Thursday, August 30, 2012

What makes a good Photography Blog....?

Photography blogs do indeed seem quite common these days. As I have said here before, it seems a natural path for the keen amateur/professional photographer to take, to have their own platform to display their images and I think (obviously) they are wonderful things. I very much enjoy visiting photography blogs, seeing all the new photos people have uploaded and thoughts they have shared. I do though seem to have formed fairly strong opinions recently on what makes a good photography blog/blogger and rather than just keep them to myself, thought I would share them all today. So I'm going to look at it in reverse, i.e what I don't like about photography blogs. Please bear in mind that the following list is just my humble opinion. It's one of the great things about having a photography blog. These are not cast in stone rules and are certainly not meant to criticise anyone in particular. I'm very happy though for everyone to share their thoughts or comment on anything I have said.

So here it goes, in no particular order, these are things I think do not make a good photography blog:

* No interactivity by the blogger whatsoever - This is one that seems to have grated me a little recently. It's not that I want a full thank you and critique of my thoughts if I leave them on your page, but to say nothing to anyone who has posted is just ridiculous. I'm particularly referring to 'celebrity photographers' (which of course is only used within photography circles - most people do not know any photographers they can name, which is a good thing), some of them are lucky to get even 1 comment and still they do not acknowledge that comment. I have been 1 of 2 or 3 people to share my thoughts on a particular blog that has interested me, and the author chooses not to respond to these thoughts. It's actually quite illogical to me. You are never too big not to respond to people commenting on your site. The best photography bloggers do acknowledge comments and respond to thoughts shared.

* Infrequent posting - Yes I know, we are all very busy and nearly all of us have commitments outside the photography world. I know it isn't easy. I promise 3 blogs a week and struggle sometimes to find the inspiration to post. So I do understand the other commitments. But the problem you have to face is, if you do not post for a long time, people are going to stop checking your site for content. If you are going to be away for a while, you may as well just let people know, rather than just leave us guessing what's happened. And yes I do worry.....

* Lack of variety - I am working on this one myself. Rarely does someone post great photo after great photo, so it pays to have other thoughts and concepts to share. How about a video you like? Or a slideshow you have created? Or a blog about the latest photography rumours/releases? Again, I am working on all this like the rest of you, I have just come to realise that the best blogs, have something a bit more to offer than just photos.

* Routine comments - Now this one I know might be a bit controversial. I have to get it off my chest though and for good reason. Because I think it hinders you as a photographer rather than helps you progress. What I mean is there are many blogs out there that have the 'I scratch your back, you scratch mine philosophy'. Now of course I am not saying do not share your thoughts or interact with other bloggers. It's great that these micro communities build up and comment on each other's pictures, but again I refuse to believe you like every single picture a particular person posts. If you just comment on people's posts because they comment on yours, you are not really being honest. I'm only saying this is as I said because it's like the 'American Idol' false belief mentality. As long as people who like you, are telling you are really good, you are deluding yourself and won't become any better. I think there is an unwritten rule with my blogger friends that we comment on pictures we particularly like and that way, we know if it's 'a good one' or not. If I get more than a few comments, I know it's probably a genuinely good picture. I'd like to balance this up by saying I rarely look at a photo and think 'I don't like that'. But if you are going to comment regularly on someone's blog, then you should say what you like and what could be improved (some people are good at that) but I rarely see that.

* Having an agenda against a certain photographer/photography company - This is the last but certainly not least element. Again this one you see mainly in the 'celebrity photographer' arena. I'd love to point out examples but then that might seem to be having an agenda of my own. Needless to say there are well-known photographers who have written huge rants about what they think of another photographer's recent actions/efforts and to me it is as unprofessional as you can get. Over criticising one photo company or site, shows to me you have connections or money coming in from opposite sources as well. Again, I'm not saying don't have an opinion, we are all indeed entitled to it, but there is a difference between sharing your thoughts and looking like a petulant 15 year old whose girlfriend left him. Don't make it personal.....

So those are some of my thoughts. Having written this, I will probably think of many more but very happy anyway to hear your thoughts on what makes a good photography blog.

Today's picture is taken from Hever Castle in Kent, at the magnificent lake within it's grounds.


  1. As I mentioned earlier today Pete on Twitter, this is a great post. Certainly one that should generate some talking points but as yet I see you have had no comments.

    I agree with many of your points. One I have been very wary of recently is my lack of posting. As I type I am about to process a new image for publishing on Friday. I have several reasons for my lack of activity as I mentioned earlier this week, but I should not make excuses. I, like other people look forward to trawling through Google Reader to catch up on the blogs I enjoy!

    The variety aspect is interesting. If you are not a seasoned traveller then normally you are limited to your immediate vicinity and surrounds and that in itself can be, or seem to be, limiting. I often ask myself ..'Do my viewers want to see another image from Bristol etc etc?'

    I like to comment on pictures from various blogs but I must admit find it difficult to criticise too harshly. I guess that just my nature! I will toughen up and say what I feel! Standby for Mr Nasty Pete! ;-)

    Well written again Pete. You deserve more responses.

  2. Thanks as always for your thoughts Tim! Very articulate and well presented. As I said, the lack of posting is just something people have to aware of if there are long absences, as people will assume nothing's happening. It's not a crime in itself to be away, it's understandable as I know and I will need a break at the end of this month.

    Yeah variety is tough, and yes none of us who have 'proper' jobs (awful term I know) can realistically post pictures from every corner of the globe on a regular basis. Variety is something I need to work on myself as I say.

    And hey I'm in the same boat as you about not wanting to be harsh, which is why I feel it's best not to say anything. It's not that I think anything negative of a picture, it's just maybe that it doesn't prompt me to congratulate, that's how I understand it. I was actually thinking of you when I wrote some people are good at suggesting minor improvements, I've seen you do it on other blogs and always thought they were good points. Again, it's all just opinions. If you were to say to me, I would have done this picture this or that way, I'd be glad to hear those thoughts and may or may not agree. But again, I think it's fine to say nothing, if people don't want to 'critique' (I do like that term). But people shouldn't positively comment for comment's sake. Comments should always be genuine and I think mine and yours are, wherever we share them.

    I do appreciate your praise on here and on Twitter and look forward to seeing more pictures on your site!

  3. I am all up for a well written story about the story of the photo and how you got it. Maybe you had to wait 20 mins for some idiots to get out the way or you walked 4 hours to the middle of no where. A great photo needs an even better story behind it. : )

  4. Great post Pete and some interesting points for debate. Although I have been very inactive in the past few months I feel I'd like to add to the debate! You have been incredibly honest with you opinions in this post, which I admire.

    The point you make about infrequent posting is a good one and something I have been guilty of. I posted on my blog a few weeks ago to say I'll be posting about 1 image per week and just haven't been able to keep that up! Looking after my baby son, starting up my wedding photography business and day to day life has basically sapped my energy and I haven't taken any new photos in about 2 months! I guess it boils down to prioritising things and blogging is on the back burner right now. I'm not giving it up in fact I'm posting an image later.

    I realise infrequent posting will effect the amount of visitors to my blog but I'm not too concerned. I admire the way you've stuck to your 3 posts per week but feel your output of images lately has not been as strong as your earlier work (not meaning to be too harsh here, just my honest opinion) maybe as a result of having to post something to meet your 3 days per week deadline. That said, some of your recent posts have raised many excellent points and are very well written and thought out (something I struggle with myself). I know my output of images over the past 6 months have not been up to my previous standard either but it is hard to keep this going and keep up a good standard of quality images. This is one of the reasons I decided to post 1 image per week.

    I still check my favourite blogs when I can (yours included) but only post a comment when I feel moved to and not for the sake of commenting.
    There is definitely a micro community of bloggers, mostly from America who comment on mine and I on theirs, but this is okay with me. In fact some of these bloggers have found your blog through the comments section and recommended bloggers on my site and commented on your blog in the past year or so which helps spread the word on other peoples blogs, again a positive thing.

    I, like Tim find it hard to be too hard on a blogger and tend to say what I like about the image and not what I feel is wrong with it. There are a lot of Flickr groups that are basically photo critiques which I recommend you use if you don't already. I posted a lot of my early images in these groups and although I found it a bit harsh at first, soon began to appreciate and learn from some more experienced photographers through their hard critiques.

    Once again, great post Pete and one that certainly deserves to get more comments.

  5. Great comments guys! Mattino makes a good point - a story behind an image is definitely a good addition.

    If you want some straight-forward critiquing on HDR pictures try HDRCreme. To the point but not always accurate in my opinion!

    Marc - I take my hat off to you. Young child, fledgling photo business and everything in between! Hope your wedding business is going to plan!

  6. I'd just like to say thanks to everyone for your thoughts. Some very interesting points raised and happy that people seem to like the article.

    I would just like to clear 1 or 2 things up though!

    I honestly had none of my blogger friends in mind when I mentioned about infrequent posting. As I said, I am very much aware of the distractions of everyday life and don't think anyone I interact with posts that infrequently. I didn't want to use examples but to show what I mean, I will. I have nothing but respect and admiration for the photographer Lisa Bettany, and her blog is a hugely successful website. However, from January 21st to July 25th this year, she posted absolutely nothing. Yes, nothing. I did keep checking to see if anything new was coming up but heard nothing at all. I began to assume that the website was null and void (another pitfall). But then she popped up over 6 months later with a new post. I'm sure a huge sway of people, must have stopped checking long before that.

    The other thing I'd like to say, is I never suggested people should be harsh on other bloggers. All I was saying was that there are very little comments 'critiquing' or suggesting improvements compared to the praise pictures get. As I said, I almost never think I do not like a photo and have suggested little things here and there that could be improved on a picture (as has happened to me). I don't think that's being harsh and I would not want to go down that route either.

    I accept your comments Marc of my recent work not being up there with my earlier work. We are all creative artists and will go through periods of highs and lows. I wrote about this a while ago about the balancing act between regular blogging and the quality of pictures and do understand that promising a quota of 3 a week (as an amateur photographer) does not lend itself to consistent artistic quality. But I'm ok with that, I have many plans going forward to progress with my photography and am only thinking about what I can do to get better in the future. The important thing for me is I have not lost any of my passion for photography and think that is why I'm so keen to get involved in more discussion based blogs as well.

    But having said that, I really do appreciate all your comments and am delighted you guys do share your thoughts. I certainly have learned a lot of things out there (thanks for the new tip Tim!) through people posting here and on other sites and couldn't be more grateful for that.