We generally use stock photos to deepen the message woven in the words of the posts on Freelance Writing Dreams. But I’ve experimented with using my own photographs – not always with a professional-looking result — a few times (see examples here and here) and several times on the Medtopicwriter site.
My photography skills have a long way to go before they get to the place where I’d feel comfortable deleting my paid memberships to the two stock photo collections I use.
Further, I’m a busy freelance journalist and copywriter – not a freelance photographer – so taking the time to snap just the right photo for each of the articles on our sites would consume precious time I use to complete my regular feature stories and news assignments.
So Why Bother at All?
Using an interesting, funny, disturbing, or beautiful photo that you took can attract the eyes of new readers and add to your story in a way a stock photo simply cannot. You can take and use an image that perfectly fits the message you want your article to deliver. Stock photos, whether from a paid or free collection, often suffice as a “good enough” solution rather than the perfect image whispering itself into the sight of your third eye.
Tips for Taking Images You Can Use
Fancy DSLR Camera Not Required – I don’t even know what DSLR really means, let alone costs, but it sounds expensive. My brother has one and it looks like it cost more than I spent on my high-heeled shoe collection over the past year. Yes, that’s a lot. Your little point-and-shoot can snap photos that sparkle like a diamond, if you just follow a few basic tips.
Close Enough to Kiss – People use photos with blog posts to emphasize a point, illustrate a concept, or to feature a product. So, when taking your picture, move in close to your subject; you won’t need to show any peripheral background images. Try to get close enough so the main image fills the entire frame.
Bare Naked Light – Use natural light, rather than your camera’s built-in flash. Try to take the photos in filtered natural light. A slightly overcast, yet bright, day provides great filtered light for this purpose. Arrange people or target objects next to a window, or even outdoors, if possible.
Snap Sister (or Brother), Snap – I heard one professional photographer say that he can snap as many as 400 shots and maybe find one or two that work. Don’t worry. You won’t need to take that many to get one that will fit your article perfectly. But, it might take 30 or so to get to that one sweet shot you’ve got nestled in your imagination. So, snap away.
Cut and Fix – Edit your photo from good to great. Crop out background images or blank space around your subject so viewers automatically focus on the main subject. You’ll want to adjust the light balance of the image, using your photo editor’s exposure level tool. Remove red eye other imperfections using your editor’s tools.
If you don’t own the Photoshop software, which can cost a pretty penny, use a free online editor, such as Photoshop Express Editor or Gimp. These free photo editors can handle any of the above suggestions and even a few more complex jobs.
Make Your Mark – Add a copyright notice to your website, so visitors know you’ve protected your work and what you allow and do not allow when it comes to using your work. Creative Commons licensing will work in most cases and gives readers a clear explanation of what they can and cannot do. You might want to add a transparent watermark to your images as well. For example, add something like ©freelancewritingdreams.com to the bottom corner of each image.
Find more great tips on editing your photos at the Digital Photography School website.
Do you use your own images for your website and blog posts? Share you experiences with us – what works, what doesn’t.