No doubt, you’ve heard the horror stories surrounding blog images and fair use and scary lawsuits. When we first begin blogging, using photos isn’t something we pay much attention to. We focus on the content, the words and the messages, and then toss in a picture that compliments said post, having scoured the internet for “bouquet of pink peonies”. It never even occurs to us that using photos from Google images could be infringing on someone’s rights and that throwing in a source link doesn’t always solve the issue. There’s a lot that goes into the legality or illegality of using certain images, but that’s not what this post is about. What if you had your very own supply of photos at the ready for use in your blog posts? I’m sure you’ve heard about sites where you download stock photos, like Death To Stock and Unsplash. There are a few posts right here on BGB telling you where to find them. But you can also take your own photos. Below I want to share a few tips to keep in mind when taking stock photos.
Be hyper aware. Take note of your surroundings. I took the photo here in London, while rushing off to make the final touring session of Buckingham Palace. I stopped and snapped a picture of these gates because I liked the way the gold looked against the black. Most of us pass by 20 interesting scenes per day without noticing it. Usually it takes a rainbow or some other abnormal occurrence to get our attention, but there’s beauty and wonder in the minutiae of life.
Watch your angles. And by that, I mean, reject the obvious one. It’s tempting to stand in the middle or directly in front of the subject you wish to capture, but resist this natural inclination for balance. A balanced shot can sometimes read very flat. Angling yourself to one side or stepping off center might feel strange, but it can make for a much more interesting, dynamic shot.
Block your view. Again, when taking pictures, there’s an urge to find a space unencumbered by the limbs of bystanders or obstructing objects. Try using those obstacles to create a _____ picture. Snap a photo from between two people or looking through the cracks of something else. Don’t be so eager to clear the way.
Get horizontal. Simply turn your camera or phone to take the photo. Most of us have blog layouts that are wide, and so taking the picture where it’s wider than it is long avoids the hassle of editing later.
Play with light and shadows. This goes both ways – avoiding them and seeking them out. Ever take a picture only to realize later that the whole left side of it is shrouded in darkness? It drives me crazy that by just stepping to the side or moving closer, I could have ended up with a shot that was 10x better. Save yourself the frustration. Locate your shadows and play with them to get the perfect picture. A picture with zero shadows isn’t always best either. Sometimes, shading a portion of the subject can make it much more intriguing than it would have been otherwise.
And, one more quick tip! Cheating, I know :)
There’s always editing. A “bad” photo doesn’t always have to remain so. There are multiple apps and editing tools out there, many of which I rely on heavily to make my pictures IG ready. That’s a blog post for a different day, but just know, there’s always editing.
If you’re still on the fence about taking your own photos read this post by Drea on why you should be taking your own photos.
Do you take your own stock photos? Got any tips to add? Leave them in the comments below!