Do you fancy a few tips to improve your blog photos? Look no further! This morning, I am on my way to Tots100’s BlogCamp Bristol and I am delighted to welcome the lovely Michelle, who blogs at Bod for tea. She really knows a thing or two about photography!
Michelle is a pro-blogger at award-nominated lifestyle blog Bod for tea, brand ambassador and Mummy to two little people. She runs the weekly ‘Share the Joy’ link up for posts that make bloggers smile and admits to chasing joy and drinking coffee by the bucketful. Don’t hesitate to say “hi” to Michelle on Twitter @bodfortea.
Over to Michelle…
What makes you stay when you first visit a blog? Perhaps it’s the layout and the design or the catchy headlines but I’ll bet it’s also the images. Images have a powerful effect on us; drawing us into a post and making us want to read more.
Over on my blog Bod for tea I decided last year to make images a cornerstone of my design and spent time working out a style for them that I felt worked well for me. I’m not an expert by ANY means but I’d like to share some simple hints and tips that I’ve learned to create better blog images.
#1 Setting the scene
A great way to improve your blog images quickly is to think about the scene that you’re setting – the background to your image. If you’re snapping shots for a review you want the product to shine and it can’t do that if the desk it’s sitting on is cluttered or the background is too busy.
When we moved to The Barn one of the first things I was thinking while we were unpacking boxes was ‘where am I going to shoot products here?’ – the crazy things a pro-blogger thinks about! But it’s useful to have one or two places in your home with a clutter-free background that you can use. For example, I like using the floorboards in our parlour, the bricks of our fireplace, the cream boards in the entrance hall and our kitchen windowsill.
If you’re struggling to find somewhere that works for you then you can create your own using props like wallpaper – you can grab samples from most homeware stores that are large enough to use (shhh… don’t tell anyone I told you that!) and tack or tape them to a wall as a backdrop.
#2 Taking the photograph
Once the scene is set think about the time of day that you’re going to take your photographs. I like lots of light to make my images bright so I don’t snap away at twilight for example. The colours will also look different in natural or artificial light.
Think about the positioning of the main thing in your photograph – whether that’s a product or your child. Sometimes having them central works best but you can also create an interesting shot where the main focus is on one side.
It’s also a great idea to get to know your camera (or camera phone) and see how your photo will look using different settings. I often like to have the main image crisp and clean but with the background slightly blurred. In technical terms this means that I use a setting where the aperture is prioritised.
#3 Simple editing
Once you have your shot the fun starts! I use PicMonkey to edit all my photographs starting with the basic settings to crop, resize and enhance the image until I’m happy with it.
When I relaunched Bod for tea last year I decided that I wanted all of my images to be the same width as my posts (650 pixels in my case). This means I have to resize every image and often have to crop images to make them work. What works best for you will depending on your blog design so it’s a good idea to know the dimensions of your blog and make a note of them so that they’re too close to hand when you’re editing. I’ll also adjust the brightness and sharpness settings if necessary – a great way to perk up an image that is a little too dark or slightly blurred.
#4 Advanced editing
Once you’ve got a basic image prepared you can enhance it using filters and overlays. I love black and white photographs of my two little people and often use this filter because I think it creates a crispness that colour sometimes lacks. But a note of caution here, some filters are just too busy so tread carefully and make sure that the hero of the image doesn’t get lost in the mix!
Some blogs use filters to good effect by creating a recognisable style for their blog shots – you could make all your images square or round for example.
You can also turn your image into a post header using PicMonkey. Here’s how:
#1 Work out the size of your post header using a simple tool like this page ruler (link: http://blarg.co.uk/tools/page-ruler) – you need to know the height and width in pixels.
#2 On the PicMonkey homepage select EDIT and choose your image from wherever it’s stored.
#3 On the BASIC EDITS screen go to RESIZE and input the width of your post header and let the height adjust automatically – don’t worry we’ll fix that in the next step.
#4 Now using the CROP setting at the top of the screen input the width and height dimensions of your blog header and you’ll see a box highlighted over your image. Move this up and down using your cursor until you have an header image you’re happy with.
Once you’ve mastered this you can adjust the warmth of coolness of the image and add text and graphical overlays to create a personalised header for each post.
Have a play with your blog images and see what a difference it can make to your blog!
Brilliant advice, Michelle!
I just thought I would try and take a photo of a few bits and bobs I had at home using Michelle’s tips. I shot at around 4 p.m. in the brightest room of the house.
I went for a plain background (a sample tile from the DIY shop). The girls kept moving the broccoli and it took me quite a while to find a decent angle, but I think I got there eventually.
I like to take a picture the way I want it if that makes sense. Today, I went for minimal editing, as I usually do. I cropped the photo ever so slightly and took the brightness down just a notch to emphasize the red of the tomatoes even more. I then gave reduced the photo to my usual width of 700 pixels and added my watermark. Voilà!