Creating Stock Photos for my Blog

When I first started blogging in 2013, it was for the pure enjoyment of the writing process and to work on my creative writing skills.

I was nervous at first. No… let’s say petrified, about putting my work out for public viewing. I worried about the content, whether anyone would be interested enough to read it, and the possibility of accidentally leaving spelling or grammatical mistakes, no matter how many times I would proofread it.

As time went on, those fears seemed to fade as my creative writing skills got sharper and my confidence gradually built up. With a clearer mind, I could focus better on other aspects of blogging.

A few months into the process, I started noticing how other bloggers were adding pictures to their posts. When the link to the blog is posted on Facebook or Twitter, a thumbnail of the picture is incorporated into the post (quite magically!) which, according to blogging experts, creates additional visual interest. In doing so, a well-chosen photo is said to help increase traffic to the blog.

For a novice blogger whose primary interest was writing, that extra time-consuming detail stressed me out at first. But after a couple of experiments in which I included a photo with a blog post and noticed the number of page hits increase, I was quickly convinced of the merits of that recommendation.

The question was where would I get the pictures for each and every blog post?

One option would have been to buy images from stock photography sites. I still have that option in my back pocket and I do consider it from time to time.

But because I have dabbled in photography since I was a kid, my hard drive contains thousands of images that I captured along life’s journey. Friends, family and strangers can rest assured, I would never use any candid or unflattering shots as an illustration for a blog. You would most definitely be consulted first before any photo is used.

Digital photography was a game changer. Taking a photo with a digital camera or a phone has become an affordable venture. It’s not like back in the days of bringing a roll of film to the pharmacy or to the Fotomat and paying $10 to $20 to process 24 photos. Today, you can snap hundreds of photos, select the best of the best, and keep them for years without having to empty your wallet to process each roll of film.

It seemed so natural for me to take a stroll down memory lane to review my archived photos and to copy into a separate folder the pictures that held some potential as a stock photo, whether depictions of inanimate objects, nature or landscapes.

Over time, I came to enjoy deciding what photo to use.

For posts about the writing process, I have used pictures of my computer keyboard, of typewriters I have spotted in my travels, and of course, my writing desk with a pad of paper, a pen and a coffee.

For a post about travel, I would hunt through my collection of vacation photos for images of interesting or recognizable landmarks (without tourists in the background).

Posts about life with a cat will feature some nice shots of Ivy the Wonder Cat. She seems OK with it.

Not too long ago, I posted a blog called “Running: The Slow Road to Recover”, in which I included a picture of a snail I captured during a lunch time walk a few weeks prior. It seemed quite fitting.

When I took the picture of the snail, I didn’t have that blog post in mind. As a matter of fact, the blog post didn’t exist yet. I was just capturing a unique moment, seeing a snail up close, crossing the sidewalk. But as I was writing the blog post, the photo came to mind and seemed like the obvious choice to complement the post.

This reinforced the idea of taking pictures without thinking about the blog specifically, just building up my reserve of assorted stock photos, without a specific purpose in mind. Without really realizing it, this became an extension of the creative process in itself.

Whether it was while exploring nature, touring a museum or checking out the sights while traveling (pre-Covid of course), I started routinely taking pictures for my stock photo collection. And even in day-to-day life, such as when doing home renovations, I started taking pictures of random tools and equipment, thinking that a given photo might come in handy someday… or not… and I’m OK with that.

To me, the trick has been to stay ahead of the blog posts and snapping pictures as I see them, rather than writing a post and then waiting days, weeks or months for the right picture to come along.

Collecting random shots of random things has become a fun hobby in itself, to the point that when I start taking pictures that may seem weird or of less-than-memorable subjects, my partner asks, “Stock photography?” to which I reply, “You know it!”

And with our recent move to the country, there is no shortage of beautiful scenery, wildlife and new photo opps I would not have normally seen within the city, so my cameras have been quite busy.

By using my own photos, I get to dabble in my photography hobby again, to think creatively beyond words, and frankly, it keeps things simpler than having to worry about licensing rights or maintaining a budget to purchase stock photos as I need them.

My stock photos may not be of a professional grade, but I get to post exactly what I want and how I want, whether a very literal depiction of the blog’s story or a more abstract one. Plus I get to refresh and stretch my skills as a photographer and as a photo editor at the same time.

Today, I definitely see photos as a natural extension of the blogging process and of my writer’s voice. And now, in my eighth year of blogging, I couldn’t imagine a blog post without an accompanying picture.

Did you enjoy this post? If you haven’t already, please check out the rest of my blog at andrebegin.blog. From there, you can click on the “Follow” button to receive future posts directly in your inbox. Also, don’t be shy, feel free to tell a friend or to share the link.
Sincere thanks for reading!
Have a great day,
André

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