There’s a rule that I make every one of my blogging students follow: every blog post must have at least one image.
Like your blog post Title and Body, the image is an essential part. It’s like offering me a PB&J without the bread. It might still taste good, but it won’t be nearly as easy to consume!
Not only does the image add visual interest to the post itself, it ensures that every social share will be well-dressed. And in fact, without an image, your blog posts on Pinterest will be nothing but text on a colored block.
But the problem is, that’s a lot of images!
If you’re publishing at least once a week, that’s at least 50 images a year. And ideally, most blog posts will have additional images throughout the text.
Why? Because posts with images every 150 words are shared more, according to Hubspot. And who doesn’t want more shares?
So how and where do we source all of this imagery? Isn’t stock imagery ok?
Where To Get Blog Images
Stock Images are called Stock for a reason. They’re available to everyone, which means everyone’s using them. Do you want to be like everyone else?
Don’t you want to stand out from the crowd?
My solution? I now take all my own photographs. Every time I travel at some point I bust out my iPhone 8 Plus and start snapping pics. If I’m feeling really ambitious, or know I’m going to be someplace super cool, I’ll bring the Canon T6i.
But here’s the thing. I do not go out looking for pictures just because I’ve written a blog post and need one. I take all kinds of pictures in advance and when I’m ready to publish, I find an image I already took that jives with that content!
In my case, my content has underlying themes of growth and connection so I tend to use a lot of outdoor imagery. Your content is different, your business is different, so work with that. Maybe you should take more urban shots, or close-up images of everyday things, or people, or whatever you enjoy that relates to your business.
The key, just like blog topic ideas, is to create a habit.
Once while in San Diego for a conference, I went for a 1 hour PhotoWalk and took 100+ pictures. Images of yachts and water and flowers and people and San Diego, like the one below. You can do that too! And you don’t have to be a professional photographer with amazing gear. An iPhone will do!
A few months later, when I was scheduled to travel to France for a company retreat, I arrived a day early and used the time to enjoy a PhotoWalk along the banks of the Seine in Paris. One of the keys to the success of this particular trip was research.
Before I ever arrived, I did a Google search on topics like, “Best places to take pictures in Paris” and “Favorite Parisian photography spots.” While many of the suggested shots were for portrait photography, I also learned that shooting along the river at sunrise would provide amazing lighting. I got up early, made my way down to Pont Des Arts, and took this shot:
I came home from that trip with over 1,000 photographs and images that I’ll be able to use and call on for years. And while some are picturesque like the one above, others are more practical. For instance, knowing that I often write and blog about website traffic, and that the metaphor of vehicle traffic is commonly used and understood, I’ve taken a variety of pictures of streets and cars and vehicular travel. Again, I’ve given myself a wealth of imagery to choose from.
While those were two out of town trips, you don’t have to wait for such travel opportunities. You doubtless have cities and parks and sights within driving distance of your home or office. All you need is an hour or two at an interesting location to begin taking your own pictures. I know I do! I live in St. Louis and I am surrounded by parks and interesting buildings.
So now I have created a habit.
During the summer months when my girls are off school and I don’t have to spend an hour driving them to class, we’re using that time to take PhotoWalks together. First thing in the morning the three of us hop in the car and head to a nearby park. I bring my iPhone and DSLR and they have their own devices – they want to take pictures too!
Of course I take pictures of them, but I spend a lot of time taking pictures of the scenery as well.
How To Manage Your Blog Image Library
Of course, once you’ve created more than a hundred or so images, it can start to be time consuming to find the perfect image for a particular post.
In my case, I have been pretty good at recalling when and where I might have taken an image I want to use, and can scroll through my images sorted chronologically. But that can take a while to sift through, and sometimes there’s a better image in my archive than the one I was thinking of.
I’m on a Mac so I’m using the Photos app to manage my images. I find it exceedingly convenient to have all of my images imported into a central library where I take the picture using my iPhone, or import them from my DSLR. If you’re on a PC, while you may still want to look at Photos, particularly if you’re an iPhone user, you might also consider ACDSee.
Once an image is imported, I can then add keywords or tags to it that I can later search on!
- Open the image you want to tag.
- Click on the i for Information button.
- Add keywords as appropriate.
Just make sure to be consistent with your keywords – don’t use Path and Paths on different images.
Once you’ve begun tagging or adding keywords to your images, you will be able to quickly call up all of your images that fit a certain style or topic!
Click on Photos in the left navigation, then click on the Showing drop down manager and select Keyword Manager. You will see all of your existing keywords and can drag any you wish into the Favorites area. That will create a Showing option for each keyword which you can then select and display those images:
While it will take an extra moment to add keywords to your images, and getting to the images that are tagged with a particular keyword does take a couple of steps, this level of organization is definitely worth considering.
Equipment Needed For Blog Images
Up until now I’ve been somewhat vague in what camera or equipment you might need to use. Let’s address that now.
First and foremost, the best camera you can use is the one you have with you. There’s really nothing wrong with a newer iPhone or Android! Smartphone cameras today are outstanding. In fact, that upgraded camera is my primary reason for upgrading my own device every other year.
I highly recommend an iPhone 7 or newer so that you can take advantage of Portrait mode. Portrait mode forces the camera lens to focus on a specific point and allow everything in the background to go out of focus and blur. When positioned right, this creates a gorgeous bokeh effect!
I’ve found that it’s best to hold your iPhone particularly close to the object you wish to photograph, angling the camera to give view to whatever’s behind the object. That gives the lens something to focus on while still leaving more to blur. You can tap on the image within your iPhone’s camera app to control where the focus is.
As good as the iPhone is, there’s no substitution for a full DSLR camera. I happen to use the Canon T6i for my base, which you can get as a kit from Amazon for around $500. What makes a DSLR simultaneously awesome and annoying is the need to understand that glass you’ll use. The lens. What lens you choose for each situation will make a tremendous difference.
Now most T6i kits will come with a standard 18-55mm lens that offers standard performance and zoom capability. The problem with that lens is that it’s basic (though great for live streaming). What you’ll want to do is consider the type of photography you might want to capture and select a different lens to accommodate. Which means eventually you’ll have multiple lenses.
Because I’m focused (haha) mostly on close-up imagery, I have a 50mm lens for my Canon that is very similar to how Portrait mode on my iPhone works.
Let’s be honest though, I am a complete amateur and novice when it comes to photography and, in particular, lens selection. I’m a writer not a photographer. If you want to get the low-down on what lens to buy, here’s my guy:
In addition to your smartphone and/or DSLR, you may need a camera bag and tripod, as well as memory card. If you want to record video with audio while you’re out, you’ll need a microphone as well.
If you’re interested in learning more, this interview I did recently for wave.video goes into some of these topics and others.
Got questions? Wondering what kinds of images I might use for your business? Ask ‘em below. ??