Friday Links: Turning Your Living Room into a Studio

I think it is easy to assume that all the most successful bloggers have nice studios and extensively organized prop closets filled with inspiration and magic. The truth is, most of us are working from our living room floor and digging through clutter filled offices/garages/basements.

Five resources from bloggers in the Alt Community will have you viewing your living room as your own personal photography studio.

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Photography 101: Capturing Life

We live in a world covered in pictures. And with the availability of camera phones and reasonably priced DSLRs, everyone is an expert, and most will see right through images snapped in haste. Now not every picture has to be perfect and styled to the max. Instead, think about expressing meaning, purpose, and a story within the photos you take. These five tips will help you add emotion and connection to your visual storytelling.

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Content 101: Post-Processing to Improve Photos, Part 2

By: Eden Hensley; Photo by Brooke Dennis for Alt Summit

Many bloggers post-process their images to create a unique visual brand.

Luckily post-processing does not mean you need Adobe Photoshop. Depending on what you want to do, any of number of free tools may work for you, PicMonkeyCanva, Studio (a smartPhone app), or something else. To determine which tool best suites your needs, read the comparison of Adobe Photoshop Elements, PicMonkey, and Rollip by Lexy of The Proper Pinwheel. And, for those curious about how Adobe Photoshop Elements differs from Adobe Photoshop, check out Mike Loveland's side-by-side review of the two software packages.

Regardless of which photo editing software you use, after following the four basic post-processing rules, you should consider doing these three things in post processing to brand your images:

  1. Brighten your photos.
  2. Add a filter.
  3. Use overlays and text.

If you want to get a little more creative with your photos, Lexy suggests using layer masks and Photomerge (available with Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Photoshop Elements):

  • Highlight a specific part of a black and white photo with color.
  • Swap subjects in two different photos.

How do you process your photos to create a unique visual brand? Do you limit yourself to one filter?

Content 101: Post-Processing to Improve Photos, Part 1

By: Eden Hensley Photo by: Brooke Dennis for Alt Summit

Great visuals grab our attention and encourage us to click through to learn more. But stunning images, those photos that make you say WOW, do not come out of a digital camera looking that way. Someone developed them in the digital equivalent of a darkroom.

Post-processing does not have to be scary. Here are four basic rules to keep in mind:

  1. Never save over your original image. Save As is your friend. Once you remove data, such as reducing an image's size or lowering its resolution for online display, the data is gone. You will not be able to use the image at a larger size and it may not print clearly.
  2. Do not enlarge your original image. If you have an image that you found on the Internet and it is an inch by an inch, you cannot make it eight inches by eight inches for example without substantially degrading the quality of the image and making it almost unrecognizable. Mike Loveland explains how to determine an image's size using Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Photoshop Elements.
  3. If you only have time to make one edit, improve the contrast of your photo. Mike shows how to use Levels in Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Photoshop Elements to make your images pop.
  4. Use the smallest file size you can for images. Smaller file sizes mean your website and your blog will load faster. Mike walks you through how to save images without text or overlays as JPG, save images with text and graphics but no photos as PNG-8, and save images with a photo, text, and overlays as PNG-24.

Content 101: Improving Your Visuals

By: Eden Hensley Photo by: Brooke Dennis for Alt Summit

When you create content, you need to think beyond what you want to say to how you will present your message and how people will see it. Along with the layout of your content (how easy it is to scan), great visuals mean the difference between a first time visitor clicking away from your blog or stopping for awhile.

Whether you are creating your own images or using third-party images, it is important to recognize what makes an image compelling. This helpful Photography 101 series from Justin Hackworth shows how lighting, composition, and depth of field can invoke a sense of mystery that pulls your reader into your prose. (If you would like a quick refresher of the various settings on your camera, refer to this walkthrough from Jennifer of Sugar Photographs. You will be moving past your camera's Auto setting in no time at all.)

Before using any third-party images, familiarize yourself with photography copyright. Just because you found an image on the Internet does not mean you can use it without permission, even if you credit the photographer.

Photographs from Alt Summit Summer

By: Eden Hensley Photos by Alt Summit

The right image can make a post come alive. Teleport one to an event they were unable to attend. And transport one back in time. Throughout Alt Summit Summer you may have seen our two photographers, Brooke Dennis and Justin Hackworth, hard at work capturing all the fun. Their photos are available in the Alt Summit Flickr Gallery for your use.

How to Use Alt Summit Photographs

  • Include a photo or two in your blog posts or social media streams:
    • Embed the Flickr photograph in your blog post
    • Download the Flickr photograph, modify it as you want, and upload it to your blog post or social media stream.
  • Credit Alt Summit
    • In your blog posts, either of the following formats is fine: "Justin Hackworth or Brooke Dennis for Alt Summit" or "Photos by Alt Summit." Be sure to link to Alt Summit (www.AltitudeSummit.com). You can also link to Justin (www.JustinHackworth.com) or Brooke (www.ThePhotographerandTheMusician.com). 
    • If sharing on Instagram, either of the following formats is fine:  "Photos by @AltSummit" or "@JustinHackworth or @BrookeADennis for @AltSummit." Also include #AltSummit as we enjoy seeing what you loved about the conference. 

Using Photographs from Our Sponsors

Three of our sponsors set up photo booths at Alt Summit Summer: Bing, Pincushion, and Tiny Prints. Unlike the photographs for Alt Summit taken by Justin and Brooke, these photographs are All Rights Reserved and need to be shared a little differently.

To include sponsor photos on your blog, use the embeddable links and to share via social media, use the direct photo links. When sharing, be sure to let our sponsors know how much you love them.

  • If using the SmileBooth images from Day 1 or Day 2 from Bing please include the hashtags #AwesomewithBing and #ThanksBing.
  • If using the Flickr images from Pincushion please include the hashtag #PinSewCraft.

As soon the photos from The Garden Party Photo Booth sponsored by Tiny Prints and the head shots sponsored by Bing are available, we will share those links as well. 

Alt On Topic: Photo Styling Curated by House of Brinson

By: Jenny Batt Photo by: Justin Hackworth

Want to make your site stand out in the sea of blogs or maybe you want to improve your styling or even become a prop stylist? Then you do not want to miss our Alt on Topic tomorrow curated by Susan and William Brinson, the amazing prop stylist and photographer team from House of Brinson. Today is your last chance to register for tomorrow's online workshop and with the treasure trove of amazing real life stylists and photographers, you won't want to miss this limited engagement. Check out the line up and sign up here.

How To Grow Readership With Photography

By: Evi Abeler

Great content has been essential for all blogs since the beginning. But great photography is something a lot of bloggers struggle with. A beautiful, well-styled picture can elevate your blog, capture your audience and create media attention. Also social media loves images and can't get enough of them! 

Image Strategy

Whether you DIY, use stock photography or collaborate with a photographer the first thing is to think about your image strategy. What does your blog stand for? Who is your audience? Who else is out there? How can you set yourself apart? Define your blog's core message and look for style words that go alone with the message. For example: clean & simple, luxurious or hand-made.

Get Inspired

Look for images that inspire you and fit your style words. Rip out pages from magazines and create a visual mood board for your blog. Of course Pinterest is a great place to get inspired! Do you like graphic images, moody ones or maybe black and whites are your favorite?

Define Your Style 

Based on your blog's core message and your mood board define a style for your photos. If your blog is all about clean and simple, then go with a plain background and minimal props. More luxurious? How about shooting everything in a fancy frame? Maybe there is a certain filter that you like? You can use VSCOcam to edit and add effects, add text overlays with Over or collage or frame images with Frametastic. Once you have picked a style stick with it. Consistency will make it easier for you and makes you look professional.

Keep it Simple

Once you have a strategy, done your research and developed a style block some time in your calendar for photography every month. Your audience loves behind the scene photos of you and your work. You can use them in blog posts, share on social media or make gifts for your clients out of them! You can also show off some happy followers! And every once in a while hit the video button and record a clip. You can make a short movie in no time with Director or a fun stop action video with Stop Animator.

Improve your Photography

As with everything you will only get better with time and practice. There are some great online classes, skill-shares and meet-ups that you can join.