How to Choose Visuals for Your Blog

By Amy Lupold Bair, Susannah Gardner

Using images on your blog can create the visual draw that you need to pull a reader in and keep him coming back for more. You can take these pictures yourself or use photos you find online. If you use someone else’s photo, just make sure you have the correct licensing for its use!

How to take photos you can use in your blog

Bloggers often add pictures to posts that just need a little zing. Blog posts about cooking and restaurants are seriously enlivened by the addition of beautiful food photos. Who doesn’t salivate at the sight of a beautifully prepared dessert?

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If you want to take photographs to put on your blog, keep your eyes open all the time for visuals that inspire or interest you. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to find good picture subjects, but you do need to be thinking about your blog and your camera more often than you might normally.

In fact, some bloggers find that carrying a camera with them actually helps them find things to blog about and illustrate regular blog posts.

Here are four tips for taking photos for your blog:

  • Is your mobile phone camera inadequate? Consider carrying your camera with you when you leave the house, even if you’re just running down to the grocery store.

  • Keep fresh batteries in your camera so that when you need to use it, it isn’t dead. If possible, keep a second set of batteries in your camera pouch.

  • Don’t worry too much about taking the perfect picture. Just take the picture! Photo editing and good cropping can salvage many a bad shot, but they can’t help you if you never even pushed the shutter button.

  • Take photos of the people you meet and talk to, and your friends. Be sure to ask them whether you can use their photos on your blog. Then, when you blog about going to a movie with Bill, you have a photo of Bill to include.

How to use art from other sources in your blog

One nice thing about the web: You can find tons and tons of photos and other images, graphics, and visuals out there to inspire you. Some bloggers have taken advantage of this vast offering by including some of those great visuals in their blog posts.

Photos attract readers’ attention better than a few paragraphs of text. You may decide to use photos on your blog, as long as you have the rights to republish those images.

Here are three tips when you need images other than your own:

  • Check the public domain: Some materials are designated public domain works, which means anyone can use them for any purpose, although you must still give the author credit. If you’re interested in featuring public-domain and licensed images on your blog, do a search for public domain photos on your favorite search engine. You can investigate a number of good resources.

    In the United States, anything published before 1923 is considered public domain, but other countries don’t necessarily have the same policy.

  • Search through Creative Commons: By using the Creative Commons licensing tool, you can look for works that authors have licensed for republication. To find additional works that you can use, visit the Creative Commons and search by using keywords that describe the material you’re looking for. (Creative Commons licenses allow blog authors to make known their copyright wishes for the copying to their blog content.)

  • Ask for permission: If you see something that you like and want to use, but it’s protected by full copyright, consider simply asking whether you can use it. Many photographers, especially those who don’t make a living selling their work, willingly let you use their work, especially if you give them credit!

Many of the photos on the Flickr photo-sharing site have been licensed for use on other websites and blogs. When you’re looking at a photo on Flickr, check the copyright information on the right side of the page.