Blog photography is an essential part of blogging, especially for travel blogs. When most bloggers start blogging, they don’t realise there is more to blog photography than shooting and uploading. A lot of work goes on behind the scenes, including researching equipment to use and planning of photo shoots. Then there is post-production including editing, optimising for SEO, placement and organisation of photos.
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Thanks for joining us to learn about blog photography. As part of the #TravelBlogTips chat we hosted last month, we chatted about blog photography and its importance. We shared some useful information about blogging and the use of photos. While most of the conversation was about blog photography, we also chatted about videos.
Thanks to all the #TravelBlogTips chat participants; this post is due to them sharing their knowledge. We have published this post to give you a summary of the chat and to help you remember to put into practice the knowledge we shared. Further, we are sharing this knowledge with any blogger who wants to learn about blog photography best practices.
Last month we spoke about
Optimising your Site Structure for SEO.
This is about how you set up your pages and includes tags, categories, and links. It is important to Google. And a good site structure can help you rank higher in search engines.
Welcome to #TravelBlogTips chat ‘Photos & Videos in Blogging’. Are you ready to learn the blog photography tips that we shared?
Photos & Videos in Blogging
Planning Photo Shoots and Use of Photos
Q1. Do you take photos/videos with your future post in mind?— #TravelBlogTips | Bloggers’ chat (@TravelBlogTips_) March 29, 2020
How many do you use per post and where do you place them? #TravelBlogTips
Hosts @TravelBugsWorld @MonkeysVentures @GreenMochila @KaliTravel @Clarissa_Laskey @AuraPriiscel pic.twitter.com/lNdqUl1JW0
There isn’t a limit to how many photos you can use in a blog post. Best practices are to use images in the body of a post to break up the text and between paragraphs. Ideally, your images should illustrate the blog post.
Most bloggers stated the number of photos they use depends on the post, but it is usually 5 to 10. We, ourselves, use 8-12 photos per post. We use them every 250-300 words to break up the text. Therefore, we feel we need to take lots of photos with our future posts in mind.
We found many of the bloggers who participated in the chat are serial photo takers. After they launch their blogs, most bloggers start paying more attention to the photos they take so they can use unique images for their websites. Additionally, the longer they have blogged, the more they tend to take photos with future posts in mind. Further, they take photos constantly while travelling and then choose the best ones. Sometimes the images they have taken help influence a post.
We also found, just like ourselves, many bloggers take photos of information boards, signs, maps, restaurants and hotels to help them with information for their future post. Often these pictures will just get used as a resource for information and not in a post.
Q2. Which equipment do you use for taking photos or videos: Point & Shoot, Smartphone, Mirrorless, DSLR, Drone, Action Camera, Camcorder, or other? #TravelBlogTips— #TravelBlogTips | Bloggers’ chat (@TravelBlogTips_) March 29, 2020
Hosts @TravelBugsWorld @MonkeysVentures @GreenMochila @KaliTravel @Clarissa_Laskey @AuraPriiscel pic.twitter.com/0Jrh2LBBOx
Just like ourselves, most bloggers use a combination of devices for taking photos or video. While a few use a point & shoot camera, most use a DSLR and phone. In the group that participated in the chat, Canon and Nikon are the primary brands for DSLRs. Phones used are top of the range Samsung and iPhones.
Some bloggers only use their phones. Even some of the bloggers who use DSLRs stated that nowadays they leave their equipment at home, as their phones perform so well. And, they don’t want to travel with the weight or go backpacking with expensive cameras.
Quite a few of the bloggers also have a GoPro or an alternative action camera. These action cameras are namely for video or underwater photos.
And while only three bloggers said they have a drone, many said they would like one. However, some did agree they did not like the noise and intrusion in scenic and peaceful locations. Plus they are illegal in many places.
Ultimately, it does not matter what camera you use as long as you apply creativity and have an eye for photography.
And we agree with the statement by travel blogger/photographer John from CarpeDiemEire
“The best camera is the one you have on you at the time.”
Photo Dimensions for Blogs and Social Media
Q3. Do you take specific photos for Social Media? And on your posts, which dimensions do you prefer (landscape, portrait, panoramic…)? #TravelBlogTips— #TravelBlogTips | Bloggers’ chat (@TravelBlogTips_) March 29, 2020
Hosts @TravelBugsWorld @MonkeysVentures @GreenMochila @KaliTravel @Clarissa_Laskey @AuraPriiscel pic.twitter.com/rsKonyOxA8
We don’t take specific photos for Social Media. Though our posts are generally landscape photos, we recently have started to take more vertical images for Pinterest.
Many of the bloggers in our group said they took specific photos for social media and headers. This includes panoramas for Facebook and selfies for use in other social media, as well as in blog posts.
Landscape photography is predominant for use in blogs, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Whereas taking portrait photos to use to make Pinterest pins & Instagram stories is universal.
Additionally, when taking portrait photos, thought was given to their use, e.g. is there lots of sky in the picture where you can add text for Pinterest pins?
However, with editing software, it is easy to crop photos to the desired shape.
Editing Tools for Photos & Videos
Q4. Which are your favorite tools for editing photos/videos?— #TravelBlogTips | Bloggers’ chat (@TravelBlogTips_) March 29, 2020
What about resizing, quality & page loading speed? #TravelBlogTips
Hosts @TravelBugsWorld @MonkeysVentures @GreenMochila @KaliTravel @Clarissa_Laskey @AuraPriiscel pic.twitter.com/IvMSrRq1It
We liked this question, as it is always interesting to see what tools other bloggers use. And we found it diverse.
We mostly edit and resize our photos on our phones editing apps, Paint and Canva. Also, we compress our photos with TinyPNG. We found most bloggers edit their photos. Though a few claimed they did not and only resized them.
The reason to edit photos is to make sure you have the right size, have clear, sharp images and to fix any problems.
The bloggers, who were present at the chat, use various editing tools. The most commonly used free software is Paint, Windows Live Photo Gallery, Snapseed and Canva.
For paid editing software, bloggers favourites are Photoshop, which is the professional photographers choice. And many of the bloggers claim they love Lightroom.
Incidentally, Darktable is a free alternative to Lightroom and comes highly recommended by blogger The Good Life With IQ, though we haven’t tried it yet.
And when it comes to resizing and compressing? The reason to compress photos before uploading them is by reducing the image file size you reduce the load on your site and increase the page load speed. The tools predominantly used by the group are Tinypng.com, Smush plugin & Short Pixel image optimiser plugin.
Aside from that, the bloggers in the group who edit videos use free video editing software including MS Photos, MovieMaker, Blender & Animoto.
Featured Headers and Slideshows on Your Blog
Q5. Do you use featured header or slideshows? Which kind of photos work best for these? #TravelBlogTips— #TravelBlogTips | Bloggers’ chat (@TravelBlogTips_) March 29, 2020
Hosts @TravelBugsWorld @MonkeysVentures @GreenMochila @KaliTravel @Clarissa_Laskey @AuraPriiscel pic.twitter.com/J9X9W2Rscl
The featured header photo is the first impression. It sits at the top of the page and is the first thing people see. It is the photo that will go with social media shares of your post. So you should always make sure it is not only visually pleasing but original and summarises what your post is about.
We always make sure we use an eye-catching landscape photo. Most bloggers use featured headers. The majority use landscape photos. In choosing header images, much like ourselves, the bloggers tend to use an image that represents the overall post.
Further, some bloggers use slideshows. Though, some that have tried slideshows are no longer using them as they claim it slows their site down.
Image Optimisation for SEO
Q6. Are your images optimized for SEO? Which meta-information (alt text, caption, file name, description) do you include? #TravelBlogTips— #TravelBlogTips | Bloggers’ chat (@TravelBlogTips_) March 29, 2020
Hosts @TravelBugsWorld @MonkeysVentures @GreenMochila @KaliTravel @Clarissa_Laskey @AuraPriiscel pic.twitter.com/lp0lqGkk8l
Your blog images contribute to your websites SEO. We always optimise images for SEO by changing the file name of the image and adding alt text. The use of keywords is important for SEO and Google uses your file name in its image search algorithm. Further, Google crawls the web for images by reading alt text. And we have seen our pictures pop up in Google searches due to optimising our photos!
Most of the bloggers at the chat stated it is time-consuming. But they understand it is an essential task, so the majority of bloggers change the file name and add alt text.
Further resizing and compression, as discussed in question 4, play an essential role in image optimisation for SEO.
We also found a few of the bloggers add captions and descriptions on their photos. Sometimes we use captions if we want to tell more of the story through the images we have used. They don’t directly contribute to SEO, but captions help engage your reader because people read them when scanning an article. Likewise, for descriptions, while there is no evidence that it contributes to SEO, it does give more details for web searches.
Other things mentioned at the chat include lazy loading. It is where photos open only if the user scrolls to that section. Therefore, this reduces the initial page load time. Some people don’t like it, and others love it. For us, anything that speeds up your site and results in better user experience is a must in our books.
Backing Up Image Files
Q7. How do you back up your image files, and where do you store them? Please share any tips on organizing libraries? #TravelBlogTips— #TravelBlogTips | Bloggers’ chat (@TravelBlogTips_) March 29, 2020
Hosts @TravelBugsWorld @MonkeysVentures @GreenMochila @KaliTravel @Clarissa_Laskey @AuraPriiscel pic.twitter.com/m4gt6mplKd
We back up all our images on external hard drives. We also have started backing up to Google Photos. It makes it easy to access photos from anywhere. And they have some great features for searches. Our libraries are in folders and called by the year visited and the name of the country and city. Most bloggers organise libraries in this way, and some people mentioned adding tags for searches.
Everyone understood the critical importance of backing up image files. Most bloggers have a backup on a hard drive and a backup external drive. A few bloggers also use Google Photos or other cloud storage such as Amazon Prime Photos, Onedrive or Dropbox. Some bloggers use USB flash drives.
Whichever way you choose to back up your photos, the most crucial thing is to have a backup. There is nothing worse than losing your photos!
Copyrighting Photos/Videos & Legal Street Photography
Q8. Do you protect your photos & videos, e.g. with watermark?— #TravelBlogTips | Bloggers’ chat (@TravelBlogTips_) March 29, 2020
And how do you keep your street photography legal? #TravelBlogTips
Hosts @TravelBugsWorld @MonkeysVentures @GreenMochila @KaliTravel @Clarissa_Laskey @AuraPriiscel pic.twitter.com/4O2UB3EKp6
We had done a lot of research on this controversial issue when we started blogging. Finally, we decided to use a watermark; we use it for branding. But we don’t watermark all our photos, as it takes time.
The bloggers in the group were of mixed opinions on the use of watermarks. The majority use watermarks. Sometimes, the watermarks are hidden, and other times quite prominent for branding. They use their website address, their logo, or sometimes their social media names or hashtags.
The ones that don’t use watermarks say the reason is due to time or just not having gotten round to it. Also, there are a few that don’t use watermarks as they don’t like the way they look.
And then there’s the opinion of longterm professional blogger Meg Jerrard of Mapping Megan who claims,
“No protection on my photos or videos, i.e. watermarking. My view is that if you’re playing in the online space, part of that is accepting that your work may be lifted.”
Indeed, some bloggers use watermarking as a claim of ownership, yet realise it doesn’t keep people from stealing them. It is easy to crop or remove the watermark.
In fact, you don’t need a watermark as the minute you take the photo it is protected. A DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) legally protects your work. A few bloggers claim that they have filed a DMCA takedown for stolen images.
And as blogger Karla from Travellersoul76 says,
“You may not pay much attention or consider photography copyright important when starting to blog. Save yourself some heart & headaches & protect them!”
She wrote a post about her experiences with copyright and DMCA
To watermark or not to watermark: How do you protect your photos?
Ways to watermark include Canva, Lightroom, Photoshop or many other platforms.
Most bloggers said they do not use much street photography in their blog. The ones that do tell us they do not take photos of peoples faces or blur them if they do. If they do take pictures of faces, they ask first.
Many of the bloggers at the chat think you need the permission of the people in your photo.
We haven’t given much thought to street photography and its legalities. So we took the opportunity to research the law on street photography. It appeared that laws are different in every country. However, in the USA, photography in public places is legal, and permission is not needed. Though if you wish to sell or use the photo in advertising, it becomes complicated. We found this post by Expert Photography Street Photography – Know Your Rights an informative read.
Thanks for joining #TravelBlogTips chat We look forward to catching up on all the comments over the next few days.— Travel Bugs World ✈️🐞🌎 (@TravelBugsWorld) March 29, 2020
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Thanks for reading, and we hope you learned something or at least find this post on blog photography inspiring.
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