How To Create An Amazing Photography Blog

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My friend across the pond, fellow photographer and camera enthusiast Jim Grey wrote a post recently about how to be internet famous with film photography.

It got me thinking about what I enjoy most about photography blogs, the recipe required for a delicious photographic feast.

Here are the ingredients I feel you need –

Interesting and engaging writing. Nine out of 10 photo blogs seem to be regurgitations of the camera manuals, espousing the intricate details.

Even worse for me, at least with a manual you usually get a picture or two of the camera labelling the key parts, but many of these blogs try to explain this via the written word – “the brass top plate is uncluttered to the right with the shutter speed dial giving you speeds from 1s to 1/1000s and 5mm next to that we find the shutter button, made of aircraft grade aluminium. Over to the left we have the ISO dial, ranging from ISO6 to ISO1600 which is matt black with red numbers…” Terribly tedious.

I might want to know the very basics – shutter speed range, lens spec – but after that just tell me why you love the camera, how it makes you feel, why I should sell my left kidney and seek one out too.

Plus an easy way to avoid swathes of uninspiring description is to just post a picture of the camera.

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Personality. Many blogs seem to have the same tone too, straight out of an instruction manual, or one of those recorded phone messages by a robotic lady voice with an unnervingly undulating voice – “Please call BACK to-MORR-ow ON Oh-Oh-Oh-SEVEN-SEVEN-Siiix-Five-Oh-Oh-Oh…”

A photoblogger’s first love and talent might be making pictures, but if you’re going to have a blog with writing in it, I think it’s important to to try to give that writing some charm, warmth, soul, personality, call it what you will.

And if you’re passionate about photography – whether it’s making the pictures, collecting the cameras or both – then try to infuse your writing with some of that passion.

Inspiring photos. There are some blogs where you’re looking for technical detail, images of cameras and lenses, what to look for when collecting them, maybe even how to fix them. So sharing photos actually made with the cameras is perhaps not so vital.

But for most photography blogs, one of the essential elements for me is sharing inspiring photographs.

They don’t have to be taken with the latest and greatest cameras, or be worthy of an international exhibition. But they do have to make me stop and smile or silently “woah!” or “wow!”, to be exciting or intriguing or moving enough for me to a) explore more of this photographer’s work and b) seek out the kit they used and see if I could make anything even a fraction as good with the same!

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Good quality / frequency ratio. I sometimes wonder if there’s an inversely proportional relationship between the quality of a blogger’s posts and the frequency they write them.

Sometimes this is a plus, and a new post maybe once a fortnight from someone who ticks all of the other boxes here in my recipe for an amazing photo blog is well worth the wait.

But sharing frequently when you’ve nothing really interesting to share, to me is worse than not posting at all.

I have in mind a blogger I used to read religiously but who recently has resorted to farming out at least four out of five new posts to guest posters, who rarely meet the same level of engagement or interest with their posts – with either their words or their photographs. This just dilutes the quality of the blog overall, and now I probably don’t read even half of the posts.

Getting the balance of frequency and quality right is I believe another key element to an excellent photo blog.

Sharing how and why you photograph, and how it makes you feel. For me, there’s far too little of this, at least where I’ve been looking online!

I love reading about the feeling and the drive and the emotion behind photography, why people wander out into their tiny corner of the world with a camera, compelled to capture what inspires them.

What goes through your mind when you pick up your favourite camera and when you photograph? What does the sensation of framing the scene and squeezing the shutter button feel like?

What kind of hole would there be in your life without photography, and how terrifying do you find that? Open up a little, tell us how desperately vital photography is for you!

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Obviously these are all just my personal preferences for what I seek in photography blogs.

And I try to make 35hunter tick as many as these boxes as I can – I really want people to feel the writing and the photography here is interesting, engaging and emotive enough to warrant returning again and again for more.

What are YOUR essential ingredients for an amazing photography blog? What keeps you returning to your favourite blogs you follow? Please let us know in the comments below.

Thanks for reading. Please share this post with others you feel will enjoy it too.

 

22 thoughts on “How To Create An Amazing Photography Blog”

  1. Very well said! A photography blog lives not only from famous cameras reviewed. At least for me. First thing I go for is the quality of the writing. Interesting, catching, witty and not least, without too many spelling mishaps.

    Then there are the photos of course. Not only ‘product photos’ but also real life examples of the photos the cameras or lenses discussed can produce (quality depends of course mostly on the famous 12 inches behind the camera).

    And just like yours, every blog should be the mirror of the person that’s behind it. Express your views, opinions and deal with critics.

    I love to read your posts! Thanks!

    1. Thanks Frank! Glad I’m not the only one who looks for impressive “real life” photos. With some blogs they rave about how great a camera or lens is, then you see the sample photos and think “Really? That could have been made with any old camera!” Like I said, I want to see photos that highlight the particular charms and strengths of a camera/lens, and make me want to rush out and buy one.

      Interesting that you put the writing quality even higher. I wonder if many people sort of forget that even if you share enticing shots of cameras and the tech specs, people still like to be drawn in and engaged with the writing. The tone I think is really important, so often it’s so dry and pedestrian. I think we need to be speaking on a blog as if we’re sat having a chat with an old friend, not lecturing to a room of scientific scholars

      I hadn’t thought about spelling, but I have to say it does have an impact on my overall impression of a blog. We all make a few mistakes here and there, but if every post you read has a handful of spelling or grammar errors, you start to think if the writer is this casual about the writing and checking it over before they click publish, how credible and reliable is the rest of what they’re writing?

      Thanks again for reading and contributing Frank!

  2. Ah blogger of photography? A plethora of idiots…I think. No for say “blogger” firstly you have to big Culture (stricto sensu) and photographyc sure.
    But, again, in primis importanti is Culture and not only “America way of life” too angloamericancentrism, because the human is not a robot (idiot). And yes more passion for handwriting. Literaly via computer…
    I wroted until Genuary on my Dyary (more or less same a blog) visited in six years of two-half milion of clickman and clickwoman, and no banner or disguised advertising: pure photography (freedom) and tons of review (and images) “old” camera analogic…but to write is expensive time and health for me that I’m a simply lover (!?) of whore Madame Photography.

    Man

    Ps.
    Moral? Please don’t write again but make silence (like me and the photographers speaking with photos, eh) in a “world” filled of crass idiocy

      1. Ah not “american: good sound…and yes I closed site for my spiritual health. Or living or write: tertium non datur. And I prefer shoot out “blue pill”. Intelligenti pauca verba.

        Man

        1. Sorry I don’t speak latin like you but I like writing and I like making photographs. And I’ll keep on doing what I like. Just as you!

          Each his own – no idea how that sounds in Latin! 😉

          1. Dont’ worry:

            Tertium…There is no third possibility

            Intelligenti…Few words suffice for he who understands

            Ad majora
            Man

            Ps. Latin was first Language of Western Civilization and, de facto, substrate and tons of “english” words like: computer from latin verb – literaly to count – audio, video, delete, mouse…again as street, chester, school..

            Pss. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Latin_phrases_(full)#I

            Ah Ps is Post scriptum from scribere or to write

  3. Hi Dan, thank you for giving us another great blog. I love that I can feel your soul in your writing, yours is one of only 2 blogs I read regularly. The more technical ones are great for a crash and grab of info when reading up on a lens or camera, which is originally how I came across yours. I feel your writing has become more soulful and expressive of the art as you’ve become more settled with your kit, I can almost feel you enjoying your photography again, cos I got the feeling you weren’t getting what you wanted out of it maybe for a year or so. Maybe all photographers who do it for the love of the art go through something similar. The seeking out of equipment to provide what you probably already know you want in your mind. Followed by unease, disquiet and even frustration at not finding it….but more because you’re getting sucked into that techno world of looking for minute differences from one 50mm to another instead of just shooting photos.I know I certainly went through that and thanks to your inspiration I am slimming down my kit and enjoying my photography lots more. I maybe even feel my photography has jumped or gone up a level, not sure cos it might just be fun factor. Don’t give up writing as I also think one person suggested, but more photos is always good, I follow on Instagram too. May I suggest a name change for I feel you are no longer “35hunter” your now 35found, so maybe “photography in my soul” or even “life through my lens” might be a more appropriate title for your blog. 😁😁

    1. Toby, thanks for your in depth comments and observations, I really appreciate them.

      I think you’re pretty accurate with most of it. The love of experimenting with old film cameras started to fade because the consumption of them took over, like you say I starting looking for tiny differences between half a dozen 50mm lenses rather than just picking one and getting out there and learning to try to master it. There were just too many variables. Even say three cameras, three lens, and three films gives you 27 combinations. Take it to six of each and you have 216 – just an insane number of options to choose between when going out to make photograph. With the Ricohs I pretty much have only a couple of decisions – colour or b/w and wide or really wide lens.

      Great to hear how you’re seeing a revival in your enjoyment of photography too. It seems such a common pattern to get lost in the acquisition of new stuff rather than using what we have. A sign of our times of being told we can buy/have anything and everything, plus the fact we have a hundred years or more of still usable photography kit at our fingertips, just an eBay purchase away.

      I like the ideas about changing the 35hunter name. But I will always be hunting for beautiful things with cameras, so it will always fit. And hunting for balance in my life generally between the day to day demands and the escape of photography.

      I’m sure too that even though I have less cameras now than any time in the last five years, I will from time to time be curious about others too. (There’s an unbelievable ocean of five year old or older digital compacts out there that are immensely capable in tiny packages – not least of all from Ricoh! – that I’ve only scratched the surface of, for example. There remains this curious challenge of being able to make beautiful photographs with very simple and dated kit. I should write a post about this…)

      Instagram is for an upcoming new post. Still don’t quite get the point!

      I’m curious what the other blog is you read most regularly?

      Thanks again Toby!

      1. I read Peggy Marsh’s Camera Go Camera, I occasionally dip into Canny Cameras too.
        I love Ricoh’s, had a GX200 regret selling,have got an R8. But love there film SLRs too, plus fix lens rangefinders and half frame. They’re pretty much all good, and have a certain style. Really hate their cheap end compacts tho.

  4. Hear hear.

    I follow several photo bloggers who post only photos. It’s gotten to the point where I hardly even look at their photos anymore. I really, really like it when the photographer writes something, anything about their work

    1. Hi Jim, thanks for the inspiration to write this whole post! It was my ramblings about CP on your post that prompted me to look deeper at what I appreciate most with other people’s photography blogs.

      With the blogs with only photos you mention, I’m thinking that if the photos were great enough, you’d still want to keep looking anyway? So I’m guessing mediocre photographs with no words is a recipe for failure, in terms of keeping you as a reader.

      Actually there are many blogs where a very good photograph plus a few words about the place, but a bit of personal revelation is a very winning mix. It doesn’t have to be the best photo ever on its own, but combined with the other aspects it becomes more memorable in the way that it was shared.

      Jennifer’s “The Trailhead” comes to mind, some very personal and engaging writing, an obvious passion for nature and some lovely photographs all combine very well. https://jenniferkbowman.wordpress.com/

  5. Good words Dan, Mr James; I’m still learning about this blogging thing myself and it’s good to here from fellow bloggers and readers what works. Your blog is certainly one I look forward to seeing published.

    1. Thanks SilverFox (what’s your first name, seems odd calling you “Silver”!)

      I think the blog (weblog) originated as a personal online diary and has evolved a long way since then. Some people maybe forget they are online and are still in this personal diary mindset, and need to be writing for an audience to some extent too, to try to make it engaging for people to read and follow. If you don’t want others to read, then why have an online blog at all?

      1. Ha ha… this could bust my online anonymity…. it’s Nigel. Most people resort to calling me SF you are the first to actually ask 🙂

      2. I wondered about “Sil”? Or Fox, like Mulder. But I can use Nigel, whatever you prefer. Just find online usernames a bit impersonal when it’s someone you chat with quite often!

  6. Mr James… Dan…. Firstly, I agree with the above posting that you have written explaining your thoughts on what makes a good/great blog…
    Up until last weekend I had not come across your blog until a link to your blog was used on a listing on evilbay for a lens being auctioned….
    Since, I have read everything you have written on this blog….
    Think what that means….. your on the right track… you have kept my attention and at times have made me smile…. don’t go changing anything…. it’s a gem of a blog…
    For me personally…. using old lenses on new bodies is a passion (at present anyway)…
    Plus… dropping on a site that won’t cost me a kidney to buy his/hers idea/review of the “best thing since sliced bread”is the icing on the cake….
    Keep up the hard work….. and thanks

    BR…lyndon

    Ps…I didn’t get the lens…I was too busy reading your blog

    1. Hi Lynd, what an interesting story! Was it me selling the lens, and what lens was it (I’m sparklejames on eBay)? Though I can’t remember ever linking to my blog from eBay.

      My passion also is using old lenses on new(ish) bodies, ie my Pentak K10 and its siblings, though the little Ricohs have been amazing so far.

      I think since buying my Nikon Coolpix new in 2011 I’ve consciously avoided buying anything brand new on the digital front and have explored older stuff. The K10 is from 2006, and the Ricohs from 2007 and 2011, all pretty old in digital terms! Yet in their day these were all high end kit. If we get caught up in the never ending chase for MegaPixels it’s expensive and frustrating, an empty pursuit.

      Thanks again, glad to have you on board!

  7. Good stuff Dan. The most interesting blogs (to me) offer variety. A healthy mix of stories of the bloggers life and experiences – places they’ve travelled, gear they’ve used. Some camera reviews but don’t overload them with technobabble. Compelling photographs are a must. Images should be able to speak without detailed captions – I enjoy a good mystery now and then. Some tech stuff is good about new and vintage gear but not too much. Pics of photogear will always catch my eye. I enjoy photo essays. I like when a blogger includes links to other interesting blog pages. Chris

    1. Thanks for your thoughts Chris.

      I think interesting photos of cameras always seem to attract people, it’s one of the frustrations in a way of my Flickr, I think about 18 of my most viewed photographs are pictures OF cameras rather than the pictures I’ve taken with cameras. I guess it’s good if it’s the candy that gets people into the store, then they might browse around and see other photos they like.

      Same on Instagram, people can’t get enough shots of old cameras! I like them to an extent, but they don’t really tell you anything about the photographer and what they can do with those cameras…

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