blogging photography features: why less is more

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.

Blogging tips with gorgeous floral design by Flower Afternoon, photographed by Brooke Shultz Photography | http://burnettsboards.com/2013/11/blogging-photography-features/

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.

Blogging tips with gorgeous floral design by Flower Afternoon, photographed by Brooke Shultz Photography | http://burnettsboards.com/2013/11/blogging-photography-features/

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.

Blogging tips with gorgeous floral design by Flower Afternoon, photographed by Brooke Shultz Photography | http://burnettsboards.com/2013/11/blogging-photography-features/

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!)

Blogging tips with gorgeous floral design by Flower Afternoon, photographed by Brooke Shultz Photography | http://burnettsboards.com/2013/11/blogging-photography-features/

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.

Blogging tips with gorgeous floral design by Flower Afternoon, photographed by Brooke Shultz Photography | http://burnettsboards.com/2013/11/blogging-photography-features/

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.

Blogging tips with gorgeous floral design by Flower Afternoon, photographed by Brooke Shultz Photography | http://burnettsboards.com/2013/11/blogging-photography-features/

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.

Blogging tips with gorgeous floral design by Flower Afternoon, photographed by Brooke Shultz Photography | http://burnettsboards.com/2013/11/blogging-photography-features/

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.

Blogging tips with gorgeous floral design by Flower Afternoon, photographed by Brooke Shultz Photography | http://burnettsboards.com/2013/11/blogging-photography-features/

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:

Blogging tips with a side of gorgeous floral design by Flower Afternoon, photographed by Brooke Shultz Photography | http://burnettsboards.com/2013/11/blogging-photography-features/

Seriously. How amazing is that shot!?

***

I’d like to give a BIG mahalo to Brooke Shultz Photography for sending this amazing and creative shoot she did with Flower Afternoon!

Learn more about blogging and social media here.

About Sara Burnett

Editor of Burnett's Boards, which she founded to showcase global creativity in the wedding industry. Sara currently lives out of a suitcase while island hopping the Caribbean and beyond. Learn More // Follow on Instagram.

Comments

  1. This post is awesome Sara. I couldn’t agree more. It’s totally all true. The posts that are loaded with photos take forever to load, especially when in my phone. I’ve left many sites because of this problem. Being able to edit as a blogger is so important.

  2. Great lessons to be learned here Sara! thanks!!

  3. Amazing post. I too fall in the “less is more” camp. Even though sometimes I can get carried away with a submission and it ends up being more. Great tips for the future.

  4. Great post! Worth every word and definitely not “super scrolled” to get here 😉

    PS…these images are gorgeous!

  5. Wow, these are some truly great points that I had never even considered… arranging content because of the vertical nature of the post… Sara, you are incredible!

  6. Aww, I love Val (the model in this shoot!) She has some amazing floral skills. Brooke did a fantastic job with the photography, and I totally agree that posts should definitely be edited down 🙂 Well said.

  7. Lol, well now I myself feel like a crappy blogger. I’m certainly in the minority of thinking that it’s better to blog more photos than less. I know less is better sometimes, but I also think it’s important for vendors’ work to be showcased, as well as telling the whole wedding’s story effectively. I suppose it’s also because I used to be a vendor myself, and I was always so disappointed when details were missed and hardly any of my work was actually shown. However, I love how you’ve put it into terms of “art”- I definitely try to make sure my images don’t look weird paired together, one after another, etc. I do a lot of rearranging, a lot of deleting, and spend a lot of time making sure my features look great. 🙂

    • I totally see your points Lauren! And I do think that it is a little different when blogging real weddings (which I don’t do here). There are a lot more personal details in those that together make the entire story what it is.

  8. I think especially with real weddings, we have to walk a fine line between not over-loading a post and keeping the story line intact. It’s tricky sometimes, but in theory I agree with your “less is more” stance… and I am constantly working on it ;-).

    • You’re so right about the fine line – and I also think that for each feature that line is going to be different. A feature that has 300 images that you’ve got to sort through is going to be different than one with 30. So for some features 50 images might actually be the ‘less is more’ approach and for others it might be 15.

  9. That last image is simply stunning–and I love all this food for thought! I’m with Lauren in that I really love for a wedding to tell a story. I want you to see them getting ready, walking down the aisle, sealing it with a kiss and celebrating with their nearest and dearest, and if there’s a big chunk of that story missing, no matter how beautiful the images are, it doesn’t move me in the same way. But I think being judicious about how many photographs you include and the way in which they’re presented can have a huge impact on the reader–and on the wedding itself!

  10. Culling is definitely an important part of any editing process. I tend to agree with you that photography features (mine included!) are generally too long. I love that you look at your blog posts as a curator would an exhibit or a fashion designer would a runway collection. This methodology is definitely applicable to blog posts, and yours are always thoughtfully put together. I’ve always noticed and appreciated your less-is-more approach.

    One thing I would add is that page loading time is also a factor. A slowly loading page is more of a turn off for me than a long post. If a long post loads quickly, I have the patience for it, but if it’s clear that the page is going to take an eternity to load, I almost always close out before even looking at more than three or four images, even if those images are pretty spectacular. Ain’t nobody got time for that!

  11. Fabulous tips – as always – and a fabulous example with those gorgeous shots! I like to think of publishing a wedding or shoot in the same way as executing one – there should feel like a natural flow and order to the feature and the photos, just like there should with a well-done timeline. And I definitely agree that you want to finish strong and leave them with a lasting impression!

  12. I think I may have to go back through some of my posts with an Editor’s hat on!!….
    Fantastic post Sara, and that last shot was certainly worth scrolling for x

  13. Sara! I LOVED this post. All so true. I don’t have patience for 10 photos of the same (or basically the same) thing. And I definitely don’t have patience to wait for all the photos to load! I love how you compared it to curating an art gallery…so many good pieces of advice in here. I’m going to keep all these tips in mind when putting together my own posts!

  14. Definitely some food for thought. I’ve experimented with a number of tactics. From an SEO standpoint, fewer images = faster load time, which in turn makes Google happy.

    However, I think the number and type of images a blogger shows should be tied to her mission and goals rather than a hard and fast rule. For example, my mission is to connect brides with the best mountain wedding vendors. To this end I try to show a variety of emotional and reception details, and unlike some other blogs (with different goals) I ALWAYS show the ceremony and frequently show dancing and guest shots.

    It’s not that I think the ceremony is so important that all bloggers should showcase it. Rather, I believe it’s part of the standard wedding photography package that will help a mountain bride on my site consider whether that photographer is a right fit and can meet her needs and expectations.

    I can see how your site would benefit from fewer images. Your readers are industry professionals and brides looking for inspiration. I can’t imagine you publishing the average 30 images I post for each real wedding.

    In fact, your inspiration boards let me savor a single, gorgeous concept, or maybe even two. Your restraint allows me to play with the possibilities, and I love you for that!!!

    I just wanted to let you know that the size and frequency of a blogger’s posts may be closely related to her mission and brand. I know mine are!!!

    I did very much appreciate your tips regarding curating images. I have long admired your aesthetic, and appreciate the help in making the world a more beautiful place!

    xoxo

    • Great points Christie! You’re right – mission is very important. I’ve had photographers (and quite a few other vendors) book brides from my site via a single image in an inspiration board. They loved it so much they clicked over to see the entire portfolio and fell in love! So yes – never forget your mission!

  15. Such a great post Sara! I’m definitely going to be bearing it all in mind when preparing my posts in the future! Thanks for sharing your insights! xx

  16. Being a photographer/new blog editor, I completely agree with each post being an artfully arranged piece. On my photography business blog, I try to stick by the rule “no more than 20 collaged photo-files.” It’s just overwhelming with anything more! And on my new local wedding blog, it’s tweaked a little bit more to “be sure there’s a ‘nod/footprint’ for each local vendor so it holds the integrity of a local-rooted wedding blog AND moments that tell the emotions of that day.”

    As a photographer, we appreciate when each photo shines and isn’t swallowed up in the mix! 🙂

  17. How insightful! Thanks for sharing!

  18. Willy really taught me the concept of editing. He looks at each blog post or album we create as a magazine style spread, like in Vogue or Elle. It tells a story in a few powerful photos. We pick the photos that pull on an emotion in us when we look at them. I loved learning from what art galleries do as well! Its all the same concept. You are an artist like the rest of us, SEE I told you so!

    • Megan – you are too sweet! Your images always tell a story and that’s why I love them so much. I will never consider myself an artist – but I’m very happy trying to be the best blog editor I can be 😀

  19. Thank you so much for sharing this article, SO true, and wonderful tips to keep in mind as I’m curating and creating my own wedding blogposts. Lovely floral images as well!

  20. love this, sara! definitely something i’m always trying to balance when culling down my sessions for the blog. and i love how it’s paired with brooke’s (another UT photog– hooray!) gorgeous images. thanks so much for the post!

  21. You hit it right on the nail. I’m really impatient when it comes to photos loading and I love being slapped in the face, with a small amount of photos that hits me so hard with the WOW factor!!! I hate scrolling and scrolling… This post certainly is food for thought! Thanks for the amazing advice you are the best! xoxo

  22. Yes! Thank you. Editing and culling has and will forever be the hardest thing for me but I think the most important in presenting my work.

  23. This is such a useful post! I stumbled upon it and I am so thankful I did. Thank you, Sara!

  24. Amazing post Sara! You always hit the mark!

Trackbacks

  1. […] tickled to have my little collaboration with Flower Afternoon featured on Burnett’s Boards today! Sara has put together a really worthwhile post about how to curate images for blog posts in […]

  2. […] For a great article on curating images, check out “Blogging Photography Features, Why Less is More” on  Burnett’s Boards. […]