As bloggers, creative entrepreneurs, and content marketers we’re constantly in search of inspiration for new blog posts, we’re under pressure to writing compelling content, and we’re always hoping to attract new readers. One of the most important factors when it comes to creating engaging blog posts is photography.
Photography is visualizing ideas, it’s presenting thoughts in a way that anyone can understand. And on a little “psychology” side note, photography captures contrast and colours, which are strong means of evoking emotions within people.
Seeing the power of photography you should know how to use these factors to your advantage. If applied in the right way photography can help you boost your blog traffic, and certainly is on your side when it comes to social media (Instagram + Pinterest - probably the most visual social media platforms out there).
Here are 6 of the most important tips to consider when it comes to creating compelling photo content for your blog:
1. Shoot in good light conditions
Light is super important in any situation. No matter whether you’re photographing food, you’re out on the streets, or taking a portrait of someone.
The best tip I can give you is to use ambient light. I’m not a big fan of flash as I find it flattens your image and takes away all the natural shades and tones. Available light gives you a much more natural look and feel, and it’s easier to work with as you don’t need to worry about all the flash settings.
Be aware of where your light comes from and what time of day you’re photographing. Flattering light usually comes from the side, from an angle, or is filtered. If the light comes directly from above or the front it can be quite harsh (especially if you’re shooting around noon when the light is strong). Filtering natural light can add a really nice tone to your photo. There’s an easy way to achieve filtered light: shoot next to the window and use a thin (preferably white or cream coloured) curtain, which lets through some light. This technique will give you a nice and soft tone. If you don’t have a similar fabric available try out other materials which are thin enough to let some light pass through (e.g. baking parchment).
2. Be aware of colours
As I said before colours are very powerful in evoking emotions. Be aware of what colours communicate, and how you can use that knowledge in your favour. Newspapers for example like to choose photos showing a fire (it’s red!) for their front page, as it will help increase sales. People are attracted by the attention grabbing colour, and will instinctively grab a newspaper with a colourful red pop over a greyish looking one.
Just as important is the combination of different colours. When you set up a scene for let’s say a food photography shoot be aware of what colour your props are as well as the background. Try out different coloured utensils until you get a feel for what works.
If something doesn’t look quite right or just doesn’t feel compelling, chances are the colours don’t harmonise.
3. Composition is important
Try out different angles and positions. Don’t be lazy or afraid to get into weird positions (even if it’s in public). Some great photos only happen because the photographer isn’t afraid of looking silly. I’ve been on the ground myself. I’ve also been up in the air. I’ve been on my boyfriend’s shoulders, I’ve been standing on chairs, I’ve climbed up walls. There’s nothing you can’t do - nothing you wouldn’t do once you see how much of a difference a certain position can make.
If you’re arranging subjects and objects, or even out on the streets, try placing the subject differently every time. Sometimes just showing the subject in one of the corners of the photo can work (leaving lots of empty space), sometimes creating a visual diagonal looks good, sometimes even placing your subject right in the middle of the photo can be interesting.
A general rule to keep in mind is the Golden Ratio - about ⅓ to ⅔ of the photo (no matter whether horizontal or vertical).
4. Look out for the background
Don’t let the background distract from the main point of focus. If you’re taking a portrait and the background has nothing to add to what you’re trying to communicate about the person, change it. Of course you can’t just cut out the background, but you can blur it (using a shallow depth-of-field), try taking the photo from a different position, or just move and find a different spot to take the photo in.
Usually a simple and plain background works well for portraits, unless you’re adding meaning to your photo and the story by including the background.
When it comes to food or product photography it’s nice to focus on the food/product, so the same applies here - keep the background clean and simple.
Again, be aware of the colours in the background - you usually don’t want a bright red or neon colour that attracts all the attention and draws the focus away from your main subject.
5. Capture details
Details can add a really nice feature to a photo. Focusing on details gives you only an idea of what’s going on, it let’s the viewer’s mind add what’s missing, leaving room for imagination - there’s lots of room for individual interpretation and inspiration.
Did you know that even a portrait can just show a certain detail? Shoes for example. Or hands. Maybe someone’s always wearing pink shoes - that’s a detail worth capturing, it will portray the person just as well as if you photographed their face. Showing a certain feature of a person can be interesting, adding a lot of character to the photo.
The same goes with any type of picture - details communicate interesting aspects, so focus the attention on the point you want to make.
6. Edit your photos
Even if you’re simply adjusting the contrast and white balance a little bit - editing can do a lot with very little.
Of course you should always try to get the perfect shot when taking the photo and not rely on editing to turn a bad photo into a good one. But still, a little polish can only help. You don’t need to use Photoshop or Lightroom, there is other editing software out there which will do a good basic job (Vsco, Aftertlight, Unum, Picasa, Lightroom, PhotoPlus, Photoscape,...).
Note: all of the photos above relate to more than just one point - most of them illustrate several tips (i.e. the last photo doesn't only illustrate editing benefits, but also composition, light, ...)
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