Are Your Photographs CRAP?
(That's clear, relevant and aesthetically pleasing!)
A few months ago, I attended a presentation on photography for websites and articles. The presenter made us all sit up and take notice from the start by saying we should all produce CRAP images for our content. Then he explained that he meant all accompanying images should be Clear, Relevant, and Aesthetically Pleasing.
To achieve this, you don't need an expensive camera and lenses, or even a real flair for photography. I have a Canon Ixus 185 compact camera, and until I launched my website four years ago, I'd never really thought much about what I was snapping. However, as far as Google is concerned, images are equally as important as text, or even more so, so you have to have a standard for your photos, and CRAP is a good place to start. Here's how to tick all those boxes for your article and website images.
Remember your images are being seen by strangers, maybe before they read a word of your content. While a fuzzy photo of aunt Mary at a family wedding may be okay for your personal Facebook wall, it's not going to enhance the quality of your blog post, because it's going to give the whole piece an amateurish look. Ensure that any images you upload with your content are sharp, focused, and recognisable, whether as people, places or things. Leave your followers in no doubt as to why you chose that particular image, and make sure it's a good one.
Your images should also be relevant to the topic of the article. That beach photo may be stunning and worthy of a wider audience, but it has no place in an article about a city, unless it's a city with a beach, such as Alicante in Spain. Choose your photos to augment and relate to the content, and give your followers that picture that could possibly paint a thousand words. Images should add to the theme of the article in a way the reader can identify easily.
You wouldn't think it would be necessary to emphasise this, but it's easy to be blind about the impact your image may have on others. You might well marvel at the vibrant colours of the flowers in the meadow, but make sure there's nothing that can detract from your followers' enjoyment of the image. Litter, lamp posts or billboards in the background, or someone walking past at the wrong time can all detract from the intended impact of the shot.
If you're shooting a small section of a large building, ensure the image is self-contained in its own right, so your audience can appreciate why you included that particular photo with the post. And make sure every photo you take has a frame and/or focal point to draw the observer's eye to where you want to take it.
In conclusion, you don't need an expensive camera or extensive photographic experience in order to take quality images to accompany your online or printed content. However, you do need to consider carefully how you compose the photos so they complement your content. Make sure all your photos pass the CRAP test - Clear, Relevant, Aesthetically Pleasing - and both you and your followers will be delighted with the results.