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While there is a huge number of great stock photo sites out there, including a growing amount of high quality free stock photo sites, I can’t stress enough how important it is to use original photos in your own blog.
In a world where blogs are popping up in droves every single day, it’s key to contribute original content as often as possible. While ultimately your writing is going to be the most important part of your blog, as it allows for you to share your unique perspective and personality, your photos are equally as important.
Honest update, June 2018: I'm using a lot of stock photos from Unsplash in my site as I'm re-branding. However, I am putting my own unique spin on each and every one and am editing them to match my brand.
A blog is a way of communicating
A great original photo can support your blog content
Simply put, a blog is a form of communication. So on a communications level, photos and images are a way to express what you’re saying in a visual form. A photo can speak for itself, or it can support written content. A single image can help communicate a complex idea or can efficiently capture an entire concept.
Original content is key
Unique photos are a great way to stand out in the blogging world. It surprises me how many stock images I see on blogs.
Admittedly, I’m guilty of it too, especially in my earlier blogging days. But now I make an effort to use my own photos or illustrations whenever possible.
Make your blog content “pinnable” so it has great visual representation and share-ability.
Because image- and photo-based curation sites are so popular (hello, Pinterest), it’s necessary to include some sort of image with your content so your post is “pinnable”, and an original image or photo is going to go a lot further on any visual platform. (Your content won't go far on Pinterest if you chose an overused stock image that at least 100 other bloggers chose.)
On taking photos
You don't need to invest in expensive equipment to have great blog photos.
The extra effort to take your own photo makes a big difference, provided you have access to a decent camera, lighting, and subject matter. While I’ve been stressing photography, grainy cell phone photos may be worse than having no photo at all. I’m not saying you need to run out and invest in an expensive DSLR — an iPhone camera will do quite nicely, and there are tricks you can use to make the iPhone photography experience that much better.
iPhone cameras are perfect photography tools for a lot of bloggers[/caption]
DSLR's aren't required for blog photography
In general as a blogger, you have a propensity to be creative. After all, when you write, you are creating. Even if you're unsure of your skills as a photographer, dive into it and you’ll improve naturally.
You don’t need to be an expert photographer to include original photos in your blog posts. But the extra effort you put into making your photos unique, the more credibility you'll have with your readers, and it can also give you a more complete sense of ownership over your blog.
Do you consistently make the effort to include original images in your blog posts? How do you work to improve your blog photography?
Cover photo by Oli Dale