5 Photography Tips For Bloggers (VII)

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Self Portrait in my Old High School, France, 2010

A lot of you have been asking me questions about photography and how to achieve certain effects. While I’m by no means an expert, I’m an avid photographer and I had to chance to experiment a lot. I’m also always a teacher at heart and yes, I like talking about photography, because I’m sure I can give you some tips and learn from you as well.

So I decided to start the Saturday Series again, this time with a focus on photography. A new “lesson” will be published every Saturday, for a total or ten posts. Enjoy the “Ten Photography Tips“!

When I first started blogging 5 years ago, I was more of a writer than a photographer. Most of my posts were text-only and I didn’t even have a profile picture.

And then came magazine-style blog themes, with thumbnails pictures. They quickly became popular and enabled a lot of bloggers to add pictures easily to their posts. I embraced the trend and created the Snapshots category, which is now one of the most popular sections of this blog.

So here my tips for bloggers who want to post pictures:

Resize accordingly In most digital cameras, pictures are recorded as JPEG files and are thousands of pixel large. Mine are usually 3872 px x 2592 px straight out of camera! The first thing you need to do if you want to post pictures on your blog is to resize them. Measure your content area in pixels: you can use the MesureIt Firefox plugin for that. Content areas are typically 400 px to 700 px long. All the main photo editing softwares have a resizing tool. Alternatively, you can use one of the many online tools, such as Shrinkpictures, Pic Resize, or Resize Pic. You can constraint proportions (so that it doesn’t look stretched) or resize it while cropping, allowing different width and height. Just remember the golden rule: you can make a picture smaller but you cannot make a picture bigger (stretch it), otherwise the resolution will be awful.

Choose wisely The best part with digital cameras is that you can take a thousand of pictures for free. But that doesn’t mean you have to post 999 pictures of the same object/person/animal from a slightly different angle! Do your readers a favour and cherry-pick your pictures. Besides, not everybody has a fast internet connexion and the more images there is on a page, the slower is it to load. Just imagine you are a magazine editor: pick the best shots that illustrate your story, choose the meaningful images and leave the rest on your computer.

Consider a plugin or a widget Plugins or widgets are the best way for your readers to stay in touch with your photo adventures and they are very easy to maintain. Basically, they aggregate the pictures and photo albums you upload on other websites (such as Facebook, Flickr, Picasa) and display the latest thumbnail pictures. I have two photography plugins on this blog: one displays the latest pictures I upload on Flickr at the very bottom of the page, the other one displays my Flickr sets on a dedicated page. You can find all kind of plugins for WordPress on the WordPress Plugin Directory, and for Blogger, have a look at Blogger Plugins.

Play fair Some bloggers are not photographers, yet it’s nice to have a picture illustrating a post. Fair enough. Now remember, it’s not because it’s on the web that it doesn’t have an owner or a creator. In other words, don’t just use Google image to find a suitable picture and proceed with using it. Come on, haven’t you heard of copyright? Flickr is good way to find free pictures to use but remember to check the picture’s license. And it’s simply good etiquette to email the photographer and ask for permission to use the picture anyway.

But don’t be paranoid I know some bloggers and photographers who simply refuse to put their photos online because “ya know, someone may steal them”. Well, yes, the minute you put your work online you expose it to the risk of thief. And I agree that Internet users tend to grab materials without even thinking it belongs to someone. That said, don’t be paranoid. Educate people rather than mumbling all alone about disrespectful users! Photographers who put huge and ugly copyright notices all over the website drive me nuts. They first assure you they will kill anyone who dare to stare at their precious work for more than two seconds and at the same time beg for attention. Similarly, some photography put watermarks so big that you can barely see the picture: read Copyright Embedding Tool for the Ultra Paranoid Photographer for a good laugh!

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About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.

12 Comments

  1. Nowadays, I’d rather post pictures and write some caption than write a text only post.

    Once I had someone taking my photo without permission and it really upset me. But that person apologized and immediately took it down. I think it’d be nice if the photographer got a credit to it via some link.

  2. I have had several people ask if they could use one of my photos for something and I am happy to oblige. I would prefer that they credit me but there is not much I can do if they don’t play fair. If someone sold one of my photos as their own, or entered it into a photo contest I would care but that hasn’t happened that I know of. Life is too short to worry about such things. I love your blog.

  3. I used to have a French lecturer when I was doing my uni course in Scotland.
    She told us not to worry in terms of writing your dissertation.
    Everybody copies somebody’s work. Fair enough! 😉
    So long you acknowledge the original authors.
    I guess the same applies to photograghy.

  4. “Just remember the golden rule: you can make a picture smaller but you cannot make a picture bigger (stretch it), otherwise the resolution will be awful”

    How do photographers enlarge their photos and show them in galleries nowadays? There must be another way to do that without destroying the resolution..

  5. @Poem – Photographers definitely should get some credit! I think it’s our role to educate people. Most don’t mean anything bad… they just don’t think they are stealing.

    @Tulsa Gentleman – The photographer should definitely be credited! Don’t be afraid to ask.

    @Sidney – Thanks! It’s a fun series 🙂

    @London Caller – Ouch, that’s not good especially at university. My university is quite big on copyright and plagiarism.

    @Nisha – Thank you! I’m glad it helps.

    @Pauline – You mean when the thumbnail is shown and if you click, the picture is bigger? The highest resolution of the picture is uploaded and it’s resized to be smaller if needed.

  6. It drives me nuts to see a blogger complaining about someone copying their text just to see them use watermarked Getty images!

    I hate watermarks too, it distracts too much from the picture!

    Pauline: There are some special algorithms to enlarge pictures. When developing big enlargements, most of the time the printing resolution is lower so the image is stretched. It looks good from afar but if you look at it from up close you will see that the quality is not that great.

  7. Hi Zhu,

    These are good tips; however, I have emailed some folks to ask for permission to use their photos and art images and only one answered me back giving me permission; the rest of them didn’t even bother – so rude of them *nodding*. They could’ve said “no” I would’ve understood, but not to answer is a breach of etiquette rules.

    Anyway, I will try to follow every post on this subject: I might learn something that I can use in the future ;).

    Cheers

  8. I wrote a post on a Georgia plantation last year. A few months later I saw that this plantation had a web site and they were using at least 8 of my photos, without my permission. An Atlanta marketing firm made up the plantation web site and sold them my pictures. My pictures were used commercially. This is when I started writing a note on top of my blog saying that copying my pictures was not authorized. Since then I have had 3 people ask me if they could use my pictures – one author for children book, a teacher for instructions on Native Americans and one environmentalist about a talk on an Atlanta river. I said OK to all of them, just to mention that those were my pictures. I don’t know if they did. For curiosity sake I just went on the plantation site – they are still using my pictures (and not mentioning my name.)

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