Google finds it difficult to 'read' images. Soon, I'm sure the technology will be there. But for now there are 2 ways that you can post images that will enhance your noticeability in searches.
Always name your images.
So rather than posting an image that is called 143335.jpeg
You call it nigel_slater_cook.jpeg
Google will recognize that name and the link to your image may pop up in searches.
The second tip is to complete the alt text (alternative text) for key images on your website.
Text assigned to images allows the viewer to understand what they are looking at if the image doesn't display.
In other words it is describing, in words what the picture is saying.
So, alt text for the image above could read: '
portrait of Nigel Slater cook and writer at Chelsea Flower Show 2014 photograph Lynn Keddie'
Not, 'portrait of a man'
How many words?
What do I say?
Be specific and use relevant keywords
How do I put it in?
Alt text is placed in the code.
If you use Wordpress there are plugin's available which make it super easy.
Or, if you use other software such as Weebly there are simple ways to include this information, the programming does the rest.
So that's it, a simple way to boost your search engine rankings and keep Google happy.
Visual social media is now a hot topic in marketing.
It's not really surprising visuals: photographs and videos have been selling products for years.
Our brain process images better than text and done well they work.
These days all social media platforms have got their head round this and provided us with great ways of presenting images.
Engagement increases by around 30% with a photo and 20% with video.
That's the great news.
OK there is some bad news...
Done badly it could really damage your business whether that business is you, a service you sell, or your products.
What are your options to get great photos?
How can you stand out from the crowd?
You must differentiate.
Don't have the budget?
There is one more route you can take, no it's not ripping off photos and hoping nobody will notice as copyright infringement comes with a hefty fine.
You can take your own photographs!
Want to find out more? Read on...
Get into the habit of taking photos all the time.
You may have a story/blog/brochure or quote you want to illustrate already in mind so think around the subject, don't always opt for the obvious.
Photos can illustrate all sorts of things, here are a selection of mine, most of these are shot with a small compact or my smart phone
or be the cover of a brochure about healthcare or,
inspiration for a colour palette
Be creative with your composition. We don't need to see the child in the photo but it still tells a story, (you must have written parental consent for publishing shots of under 18's in the UK)
Leave a little bit to the imagination, and there's plenty of space to overlay text that will read.
Look for evocative images. Everyone likes the sea....Usethe rule of thirds to compost your picture
This image is perfect for a quote which can then be used in Twitter, Pinterest etc
Or it could be used for an invitation, an illustration for a brochure...the list goes on.
I hope I've given you food for thought.
Keeping things tidy...
I used Canva to overlay text. It's a really cool design tool.
In five years time, you will thank me for this advice. Build your own library, it's valuable and it's yours.
... and how to fix them
Visual images on social media get a lot more engagement than text alone. On every platform; Twitter see's a massive 35% increase in engagement. Facebook too, even the platform for professionals Linkedin is driven by visual imagary.
How do you stand out from the crowd?
By posting GREAT images.
Not everyone is a professional photographer but there are two errors that lots of people make. And bad photos don't get noticed.
I'm going to tell you what they are and show you how easy it is to fix them, so you can look like a pro photographer every time.
It drives me nuts every time a see a horizon that is sloping off to the left or right.
Unless it's a deliberate 'artistic' gesture (no I know it isn't) then this is how you fix it.
Go into your picture editing software, if you're on a smart phone then it's right there. Chose rotate image and do just that. Save it, then post. It's that simple.
If you're posting to Instagram you can do this in the app.
Go to the spanner icon and click adjust. It's easy to get it right because you even have a grid to follow.
Twitter's new in app photo tools are still somewhat rudimentary and don't yet offer this but I'm sure they will be soon.
Pinterest lives and dies on great imagery so get this right before you post.
The next one is for all you foodies, food bloggers or restaurant owners.
A yellow cast on pictures of food
Yes, you've seen them, maybe you've even posted them. The food sitting in front of you looks good enough to eat, so you want to share the moment with your followers and friends, and why not?
So you take a snap and before you know it a sickly looking image of your gourmet meal is shared forever with the world and it doesn't look appetising, if you're lucky some kind friends will like your post. And if you're a restaurant owner? Well, you won't have customers beating down your door.
Why does this happen?
It's really simple. The colour temperature in artificial light is different to daylight. Your brain adjusts to this, we're just clever like that. But cameras record things faithfully. The colour of light in restaurants is often warm (more orange to give a cosy feel), in labs and studios it's often colder, more blue.
You need to adjust this. Before you post your photograph you need to adjust the colour temperature. This is so easy.
Look for tone and temperature on your smart phone and adjust it to look more like something you would like to eat, usually introducing a little more blue if it's yellowy and yellow if it looks cold.
Save your image then post it and wait for the applause!
Instagram makes this easy.
Go to the spanner icon and select warmth, adjust the slider to get the desired colour temperature. Then post.
So, no more excuses. It's what pro photographers do all the time, it's not difficult or even time consuming and it makes your images shine above the rest.
Thanks for reading. If you want any more useful hacks for your social media empire let us have your email and we will remind you what is coming up! No spam.
A few years ago I went to a seminar by Andy Rouse, the award winning wildlife photographer.
I don't want to be a wildlife photographer I specialise in horticulture, so why did I go?
I went because
I photograph people so I took a course by Boo Beaumont, also an award winning portrait photographer. The opposite in character to Andy. Boo is quietly spoken. She too is passionate and inspirational.
If you want to make it in this business you need to get out there.
You may find yourself in situations that may feel difficult, or,
Photograph in less than ideal conditions.
After 15 years in the business here are my tips to keep your work fresh and get even better:
Observe. Watch the world around you.
Experiment. Get out of your comfort zone.
Read, look, research images
Enjoy yourself. Don't be tough on yourself if things don't work out
And my last thought
Never think you've made it-always aspire to better.
Here are a few I made earlier...
We love looking at pictures, today more pictures than ever are made and shared across the globe.
And there is plenty of evidence supporting the fact that if you want your content to be shared then post with an image.
But how do you stand out enough to get shared, there's a lot of competition!
You need to make sure your pictures are better than the rest and worthy of lots of shares. So here are my tips for doing just that:
1 Use unique photographs not boring-been-seen-everywhere-free stock material.
2 Post relevant pictures
3 Don't post pictures that you don't own or at least credit the producer.
4 Post pictures that are:
5 Optimise the dimensions for your chosen social media
Tips for Pinterest
Tips for Instagram
Tips for Twitter
Tips for Linkedin
6 And with all platforms use relevant #hashtags, so people can find your content.
But, not too many!
7 Geotag your photos
8 Use an app like Buffer or Hootsuite to schedule posts
9 Add some text and use design tools to make your images more editorial like Canva or Picmonkey
10 Watermark your image with your website url or © symbol
11 Post a video or giff
12 Share, share, share other peoples work and post comments.
That's what social media is all about!
The camera can be a weapon, it is also a valuable tool. . Get to know it, experiment with it but remember;
the quality of the camera does not determine the beauty of the image.
“A portrait is not a likeness. The moment an emotion or fact is transformed into a photograph it is no longer a fact but an opinion. There is no such thing as inaccuracy in a photograph. All photographs are accurate. None of them is the truth. ” Richard Avedon
We're at the beginning or middle of Flower Show season depending on how you look at things.
Last weekend I was at RHS Malvern, this weekend I'll be up at RHS Chelsea. It's always an exciting time. Designers, nursery owners, suppliers, builders, sculptors etc etc all decsend on a smallish patch of land just north of the River Thames in London to build gardens and exhibit their wears.
RHS Chelsea is gardening's London Fashion Week.
This year I have been commissioned to photograph one of the gardens on Main Avenue, The Beauty of Islam. I'm really looking forward to it. It involves photographing the garden for the clients but also photographing the glamour and glitz associated with RHS Chelsea and to photograph the designer Kamelia bin Zaal with the various famous visitors to the show.
Photographing people is great fun, but can be challenging especially if they are not used to the camera. Most visitors on Monday's press day at RHS Chelsea are veterans at looking good for the camera but most of us aren't.
So here are my top tips on photographing people to make them look natural and relaxed.
1 Always talk to them, about them; what they do, things that interest them, this will put them at ease.
2 Smile. A smile will always break the tension.
3 Explain what you want them to do. Try to work this out before hand.
4 Ask them to stand side on to the camera and look into the lens this often works better than facing the camera.
5 Give them direction; suggest what they should do with their hands, hold something relevant, slip them into their pockets, rest them on the seat they are sitting on etc.
6 If their hair or clothing isn't looking right let them know so that they can fix it.
7 Don't tell them to relax. If they are very tense ask them to shake out, shake their heads and arms to relax their body. Or get them to blow a raspberry-anything crazy like this will usually end up in a giggle and be ready to take that shot.
8 If they don't look comfortable looking into the lens ask them to look away and back, the second they look at the lens snap the shot. You may have to do this several times.
9 Politely ask them not to talk too much. Nervous people always talk, you will not get a good shot if their mouth is always moving.
10 If they are struggling, stop and take a break.
11 Photograph them in a situation that they are familiar with.
12 Shoot them with the sun directly behind them to throw them into silhouette.
13 Photograph them in shade, not direct sunlight it is very unflattering.
14 Use props. Chairs can be sat on or leaned on, walls are good to lean against, steps, tools, flowers the list goes on.
15 Ask them to walk away from you and on your command get them to look back at you.
16 Don't just photograph faces, how about hands, feet, close-ups of eyes.
17 Stand on a chair and shoot them from a higher angle.
19 Ask them to lie on the ground and get down to their level or stand over them.
20 Look for interesting backdrops such as long straight roads.
21 Photograph them going about their daily business.
I hope that gives you the confidence to go out and shoot more portraits. Oh, one more thing, always ask permission to take someone's photo-it's polite and it keeps things friendly!
I asked Michael Caine if I could photograph him one Chelsea, he wasn't courting attention but I smiled and he just smiled back - he was charming. It doesn't work every time. There was a moment with Mary Berry, but that would be telling!
And here are a few from over the years...
I photographed the photo above of a farmhouse with a wide=angle lens, holding the camera portrait style.
It's important to find an interesting foreground that leads the viewers eye to the main subject, in this case a sprinkling of daisies.
Let the camera work out the shutter speed by setting your camera to aperture priority.
Use a wide depth of field, a high f number.
Several elements have to come together to make a photograph; the subject, the light and of course the composition. Here I'll show you how using perspective in your composition can improve your photography.
I used a similar technique with the photograph of the path and gate above, but this time I used a narrow depth of field, focusing on the gate to throw the background out of focus. This give the photograph a dreamy feel.
Andrew is a woodsman, so I used some branches to lead your eye towards him and his son in the wood he manages. Again a wide angle lens makes the shot.
When I photograph flowers I like to get down to their level.
In the shot below-a group of alliums made the perfect backdrop to the main flower.
This time I used a long lens, a Canon 70-200mm and set the aperture so that the main flower is sharp and the rest are slightly blurred.
I positioned the camera so that all you can see are the colours purple and green.
Uncluttered and simple.
At Chelsea flower show a few years ago this vertical garden by Diarmuid Gavin was displayed with lots of Chelsea Pensioners.
Complimentary colours red and green look great together.
I wanted to show the height of the garden and also highlight the pensioners - I crouched down low to get this shot.
I photographed Jake (below) who is an expert at cloud pruning.
He carried interesting tools and was thoroughly absorbed in showing some gardeners the skills involved.
Everyone was concentrating on what he was doing and no-one paid any attention to me.
This time I used the wide-angle close-up to my main subject.
And finally, have some fun.
Using perspective in composition is a great tool.
Play with your lenses, move around focus on different parts of the shot.
Once you understand how powerful they are you can start to plan what story you want to tell.
As with everything the more you practice the better photos you will take.
Getting your image in focus is a bit of a given. But I see lots of shots that are out-of-focus. Millions of images are created every second and shared all round the world; you want to take the best photos. Here's how.
The basic focus settings
It does just that. Focuses for you. Most cameras and some smart phones have focusing points that you can set.
You have more creative control when you use the following settings.
Single shot mode
Point at the part of the subject you want in focus and half press the shutter to focus. Recompose the shot while keeping your original focus point by continuing to hold down the shutter. When you have composed the shot press the shutter fully. This it is a good all rounder.
Canon One Shot
Continuous focus modes
When you photograph objects that are constantly moving.
Set to shutter priority, 500s or more.
Check your aperture (the camera will set this according to light conditions, shutter speed and ISO setting.
By increasing the ISO you will allow a smaller aperture (higher f-number) and therefore a wider depth-of-field which will render more of your shot in focus.
It's always worth experimenting with different settings.
Canon AI Servo
The camera does all the work, slightly different from Auto. According to the situation it will choose which of the 2 modes to use. Perfect? I never use this, I prefer to have more control over the outcome.
Canon AI Focus
Finally, and not to be missed.
You do need good eyesight or glasses to use this successfully. It is really useful for close-ups particularly where a narrow-depth-of-field is necessary. You can choose exactly where you want to focus. I usually combine this with several different apertures and choose the most satisfying image when I can see it at 100% on a computer screen. Using a very narrow depth of field can render your shot too 'soft'. A tripod is pretty much essential for this.
OK, I've done all that by my shot is still blurred.
Here are some possible reasons:
Your shutter speed is not fast enough
Increase the shutter speed or ISO, or
Use a tripod
Use mirror lock-up and a tripod (if your camera has this function)
With SLR's a mirror flips up when you press the shutter. Light hits the sensor and the image is made. This action can cause camera shake even if you are using a tripod and the shutter speed is slow.
When I shoot close-ups I like to use a low ISO setting to get the best quality images, which means fixing the camera to a tripod and using mirror-lock-up (which is not available on all cameras.)
A way round this is to set your camera to timer, focus manually, press the shutter, the mirror goes up a few seconds later the image is captured by which time the camera should be perfectly still.
It isn't rocket science but it is vital.
Poorly focused photos are just not saleable or good to look at and you want to be the best!
Cherry Blossom is one of my favourite images. It heralds the real beginning of Spring.
So grab your photography gear and get out to photograph some blossom.
I took these photographs at Batsford Arboretum this time last year for Gardens Illustrated. It took a couple of visits to capture the blooms as they flower over a few weeks.
I photographed most of these using a long lens as many blooms on mature trees are fairly high up. My camera was fitted onto a study tripod because you need a lot of patience to get the shots, because the wind catches the dainty flowers and the smallest movement can spoil your composition or blur your image.
Camera Canon mark III DSLR
Lens Canon Zoom - EF 70-200mm
or for lower down a macro, Canon 100mm
Tripod with remote shutter release
Patience (which doesn't come cheap)
Some tips for success:
Here are a small selection of my favourites.
This is the final feature in Gardens Illustrated April 2015
Next week: Focusing know-how.
Found photographing in rain or shine for magazines and the like.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.