There are some stunning blog photos online.
In fact, professional-level images are becoming the standard for blog photos.
Seriously, kitten. With the fancy DSLR cameras out there, and the ability we have to learn almost any skill we want from our desktop computer (or smartphone), the online world is getting pretty darn…well…pretty these days.
The problem is that taking blog photos isn’t always such a snap (pun!) for those of us without the skills or equipment to compete with the fancy-pants-pros out there.
That’s why I invited my photo-pro buddy, Sarah Shotts from Love letter to Adventure, to join us for a couple posts in the #BlogYourVoice series. She’s here to share some pro-perspective on blog photography to us fakers, and I’m here to…well…tell you how I fake it.
Because I am no pro photographer, kitten.
I don’t even have a camera! I use my iPhone camera for almost all of my photographs here. You know there’s always a long list of things we need to learn and equipment to buy…and sometimes we just have to fake it ’til we make it.
So between Sarah’s pro-tips & my faker-tips, you should be able to piece together your own blog photo workflow from this post.
Let’s start with my faker-pants workflow for photoshoots here, in the With a K office (hint – it’s super easy).
Kris’s Amateur Tips & Workflow for Snapping Branded Blog Photos:
I am a total photography amateur, and my illustrations (though I adore them) are at the beginning of a very long learning curve too.
But I like my blog images. Seriously! I’m ok with the fact that I don’t have as many pictures in each post as some people; I’m ok with the fact that my BizKittens aren’t as detailed or textured as real artists’ work, and I’m ok with the fact that my photos (when I have any) were taken with my trusty iPhone.
Because I make sure that they all at least follow some simple steps on their way to the blog, and those steps make the process less scary for me – and they make the end result more professional looking and on brand too.
Here’s my Workflow:
1. Follow an Editorial Calendar & shoot my photos by Series or Segment.
I need a plan, kitten. I need a plan for stuff I excel at, and I need one even more for the things I struggle with…like photos.
I know what kind of subjects I’ll be writing about ahead of time.
Because I have a solid (but flexible) editorial calendar based on the products I’m launching & what my readers want to read about during the year.
I mentioned this last week, when we were talking about sorting our photos by categories. If you missed it go check it out, because Sarah is a genius, and she gave us some killer advice for organizing our photo archive.
I’ll get into editorial planning next week, so if that’s something you haven’t handled yet – have no fear! The BizKitten Printables Fairy will be here with a purrrrfect planner, and I’ll be laying down my planning process too.
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2. Set up
hair-ography branded photo props on or in front of a pretty background, in natural light.
This can take some time to find your style. Experiment and have fun, kitten. It’s your blog, and it’s meant to feel good.
I have different props and dye-cuts in my basket, based on the types of things I write about regularly and what I know is coming up in my editorial calendar….and because they’re cute. The cute factor is actually very important in the prop-vetting process.
A Note on Branded Photos, Inspiration & Hair-ography:
I’m not sure if you saw this Glee episode, but it’s a perfect explanation of how I make my shots feel more pro & on brand. Basically, the Glee kids met another group of singers who danced in a particular way: with all kinds of whipping hair & distraction.
It didn’t work for the Glee kids, because they’re pro vocalists & don’t need that kind of flash to make a stunning show…but as we all know, I am not a pro with the photos, right? So I whip my hair back & forth by using branded props, cute kittens and interesting subjects for every shot.
I use white project boards from the Dollar Store to set up my shots in natural light, and then I grab some scrapbook papers in one of my brand colours to use as the background.
Then, I arrange small props, dye cut images and my own printed logos on the pretty surface, and shoot away. I add in bits of things I use in my office & other props I’ve made or found that go with the theme of the blog series or segment I’m shooting for.
You can see some examples of those kinds of images below, along with a shot from a friend of mine – Nancy Gaines from Domesticraft – that show how this kind of bootstrap photoshoot looks.
I make my own BizKittens and a lot of the clipart I use in Adobe illustrator. If you’re not into illustrator, you can purchase clipart sets from sites like Creative Market that go with your own brand (or have your designer make a few extra clipart bits & pieces) – and lots of craft stores have dye cut packages in different shapes, styles & colours.
Get creative & create a space to collect & keep your branded photo props, but stay within your brand!
This can become a slight obsession, kitten, so beware. If you’re not careful, you may start putting your own kids to work to make polymer mini typewriters that match your clipart images.
2. Take a series of photos from different angles
Be patient, explore & have fun with this step. I trip over some of the most lovely shots quite by accident: during the messy set up stage or when I try totally bizarre angles & close-ups.
With digital cameras, we can afford to take a zillion photos in one shoot & just toss the ones we don’t love without any concern for developing costs or time.
So go for it! Take a zillion.
This is one of the most important things we fakers can do, because we don’t really know how to make the perfect shot on purpose. We just need to simply take so many awful ones, that the odds of a beauty-by-mistake are high.
3. Cull the nasties!
What happens when you take a zillion photos during a shoot? A lot of them suck, and that’s ok.
So get rid of all of those nasty, useless photos with bad shadows and weird, uncomplimentary angles. You don’t need to keep them just in case. That’s why you took a zillion in the first place, so just toss the baddies.
4. Polish the beauties.
I do verrrrrry basic colour balancing and clipping. That’s it. Sarah’s tips have more about this step, so scan on down to that, if it’s something you’re ready to learn about now.
If you’re cool with being a faker, just use your basic photo-editing software to make the gems you stumbled upon in your photoshoot even more shiny.
Let it be not perfect, kitten. The only way you can get better at this stuff is to start as a beginner & practise as you go. Your readers will forgive you for your learning.
5. Make them blog ready.
I resize my photos and add any words or effects as I go…and it takes a lot of time to do that way. I’m taking some of Sarah’s tips to heart & I’m going to
I’ve decided (while writing these image-posts) to start adding more photos to the internal bits of my blog, so I will be looking through my archives and illustrations for 3 images to place somewhere in the guts of my post.
So I’ll be taking Sarah’s batching and sorting tasks to heart, kitten. I’ll be learning & experimenting along with you.
I use canva.com to make my top image for each blog post, and it’s super easy.
If you’re a faker like me, check them out! They will send you tips and education about basic design too, so you can up your game there as you go.
Those featured images (the one you see at the top of each of my posts) are generally very similar to one another. I have room for a headline and my web address on them. I also make space for a hashtag, to showcase the series or segment that the post belongs to.
Then, I grab an illustration and a banner image and plop them right into the canva template, and save that bad boy as a png file. Ta Da!
Sarah’s Pro Tips & Workflow to get your Photos from the Shoot to your Blog:
So we talked, last week, about how to set up an archive to sort and keep your photos in a way that will make it easier for you to find the perfect picture for your posts without doing a photoshoot every week.
This week, I decided to share Sarah’s workflow for batch-editing her photos – instead of doing one here and one there, as you need them.
Batching your work is a way to make efficient use of your time, and it’s a game-changer for all kinds of entrepreneurial tasks – particularly blogging.
So let’s take a look at Sarah’s workflow for batching her photoshoots & editing – to save time and prepare lots of archived photo-gold for future posts.
Q: How do you plan ahead & do you batch your photos to save time?
A: I didn’t always have a process for batch editing my photos. I used to sit down and edit one photo at a time for hours on end. This meant I often wasted lots of time editing a specific photo only to find I liked the next one better.
Creating a workflow for photo editing really streamlined my process. It saves me time and makes my style more consistent.
Here’s how my workflow goes:
1. Archive Photos
First I download the photos to my computer and put them in my photography archive (we talked about this last week).
2. Review Photos
This is the step that saves a lot of time. Rather than editing every photo, I review all of them and mark my favorites. I keep the main purpose of the photos (a blog post, photo gallery or social media) in mind as I review. I also mark photos that I may not want to use right away, but could come in handy in the future (like my own personal library of “stock photos”).
This step may vary depending on your camera and the settings you use, but the same principles apply. I usually shoot with my DSLR in RAW (a kind of digital negative) so I develop my files using Adobe Lightroom.
Whatever software you use (from Lightroom to Picmonkey) this step is when you edit for brightness, contrast, and color correction. All of the basics.
This is the part where you add any fancy effects. I usually add a subtle film grain using Alien Skin Exposure software. Sometimes I’ll turn photos black and white in this step as well. I have presets and can apply them to several photos at once, which saves time.
5. Finalizing & Resizing
The last step is to finalize the photos and resize them for your blog and social media. I do this step in Adobe Photoshop because it allows me to create presets called “actions”. (Learn how to create PS Actions here.) I have different resizing presets for my blog and for social media.
If I only want to resize a handful of photos I do this manually. If I want to resize a lot of photos I use Photoshop’s Image Processor to resize a whole folder at once (you can learn that trick here).
Wow! Great tips from Sarah, right?
I’m changing my workflow up a lot, form here on out, to batch more of the repetitive tasks involved in making blog photos and images. I think these organizational & streamlining tricks can be a game changer for my own blog images.
What do you think? How will you start batching your image-creation tasks? What kinds of branded props will you start to collect?
Get creative, have fun & get more efficient, kitten! Your blog can be full of really great images, and you don’t have to spend your whole day (or week) getting them ready.
See you next week! We’ll be talking about editorial calendars and blog topic planning, so if you don’t want to miss that – sign up for the With a K Tips & Tricks in your inbox (your your name and email in the green box in the sidebar, above my big ole face).