If you haven’t noticed yet, things look a little different around here.
I updated photos on my blog, in line with my overall intention of being really focused on the next steps for my blog. (More on this later! For now, let’s talk photography.)
I have a love hate relationship with blog photos and frankly, you might want to, too.
You do not need to have really good images on your blog to make money blogging. This is something I learned from all the marketing studying I’ve been doing as well as from Six Figure Blogger. You can have a basic website with average photos and make a ton of money blogging. If you want to become an influencer, then the photos matter more.
I like to remind myself that for me personally, the equation looks like this:
- Value > Profitability > Popularity
Knowing this, I still decided I wanted to add some photos to my website that reflected where I was at with my new direction.
I justified the expense knowing that it was completely indulgent. I didn’t expect any ROI on it. And that’s okay.
So, I did it, and I’m sort of obsessed with the results. I feel a lot more confident with the images on my site now.
To make the photoshoot seems more justified in my mind, I went ahead and took the opportunity to ask my photographer, Stephanie Barnes, questions so I could get photography tips for bloggers and share them with you.
Photography Tips For Bloggers
Here are Stephanie’s answers to my questions about photography tips for bloggers… Enjoy! ☺
1. What tips do you have for self portraits or head shots if you have to take them yourself?
Lighting is ALWAYS key. Find any source of natural light and turn your face toward the light. This is will give you a more even look, help skin tones etc. I fell like aside from selfies or images on a phone a self portrait with a regular camera would be difficult for anyone (even a photographer) to nail focus and angle so when it comes to more professional head shots I would recommend hiring someone to help out!
What are your best lighting tips? (Artificial light or outside with natural light? anything else?)
I love natural light. Flash should really only be used when absolutely necessary. To take advantage of natural light turn the object or person to face the light source (if indoors) If outdoors and it is an overcast day you can pretty much shoot anywhere! If it is a harsher, sunny day look for shade and stand in the shade but right near the edge of it and use the ground where the light hits as a natural reflector! When indoors to reflect light grab anything white (a blanket, white board or even a piece of paper).
2. What’s the best recommendation for a basic photo editing program/software that doesn’t break the bank?
I only use Adobe Photoshop and it is actually quite inexpensive. You can get it for $9.99 per month on Creative Cloud.
Photoshop has A LOT of features but don’t let that overwhelm you. Learn the basics because that is really all that you need.
I advise learning to shoot and edit RAW files and use the Adobe Camera Raw Feature or Lightroom to edit.
3. What price range should a headshot or session cost?
Like anything else you get what you pay for.
A more experienced photographer will usually charge around $375 – $500 per hour for a session.
This will usually include the digital files for your use as well as the professional editing.
4. What tips do you have for taking flatlays?
Make sure your Aperture settings (if shooting manual mode) are at least 4.5 to make sure everything is in focus.
Make sure you have space around what’s in your flatlay so you have borders to crop and straighten without losing the image.
Use a board or other item to shoot on that you can move near the natural light source.
5. What tips do you have for creating a cohesive Instagram feed?
The main key is to pick a style and stick to it.
Feeds that are all over the place will always look messy.
Whether your style is bright and colorful or more moody just keep is consistent.
I’m not all about filters so I can’t give any recommendations there but I will say that it’s good practice to keep your images well lit and clean looking.
Bumping up the sharpening can also help images stay crisp when posting to social media.
6. Any final tip you have when taking pictures as a blogger?
Don’t over-edit. It’s a dead giveaway and a clear sign of a bad photo.
Other than that, focus on good lighting first and foremost. Bad lighting ruins any chance of a good photo!
Here is what I do
Stephanie is obviously the pro here, but I wanted to include what I do for photos on my site so you can get a sense of what’s working for me.
- I use stock images for blog photos usually. My favorites are iStock, Deposit Photos, Haute Stock (all are paid), Pixabay, and Unsplash (for free).
- I use Planoly for Instagram. I’m obsessed with it because you can upload your photos and rearrange them as if it’s your Insta feed, so you know what the feed will look like ahead of time. It’s a game changer.
- I use Photoshop Elements (I think mine is version 11 from back in the day) to edit images for Pinterest (putting text overlays, in particular).
- I use BeFunky (phone app) if I want to add bronzer to my skin. Yes, I really do this.
- I use FaceTune (phone app) – maybe the most expensive app I’ve ever bought, coming in at $4. I use FaceTune for two things. First, I use the “whitening” feature to whiten my teeth sometimes. More interestingly, I use this teeth whitening feature to whiten up backgrounds for flatlays that I want super white. Second, I use the “smooth” feature to smooth out lines – particularly on my skin. Be careful with this. People get suuuuper excited about it and then the images look really fake, so use it sparingly. For example, in the photos in this post I did not use it. I only use it if it’s super close up and poor photography (basically, when it really needs to be used).
- I use VSCO (phone app) sometimes. I really like using the filter M5 at 5%. If you’re not sure what this even means go into Pinterest and search “VSCO filters.” It’s pretty cool.
- I’m a big fan of natural light, too. The real-er the better. Less filter usage is better in my opinion, although I’m recently using a particular VSCO filter for Insta… we’ll see how long I keep it going for! 🙂
- For Instagram, I now rotate between quotes and images, but before that, I made sure that every other image I posted contrasted in color between light and dark. I give an example of what I’m talking about in this post. The more contrast you have between any two images the better. This way, they don’t blend together, but pop instead.
A Final Note!
The takeaway here is that photography on your blog matters for your brand.
You really don’t make money from your brand.
But it’s still your brand!
For me, this means photography is important, but it’s always secondary to providing value and serving my audience. This is why it was 3 years before my first and only photoshoot!
I have to say, I did love every minute of this, though! 🙂
Cheers to better blogging!
For more about blogging, you can find all my blogging posts on my Blogging Page.
P.s. Stephanie is a freaking rockstar and the most wonderful photographer. It was so great to work with her, and I want to give her a big shout out and THANK YOU!!
Here is where you can find her:
P.p.s. Here’s a post from the archives about how I grew my Instagram account.