A picture is worth a thousand words, right? Well, so can the right photo. But the operative word here is “right” not picture or photo. Let’s face it: we’ve each struggled to find the right photo to go with our articles, but oftentimes we come up short. There are numerous free places to find photos, however I’m not going to explain how to find them. Instead, my missive explains how just one photo can more than compensate for an article that might otherwise be ignored had a photo not been included. Read on for some tips on how to choose a photo that gets noticed and hooks your reader.
1. Be original — You could find a stock photo and slap that up with your story, but that photo has the potential to be used elsewhere, making it far from unique. Instead, why not use your camera to create original shots? The mockingbird photo shown here is not appropriate with this article, but I’ve included it to illustrate how this special shot would certainly appeal to birders, particularly fans of songbirds. I know that this photo is a good one as I’ve posted it to my Facebook page and have received several positive responses. A good camera makes up for the lack of skill you may have in taking pictures — trust me, that is what did the job here!
2. Be clever — One photo I used on this site several years back sparked a lot of interest. It showed a pair of links chained together and was part of my “link love” series that I once ran. Interestingly, the links were heart shaped and although the photographer may have had a more amorous reason for taking the shot, I immediately seized upon its “linky love” look to appeal to my readers. Those articles containing this photo are among my best read stories and I’ve had several requests to borrow the picture. It wasn’t mine to lend, but I pointed a number of individuals in the right direction to request their copy.
3. Be expansive — Why post one photo with an article when multiple pictures can tell a story better than you can? I frequently write up tech specs about cars on Auto Trends, but I must tell you that what really hooks my readers are manufacturer supplied photos that detail the exterior and interior of the vehicle. Close up shots of the dashboard, the alloy wheels, LED tail lamps and seat surfaces catch the attention of people as much as what I write — perhaps a lot more, making it worthwhile to include more than one picture with each write up.
4. Be attributive — You already know that it is wrong to steal, but did you know that failing to attribute your borrowed photo to its owner is also a copyright violation? Don’t steal — always source your material. You’ll give credit where credit is due and you’ll win the friendship of a grateful photographer who wanted to share his or her work, but with your credit included. Go the second mile and link back to the photographer’s website if possible. Sometimes, a photographer will link to your website to showcase how his or her work was used. What a great way to build links!
Show your professionalism by choosing the right photo with a smart caption and attribution. Your credibility as a writer is at stake here, something you can only bolster by always doing the right thing. A photo can provide eye candy — something that will hook your readers and have them coming back for more.