Blogging 101: Driving Traffic with Strong Visuals

How does a site capture your attention? If you’re like most people, after the design of a site—its look and feel—you’re drawn to the imagery.

But before you can discover a site, other imagery grabs you. Today, it's more important than ever to lead with strong visuals for your calling card on your social media platforms.

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By: Jennifer Little.

I like to get in tight and make sure the emotion can be felt in an image. I shoot with mostly prime lenses that have a fixed focal length, so it’s up to me to move in and out to make sure I get the shot I’m looking for. Once you get close to your subject for the first time, it makes it easier. I know it can feel like you are interrupting personal space, but it’s worth it to capture a sweet image.

When you are photographing children, it’s natural to shoot down since they are usually playing on the ground or on a lower plane, but forget what feels natural and get low. Shoot at eye level and your image will make people feel like they were there.

You don’t always need open empty space in your shot. Sometimes it’s okay to crop out arms, legs or even a part of your subject’s face.

When you’re at home, there are always opportunities to peek in and capture your loved one doing what they love, reading, writing or playing music. You don’t always need your subject to know your there.

Links to help you change your perspective.

A. National Geographic

B. Composition 

C. I love this article about people laughing

4 Steps To Better Photos

By: Melanie Blodgett

One of the major steps of creating a great diy tutorial is to have great photos to accompany it. I’m not a photographer and would never claim to be. I take photos out of necessity. But, I have taken some steps that have improved my photos immensely in the last year so I’m sharing them today with novices in mind. These are basic, but if you’re just looking to take your photos a step up from auto, this might help.

Step One: Get a Better Camera

The first thing I did was upgraded my point and shoot to a DSLR. Instant improvement. I take all my photos with the Canon EOS Rebel T2i (there’s newer models now) which I bought at Costco. It’s pretty much the most basic DSLR you can get which is perfect for beginners. Last year I bought this 50 mm lens and now almost use it exclusively. I would argue that it’s the best $100 I’ve ever spent. It’s especially good for tabletop/still life photos.

Step Two: Learn About Aperture, Shutter Speed, Depth of Field and ISO

When I first bought my camera, I forced myself to read through the manual. I was determined if I was going to spend that much on an item that would learn how to use it well. I didn’t take into account that reading dry, instructional material is not how I absorb information best. Then I took an Alt Channel online course entitled DSLR 101 taught by the fabulous Justin Hackworth. He explained the basics of aperture, shutter speed, depth of field, and ISO. Having even a shallow understanding of these topics (whether by reading or learning from a pro) will help you in taking better photos, period. When I learned about the AV setting and started using it, it became my new automatic mode. I was amazed that it would automatically blur the background for me. Ha! Here’s a blog post written by Justin for a good starting point if you want to know more about aperture.

Step Three: Use Natural Light & A Make-Shift Studio

I can’t remember the last time I used the flash on my camera. After taking step two, you’ll understand the settings well enough to adjust according to the lighting situation you are in but in general, shoot while the sun is up and your house is light filled.

For project photos I take for the blog, I drag my table next to my sliding glass doors and lay down a piece of white poster board. Then I use a folding white display board (the kind you would display a science project on) and stand it up facing the window as a light reflector, a tip I first learned fromEz. It creates a well lit setting for your subject without heavy shadows.

Step Four: Go Manual

I’m sure a lot of you breezed through the first three steps since you’ve probably heard it all before, but this last step is what probably affected my photography the most. One day when Jennifer Little was taking photos for me I was complaining about how when I was taking photos using the AV setting, if the light wasn’t good enough the result would be grainy. She switched my camera over to manual mode and adjusted the shutter speed to 1/100 and the aperture to F3.5 so that the light meter was at 0 (these settings were according to the light that was in the room at the time). Ever since I’ve kept the shutter speed at 1/100 and then adjust the aperture and iso according to the light (sometimes I fiddle around for a while) so that the meter stays near 0 (or above if I want it to be over exposed like when I’m taking a photo towards the window and want the light to be blurred). Wow, what a difference! Not only has the lighting in the photos improved, they’re much more crisp. And I stopped being lazy and manually focus my photos now too.

If that whole paragraph was utterly confusing to you, this post about how to shoot in manual mode explains it more in depth.

I have a lot more to learn but those are the (very doable) steps I’ve taken to improve my photography in less than a year.

You Have Great Lighting At Home

By: Jennifer Little

1. Scope out great lighting

Take a walk around your house with a fresh set of eyes. Turn off incandescent lights, and see what natural light you have. Go room to room looking for bright light soaking your rooms. Seek out rooms with light or white walls for maximum light reflection.

2. Let in the light

Open all your windows, blinds, shutters and window treatments to make sure the maximum amount of light floods your room. Consider opening doors too because it only adds extra light.  

3.Dark walls vs. light walls

I typically like to photograph people in rooms with bright, light walls because it casts beautiful light onto their faces. However, sometimes I like to photograph blondes against darks walls because the contrast is so stunning.

4. Cloudy days

On cloudy, overcast days, take advantage of the even light source from above and shoot outside. When it’s overcast, you won’t be restricted by the harsh sun casting shadows on your subjects.

5. Sunny days

When you want to photograph your family or kids on bright sunny days, capture them inside and your light will be soft and even but nice and bright.

6. Close to the window

Place your subject close to the window if you want a soft glow on her face but a dark contrast behind. This is also a good way to hide clutter and messy rooms because the mess will fall into the shadows.

7. Away from the window

When you place your subject away from the window, you will see that the shadows become much less harsh and your room is filled with light. Make sure your clutter is tucked away. 


How To Capture A Connection

By: Jennifer Little

1. Love

We all love our children, but capturing the emotion of love is not always easy. It’s easy to keep the camera away from the calm moments throughout the day to avoid disruption. Turn off the flash, prepare your exposure properly, and grab one sweet shot.

2. Laughter

I love capturing a true laugh between family members. I seek genuine moments where real connections burst through the photo. Wait for a humorous moment rather than forcing a laugh.

3. Connection

Connections are not always between people. Often times your children will zone in on desires such as ice cream or a special toy. In these moments, you can photograph specific expressions that explain just what they’re thinking.

4. Tenderness

Capture these sweet, soft moments by following your subject through the lens. When the tender moment presents itself, grab the shot.

5. Comfort

Moms, dads, grandmas and grandpas all provide comfort throughout the day. A hug goes a long way and means so much. These moments are truly sweetest when the child initiates the hug. Make sure to have your camera handy and take advantage of the moment.

6. Favorite Activity

Reading, writing and playing all generate special feelings and expressions. Don’t ignore these quiet times. Sneak around the corner and grab that one shot before you distract your child.

7. Care

Sometimes we try so hard to satisfy and comfort our babies, and nothing seems to satisfy them. We feel their frustration and pain. Sometimes a warm cuddle and a captured moment is the sweetest.

8. Drama

All of our children have their moments that require our full attention. It might be caused by hurt feelings or even an injury. Whatever the cause, there will be moments when mom or dad can make it all better.

9. Siblings

On most occasions brothers and sisters play well together but often they argue. However, on really special occasions they will show their true love for each other.

10. New Friends

I love capturing a connection between two tiny new friends. They seem to instantly connect, there are no inhibitions, and they almost always find something in common. Even without carrying on a conversation they are able to communicate.

Shooting in Manual Mode: Are You Friends With Your Camera?

By: Jennifer Little

Are you friends with your camera?

In order to feel connected to your camera, you need to get to know it. Pull out your owner’s manual so that you can locate the camera settings we will discuss. Then set your camera to manual mode, and let’s discuss her strengths.

  • Camera Meter: Measures how bright or dark your subject is
  • Aperture: How large or small the opening of your lens is
  • Shutter Speed: The speed in which your shutter opens and closes
  • ISO: How sensitive your image sensor is to light
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