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.
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!
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!
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.
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