How to Take Amazing Fresh Photos for Your Blog (and never have to worry about licensing again!)
Every blogger has been there. I can hear it already… “Where do you get your photos!?” and “How do I take photos for my blog?”
I must confess, I mix things up! I have pretty much only two sources of photos: some high-quality stock images, and images that I take myself. After blogging full time for the last year, I feel like I’ve got the visual imagery under control.
Here are 10 tips to build your blog photo portfolio.
Understand Your Brand.
We all know that branding is uber important. It’s the roadmap to your success, or the goal setting for your recognition and business. If you don’t have a brand strategy, grab a free template here.
Understanding your brand direction, vision, mission, purpose and the like will make it much easier to decide on appropriate photographs for your blog.
Decide on an Overarching and Design Theme and Know Your Aesthetic.
Remember the last time you landed on a blog and it just blew you away? The images were incredible and they all looked like they matched throughout the entire website?
When you see incredibly coherent and synchronized images, it means that the blog owners thought about it.
Whether conscious or not, they decided on a “theme.” That theme can be types of visual images, color schemes, specific text or post styles, types of photographs, portraits, food photography, and more.
For example, our theme is casual, fun (lots of jumping and action shots), personable (many portraits), and colorful. We love to travel, and we are dedicated entrepreneurs—so you will see photos from cities all around the country, and more tech-based photos too.
Most of all, they look fun, engaging, classic and beautiful.
Another example is The Soul Nomad. Amanda’s site is beautiful and engaging! She’s adopted a fun, flirtatious, explorer and adventure theme. There’s lots of portraits, darker, earthy pics and outdoors-themed snaps.
Pick a theme, and run with it. Find photos, take photos, and make it gorgeous!
Make Sure Your Images and Messaging are Congruent.
It is possible to have beautiful imagery… that doesn’t align with your messaging.
For example, if we were to have very feminine photographs (on d.science), with loads of accessories, makeup, jewelry and a big-femme-flair… well, it just wouldn’t go with our messaging.
Not only are we NOT a fashion blog, but that’s also not entrepreneurial-focused (something we communicate and value heavily).
Yes, I am a total girl-boss, but Austin is here with me too.
Our audience is split with awesome entrepreneurial overachievers—both lady bosses, and bro-bosses. It wouldn’t make any sense to be uber feminine then, even though the photos might looks chic as f%$*.
This dictates how we theme the photos, and choose them accordingly. Your theme has so much to do with your core values and beliefs. Make sure you fill out the free brand strategy template and anchor the beliefs unique to your brand.
Find Creative Inspiration.
Know what you like, and what you don’t like. Use this to steer your decisions.
I can’t stand “sterile” looking photos, or anything that is even remotely lacking personality; I don’t post them! I love vibrant hues, color, stunning subjects, travel icons and items representative of the lifestyle we live (like matchas and lattes).
Yes, we are digital nomads after all.
If you don’t know where to start, I suggest heading over to Pinterest.
Take a look at the blogger boards. Follow other blogger-bosses and see what they post. If you LOVE their posts, add them in a board and use it for inspiration for your own photos and post designs.
Make a Mood board.
Wondering on a day-to-day basis what to post? Remind yourself of your themes, your brand and your visual aesthetic by making a mood board. It’s something you can frequently check for inspiration and for creative direction.
Looking to post a photo? Check the mood board.
Does it match? No?—toss it. Yes?—move on, tallyho!
This is just a visual representation of a sample of your brand. It can help you get all your imagery on fleek.
Use Premium Stock Photography.
If I’m in a pinch, or need to get an article out pronto—I don’t want to prevent the article going up (or late) just because of the photo.
I often grab photographs from Death to the Stock Photo. I am a premium member, and find that the $15/month does the trick to make sure I’m always posting beautiful content.
We interviewed founder, David Sherry a little while back. You can see the post, here: building a loyal brand following with Death to Stock.
Death to the Stock Photo gives a wide array of beautiful, varied stock photos that don’t look like stock photos. They have a casual, explorer and creative driven brand that just looks good! I have hundreds and hundreds of photos from them.
The benefit of using these guys is that you don’t have to run around. There’s no photo shoot to schedule, models (or friends!) to show up and you never have to worry about licensing. It’s a great solution.
IF you’re looking for more great photos, there are 12 killer stock photo resources here, to beautify your brand. Anything that is considered “creative commons” is free to use, and you won’t have to worry about licensing (just a heads up).
If you use other stock photography companies like Getty, or Shutterstock , just double check their terms and conditions and the licensing you receive.
Take Your Own Photographs.
Okay, maybe you’re a hobbyist photographer. Then again, maybe not.
I dig taking photos (as you can seriously tell on my Instagram) . I love it so much, that I look for any convenient opportunity to casually and organically snap pics of my friends, and the amazing people I meet. I’m also kind of obsessed with portraits!
Once you know the values and theme for your blog, get on out there and shoot!
It’s all about the lifestyle too. I grab my Cannon and take it with me when we travel, or on a random Saturday that I think might get me a good latte shot.
Play with different lighting, props, lenses, filters and more. Experiment and you’re bound to get some sweet pics. If you’re capturing portraits and need some creative inspiration, read this article: crush your Instagram portraits like a supermodel.
Don’t Let Inexperience or Lack of Equipment Stop You.
If you’re just starting out taking photos, watch video tutorials on composition on Youtube. Find photos that you really love, and re-create them with your own people and environments. I do this ALL the time.
I’ll take a screen shot of an incredible Insta pic, and save it on my phone. When I get a chance to run around and grab some shots with a friend (or Austin!) I’ll figure out how to re-create the work-of-art with my own creative flair.
Don’t have a killer camera?
If you have an Android or iPhone you have everything you need.
I have a mix of photos on the blog taken from my Cannon or my iPhone. It all comes out great, and I certainly won’t pass up an opportunity just because I don’t have the Canon with me.
I use my iPhone all the time for impromptu shots, and they come out great!
Use Daylight to Your Advantage.
If you’re not great with lighting, then I would say pass on the indoor shots. It’s easy for them to look amateur.
Grab your camera or phone and head outside. There’s plenty of environment shots you can take outside that will add to your own personal aesthetic. You can take any portraiture outside too!
A little tip: direct light can be harsh (that mid-day sun).
Take shots in the early morning for a soft look, or around sunset for that warm-lit-glow. Shadows and cloudy days are great for even lighting too.
Ask Friends to Model for You.
Do you have attractive friends? I bet you do. I sure do!
I double many of my pics for my Instagram account, and the blog.
That being said, a couple times a month, I will invite a friend or two to explore, get coffee and take some shots. I ask them if it’s okay for me to post the photos beforehand, and then do a mini shoot!
Pro tip #1: I’m not usually obnoxious about the shoot. I keep them short (under an hour usually) and make it easy for them to want to help me. I let them be themselves, take a couple hundred photos, ask them what they what to do, or if there’s a specific shot THEY want to do in addition to mine.
The key here is to make the shoot short and fun. That way, you will keep the attention of your model and capture some really energizing shots.
You can have an awesome model, but if you’ve worn them out and they’re bored, you’ll be able to tell in the photos. And your audience will too. Keep it light and keep it fun. That’s the rub.
Pro tip #2:
If your friends don’t want to show their faces publically with your brand, you can ask to take detail or accessory shots. Another way you can still get awesome photos it to capture your friend walking away, as a silhouette, or looking away. You can always use more props like hats, jackets and hair-in-the-face to get around showing someone’s face.
Edit Your Photos Like a Pro.
Remember those blogs that make you have photo-envy?
They’re not just posting photos straight out of their camera or phone. I can almost guarantee that every photo is edited.
Take a look at editing them straight on your phone with Snapseed, Filterstorm or Vsco. If you’re on your desktop you can create your own filter-formula in Photoshop, or invest in pre-made filters (like these from A Beautiful Mess).
Editing makes a big difference. Using the same filter-formula can make photos that would otherwise not fit together, look stunning and related on your blog.
Use these 11 tips to make beautiful photos for your blog.