“You never really know a person until you see things from his point of view…climb into his skin and walk around in it,” says Atticus in one of my favorite books, To Kill A Mockingbird.
Whether you’re a solo blogger or a content marketer in a large enterprise, we are all seeking to do just that. We want to see life from our audience’s perspective so we can meet them in that moment with a message that will resonate. This is an immense challenge we face when we’re writing everything all the time. However, these blog photography tips can help bring life to your content in a very powerful and beautiful way.
Not everyone feels comfortable behind the camera. In fact, a common struggle today is finding imagery that’s quality… and unique… and free. That’s a lot to ask for, but it exists. So I’d love to walk you through the in’s and out’s of finding beautiful imagery that will resonate with your blog readers.
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What Makes A Good Blog Photo Anyway?
There are five elements that appear consistently in expert's descriptions of a great photo: the rule of thirds, focal point, color, light quality, and overall composition. This list of photography technical goals doesn’t include the one main element that rules them all, but we’ll look at that a bit later.
1. Start with the rule of thirds.
One of the best blog photography tips I could give you is the rule of thirds. The rule is essentially splitting the image into three parts going vertically, and then three parts horizontally, making a nine-section grid.
By placing the subject off to the side in one of these sections, it creates more visual interest. This placement also makes the image feel more balanced and helps your blog readers interact with it more naturally.
If you’d like to start diving into the world of blog photography, this would be the best place to start. Just remember to decide what should be the focal point, and then intentionally place it within the rule of thirds.
2. Choose a focal point.
Everyone loves being the center of attention! Okay, maybe not (especially if you’re like me), but decide which subject or area of the photo you’d like to draw your audience to first. That is the focal point.
As Ken Rockwell says, "Anything that isn't directly helping the composition takes away from it.”
It's super important to decide on the focal point, and then diminish the presence of anything else around it so it doesn’t distract the viewer from the focus. The focal point might be a person, a particular mountain within a landscape, or maybe it’s a random object on the kitchen table.
Using the rule of thirds, focus on the focal point, and de-emphasize the elements around it to make it stand out!
3. Control the color.
Did you know that certain colors stand out more than others? Believe it or not, there are colors that appear to be closer to you simply by their color quality, while others diminish even though they’re the same distance away.
Warm colors such as red, orange, and yellow appear to stand out and move forward. The human eye is naturally drawn to them first while cooler colors on the other hand,—like green, blue, and violet—recede into the distance. In order to use this to your advantage, take a look at the colors in your photo and strategically move things around until it appears correctly.
Color can also impact the mood your photo presents. Warmer colors tend to resonate energy, passion, and optimism while cooler colors can make someone feel wealthy, sleek, at peace, or calm. You can use these emotions by pairing them well with your subject.
A happy birthday card should show brighter, warmer colors, while a sympathy card might need cooler, more peaceful colors. In the same way, use different lighting with the same object to portray different emotions—like the airplane wings you see below. Use color to your advantage to determine how your readers will see and feel as they scan your blog posts.
4. Learn to love natural light.
There’s nothing more that a photographer loves than natural light. Why? Because photography literally means ‘drawing the light’ from the original Greek word ‘photos’ meaning ‘light’ and ‘graphe’ meaning ‘drawing.’
The shutter of a camera flashes a moment of light, thus creating the photo—which means everything in the camera is controlled by your light source. While flashes and studio light can be another great way to do photography, their brightness qualities may all differ, making it hard to capture the same even quality of light that natural light allows.
The easiest place to find natural light is in or nearby a window. You can have the window completely open, or you can put a sheet over it that acts as a diffuser. Window light is a great spot to start taking photos.
5. Just be real.
The main reason stock photography gets such a bad rap is because it looks fake. You can just tell. There’s something about it that’s completely unrealistic whether that’s a group of five perfect-looking people laughing around a single laptop, or that random object against a completely white, flat background. No matter what it may be, our eye almost immediately knows that the image isn’t portraying a real moment in life.
So just be real! If you’d like a blog photo of people laughing, place them in a setting that naturally creates laughter among real friends. If you’d like a photo of your cup of coffee, go to the place where you can find some. Then take pictures of it in settings and around items that it would typically be around.
In today’s world, there’s no room for fake, which gives you complete permission to show what’s actually there: real emotion, real people, and real spaces.
All of these elements combined make a very technically, gorgeous photo that’s both intriguing and catches the eye. But, as I mentioned earlier, there is one key element that outweighs them all: emotion.
Emotional Psychology Of Photos
The most famous photos of all time may happen to be technically accurate, but that’s not why people remember them. They remember them because of the emotional appeal that resonated beyond any words or logic. Take this image for example:
Alfred Eisenstaedt’s photo of the sailor kissing the woman in New York’s Time Square is possibly the most famous of them all! But you’ll notice that it disregards the rule of thirds, doesn’t take into account the technology of color that we have today, and the background is pretty distracting. So what makes it so great? The emotion!
Nobody looks at this photo and sees the list of technical inadequacies, rather they see the emotional appeal of the man and woman who are madly in love, excited to see each other, just as they should! They see the story behind the image. Not only did it represent love at that moment in time, but the photo has inspired action throughout the years as countless couples from all over the world, go to kiss in that very spot.
…And that’s what we want, right? To inspire action.
“The uniqueness of a photograph can evoke feelings, such as anxiety, fear, familiarity, comfort or reverence depending on the subject and object matter. Photography can have the effect of reflecting the soul and thoughts of the person photographing and photographed,” according to THEME.
It’s a combined emotional art as both the photographer and subject can produce something that strangers can feel and experience themselves—how powerful. Jonathan Klein even emphasizes the viewer’s role even more when he says, “We bring to each photo, our morals, our own values, and that’s what makes it resonate.”
So how can we combine both the technical factors and powerful emotional appeal to make blog photography that will seriously resonate?
How To Use Photography To Connect With Your Audience
It’s quite simple really. Take all of the pieces discussed above and combine them into one amazing experience for your audience. Find what works best, and then continue to test and share your images.
- Start with your audience: Who are they? What do they do? Where will they be?
- Choose an emotion: What emotion will resonate with them where they are at?
- Find an image that portrays that emotion: Use some of the great resources out there!
- Evaluate its quality: Does it follow the rule of thirds? Does it have a focal point? Does it look real?
- Schedule it: Using the best times to post, share your message and photo with your audience.
- Evaluate: Did it work? Was the message consistent with the emotion of the image?
- Try again: Practice makes perfect. Explore different types of images to find what works best.
Bonus: The Best Free Photography Websites (Well, And Some You Have To Pay For)
At CoSchedule, we do a lot of our own photography as we’ve found that to be the best for our audience, but sometimes it’s hard to capture an image exactly how you’d like. There are a million resources out there, but finding quality, unique, free stock photos can be hard. Here are my absolute favorite photography sites:
Just sign up for a free account, and you’re ready to start! New images are submitted all the time, so you can search by newest, most popular, or by category.
Plus, all photos on StockSnap fall under the Creative Commons CC0 license. That means you can copy, modify, distribute any photo on the site, even for commercial purposes, all without asking for permission!
I personally check it every other day and add photos to my favorites list so that when I need an image, I can check all in one place.
This company does just that, destroys the fakeness of the stock photography world, with real-life, beautiful images.
While their premium account is a paid plan (which is totally worth it!), they have a free monthly series that they email out. It’s always along a new theme, and the imagery is excellent.
Made by a company called Crew, Unsplash is a place for “free (do whatever you want) high-resolution photos.”
Every 10 days, they add 10 photos that are absolutely stunning! While they usually don’t relate to each other, the ten images offer variety both in appearance and emotion, which is great for application. Check em’ out!
Twenty20 is a new paid resource that I’ve found that's definitely a great resource when it comes to quality and unique imagery. You can either sign up for a subscription or pay per photo, whichever works for you. They offer a large variety of images, and also include curated collections so that you can tell a story with the same visual tone.
I will say, the one thing to watch out for, is each photo’s individual license. Not all of them have the same permissions, so be careful when selecting your image.
With their beautiful interface similar to that of Pinterest, Stocksy provides genuine, real-life imagery that is both technically accurate and emotionally appealing. They, too, have a large variety to choose from, so finding an image shouldn’t be a problem.
However, just like Twenty20, this is a paid service. You can either pay per photo or get a subscription, so make sure it's right for you before purchasing. Otherwise, their imagery is great and will surely convey the emotions you’re looking for!
Reach Your Audience With Powerful Photography
Marketer, solo blogger, designer, writer—we're all looking for ways to resonate our message with our audience, and blog photography is surely the way to go.
After all, our brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text! The data proves it, and our souls crave it.
Check out these amazing photography resources, choose the emotion you’d like to convey, and have fun developing relationships with your audience through photography!