I recently changed my work description on my personal Facebook page from ‘#1 Boss Lady at Burnett’s Boards’ to ‘Owner and Editor of Burnett’s Boards’ and I didn’t do it lightly. It took me a long time (something like over 300 posts) to feel like I could legitimately bestow the title of editor upon myself.
As I hit update on my new work description I quickly asked Google ‘what does an editor do’ and I found this on The Editor’s Blog (and changed all the he’s to she’s):
“An editor polishes and refines, she directs the focus of the story… along a particular course. She cuts out what doesn’t fit, what it nonessential to the purpose of the story. She enhances major points, drawing attention to places where the audience should focus.”
And that is exactly what anyone (anyone) with a blog should do.
I’ve found that most bloggers (and this holds especially true for photographers with blogs) fall into one of two categories: they either believe that more is better (the images are too pretty not to feature!) or they believe that less is more.
One thing I often see are blog posts that are in my opinion too long… so long that I (someone who is clearly obsessed with weddings) don’t even have the patience to make it all the way through. When I realize that the photos are still loading and I’ve only gotten halfway down the feature, I usually give up. I can only assume that this is true of a lot of other people out there.
I understand that photographers use their blogs as an extension of their portfolios – but I truly believe that with some editing, blog posts, portfolios, whatever it is, come out stronger.
Clearly I fall into the ‘less is more’ camp and here’s why:
You need to get your readers to the bottom of your post and you need them to be wowed the entire way through.
You need to get your readers down there because that’s where the vendor credits are usually located, that’s where they can leave comments, and that’s where they’ll click to other articles on your blog.
If you’ve got three different shots of the bride, then five of her and the groom, then four different shots of the cake, and then six of the reception table, followed by multiple photographs of while different, what essentially amounts to the same place setting your readers are less likely to make it to the bottom of your post.
As an editor, how do you do that? How do you ensure that readers make it to the bottom of your post?
Try my tactic and think of your photo features like an art form.
(stay with me here – I promise this will make sense!)
A wedding is art – it’s a multitude of art forms from the design of the gown, to the music at the reception, the culinary arts that go into the reception feast, to the photography, floral design, and everything in-between. It’s one of the greatest forms of mixed media art out there!
So why not think of your blog features as art? Produce them like a fashion show, organize them like novels, hang them like an art gallery, and think them through like an exhibit designer.
Fashion designers don’t show every single look they made for that season on the runway, and artists don’t show every single painting. A careful process of culling occurs first and a tight, beautiful, perfectly packaged show is the result.
If you choose the best photo to represent each part of the story, your post will be a series of perfect photographs showing all those amazing wedding details and photography instead of a fantastic photo every fifth, seventh, or tenth image.
Or think of it like a book: If every other chapter is ‘meh’ you will end up thinking of the book as just so-so. But if every chapter is a ‘wow’ you’ll remember and love that book and maybe even read it again someday.
As a blog editor who thinks vertically you should be mindful about what photos are placed on top of one another – so think like an art gallery director!
You don’t want a close-up of the groom sitting atop a headless bride shot that focuses on her bouquet. What you’ll get is a weird groom/bride combo human on the screen. That’s definitely not good. With headless shots being so popular right now and especially for wedding detail focused blogs like my own, this can be challenge. Try your best though. Your reader will thank you.
Another way to think like an art gallery director to be mindful of the flow of your readers’ eyes. If you’re placing two images right next to each other, make sure there is a natural flow for the eye from one to the next. Generally I try not to place two images of the same person next to each other – or if you do, make sure the poses are different. If the two images are too similar the eye will be confused and not know where to focus.
With regards to color – if the left photo has a dominant and recessive color (let’s say a blush-colored flower with some green grass beneath it) don’t place another blush-colored image to the right of it. Instead, pull the green out in the second image.
One big reason you want your readers to scroll all the way to the bottom of a post is because that’s usually where the credits are and the recommendations for further reading – so reward them for getting there!
Save an absolutely amazing photo for the last or second to last image. Leave your reader wanting just a little more. Make them want to look further into those vendors and the wonderfully creative work that they do.
During the two-year course I took to become a docent at the Honolulu Art Museum I learned that this ‘save a good one for the end’ thing is a tactic that exhibit designers use. You want the visitor to leave with a memorable wow moment. The theory is that most people will remember the first thing they saw and the last. Start with a bang, punctuate the middle with something gorgeous that makes them want to linger, and be sure to end on a high note!
If Project Runway has taught me anything it’s that fashion show producers use this technique as well. They start with an ‘oooo-aaahhh’ look but end with their avant-garde, couture, or bridal piece.
Yet one more reason to get eyes to the bottom of a feature is because that’s where the comments are.
If your reader makes it down there, they’re more likely to drop a note. And contrary to what some other bloggers claim, I truly believe that comments are important. Granted, maybe 1 out of 1,000 people will bother to leave one, but just like those reviews on amazon.com – they matter. They are little votes of confidence not only for your blog, but for the vendors who participated in whatever you are featuring that day.
Let’s face facts. You don’t buy things online that other people haven’t reviewed. Or if you do, you definitely do it with some trepidation. People follow crowds (people will also stand in a line if they see one forming without even knowing why) and if the crowd speaks up on a post, more people are likely to click through to it to see what all the noise is about. If a post has 0 comments, they are more likely to scroll on by or click right off your blog.
Thinking like an art gallery director, novelist, fashion show producer, and exhibit designer boils down to thinking like an editor:
Less is more.
Choose the best shot to represent each part of the story.
Be mindful of eye movement through your post.
Think vertically: groom/bride combo human = bad.
Punctuate with ‘wow’ shots while maintaining a storyline.
I have clearly broken my cardinal rule of ‘less is more’ by writing the longest blog post of my life. I’ll try to make it worth your while though and thank you for scrolling this far with this:
Seriously. How amazing is that shot!?
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