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Updated: Feb 24, 2021

Kinleigh at her photogenic best. Yes, the camera is BACKWARDS!

Experts will tell you that to start a successful blog there is really only one thing you need to do.


...and they are 100% correct. Sure, it's so nice to go see blogs that have been out there for years. The ones that are so polished and professional looking. They are chalk full of great fonts, layouts, and add-ons, and it's no wonder they have zillions of subscribers and followers. Right? And you want to be just like them. Right again?

Well, I did, and still do because I'm just starting out. I still haven't gotten the golden rule of posting consistently down yet, but I will. The most important thing is that you start. Get SOMETHING down in content and then grow from there. Your followers will stick with you and you'll appreciate being able to look back on how far you've come once you reach that star status you're reaching for.

This leads to my first big challenge and the topic of today's blog,


I bought a camera first thing. I bought a great Canon bundle on Amazon and it's wonderful for beginners, so if you are interested I'll include a link for one here so you can check it out. Yep, I'm doing the affiliate thing so if you purchase it I'll get a small commision. Thanks in advance.

I've already taken thousands of photographs with it and I absolutely love how well it works and the types of shots I'm able to get with it along with my iPhone. Both are indispensible for picture taking.

But....I came up with a phrase to my son-in-law the other day. I said, "you never worry about having a picture of a garbage can until you need one" And that's the TRUTH. What happens when you need to write about a topic and have zero photos of said topic?

Another query could be, what if you find the best photo for a subject you're writing on but it belongs to your auntie, and she's particular about her things? What if you see a photo on a website that is PERFECT for your article, but it belongs to someone else?

I don't know all of the answers. Like I said...I'm new at this. But I've been doing some research on the subject, (I need a photograph for this blog entry actually), so I thought I'd pass along what I have learned.

Here are:


1. Take your own photographs

I knew I wanted to be a blogger and a vlogger. I knew I wanted at least ONE website with a blog attached and I knew I needed to connect my social media accounts to it. I'm ambitious. Hahaha...and let me tell you, as you get to know me you'll see just how ambitous I REALLY am.

And let me tell you...THAT is just about all I knew.

And then I'll tell you that I am so excited to get to explain IPhone stuff because I am 57 and I just got my first IPhone the other day. My android broke after six years, and that's a funny story for later on the blog. (it's actually a reason I've been absent from posting for two months)...funny story...

What I'm getting at here for my first bullet point is that optimally you'd want to take your own pictures for your own stories and content for your own blog, your own website. That's natural. That makes sense. But there are reasons to use other's photos and there are times when you just NEED to use other's photos and this post is the first of what will be a series of me sharing what I learn about the topic and how I learn to implement the lessons into new online ways.

And here's a thing. It's hard to tell the difference these days between images taken by pro photographers with cameras and amatuers with an iPhone and a knack for a great shot. If you have a camera or an iPhone and you like the pictures you produce, then you probably already have all you need. Being able to get your own pix is invaluable...but there are times you need, say...a picture of a garbage can with nary one in sight. Then what?

2. Qualify your brand

You take great pictures and you know this. But there are things you and I should both know about the types of picures you'll use and how you can optimize them for your posts and for your site, your "brand" as a whole. Ask yourself, "Do you have a certain theme for your blog? Is there a niche your website fits into? Mine does. Californialand and Sea is a travel site mostly that features the out of the way places in California. It has a lot of mountain and ocean in it so my color scheme tends to run in earthy tones with muted beach hues in my photography.

One of my personal photos taken with my Canon. This is a picture of a local swimming hole near where I have lived for years. This is the mountain part of Californialand and Sea. The colors of land and water prevail in my work. What are your main colors? It is a good idea to showcase color groups in your 'brand'.

Researching for this I have become aware that I should seek out items along those shades or colors that compliment those shades in order to make my pages pleasing to my visitors. I think this is a GREAT tip for myself so I am passing it on to you.

Also, you always want to make sure that the picture you choose, and this can happen with stock pictures when you've looked through a million and want to settle for one that is "kinda" what you want, is the exact one you really want for your project. Don't settle for less.

3. Ask you aunt?

When I'm using photos in my articles they are 80% mine at this point. That isn't saying much because I only have a few articles but it is my intention to mainly post my own photographs, and by forecasting probably why I'll be so glad I wrote this in a year. I'll look back and laugh and think, "MAN, it takes literally THOUSANDS of pics to make a quality site. Did I really think that without a team, I would be able to do all of this photography by myself?" That's a wait and see.

So, back to the point. The second resource I would use other than myself to get pictures That fit context but still reminded me of the personal aspect of my writing would be friends or relatives. The plus would be that they would likely be free of charge.They can be a great resource so don't forget to check them out. Of course, you would want to make sure the quality of the photos is good enough for printing, but other than that, why not?

4. Try free first

You can buy good quality photographs all day long and that is always a good option but there are a ton of sites out there with stock photos taken by great photographers just waiting for you to go find them and swoop them up. *Que garbage can. I have used stock photos a few times on my blog and website when I didn't have the photo that fit my context and I must say, there are many many to choose from on the various sites and there are many talented phoyographers out there.

To be safe I always credit the photographer although on Pixabay it says you do not have to. I myself have photos on the site you can use. I just feel it is a courtesy to credit them for their work. Plus, it helps with any concerns over copyright questions.

The folowwing suggestions are mostly free but a few have paid options.

5. A list of stock photo links you can use

Yes I'm being partial but this is my favorite. They have a huge selection of just about everything and their offerings are free of charge, you just cannot sell them.

Unsplash is also good. The sites in this list are all free to the public. I'm listing exceptions to the rule and conditions to help you decide. I have used this site as well. They tend to have a more urban feel and darker theme, so if that's what you are looking for give them a try.

I checked out all of these stock photo sites and I recommend you do too. There are so many great photographers on each one you'll probably want to have a collection from each. This is only a partial list of links I have personally used. Google stock photos to find many more.

Free photos you can use with attribution to the author. They show you how.

Here are some amazing vintage stock photos to go to. If you need a photo of an old filing cabinet or a picture of the space program from the 70s, here's your spot.

Mostly free but you get loads more choices when you pay a small fee.

My favorite title. What is super cool about the site? For a small monthly fee they send you regular emails with bundles of awesome stock photos. For someone too busy to go looking this is a superb

A literal catch all for stock photos. You will find EVERYTHING here.

Beautiful archived stock photos that are replenished weekly.

6. You can always buy photos

How do hard working, talented photographers make a living these days? They sell their pictures, that's how. And after posting links to eight great places a person can get free photos from it may seem that making money at selling pictures of things may be on it's way out. That is not true in the least.

Many of the sites already mentioned have sections for purchasing pictures. It all depends on what your want or specific need would be at the time as a buyer, and it's all about content for the photographer.

Some shots are just that good.

The comment, "you get what you give" is so true for so many things in life. That's why it's best, best, best to take your own pictures. You will need to look for quite awhile anywhere to find an A+ photo on a free site opposed to purchsing one from a professional or like I said, taking one yourself...but as I've said before here, sometimes it's necessary.

7. Barter

The word that is a blast from the past.

bar·ter /ˈbärdər/ verb 1. exchange (goods or services) for other goods or services without using money.

Yes, the word evokes images of middle age street scenes with brown robed munks carrying ale in carts along the cobblestones as neighbors come out with vegetables and meat to trade.

There are oodles of budding professional photographers out there who would love to partner with you in exchange for exposure to their work. What is your niche? Google photographers in your area who are into your subject matter and bring them in. This not only works as a good resorce for pictures but also helps you network with other people in getting your website know. It's a win win situation.

Hit up message boards and get the word out there. Try social media spaces like Marketplace, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram and more. Another place to advertise for partners close to you might be neighborhood social networking sites.

8. Hire a photographer

The one better than buying photos would be to get to choose what the content of the photos are going to be.

This is a no brainer and all you need do is google photographers in your area for stuff you need locally done. For the projects you want done remotely, the cost can get up there but it can be done. This is why, I suppose, people go for stock photos....HEY, and then of course resort to buying photos of places and things that are needed for specific projects, BUT...

When you absolutely have to have a picture of a wombat taken on Mt. Everest at sundown, well...(I am not advocating for taking wombats onto Mt. Everest. This is purely meant to be humor.)

9. Consider different 'types' of photos

Illustrations are pictures too, and so are screenshots. When you start thinking about it there are other types of "graphics" you can use to break up the text on the page and make your site more appealing to your readers.

10. Legal Eagle

I mentioned it in a sentence above, but in finishing this article I thought I would press home a most important issue.

You won't enjoy your photos or your website/blog at all, and neither will your audience if it all gets taken down for illegal use of materials.

People tend to be lazy and face it...that includes me, us. Well, me certainly so from personal experience I have to say that even though it is just easy to grab that photo and go...I have but have been lucky enough to have always used a reliable source for free, stock photos. It only takes one time. One mistake can cost you at least 5000 dolars. I don't have that kind of mistake money and I doubt that you do.

There are lawyerly types who spend their days perusing the internet for lazy people like me. They don't care that I'll give the photo back and beg forgivness. They make a good living from it. Double, triple check a sites rules for sharing photos and it is a good idea, even when not necessary, to give credit to the photographer. Just in case.

I hope I taught you something useful.

I know I learned a thing or two and I really enjoyed myself getting it ready to post. Oh, and here's that great camera bundle I have and use for the photos I take these days.

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