How to work and save photos for blogs and magazines

Oh how us bloggers LOVE using photos and lots of them to convey our messages in our posts! But did you know there’s some easy tweaks you can do to your photos to allow them to load quicker and keep them safe?


Now what about if a magazine should come knocking on your virtual door? Would you have any idea how to prepare for such an event?

Worry no more. I have some info to share on both fronts that will help you get on the right track immediately.

Take photos in high res

 What is it?

High res, or high resolution is taking pictures at a high quality from the get go.

How to do it

Go into your camera settings to ensure they’re set at the highest quality possible. While you won’t need the best quality for blogs, you’ll need it for online features and magazine spreads. Save yourself major grief in re shooting and do it right the first time.

Always leave your originals untouched

 What is it?

Blogs, online features, and magazines all require different photo particulars. For this reason, NEVER touch your original high res photos.

How to do it

 When going to post on your blog, select your photos, then EXPORT them into a new folder. This allows the originals to remain untouched.

Why tweak copies? Why not work on originals?

Every time you work on a jpg, you lose quality. So while you can go back to that photo, unsave and edit to your heart’s content, your photo will get grainy over time. When tweaking jpg  photos, you want to do just what you need to do, then stop.

You can take your pics in raw format, which allows tweaking to your heart’s content, however you still want to leave an untouched batch for magazine purposes.

What magazines want

Magazines or online features desire higher resolutions to accommodate full page spreads. Leaving your originals untouched allows you to export copies of them in any pixel rate desired.

Decide on the resolution

 What is it?

Click a photo on a  blog. Does it open up crazy big? No difference? Something in between?

A photo will open only as large as the pixel rate you’ve chosen. Straight out of the camera high res is around 4000 which is total overkill. Other sizes that Blogger accepts are:

small 200

medium 320

large 400

in between L and XL 576 (not a blogger standard)

XL 640

XXL 800 (not a blogger standard)

(How to post non blogger standard sized photos on blogs is HERE.)

Why it matters

In my early days of blogging, I’d publish photos straight from the SD card, size it in Blogger and call it done. Big mistake. A computer screen will only show so much resolution.  High res photos make your blog page load slower.

Blogger does indeed allow you to size your photos in S, M, L. or XL, however how you export them will determine how large you can view them. If you’re only exporting your photos at 400 pixels, you’ll never be able to show them on your blog in XL, which is 640 pixels.

Then again, if you’re exporting them at 200, while they tend to look fine on 15″ monitors, they look like ants on a 27″ monitor. To keep everyone happy, decide on something in between.

I personally like using 800-1200 on my blog. This allows me to photo edit them easily as I like seeing every detail  plus when YOU click on them, although I show them as XL on my blog, you can view them larger than that.

How to do it

I bring my photos into my computer via SD card. Then I crack open a photo editing program of choice,  select the ones I wish to publish, and EXPORT them into their own folder on my desktop (easier to delete later)  as, say, “Junky Ladders 1200”, at 1200 pixels. I then open that folder and start editing and watermarking them.

You can do this in most photo editing programs. I personally use (free) Picasa, ($) Photoshop Elements and ($) Lightroom.

What magazines want

All editors ask for something different. Some that wish to do full page spreads will request your photos at 4000 pixels right out of the camera. Others wish for you to reduce them to 600. Every one is different. This is why it’s so important to retain those originals.

Watermark it

 What is it?

Watermarking  is putting your logo, or copyright info right on your photos.


Why do it?

I was recently featured in an online thrift store ad. They used some of my junk photos to help promote the wares they sold. Not cool and here’s why.

#1. They did not link back to me. They worded the ad in such a way that sounded as if they made the projects themselves with their stuff.

#2. They didn’t ask me. I was spotted by another blogger thank goodness! (thanks L! )

#3. My photo WAS watermarked! But that was the only indication that it was my work.  There were many others on there that were not labeled so I couldn’t even tell anyone else they were being used if I wanted to.

#4. They used me (and others) for their own monetary gain. So not cool. The issue was dealt with but it was pretty stressful for many involved. (thanks S!)

In the land of social media and places such as Pinterest, you just never know who will help themselves to your work and not all understand nor care about copyright issues. It pays to watermark your photos or at the very least, your NICE photos. 🙂

How to do it

I personally watermark through Picasa with typed out text. I do it once, then select COPY TEXT. For the remaining photo, I select PASTE TEXT. Fast and easy!

How to work with Picasa is HERE.

Easy does it

Is your watermark screaming back at you?

I bypass featuring photos if the watermarking is too heavy or runs through the middle of your photo. I want to feature your WORK first, watermark 2nd. Put it on there, but allow it to  enhance your photo, not take over. A smaller watermark looks more pro anyway. And don’t forget you can cut down the intensity of a color and make them whisper.

What magazines want

Magazines do NOT want watermarked photos. This is yet another reason to keep your mag potential photos separate from your blog photos.

Tone down or eliminate fancy schmancy

It’s fun to play with our photos and add fancy settings. However many of the funky features make viewing your photos hard on the eyes. Use and choose them wisey or better yet, leave your photos crisp, vibrant and easy to view without the self inflicted hazes, overly crazy tilts and fuzzy vignettes.

What magazines want

The above. They are watching you so show them that you’re capable of delivering. And practice taking photos without needing to crop. I rarely crop mine these days and treat the entire view finder as my final picture.(ok ok, that cat picture is cropped!) 🙂

How to file your photos

How you file our photos will most likely be determined by what photo editing program you use. This is how I do it.

For blogging

I bring photos into my computer via Picasa. (free download) Picasa will automatically sort them in separate folders by the date that you took them.

From there, I go into the folders, delete what I don’t wish to keep, then start relabeling the dated folders with descriptive names.

If I know I’ll never use them again but wish to still hang onto them, I’ll burn them onto a dvd, then remove them off the hard drive. But honestly, because I plan to write ebooks for teaching purposes, I’ve left most on the computer for now alongside those dvds.

For magazines

When magazines wish to feature you, they generally want the photos quickly. And it’s ALOT of work photo editing them on short notice to their specs. Here are some ideas that can help save your sanity should your call come.

#1. Collect all your best photos, export them into a master folder as high res, then photo edit them without watermarking. You now have a batch that can be exported at a moment’s notice in most any format you desire.

#2. Load them online somewhere like Photobucket. (free until you surpass your space quota) This way, you can simply share the link with any magazine and they can grab them from you effortlessly without transferring them.

This is easier than FTPing (a somewhat complicated way of sending large sized photos) or emailing them however there’s some risk as others can also borrow your photos. Set your settings to private once you know the magazine is done with them until next time.

How to send your photos

If you are submitting to a magazine, they’ll need to capture your photos in some way.

1. Email is an option but it’s not my personal favorite. Large files can really bog down the system. If you’re only sending a few at a lower resolution, you can probably get by with this.

2. Dropbox is a program that allows you to send at whatever res you desire effortlessly. It’s free until you reach a certain file size amount. I highly recommend this route as you can always go back and copy/paste from your dropbox anytime too.

3. Online – storing your photos in something like Photobucket is also a nice way to share. You just need to ensure your folder is set so the other party can view it.

 

How to copyright your blog and photos

 Check out My Free Copyright, read up on it, sign up and get the widget on your blog. It’s free.

But if you like to be featured by other blogs, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE also put text on your blog that you’re ok with others showcasing your photos as long as they tell you AND/OR link back.

If you don’t have that additional text disclaimer, legally you can’t be featured unless asked. Most of us LIKE being featured. If you’re one of them, add the text. I feature those first due to time limitations.

Also please read the SNS rules on weekends. By linking up, you’ve given me permission to feature you without further approval.

Disclaimer: I’m not the blog picture cop. Please take my advice as my own opinion.  If you know more or better, please feel free to share in comments!

No more excuses! You can now be efficiently organized with faster loading blogs, be totally magazine ready and safe from all harm. Happy photo tweaking to you! 🙂

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Categories: Blog, Blogging Tips, Business, Photo Tips
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  1. Donna,

    Very good info !!!!!

    I just figured out the “making another file” part myself – mostly because of the watermark issue – (didn’t want to risk changing the original)but you bring up some other really important things, like keeping the original quality preserved, creating files for specific purposes, etc. (Now I have to figure out how to find all of the different versions, when I need them).

    By the way, I love your writing style- You always have a way of bringing in the human experience and delivering a professional piece at the same time.

    Enjoying your blog – thanks for all the great info!

    Therese

  2. Thank you so much for all this information, it is very help full for me.
    I was contacted by an Italian magazine and they want my pictures in high resolution, I’m new at this and now you helped me a lot.
    Hugs,
    Angela.

  3. Hi Donna! Great post. I have been learning these things the hard way and so much more to learn, so this has been very helpful to me. I had no idea I was reducing the resolution each time I cropped or lightened a pic…and I ruined all of my originals. Reshooting is a b*tch!!

  4. I really doubt if a magazine will come calling on me but I really appreciated your informative post today. I was interested in the Watermark aspect. I do put my name on ‘special’ pictures, ones I don’t want copied but I do it through Picasa’s Picnik format. It works well but is time consuming to load each pic to picnik. Are you saying it can be done by your steps just on Picasa with copy and paste? I will try it. I also appreciate the info on copywriting. Great post Donna! Thanks so much.
    Pamela

  5. I don’t think a magazine is going to come calling to my little blog anytime soon but this was a helpful post in so many ways! I’ve never thought about preserving originals. When I edit on mac using iphoto, it lets you edit but you can always undo them and go back to the original. In other programs, it often asks if you want to replace the original and sadly, sometimes I have. I guess I’ll stop doing that….just in case 🙂 Thanks for all these tips!!!!

  6. Thanks for this information Donna. It’s going to be very helpful if I ever take many photos. I’m a blogger that actually hates the whole picture taking process and would rather just be able to have posts with no pictures. But I’ve heard too often that pictures are important so I do try to have at least one in each post. Maybe eventually it will be something I enjoy!

  7. Just curious- does it bother you to have your stuff pinned at Pinterest or the like? I remember reading about an etsy person being angry about Polyvore, but that never made sense to me. It was not using for personal gain and was to say how much you like someone’s work.

  8. Under “How to Do it” you state: EXPORT them into their own folder on my desktop (easier to delete later) as, say, “Junky Tooltotes”, at 1200 pixels.

    Can you elaborate on this? I don’t use Picassa. I just need to know how to save a picture at certain pixel amount. Thanks!

  9. This is absolutely WONDERFUL advice! Thank you so much. I’m going to try to save this post as a Word document so I can go back and read it and re-read it and read it again. It’ll totally sink in that way! Love your blogs and FB stuff Donna!

  10. Fantastic advice Donna!!! I have been trying out Picasa a bit but have been a standard blogger loader in standard size, no wm, etc… and guilty of fuzzing my pics too :-/ Thanks so much for the advice ~ this is a great post~ I will be making some changes for sure! Hugs, Courtney

  11. #13 Lori, you need to use some kind of program in order to export a photo. Picasa is free and easy to use AND allows you to photo edit (tweak colors, sharpness etc) as well. Give it a try!

    #11 JStacie, I personally don’t mind my work being in Pinterest but what’s maddening is how many pin work that they don’t have permission to or aren’t pinning from where the photo originates but rather, pinning a pin. It’s more difficult and sometimes impossible to track the originator if the hosting blog hasn’t pinned it right from the getgo. I can no longer use Pinterest photos on my blog due to BlogHer regulations because of copyright issues. Pinterest is another whole topic that I’ll also write about sometime.

    #6 Pamela, yes the steps are that easy through Picasa. Once you type out your copyright, the cutting and pasting works like a charm. You need to paste your watermark onto each photo however doing so takes 1 second.

    #12 New Hampshire, SNS is a weekend blog party I host every Friday night to Sunday night. You can see the last one at: https://www.funkyjunkinteriors.net/2011/06/sns-84-reveals-our-homemade-toolboxes.html or just come back this weekend.

    Donna

  12. Donna if I ever start a blog I will at least be acquainted with the ins and outs. There sure is more to it than I thought. Thanks for sharing. I do appreciated your time and information.

  13. OMG! I so wish I had talked to you about 3 weeks ago…when I was “forced” to figure the dpi and MB stuff out all on my own. I found a free program to downlooad called GIMP: where I edited several photos to send to “someone”. I was in a crunch, and had no experience on this.
    You are so so sweet to share your valuable knowledge, Donna! Thanks. Next time, I’m calling on you…
    Becky C

  14. great tips Donna! Forunately when I edit, my originals are still saved as such, and Picnik saves my edited copy with it’s new info in addition. I so agree with you on the over editing. I’m less likely to be a return visitor to a blog when my eyes have to keep adjusting to sepia, B/W, and overly softened photos all in one post. ugh! :/
    I would say the same is true for those who like to use fancy scripty fonts that make it very difficult to read! Cute idea, but not practical. (whew! that’s the most opinionated I’ve been in awhile! yikes!!)
    I will definitely be saving this article. I’m not too clued in yet on all the photo res stuff- numbers wise anway.

  15. You are so good to us. Thank you.

    A lot of us, especially those with older equipment (computers and cameras, etc) don’t think about what we post looking different to different viewers based on their equipment.

    This is another post I will refer to again and again.

  16. Great post. I sort of do my watermark like you do except when I export my photos to the desktop through Picasa I just have the watermark box checked so it throws my watermark text on each photo. Pretty plain Jane looking and you can’t adjust the font, size or opacity of it, but it’s quick and easy.

    I’ll be interested in your future post on Pinterest. I see so many bloggers using Pinterest photos on their blogs, but their post references back to Pinterest, not the person’s site the photo is from. I think at some point the Pinterest guys will have to deal with the Copyright issue and address how their site should be used.

  17. donna,
    this such is timely advice. i had contacted an editor regarding a magazine article she had written. my emails have my blog and etsy shop “watermarked” on them (lol). she sent me the information i needed along with a possible opportunity to be featured in a magazine. i was speechless and then giddy. she needs 20 pics of my home and gardens and this picture info is just what i need!
    now, it’s not a done deal, as she needs to see if my home/pics are “magazine worthy” but it doesn’t really matter as she made my day whether it goes through or not! woo hoo!
    so ladies, don’t underestimate your little ole blog because one never knows where your exposure might come from!

    your the bestest donna!
    judi

  18. All very good advice. Just last week…I transferred all my original photos to DVD’s to get them off my hard drive. It will be some work to find what I need if and when I need it but it can be done. I need to purchase an external drive for photos only.

  19. Ok Donna! You are officially my hero! I’ve been needing to get direction here and you answered so many questions in one post! Thank you so much!!

    -Heather

  20. You are so generous!!! Thanks Donna for the advice and all of you tips, I immediately picked up my camera and started checking all of my settings, I will be playing to find out just how to get HR on mine! Let’s just say you have been more help than the book it came with!!! t. xoxo

  21. Awesome, awesome advice, Donna!
    I dream about that (likely never) call from a mag, but it is still great to think about! Like you, I prefer clean and simply edited photos. I’ve gotta work on not needing to crop more.

    And you bring up an interesting point in the comments about Pinterest – using them in a blog post is probably not a good idea unless the owner of the photo is OK with it. Hmm. Pinterest gives you a false sense of security when it creates html for you to embed in a post! Would love to hear your thoughts on how to ‘politely pin’!

    Then again – before Pinterest, so many home bloggers used images from popular magazines (House Beautiful, etc) and I always wondered about the copyright issues of that practice, too.

  22. I’m ecstatic that you posted this. My big-grrl job is as an art director/photo editor of a newspaper. I cannot tell you how many photos I reject because they are not large enough The reason y’all need to share at high dpi is that magazines print at 300 dpi (newspapers at 200 dpi) and web photos are only 72 dpi. When we convert a 72 dpi photo to 200 dpi, it shrinks approximately 33%, otherwise the dot gain is too high.

    ALWAYS save originals, without watermarks too. And, if you’re using fancy tweaks, those photos may not work for the publication’s style.

    We may not all be featured in print some day, but it’s better to be prepared! Thanks, Donna!

  23. This is really great stuff, and actually something I recently had to deal with. Not for a magazine, but an online request, and I felt like my brain was frying trying to get it right!

  24. Yeppers, all good advice that I could’ve used before the mags came a’ knockin’.

    I had to learn most of this in a very short amount of time, I’m just thankful for the editors that were beyond patient with me when I was utterly clueless!

    Happy Thursday!
    Anne

  25. Donna – thank you so much for all the info!! I am a brand new blogger and use your site as my “how to.” All your blog tips are wonderful!! And so appreciated. I will admit I am really, really struggling with the photo aspect and have to continually search your blog for tips and tricks. Again
    Thank you

  26. #39 Jasey, that’s another whole topic in itself. 🙂 I personally wait till a card is full, then burn straight from the card. Once a dvd is made, I wipe the card clean.

    My photos are also on my computer along the way. But I always burn from the card to keep track of burning needs.

    Donna

  27. Excellent post Donna. Thanks for sharing. As an illustrator, we learned all about copyright infringement. It is unbelievable how many photos and artwork images are stolen and used for another’s gain. Sad, sad, and yet, so often the infringement is not done maliciously or on purpose. People just don’t know.

    Not sure if this helps anyone, but I use photoshop and add another layer with my watermark logo on it. That way I can change the color or transparency if needed.

    Keep up the great posts!

    Brittany

  28. Thanks so much for the info. I’m in the middle of trying to start a blog on blogger. I checked out My Free Copyright for copyrighting it but it’s asking for my blog’s URL. I have no idea on how to find this. Can you help me?

  29. #43 Logicgeek, your blog url is your blog homepage’s address. Go to your blog without opening a post and copy the url from the address area.

    #42 Brittany, great point. I was going to go into how to get a logo on a photo but that post was smokin’ big enough! 🙂 Photoshop and Elements can do the logo. I just don’t bother because it’s running everything through another program yet again.

    Donna

  30. Great post Donna.Last year I was contacted about some interest from a publisher and none of my pictures were saved in high resolution. I was out of town and didn’t have time to re-shoot my room so lost out!

  31. Donna, Thank you so much for this post. I remember reading it when you first did it, and now I can perhaps put it into practice! {Yippee!} A tv production company has contacted me regarding using an image off my blog. Do you have any advice for me before I sign “all my rights away” of it? {I’ve tried to e-mail you, but it keeps failing. Did you change your e-mail address?}

  32. This is one of my all time favorite posts you have done, and I have read and reread it several times now! I have been a little behind on keeping up on my favorite blogs, but I am so hoping to catch up on all the 31 days series. So many good nuggets in this, thank you again for doing this, it will come back to you 100 fold (if it hasn’t already) Have a wonderful weekend, hope you have gorgeous fall weather up there! -K

  33. Thank you Donna, for the “How Tos” of publishing! I bought my first digiral camera a year ago,it is the most basic with 14x pixels (Kodak Easy Share C183). Can I use this? If not, what is the least expensive camera I can buy that would be adequate.