a professional DSLR camera? You don’t need one to start. I did not have one four years ago and I still don’t have one now. Hoping to rectify this in some months, though. 🙂
If you’re trying to blog about food, or hair, or anything really involving photos taken by you, keep it at the back of your mind that a DSLR is something you should want to invest in eventually- for better images, but there’s still so much you can do with a phone camera, or a regular point and shoot cam- so, don’t wait! I got my first Sony point & shoot camera (Simon) at the Sony Centre in Victoria Island. I felt really special because I paid for with the money I earned as a summer intern for 4 weeks. You can get one for 20k (more or less), 14 mega pixels and up & you’re good to go.
POINT ZERO. This goes without saying but, let me just say it: avoid clutter and messy backgrounds. Taking a mirror pic? Clean your mirror! 😀
Aim to take photos in good lighting.
If you’re a selfie queen, you already know that finding the right light is essential. You should not be backing the light, rather, find a nice spot where it hits you, or hits your subject, but not too much of course.
One thing I’ve come to learn is that with phones and point and shoot cameras, you don’t want to use Flash while trying to capture particular detail, so don’t stress yourself. Especially with subjects like hair, and food, this cheap flash lol will not work for you, so strive to find the best light. If you go somewhere and you’d like to take photos, try to get seated or positioned facing the source of the light, not backing it. If you’re not sure how this works yet, take out your phone camera when you arrive, to see where the light is best. Here’s this post from 2013. The natural lighting was awesome!
If you’re in Nigeria, chances are, they don’t really think too much about lighting where you live or work. I love the universe, but these energy saving bulbs suck and do not do much for photographs. Natural light is best for photos, or great indoor lighting. Yellow lighting is better. I’m considering getting a nice inexpensive lamp to help with my photos. If you are a creep like me lol, you might have noticed that I like to take photos at my front door. That’s the best spot in my house. One of my favourite 3. Find your best spot, improvise.
Do not over-edit your photos!
Sure, with a phone camera or regular cam, you may need to play with some edits- every camera really, but here too. When I take pictures with Simon, in great light, and Simon is in a good mood, I just need an “I’m Feeling Lucky” edit to get the photo to its last bus stop. Overly edited photos aren’t good for Instagram anymore, let alone your blog. Clear pictures please.
Keep this in mind
A photo that looks great on your iPhone or HTC OneZ may not look as good on your computer screen. At a point, I started relying on my iPhone for pictures because I was blogging from my phone a lot. Seeing the same pictures on a bigger screen was a little meh. It’s just one more thing for you to keep in mind.
How you arrange your post helps you convey your message, and keep your reader engaged. If you have a photo heavy post, you don’t need soooo many words unless they’re absolutely necessary. Still, to balance your text and photos, mix them up. A perfect example is this Restaurant Review of La Mango. Have the photos included where relevant. If you put ALL your long text at the beginning of the post or at the end, you’ll definitely lose some people along the way.
Align Large, and to the Centre.
With photos, displaying them in “large size” is always better. Large, and align to the centre. Aligning to the left or right, is just odd, if you aren’t doing it for any artistic purpose.
Give Credit! Link back!
If you use stock images, or images from Google, images from others’ sites- images that don’t belong to you, always, always, always link back!
State the Source in the caption, and then hyperlink that caption. It’s really important.
You may be thinking- what are the odds that someone in Australia would find that you in Lagos or Nairobi or Edmonton, used their photo without linking back, and sue you or something. Well, it’s a small world. It does happen. Especially if in future, your blog happens to become a thing. Whether you aspire to be the next Linda Ikeji or The Shade Room or not, link back. It’s the decent thing to do.
Though most sites aren’t that strict, still look around. Where you see that the blogger has a notice asking you to ASK FOR PERMISSION, before reproducing their images (usually personal work), email them if it’s really important to you- and if it’s not, just leave it, okay? How would you feel if others were to use your own pictures without acknowledgement? Ehen.
7. Save Space.
Save space, save data, save time.
Photos taken with a camera or the rear camera of a smartphone, weigh at least 3 megabytes. After doing your edits, you should try reducing the size of the image. This you can easily do with Picasa, or Microsoft Office Picture Manager- or even on some websites. Reducing it to 500kb or less, would not normally affect the look of the photo. It won’t drain the colour out of it, and it should not make it smaller in size (like- length, and breadth) If either of these happen, something is wrong.
In our zones here, Nigeria- where internet is not unlimited, and can be frustrating, it’s faster to upload images that aren’t heavy. It is also faster for people to load them on their phones when they visit your blog. WordPress.com is free, but only to the extent that you have 3GB storage. This has served me very well so far, but I would have saved much more on space if I had been reducing my images from Day 1.
8. Have Fun, Create Your Own Art
If you would like to add text to your photographs, or make posters of them, there are many fun applications to use. Canva.com is a top resource. I’ve been fumbling there for 2 years. I made the blog header there, and did some art there, but the first thing I felt really proud of was made this year (see below), so take it easy on yourself.
NN designs our super-cute Naturals in The City flyers on Canva. It’s also available on iPad.
On your Android or iPhone, you could also try Over, Adobe Post, Mextures, A Beautiful Mess and A Color Story.
This list is by no means exhaustive. There is soooo much more about photography, and I am definitely no expert. Every other day, I’m trying to learn new things. In the future, I may do more posts as I learn, but this series is not get you overwhelmed, I’m here to get you started on the basics.
Cassie Daves has this really nice post here about taking flat-lay photos. Check it out 🙂
This has been a long, long post. Clap for yourself if you made it to the end!
Next time, we will be talking about putting your new blog out there and getting found! Ever heard the term SEO (Search Engine Optimization)? If you’re already blogging, has anyone tried selling SEO services to you? I’ll tell you how I figured it out myself, without even knowing what SEO meant.
But for now, if there’s anything else you’d like to add to these points- any apps that work for you, tips that work for you, please share in the comments. Thank you!
If this was helpful, be a darling, share it with someone! 🙂
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