Bonus: Download a free checklist of the first plugins that I always install on a new WordPress Blog.
Use Your Smartphone to Take Fabulous Website Photos and Ditch Pricey Stock Photos
Do you feel stock photography websites are your only option for great website photos right now? Is that because you don’t have the money for fancy photography equipment? Is it a because you don’t have the money to hire a professional photographer? OR Is it because you don’t know how to take great photos?
I once thought a DSLR was the only way to get great photos, too. Wow, was I wrong! I’m a photographer so I’ve made money taking great photos using my DSLR. However, I want you to know a VERY important thing….cameras are only a tool with which you create great photos. Yep! Great photos don’t just pop out of your camera because it’s a fancy camera! Great photos happen because you understand how to take great photos!! Know what else?...blog photos are no different than portrait photography. All of the same principles still apply!
Great photos with minimal equipment!
Stop thinking you can’t take great photos because you don’t have the right equipment. Seriously! Do you have a smartphone built within the past several few years? Do you have a window in the location you want to shoot? Then, YEP! You have the equipment needed to create great photos. What you need is the knowledge.
I am the founder of www.LearnBlogPhotography.com and the owner of www.AmyParisPhotography.com. I know what it takes to create great photos with a fancy camera, and I can teach you how too. But, more importantly, I want to teach you how to take great photos with your smartphone. Seriously!! My goal is to help 1000 bloggers and entrepreneurs learn to use their smartphone to create awesome website photos!
GREAT photos are more than just a fancy camera
So like I said before, your camera is just a tool to capture an image. It won’t automatically give you stunning photos because you paid a lot of money for it. There are thousands of books, videos, courses, websites, etc...all geared towards teaching photography. So what’s my point? There’s NO WAY I could teach you everything you need to learn in this one blog post. But, what I can do is give you some of the basics.
First and foremost, LIGHTING IS CRUCIAL! Without light you’d have pure blackness which is definitely not appealing! A well exposed photo is the balance between an image being underexposed, or too dark, and overexposed, or too bright. Some of this can be managed in the editing process, which we’ll discuss later, but it will help greatly if you have good lighting when you take the photo! Therefore, you’ll need the know a few things about light to create a great photo and not just a snapshot. A a great place to start is by knowing the difference between hard and soft light. Taking this a step further, you need to know that soft light is what you really want, but you need to be able to know where to find it and how to create it! You can find all the deets in this post. I’ll give you a little hint...you don’t need expensive lighting equipment to create soft light, all you need is a window! You’ll also need to understand that light has color which impacts your photos, as well. Think about it, near sunrise and sunset the light seems much more yellow. What about a candle? That gives off a very yellowish light too. But midday? Not so much. That light is very blue, even if you don’t consciously realize it. You can learn more about the lighting colors in this post. It may seem like a weird idea, but light has direction. This directional light helps create shadows and highlight, creating depth, texture, and increasing the overall interest in your photos! If you want to learn more about directional lighting, you can check out this post.
Another, extremely important aspect of photography is composition! A compositional rule that you probably see everyday and don’t even realize it, is the Rule of Thirds. Once you understand it, pay attention the next time you watch tv and you’ll start noticing it everywhere! So to explain it...imagine a hashtag symbol. The lines intersect at 4 points. These 4 points are where your main subject should be positioned. If it’s a person, his or her eye should line up in, or very near one of these points. However, right about now you’re probably thinking, but I’ve seen fabulous photos with the main subject centered directly in the middle. Well, rules are made to be broken, but these are saved for special circumstances. Your best bet is to stick to the rule of thirds. However, something that can be just as important as the rule of thirds, is your perspective. The view that we see on an ongoing basis is down right boring! There is nothing creative about that! So, get creative and change it up!! Get down low or shoot straight down from above! By changing up your perspective, it will greatly increase the WOW factor and appeal of your photos! Better yet! Use the Rule of Thirds AND use an unconventional perspective and see the beauty that results!! Seriously though, composition can be a full blog post all by itself, so if you want more details on creating photos with stunning compositions check out this post.
Now that you’ve taken a good photo, let’s make it great!! You don’t need expensive editing programs and the best part is, it can all be done right on your smartphone! There are hundreds, maybe thousands, of editing apps out there and most are FREE or cost just a couple bucks. SWEET, right!! Since there are so many options, let me narrow it down for you. All of these are found in both the Google Play store and Apple’s App Store: Google Snapseed is great for basic editing and applying filters. Rookie Cam gives you greater control over the camera’s functionality and is great for applying fonts and graphics. TouchRetouch does a good job of removing unwanted objects from your photos. After Focus creates blurry backgrounds to increase that professional look. And, this last app is highly important. It remove the GPS location tag from the Exif data. The Exif data is the photo’s hidden details such as the camera settings, camera type, GPS location, and filename. My favorite for iOS is NoLocation and for Android it’s EZ UnEXIF, and both are FREE. No one wants to inadvertently invite stalkers over when they upload a photo to the web, so remove your private info and stay safe! Anyways, I have gone into much greater detail about each of these apps in a post you can find here.
If you’re thinking this is a lot to learn, don’t worry! I’ve broken down into a step by step photography checklist for do’s and don’ts that will help you take great photos! If you want this free download, click here to grab your copy!
Why you should ditch stock photos!
You probably still work your 9-5, have commitments to family and friends, and in general are quite busy. Now, as a new blogger/entrepreneur you’re trying to add in a TON of new responsibilities to your limited available time, and it’s valuable! You’re probably filling your site with stock photos because they are easy, quick and affordable, right? However, have you ever tallied up how much time you actually spend on scanning page after page of stock photo sites? I’ll bet you spend more time than you’d imagine!
Not only are you wasting time surfing the web for stock photos, but thousands of other bloggers are using those too! How many times have you seen a photo you’re using on other websites? I’ve found this happens a lot with the images from Canva.com. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Canva, but I’d much rather upload my own photos and then use their tools to create the final product! No one wants to look exactly like another website! You want to stand out and look unique, right?
Beyond the time wasted looking for photos that are being used on other sites, have you considered how much money you’ve spent? A dollar here or there doesn’t seem so bad, but when you put a couple photos on every blog post AND you post several times a month, it adds up quickly! Plus, by using stock photos from various sites, you may be missing out on developing a consistent brand image!
Like I said earlier, there are entire books, courses and websites devoted to photography; so there’s no way I could tell you everything you need to know in this one post. BTW...I’m impressed you’re still reading this!! What I hope you realized, is that blog photography is no different than regular photography. The rules are the same. The principles are the same. When you start understanding what it take to create great photos, you’ll be able to create stunning photos for your website with the 1 tool you always have with you...your smartphone!
I can’t say this enough! Remember your camera is just a tool. What’s important, is understanding what it takes to make great photos AND practice, practice, practice!! You’ll be taking fabulous photos in no time! Plus, you’ll find that you’ll save time, money, AND your brand will be more consistent when you’re the photographer! Honestly, what could be better than being able to shoot, edit, and upload your photos all from your handheld device?! Talk about a time saver!!