Monday, January 9, 2017

Monday Minute: Are Photos REALLY That Important?

With my recently upgraded focus on my blog, I've been spending a good portion of my time looking at what it takes to make a blog successful. So far, there are the obvious things, things I expected to see and don't have any problem with.
  • You need people to read the blog. Right, makes sense.
  • You need people to leave comments and interact, so that search engines and other followers know that the blog content is satisfying and worth sticking around for. Mmhmm, makes sense, too.
  • You need people to share your posts, because this is how old readers help bloggers attract new readers. Yep, same concept as "word of mouth" advertising. This one makes sense, too.

But then there's this one thing that's got me like, "What? Why?"
  • Apparently, you need high quality, professional-grade, beautifully staged, pinterest-ready, spectacular photos on every post. Also apparently, if you don't have this, you're setting yourself up for failure.

"What? Why?"

Let me just say something here about how unrealistic I think that expectation is. Like it's not enough to be a good writer and a good person, smart and funny and witty and most importantly, entertaining, but now it's also become a common expectation that bloggers also be photographers, graphic designers, and countless other things. This makes no sense to me - it feels like expecting my dentist to also be an expert podiatrist. Am I really the only one who thinks this is crazy?

I mean, I read a blog because I like the blogger. I come back and I stick around not for the photos, but for the great writing, for the personality, for the way I relate to the post content. I require one major factor - okay, two major factors - to be in play in order for me to read a blog consistently.
  1. You must be able to write in a way that doesn't frustrate me as a writer.
  2. You must be someone I can like and relate to on a personal level.

Photos are not a deal-breaker for me - and I can't really be the only one who feels this way, can I?

Don't get me wrong though ... I like photography as much as the next girl, and I'm proud to say that my Pinterest account is FULL of great photos, taken by people who who know how to stage great photos. However, this is because the photos are links that lead me to something I've read, you know? They aren't the meat of what I'm looking for, and they aren't necessary to attract me. Still, I really do love photography - so much so that I've even dabbled in creating great photos of my own! Before I published my first novel, I attempted to start a small portrait photography business. But you guys, I chose portraits because I love the light on a person's face when their heart swells with love.

Eden and her grandfather, the first time they met.
I chose it because I love the variance of expression, the movement of the human body.

Josephine with my cousin's son, Ezekial, around November 2009.

I love the poetry of human interaction and the way we express so clearly in photos, sometimes without even meaning to. I love the way a photo can say something by the power of a lowered brow, a scowl, or the simple angle of light shining down on sheer fascination.

Eden: she would "make the ugly face" on command.
Also Eden, captivated by a flower in the park.
I love that a photo of people together can be full of playfulness; I love that it can suggest adventure.


I love that photos can be downright magical - when the light's right and the subject is exactly as they should be, when the editing is on point and the scene is perfect.

Josephine walking down a train track in 2009.
Eden in a tunnel at a local botanical garden in 2010.
Josephine and Ezekial. She hates the lack of color - I love the peace.

A photo from a client shoot I did in 2010. It was a paid gig and I was so proud.

Those are the moments when I love photography, and those are the photos I appreciate seeing on a blog - the ones that are there because they give something in their own right, not just because they've somehow become mandatory, like the pictures in children's books. But I go to a blog for the words - I don't need photos of someone's coffee, or their socks-of-the-day, or their ... whatever. Not when it's just for the sake of having photos in the post.

So I can't promise that all my posts will have photos in them, or graphics or memes, or any of that - and I hope I'm building a readership that's okay with that, because even though I can't promise a plethora of images, I can promise quality content that you can appreciate and relate to. And isn't that the point anyway?

Besides, when I take still-life stuff, it always comes out looking like this, and I'm sure none of us want that.


Still, I get it. Photos are important for their visual appeal. They do matter, and they can make or break the mood of a blog post. So, because I want this blog to grow, in 2017 I'm going to try harder.

I'm going to learn to do better. I'm going to take more photos just for the joy of it, and I'm going to make a point to enjoy the practice. I may even check into doing something like this, just for fun. And, as I've hinted to this before, I'm also going to open this blog to a limited number of sponsored posts and reviews, so that I can use a variety of objects and products in my attempts to nurture my still-life photography skill. I'm going to remind myself that the above photo isn't the be-all and end-all. I'm going to keep trying, and keep learning, and celebrate the little victories. Like this one:

This coffee's awesome by the way. You should try it - find it on Amazon.
All it takes is a little trial and error, right? And let's face it, part of being a badass warrior goddess who rarely never forgets the extent of my own power is always remembering who I am and what I stand for, where I'm going and how I plan to get there - and that it's never too late to learn.


46 comments:

  1. I think that's why Instagram was created. People, unfortunately, don't want to READ anymore. They just want to be able to look through images, scroll through image after image. It's pretty unfortunate. I love reading as long as the blogger is engaging enough through text :)

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    1. Me too! I don't mind a photo here and there, but dang - I thought I left picture books behind. I 'm reading because I want to read, you know?

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  2. In my opinion, I feel that photographs speaks louder than words. I like how you created your portrait photography business. Photos could translate differently from one to the other. Caption is everything! It's like connecting two ends together.

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    1. I can agree with the idea that photos are important - I just feel like the photos aren't supposed to be the be-all and end-all , you know?

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  3. I love photographs, but I don't need them in every post. I know mine are never perfectly staged and such. I prefer "real" photos.

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    1. That's reassuring to me because I usually suck at the staging part.

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  4. I love this post...What you said is very true...I think photos are very captivating, but there are blogs I enjoy just because of the good content.

    Lauren

    WWW.TheZenFashionista.Com

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    1. I'm so glad I'm not the only one who feels that way.

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  5. I love photos! They really do speak volumes! I use them in every post to help lock in the audience and be more personal.

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    1. I like one or two, but I like blogs just as well (or better) without them. For me, they should add to - and not carry - the content.

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  6. Good points!! I will admit I'm a sucker for photos! And the more I get into blogging I realize brands are as well.

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    1. I have noticed that myself - that's actually what prompted this post.

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  7. I think it all depends if you want to play on Pinterest, Snapchat, Instagram and other more visual social media places to help you grow. If you can grow just by writing, then, by all means, do it! I feel the same way sometimes when I find myself throwing some pictures in just to keep the readers going since so many people have the attention span of a gnat these days! Good for you for moving forward and trying new things and working to improve yourself!

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  8. I liked your post a lot because I totally agree. Sometimes I get frustrated and overwhelmed because I have to have good photos and be a good writer and spread it around on social media and blah blah blah. Thank you for your words!

    Kaitlyn
    www.mypostpartumlife.com

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  9. I think the importance of photos depends on the topic of the blog in general and the post in particular. For travel, a photo can do a better job of showing a landscape (for example) than I could do using words. But for detailed information on something like travel planning text is much better. We agree that photos are just one tool bloggers can use to communicate.

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    1. I just feel like there's too much emphasis on the idea that photos are mandatory, and that photos can even be enough to carry sub-par writing.

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  10. I enjoy photos, but the blogs I come back to consistently all have one thing in common: strong writing. That, to me, is the most important thing!

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    1. Me too! Photos are nice but they aren't everything. I go to blogs to read - not to scroll through a picture book.

      Then, someone mentioned earlier how important photos are for travel blogs, and I can see that. Same with food, I suppose.

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  11. I completely agree. I used to worry because my photographs aren't perfectly stylised - but they're real, which makes me a bit different than a lot of bloggers in my niche and perhaps (I hope!) one of the reasons my readers keep coming back.

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    1. Good point - and yes, authenticity is definitely the real appeal.

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  12. Photos are undoubtedly important but not as crucial as words in some certain cases. I love reading blog posts dotted with some photos to illustrate. If any post that is not considered as photo blog is overwhelmed with pics, I don't think my eyes would rather stick on words than pics.

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    1. I hate that too - too many can be just as bad as not enough.

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  13. Its true, we are expected to be so many things and it can be overwhelming. I use pictures to illustrate my points but ultimately it is the content that is the most important!

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  14. I love a good photo. It's captivating, shows feeling, shows expression, shows tastes. I think photography is the perfect counterpart to any blog post but I totally understand what you mean. I do think it's an important part of a blog though :)

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    1. I'm not sure I think photos are totally unimportant ... just that they shouldn't necessarily be seen as mandatory.

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  15. I feel like pictures are very important. Especially in capturing every day life that you will soon forget. I think my biggest regret in life so far is not taking enough pictures.

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    1. I get that too - I think a lot of people wish that from time to time. But for a blog? I just feel like maybe less is more sometimes.

      Then again, I am planning to utilize photos more effectively here, so there's that. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em, right?

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  16. Photos are important but I think they should be used of emphasis of the text. Not the other way around.

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    1. That's my argument too. I think they're nice sometimes, when they bring something to what's already there. But are they necessary for me to enjoy a blog? No - in fact, sometimes I find them annoying when they become excessive.

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  17. I think the photos have to be relevant and well placed. Excessive photos can kill the post

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    1. Exactly, and sometimes there are just so many! I read a post the other day (and I use "read" very lightly) where there were about seven sentences spread over about thirty photos.

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  18. I think it depends on what kind of blog that you have. For example, I'm a food blogger and people want to see food, not just hear about it. I also think maybe it helps to break up a post so that people don't get bored. I don't know, it makes a little sense to me. But ultimately you do what works for you, not everyone else!

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    1. I definitely think photos add to food blogs - it's nice to see the recipes as the come together because it helps let me know that I'm doing it right (or that I'm not, as has happened a time or two). They also fit with tutorials and things like that. But every blog, every post? My point here was to illustrate that all blogs are not the same, and as such, we shouldn't judge them (or their potential to succeed) all based on blanket requirements.

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  19. Ah, nothing like a good batch of photos. I always liked the idea in general, you know, taking shots whenever and wherever. I really love that tunnel shot of that precious one!

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    1. I like them sometimes, but not when they become the whole point. I meant, photo blogs - that's expected. Food blogs? Sure. Travel, tutorials, okay. But in moderation, I think. Regardless of the blog type, photos do enrich the content - but they shouldn't be carrying the content.

      Thanks for the compliments on the photos though - the one in the tunnel is my youngest. Hard to believe she's seven now.

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  20. I loved the photos that you shared. Photographs are important to me because they help me remember the good times and sometimes the bad too. It's very honest and you really can't hide anything when it comes to pictures.

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    1. That's for sure! Nothing is honest in quite the same way as a camera, huh?

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  21. I love taking photographs of family and friends. It's perfect for keeping memories. I enjoyed looking over the photos that you shared with us today.

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    1. Thanks! Despite the argument against using photos so heavily, I am planning in the future to use more photos here, or at least to make a better effort with graphics. I do think they're nice to see - if they add to the content.

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  22. I am Travel Blogger and photographs are more appealing and give visual effect to travel blog. I generally prefer capturing moments no matter its perfect or not but it should have variation.

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    1. It's true, photos ARE very important to a travel blog - and perhaps to any blog, when used correctly. I'm not truly against using them, just the assumption that they are mandatory. I would hope that if I never put up a photo at all, my writing would carry my blog - but on the same note, sometimes a photo really does express something words can't quite cover.

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  23. I am a writer who takes great photos. And while I have had many, many articles published, what resonates lately are my photos. I was recently contacted and in the process of putting together a cocktail book with photographs and short stories. I am so excited, so yes, I think its something that is important. Do you need to be a professional, no? But a few high quality shots you can share on IG (which is now putting emphasis on high quality photographs is also important.

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    1. I agree especially on the Instagram part of your comment. You can't really share a post there without some sort of photo. Since writing this post, I've been making a point (usually) to include some sort of photo or graphic - and I have actually enjoyed it to some degree.

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