Like video blogging, photo blogging has ignited with the emergence of smartphones because nearly everyone on the planet now carries a camera with them at all times. And the cameras and associated apps and software available are pretty amazing quality, considering the cost. Even if you can’t spring for the .99 it costs for Camera+, you can still download free editing apps and software that enable to you out-photo even the most experienced photographer and darkroom lurkers only a few years back. I myself took a photography class in college back in the day, and spent an inordinate amount of time and money on silver halide paper and trying to develop and matte the stupid things. Incidentally I saw the breakdown of what each component costs Apple to make an iPhone4, and the camera they put in them sets them back only $18 apiece. Incredible.
But blogging with photos isn’t just for you that like to take them yourselves. There is an ocean of photos on the web, which many people like to use to illustrate their blogs. Many use them illegally, but many don’t. It’s important to pay careful attention to what type of license your photos have and give the proper attribution, if necessary.
So, now that you know you can’t just snag any photo you come across and throw it into your blog, you’ll need to know what the different types of licensing there are. I’m not going to get into that here, because it’s pretty well-documented.
What I will get into is some good places to get free quality photos and the ways to edit and look at them. I’ll also touch on the correct way to make your blogging photos SEO-friendly for those of you that don’t know. It’s really easy, but you just need to be diligent about dotting your t’s and crossing your i’s.
WordPress Photo Plugins
If you’re already set up on WordPress, you know there are a lot of Photo plugins available. Some are helpful and some are ridiculous, and some just suck. I’ve installed and used a lot of the most popular ones, and there aren’t many I would really say “rock.” But if you’re short on time and resources, I certainly can see how using them is appealing.
Photodropper is one that makes finding and adding photos to your blog easy. Find a photo you like, click on it, and wham! You’re done. It also only searches the free section of Creative Commons on Flickr, and adds the attribution automatically. Photodropper and Flickr in tandem probably are the best bets for finding usable free imagery.
Getting to Flickr now. Flickr used to be a photography ghetto, but thanks to the aforementioned enablement of every human alive being able to take decent photos on their iPhones and Androids, edit them easily and upload them anywhere within seconds, there’s a good selection on Flickr. That ease has also spurred a lot of people to become more interested and better at photography around the world. Combine the “Interestingness” category on Flickr and match it with the Photodropper plugin and you’re pretty much in the photo blogging business.
Using Photos on Blogs
As you can see from this site, there isn’t a need to add images all over the place. We’ve arrived at a point where unnecessary images, or decorations” are more of a distraction. Especially if you’re trying to keep the reader focused on your writing and topic at hand. This is coming from someone that customizes everything, loves color and appreciates art. If you want a site to dump or display images, there is a place and way to do it. But for goodness sake, make sure the photos are relevant. If they aren’t integral to your story or boost your writing, just stick to the text. People go to the web for information, so if the photo helps embellish the information you are attempting to relay, go for it. If not, bag it.
Placing your photos on your site properly is important for SEO. Not hard, but important for good Search Engine Optimization so you can be found online. Here’s the way:
Make sure your photo is saved with something descriptive in the filename, like “EiffelTower.jpg” not “img000237.jpg.” That does you no good, and you’re passing up an opportunity for your photo and site to be easily discoverable.
When you upload it, make sure the filesize is small. You generally don’t need full-screen, major-high-res images to tell a story. When you’re saving your photo onto your computer, crop it down, compress it, reduce the dpi (dots per inch) or whatever you can to get the file size down. Usually photo editing software will help you along with this in the form of text boxes asking if you’re going to be putting on the web, if you want to cut down the resolution and so on. Pay attention to them, and don’t be afraid to reduce here and there. No one will be able to tell and it will result in faster loading pages, which ultimately leads to more readers and better conversions, if that’s what you’re looking for.
When you’re uploading your photo to WordPress, be sure to fill in the alt-image and title. Many people overlook or breeze past this, but don’t do it. It’s a little step that will result in better SEO. The alt-tags tell search engines what the image is of. Pretty important.
Stock Image Photo Sites
I’ve already mentioned Flickr is a great place to find free images. But there are others as well. Some will charge a small fee or “credit” but for the casual blogger, I can’t see maintaining an account with a lot of money invested in credits, or having a subscription. If you have the dough or need, go for it. But I personally don’t, especially when I can find and take free photos.
Here’s a list of currently bookmarked sites I use to get photos and even videos from, if that’s your thing. If you have any worth adding, please advise and I’ll certainly include them. I need them just like you.
- Creative Commons - the go-to place for stock footage. Be sure to abide by the different licenses!
- High def iPad Wallpaper - when you need high-def images of bikini girls, animé and exotic cars
- Endless Interestingness - cool interactive photo site
- Stock Xchng - stock photos
- Schmutzie (iPhoneography site)
- iPhoneography - just what the name says
- MobiTog — more iPhoneopgraphy
- flickr - you’ve heard of it
- Aviary — free and easy photo editing
- Zenfolio - photo hosting
- Photoshop.com - keep a free gallery here
- fotolia - awesome photos
- 123RF — royalty free photos
- OneLoad — used to be TubeMogul
- Beachfront B-roll — links to stock video footage
- Neo’s clip archive — more stock video footage links
- Footage Crate — 100% royalty-free footage
- xStock Video — free stock video
- A/V geeks — free movies on Archive.org
- MetaCafe — video site
- PhotoScape - a free and easy downloadable photo editing software that I really like
11 Photo Blogs That Will Make You A Great Photographer
Learning some basics of imagery composition and ways to use your equipment can easily elevate your photography exponentially versus NOT knowing some basics. I say that from experience. A very little time learning some tips from the pros can take your photography from ‘meh’ to ‘Holy!’ In other words, it’s worth your time to read through some of these. If nothing else, they will inspire you! And these go to Eleven!
- Digital Photography School
- DIY Photography - Camera hacks, such as using a peephole as a fisheye lens
- Photography Concentrate
- Inspire Me Baby - Here are 5 more inspirational photo blogs as well
- Beyond Megapixels - Begin with Getting started with Photography
- The Photo Argus
- Strobist - Start with Lighting 101
- Canon Blogger
- Nikon Rumors
How to edit online photos
I’m no professional, but I do want to share at least one basic thing to keep in mind when composing your shots: the rule of thirds.
It’s an easy concept that may transform your photos from something weird into something worthwhile.
It’s so simple, and you may have even seen lines across viewfinders that divide the screen into nine blocks. The reason is that you want to place important visual lines on them. Horizons should be on the top or bottom line. People and objects generally want to be on the intersection of lines, in “one-third” of the screen. Of course, you typically want to “lead” if it makes sens for the shot. Such as a car driving past; you want it to have room in front, not so that it’s driving off the and out of the image.
Next time you’re watching a movie, try to notice how the rule of thirds is in play. Pretty cool!
Do you have any favorite sites or software you recommend? And that you hate? Leave a comment!