Let’s talk about blog photography! Have you ever thought about how much, if at all, you photos affect your blog’s success? Do photos even matter, at the end of the day? Are photos a contributing factor in you choosing which blogs to follow?
I’ve always liked taking photos. Ever since camera became a part of our mobile phones, I’ve been photographing all day, every day. When I blogged for the fun of it, talking about my life abroad and the adventures I got up to, it didn’t matter if the photos were taken with my Samsung S6 and edited with nothing but an Instagram filter.
But when I went self-hosted and started to take blogging a tad more seriously, the quality of my photos became one of the first issues I wanted to improve on.
Two months after launching this blog I spent a small fortune on my first ever professional camera, Nikon D5300. You can shoot photos as well as videos with it, and there are so many features to it, that I still only know perhaps 2/10 of them all.
This year I finally learned to shoot on manual, and oh dear goodness, what a joy photographing has been since!
The quality of my photos has SOARED. And so have my page views (although this may as well be due to my consistent promoting). But there was still the issue of outfit photos.
Earlier I had employed anyone, friends and family, to take some photos on our way to a dinner, theater or wherever. But none of them know anything about professional cameras, so even if the photos were good, I wasn’t content with the quality.
So, I hired myself a photographer. With her I’ve been able to raise the quality of this blog to a whole new level.
But does picture quality matter in the big scheme of things, does it affect your blog’s success? What separates a great photo from the crowd?
I started wondering about this after trashing another batch of flat lays because for me they weren’t light enough (cheers, Autumn darkness!) Please note, that these are largely my own opinions, but I have spent some time researching the effect of images in marketing. So, let’s look at
How Your Photos Affect Your Blog’s Success
Effect on the Brand
Internet is a visual world. Our clicks are largely dictated by the colours and images we see online, and bad or unclear website design is easily interpreted as bad quality, which quickly affects our potential sales rates.
Blogs are mainly about text content, but nobody enjoys reading a long bulk of text with no breaks in between chapters. So yes, I’d say the photos on your blog do affect your blog’s success, as well as your brand image very much.
Unclear, messy and out of topic images make a reader confused and don’t appeal to the eye, which means that they probably won’t be returning to your website.
First impressions are always important. So, the least you could do is to make sure that the cover photo on each of your blog posts are clear, interesting, and relate to the topic of your post. Your content may be the best, but if you can’t lure people to click that content open, it will be passed in many cases.
Quality versus Quantity
Studies have shown that, when it comes to websites, long text content is more consumed than blogs with only pictures. And I have to say, I don’t tend to return to blogs that have only super-curated model-like outfit photos and no insight on anything whatsoever.
I like content that has a point, that explains something, that teaches me something, that gives me value. For me, photos are a big part of that value. But if a photo is of poor quality (which often means that it was taken with a phone), I’m not going to spend time looking at it, because I see no value in it for me.
That doesn’s mean, though, that all photos taken with a phone are shite. Oh no, phone cameras have come a long way from 2015! An by ‘good quality’ I don’t necessarily mean pixel counts or the clarity of a photo. It’s more important that a photo is pleasant to look at, or that it’s thought-provoking.
Realistic versus Staged
We all know it by now, right? Instagram is a fake platform. More or less. We don’t share images of us waking up in the morning with black shadows under our eyes, hair sticking all over the place and drool vestiges running over our cheeks.
I get told all the time how my life looks fuckin’ awesome because I travel and party all the time, and it seems like the only thing we do at our office is drink and play slot machines (okay yes, this is most of our Fridays :D)
But I don’t share a video of myself falling apart after a bad day, or a photo of myself grocery shopping. Instead I reserve only the most fabulous / funny / interesting bits of my everyday life for Instagram. So, what you see on my Insta story is nowhere near a real interpretation of my life.
Is this okay? Of course it is, it’s our business how and of what we choose to take photos, and whether we publish them online. But there is a point when a curated feed just starts to seem a bit… boring. Real life is so much more interesting, and a lot funnier, than the “life” that we see on those
curated bleach white Insta feeds.
I try to present my life realistically on my Instagram, but when it comes to my blog I admit complete curating in regards to photos: my flat lays are meticulously thought out, and I pose in my outfit photos like I’d never do on a regular daily basis.
I do like to keep things real, though. That’s why I always want to have ALL of the photos from each photo shoot, also the failed ones. I’ve already published one blooper compilation post, which is a collection of shots between the shots, when I’m changing a pose or shouting orders at the photographer. You can find it here:
I’m planning to do another one perhaps at the end of the year. What do you think of such posts? Would you like to see more of them?
Own Photos versus Stock Photos
I think this is a 50/50 topic: a lot of bloggers would never opt for photos taken by someone else and used by hundreds, maybe thousands of others. And at the same time there’s just as many of us who simply can’t see any point in using time or money on photographing when they can get gorgeous photos online.
I’m one of those who prefer her own photos. For me, it’s such a big part of my brand, and I don’t want to mix anyone else’s creations into my content. I create my own words and website, so I can create my own photos as well.
And I enjoy it immensely! The editing part in particular is like therapy for me. I always use the same filters, and it’s such a wonderful process to see a basic photo turn into a more magical photo.
But photographing does take a lot of time. And if photographing doesn’t bring you such joy as it does to me, why waste so much time on it? So, I totally understand why people go for stock photos. They are extremely beautiful, I have to admit.
The only problem I have with blogs using stock photos is that I keep seeing the same photos on every blog. And that makes me confused: I can’t distinguish one blog from another because they all use the same photos. Which brings us back to blogs being a very visual media.
Edited versus Original
As I mentioned earlier, I used to use only Instagram filters on my photos in the olden days. But the thing with those is that the quality of the photo is reduced when you add the filter on it. But is editing even necessary if your photos are of amazing quality?
This is a never-ending discussion that I love to follow. And I did write earlier about the point where editing becomes a lie. When I talk about editing, I mean adding a filter, enhancing the colours, but never adding anything into the photograph that wasn’t there to begin with.
A beautiful photo is a beautiful photo, whether in its original form or with a filter splashed on it. We can’t argue about that. But I do think that by cropping the photo and enhancing the colours we can bring it to the next level.
Adding a filter on it is all about setting a mood. And that ‘mood’ is a big part of our brand, which in the long run does affect you blog’s success.
At the end of the day, editing isn’t necessary. But I do prefer edited blog photos to those with no ‘mood’ about them. That’s just me, though.
Related to the Content versus Unrelated to the Content
This is something I think about a lot. Adding outfit photos onto a serious piece about body positivity first felt like perhaps not the right thing to do. But then again, I know that people find my blog easier to relate to if they see who exactly is behind it all.
What is the point of a photo, anyway? Most often we add photos to bring a visual element, but we can do so much more with them: we can inform, educate, entertain and persuade with our photos. The ‘persuade‘ motif is particularly popular when it comes to blogs. We are the new generation of marketing after all.
But does it affect you blog’s success if the photos are just random flat lays, not related to the content in any specific way? I guess this is an issue of personal preference. Some people prefer to follow blogs with photos related to the subject, whereas for others the content itself is irrelevant, they just want to look at and be inspired by beautiful images.
In many regards, it comes down to what each of us prefers when it comes to blog photography. I do consume a bit of everything online: blogs with blurry images but with intriguing and well-written text, and blogs where the photos are spot on, even if the text doesn’t bring me any light-bulb moments.
Which one are you? Do you consider how your blog photos affect your blog’s success, or is the quality of text the more important aspect for you?
I’d also love to hear, do you prefer stock or your own photos and why so? ♥