Common Sense Image Use

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[Editor's note: I'm delighted that Maureen Taylor of the Photo Detective blog has agreed to provide this guest post for GeneaBloggers readers.]

Images and blogs are a natural partnership. A picture illustrates a point or becomes the focal piece of a column. It advertises who you are. No doubt about it, images enhance the ability of your blog to connect with your readers. There are some common sense image usage tips to keep in mind before you start placing pictures everywhere.

  • Condition. First and foremost, use pictures that are easy to see and in good condition. Take advantage of photo editing tools such as the free site http://www.picnik.com to remove marks and sharpen the image. If you want to draw attention to a detail, crop the image and then include both the full size picture and the cropped version. If you’re deliberately showcasing a picture with problems it’s a good idea to tell folks exactly why you’re using a less than perfect photo. Similarly, if you’ve enhanced an image mention that as well.
  • Size. The larger the image, i.e. resolution and size, the longer it takes to download the image and for folks to see your blog post. There is a high annoyance factor possible here. It’s important to remember that not everyone has a newer model computer and that some areas of the country still rely on dial-up Internet access. The other problem with image size is the storage limits of your blog program. If you post a lot of images all the time you’ll eventually need to upgrade your storage space.
  • Resolution. Don’t put high-resolution images online. Resize your images before posting by compressing tiff format images to jpgs. The best dpi for the web is 72. You really don’t need anything larger. If you use a higher resolution image there may be unexpected or unauthorized usage later on. This doesn’t prevent online copying, but at that resolution, print quality is awful.
  • Copying. Watch for right-click copying. You can copy all kinds of things on the web by right-clicking with your mouse (control-clicking on a Mac). Should you? No. It’s an ethical thing. I use a photo site that allows me to turn off the right-click option. You also can put a watermark on images to discourage reuse. It’s an option in many types of photo editing software and that’s what many photo stock houses do. Unfortunately I don’t currently know of any blog software that allows you to turn off right-click copying.
  • Permission. If you find an image on the web that you’d like to use, see if you can find the owner. Ask their permission before adding their image to your blog.
  • Living Persons. Don’t use pictures of living people, unless they give their permission. There are articles in the news about improper usages of images on FaceBook, but it’s only a matter of time before that misuse happens to bloggers too.
  • Protect Identities. If you want to publish photos of an event, either have folks sign a model release that states how and where you’ll publish those images, or don’t show faces. I recently used a photo of a group of kids at one of my workshops. I focused the camera on their artwork instead of their faces. Each child held up their poster board so that their faces were completely covered.

Go ahead. Use lots of pictures and illustrations in your blog. Just make sure you have great looking images and permission to reproduce them. Wordless Wednesday is my favorite day to follow the blogs.

Maureen Taylor writes the Photo Detective blog.  © 2009, copyright Maureen Taylor

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