The Blog Library
At a conference a few months back, I heard a photographer say “Blogs are dead.”
I didn’t get a chance to discuss this with them, but I’d amend that statement:
Blogging is not for everyone, everywhere, all the time, always.
Blogging – just like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, and a business website – is just another tool to connect with your audience. Do it poorly or inattentively, and few people will connect with you. (If Psychology for Photographers were a YouTube channel, I’d probably have four followers. My husband, my parents, and maybe Jamie Swanson). But use the platform well, and many more will come.
Aside from your own interest and skill set with the platform, there’s the fact that some audiences won’t be into blogs, while others will.
If you’re trying to reach a set of moms who read each others’ mommy blogs obsessively for validation, social interaction, and ideas, then they will probably obsessively follow a blog where you share relatable stories about real clients. That would make for a fabulous content marketing strategy. But if you’re trying to break into shooting corporate events, playing over on LinkedIn might be a better option.
It seems silly to argue about what platform is “best” and which is “dead” – we’re not all trying to reach the same clients, so the only thing that matters is where yours are.
All that aside, whatever platform you use, investing a little energy in sharpening your writing skills will pay off.
I know, some of us might prefer to leave all the talking to the images.
But like it or not, wherever you put them, you will probably need to add some words alongside them.
And understanding how to target and sharpen your words can and will bring more people to you.
(I know this firsthand. For one thing, you’re here reading this. For another, I’ve had people tell me they hired me as much for my writing as they did for my images. Which makes no sense, because they weren’t hanging my blog posts on their wall. But I didn’t argue.)
Helping people with their writing is one of my happy places, and has been since I sat on a Yale dorm room floor with a blue pen, a friend, and her English 120 essay.
Next month I’ll be releasing something that will help you become a better writer before Thanksgiving. (So in answer to all those who have been emailing me asking when I’ll offer my writing course again: Something big is coming.)
Until then, I’ll be sharing some of my favorite writing tools right here on the blog. Think of it like you and I are sitting on a dorm room floor together. With pens scattered around us and probably a bowl of M&Ms. We’ll talk about stuff you can put into action right now to get yourself un-stuck as you write about or market your fall sessions.
What do you do when all your blog posts start to sound exactly the same?
“This is the best client ever!”
“Ahh, THIS client is the best client ever!”
“Wait wait, THIS WEEK, really, features the most amazing client ever.”
Here’s one simple fix to try. It’s not the only possible solution, but it’s a good one.
Think of your writing like a prime lens.
Assuming you’re standing in the same spot, you know the lens you choose will affect what gets included in the frame, and what snags your attention.
Say you’re photographing a couple. A 100mm lens will probably draw your attention to small details. Eyelashes. Lips. Smiles. Rings. A 50mm pulls back a little and shows more what the human eye tends to pay attention to – relationships. Laughter. Interaction. A 24mm pulls back even farther and shows you the big scene. The context around the couple. Any patterns in the big picture.
You’re already good at choosing a lens for what you want to show.
It’s the same thing with your words. Your words give the reader a window into what’s happening just like your images do.
For example, let’s say you want to write about a newborn session. You can think of setting the scene like choosing a lens:
100mm “close up” version: “Her eyelashes fluttered as she stretched her lips into one of her first yawns.”
50mm “normal” version: “Mom and Dad smiled at each other over her red shock of hair.”
24mm “wide angle” version: “The silver clock ticked above the huddled new family, but they were oblivious – they didn’t need to be anywhere but here.”
See how the “frame” of what you saw got progressively bigger?
In each sentence, you can choose to focus on eyelashes, span an emotional interaction between two people, or include the clock hanging on the wall above the whole family. Each is a “snapshot” of the same exact scene, but your attention is redirected depending on how “wide” you decided your lens should be.
Many bloggers write with a standard “50mm” perspective. They share a scene with a typical ‘human eye’ point of view, focusing on what people said or did during the session.
Time to change out that lens. For your next post, try writing the whole thing with a 100mm lens.
Describe tiny new fingers curling around thick, older ones. How her soft down hair matches her fuzzy stuffed duck exactly.
Ask yourself: “If I shot this whole shoot with a 100mm lens, what would I have seen? What would I have focused on?” Describe those things, and only those things.
Then, for the post after that, swing back and go wide. If you photographed this entire shoot with a 24mm lens, what would it have looked like? Maybe you would have caught the stuffed duck sitting on a shelf above the crib, and talked about how that same soft toy sat above her mother’s crib. And how eager this new mom is to pass on the same love that was given to her.
Obviously this applies to more than just aw-how-sweet newborn sessions. You can talk about the rockstar’s blue hair, or you can talk about how the band looked onstage with a crowd of 20,000 in front of them. You can talk about the high school senior’s piece of jewelry or her college plans.
Changing your perspective from post to post is a quick way to make the same events sound different each time.
Of course, good photoshoots often incorporate more than one perspective, and so does good writing.
But while you’re practicing, it’s instructive to force yourself to choose one tool only and challenge yourself to create with just that. It helps you be more deliberate later when choosing what you want to show people.
Pick a lens, and go get that post written already! When you’re done, leave a comment! Drop your blog address in the “website” field and it’ll automatically pull in a link from your latest post. We’d love to see which lens you chose and what you did with it.
Get on it,
P.S. Did you like this post? That’s not even the half of it.