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.
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!