8 Rules for Using Your Own Photos

You’ve learned my photography rules to live by, but here are some technical things you should know when using photography in blogging. Today I’m focusing on things to do when using your own photos on your blog. Check back for my next post, 6 Ways to Use Other People’s Photos.

1. Resize your photo before you upload it to your blog

Ginormous photos increase loading time for your blog, and aren’t usually necessary. Sure, your blog automatically displays a photo at the right size, but it still has to load a huge photo onto the person’s computer to show it to them. This is death for dial-uppers, and even impacts the performance of your blog for the rest of your readers.

  • If you don’t have any photo-editing software, see my additional resources at the end of this post for alternatives.
  • You can analyze the loading speed of your site for free at the Web Page Analyzer
  • If you want to provide large photos so your readers can enjoy your amazing photography, consider linking to the large version of your photo (stored on flickr, maybe?)
  • Photo size varies according to your blog, but you usually don’t want your photo to be larger than 600 pixels wide or tall. I usually go 400.
  • Pixel size is the absolute measurement… don’t worry about dpi (300dpi or 72dpi, etc). Just look at the pixel size.

2. Lead with your best photo

In case you haven’t noticed, there are a LOT of good blogs out there. You only have a short amount of time to capture your readers’ attention, so lead with a strong image. Before you even type a word, post the best photo associated with your project.

3. Crop in on your object

Part of a strong photo is cropping. You don’t necessarily have to show the whole item, but you definitely need to get the reader intrigued. Eliminate the background as much as possible and get close to your subject. But not too close!

4. If you do get close, use your macro setting

The macro setting on your camera is used for taking very close-up photos. If you aren’t familiar with the macro setting, t’s usually denoted on cameras by a little flower symbol. It can be useful for getting very close detail shots, but be sure your item is in focus in the viewfinder when using the macro setting.

5. Choose the good photos, and leave the rest behind

Some blogs are known for using ten-hundred photos of the same item from a slightly different angle, over and over and over (by the way, I totally don’t have anyone in mind. I have just visited these blogs periodically!). It might fool people into thinking you are a better photographer if you have sixteen photos of your brooch from above, but probably not. You’re better off choosing the best photo (or two) of the item and eliminating the rest. Of course,

6. Tutorial process photos are good

If your post is a tutorial, a few photos that help illuminate the process are helpful. If the photo just confuses things, though, don’t use it. I often stage a process photo to help show what’s going on (for instance, inserting an open pair of scissors near the place where I’m cutting to help the photo say “cut here, like this.”) Again, don’t use an excessive number of process photos if they aren’t necessary.

7. Even a bad photo is better than no photo

Even if you don’t get any great photos of the project, or the process, anything is (almost always) better than nothing. Photos help people see what you’re talking about. If you don’t include a photo, the reader will be stuck interpreting what you mean by “blue elephant pillow” and that can be nearly anything. Blogging is about making a connection, and a photo helps connect the reader to you and your project.

8. If you don’t have a photo, find another photo

Use your phone to take a picture (in good light), or look somewhere else for a good photo. I’ll give you my tips for using other people’s photos next time!

Additional Resources:

FREE PHOTO EDITING: Can’t afford Photoshop?

  • I use XnView for viewing, sorting, and basic cropping and editing of my photos. It’s free and you can download it here. It’s good enough for most jobs!
  • SumoPaint is an online photo editor with similarities to Photoshop (but you can just use it on the internet w/out downloading anything). It takes a minute to load.
  • Hornil StylePix is a free downloadable photo editor similar to an older version of Photoshop.
  • A lot of people swear by GIMP, which is also similar to Photoshop, but I have never been able to connect with it on a personal level!


About Croq

CROQ Zine is a print zine devoted to hip crafting and indie business. Our first issue went to print in Summer 2005.
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