Today, I want to chat with you guys about the photographs you use in your blog posts, and something big that many photographers don’t consider when deciding how many photos to use in a post.
Here’s a quick question for you.
Do you have a favorite TV show you love to watch every week, but totally hate it when one of your friends or family members accidentally gives away the shocking twist from an episode you haven’t gotten around to watching yet?
For us, it’s shows like “The Walking Dead”, “The Blacklist” and “Person Of Interest”. In days gone by, it used be Jack Bauer in “24”, but we’re still waiting for that one to make a proper comeback.
Anyway, because we’re so busy much of the time it can be a while before we get caught up on what’s going on with Rick and the gang, “Red” Reddington, or the charming man in the suit.
It’s therefore a huge let down when we accidentally stumble across a Facebook conversation where people are happily talking about that latest “shocker” we haven’t actually seen yet.
Can You Have Too Many Photos In A Blog Post?
Don't know how many photos to share in your latest blog post? More is not always better! Discover why showing less photographs might get you more results...
Spoilers That Are Once Seen, Cannot Be Unseen!
You know that feeling, right?
In a fraction of a second, our eager anticipation of the next episode is deflated as fast as a popped balloon because, well, now we know what’s coming and it’s no longer a surprise.
Why is this kind of thing so disappointing for us?
After all, we want to know what happens, so what’s the big deal with finding out a little sooner than we planned?
I think it has a lot to do with the experience as a whole – the journey, if you like, that we take on the way to finding out.
For example, as much as we need to know what happens, it’s just not as interesting when we find out in advance that a major Walking Dead character gets killed off, without actually experiencing the drama and tension of the story for ourselves.
If you think about it, as a professional photographer, aren’t you in the business of telling photographic stories and providing your clients with a similar thrill of anticipation?
That amazing wedding you photographed the other day, the romantic engagement portraits in the park, or the playful kids having fits of giggles at the beach – those are just some of the delightful stories that you record with your camera and bring to life with your artistic gift through your photography skills.
Of course, your clients are stoked with anticipation at the thought of re-living those storied moments, as seen through your eyes and interpreted for them in your unique style.
Your Clients Desperately Want To See What You Created
And, through the power of your photography blog, you can easily show them in the form of a sneak peek or a featured wedding in your latest blog post.
Of course, you realize you can easily kill two zombies with one stick here – not only will your happy clients get to see what you did for them, your blog post will also serve as a handy marketing tool for your photography business to attract new prospects and show them what you can do.
So far, so good…
And there is absolutely nothing wrong with sneak peeks, featured weddings, or any other type of blog post that will showcase your beautiful photography to the world. As I’m sure you probably know, I’m all for using your blog to show off what you’ve been up to and it’s a necessary part of allowing your blog to communicate with your target clients and demonstrate your personality as a professional photographer.
But there is such a thing as saying too much too soon.
When that happens, it’s a bit like those TV spoilers, if you like, and it can create an anti-climax that will work against you.
What I’m talking about here is using too many photos in your blog posts.
Sometimes, More Is Just Too Much
Yes, I know what you’re thinking – it’s the same thing photographers tell me when I’m talking to them about this in person!
“But I’m a photographer! It’s what I do, and people need to see my photography!”
Yes they do.
I totally agree with you 100%.
Granted, it wouldn’t be too easy to market a photography business without showing potential clients any of your work, I get that, and probably not a whole lot of fun to try for that matter.
But do the folks who read your photography blog really need to see so many photographs all at once?
I mean, I see blog posts by photographers every week where the photographer has posted 20, 30 or even more photographs in a single post that just seems to go on forever as we scroll down the page. The funny (and sad) part is that the photographer might throw in a line or two of text between some of the images in an attempt to “tell the story” or perhaps help with SEO, not realizing that it’s not going to be a whole lot of help at that point.
Why Is This Such A Problem?
I don’t know any other way to put it than to simply say it’s a simple waste of resources.
In this case, the resources I’m referring to are your photographs. They’re a precious resource in your business – fuel, if you like, that feed the fire of interest in your potential photography clients, and you don’t want to burn all that fuel all at once, right?
Take your car, for example.
You wouldn’t want to send all the gas you have in the tank into the car engine at the same time hoping you’ll get to where you want to go any faster! If you did do that, I’ve no doubt you would get somewhere, all right, but it probably wouldn’t be where you were intending.
Another example that comes to mind is the spectacular failure of the 2012 San Diego Independence Day Firework display that caused the entire arsenal of fireworks to go off in one go! What should have been a beautifully-orchestrated 15 minute display was all over in 15 seconds – a lot of noise, bright flashes, and a great deal of smoke.
It was quite a sight to behold, but it really didn’t deliver the experience it promised – nothing more than a giant and loud spoiler in the dark sky of a July night that was over almost as soon as it began. I can only imagine how the spectators felt after patiently camping out for hours beforehand to make sure they had a good view!
They certainly had a good view, but it wasn’t even close to what they were expecting.
Spectacular? Yes. Absolutely.
Satisfying? Well, no, not really.
So how do you imagine someone reading your photo blog is really going to feel when they visit a post with 35 photographs in it, stacked one on top of another like a thousand fireworks all going off at once?
Starting To See What I’m Getting At?
Yes, I know there’s that big urge to show off as many photographs as you can because you believe more will give a bigger impression of how great you are as a photographer, but is that what really happens?
Because you’re so emotionally connected to your art, and you love what you do, you would expect the reader to feel the same way so that she’d look through all of the photos in turn, truly appreciating the emotions and stories of each and every one.
But that’s not what happens at all.
She’ll look at the first one for sure, and she might even read the caption or sub-text. Same with the second photo, and maybe the third, but then things get a little blurry after that.
After the third photo or so, she has to start scrolling to see more, but then she can’t stop because there’s nothing to interrupt that pattern of behavior and get her to apply the scroll brakes.
It becomes just an endless stream of images, one after another, with no end in sight.
She keeps scrolling, going faster and faster down the page, skipping past all those beautiful images you so thoughtfully selected for your post, missing the stories and the emotions that pass by like speeding cars on the freeway.
Finally, she reaches the end of the post, the bottom of the page.
You can almost hear the sigh of relief!
In the end, what has all this really achieved? Not just for you, but for your reader too?
I mean, even if there is a call to action at the end of your post, how likely is she to do what you want her to do given that she was just treated to the equivalent of a 15-second firework display?
Want To See This Effect In Action For Yourself?
Sit someone down in front of your computer and ask them to look at your post, as you sit back and observe what happens.
Another fun way is to get a stack of prints of your recent holiday snaps and hand them all to a friend for them to look through. They’ll spend some time looking at the first few, and then you’ll notice they start to flick through them faster and faster, sometimes skipping two at a time, no longer paying any real attention to the photos any more, almost as if they can’t wait to get through them.
How does that make you feel?
I don’t know about you, but I used to find that quite upsetting on some level – that vacation we just returned from was awesome so why were they not as enchanted by my holiday memories as I was? Were my photos really that bad, or did I pick the most boring place in the world as a vacation spot?
It feels almost dismissive, doesn’t it, watching someone scan through your precious photos as if they’re of no real importance.
Don’t like the way that feels and want to try a different way?
Try this instead…
Pick five of your favorite photos from that big stack and keep them in your hand. Give them to your friend one at a time, and tell them the story of each image as they’re holding it.
Are they begging you to just “move on to the next”?
Unless your vacation was a trip to document the beauty of 20th century drain covers, it’s more than likely that you’ll have their rapt attention with each of those five photos, right?
But why five photos?
Why not seven or nine or some other number?
Oddly enough, there is a reason.
We’re Terrible At Counting Past Five!
From a psychological perspective, whenever we’re presented with more than five objects to count or process, we mentally categorize that as being “a lot”. Five or less is easy for us to quickly count and quantify, whereas more than five introduces a small but important feeling of overwhelm. Psychologists call this process subitizing.
With that in mind, can you see how a blog post with 30 photos presented one after another might feel less like a beautiful display of your amazing photography and more like some kind of mental overload?
Instead of being easily quantified in our mind, all we see is “a lot” of photos.
It feels like having a to-do list with a hundred items on it.
So what can you do instead?
The advice I give photographers about using photos in their blog posts is to show only the very best examples of your work and to make every image count.
Instead of blasting your readers with so many photographs that they’ll easily and quickly feel overwhelmed, try focusing on just 3 or 5 of your very best photos from a session, wedding, or assignment.
I recommend putting your best foot forward here and opening with the best of the bunch – your absolute favorite from the set, complete with an engaging caption and description that will make your readers genuinely interested in engaging with the rest of the post.
That first photograph should be eye-catching, simple, captivating, and immediately understood because you have only a few critical seconds to get their attention and turn that attention into the kind of focus that will keep them reading.
Don’t Know What To Say In Your Post?
That’s a common problem, but one that’s easily solved if you take the time to think about it.
To your reader, the only clues about what’s happening in your photographs lie within what they can actually see – in the photographs themselves, right?
They weren’t there with you (unless they’re the actual client, of course), and they have no idea about the narrative that’s happening outside the frame, or even before or after you took the photograph.
That’s the story you should be telling – in words – in your blog post.
There’s no need to go all literary on it, either. Just be conversational, and write as if you were actually talking to your best friend about the photograph, how it came about, what inspired you about it, why you created it, that kind of thing.
After you show that first big image, you can also feature three or four smaller photographs, spread out throughout the rest of your content. Each of those images should also have a caption and description, together with their own story that act a bit like the sub-plots of a movie.
These are also the perfect opportunities to include testimonials from your clients.
Now, if you don’t have regular testimonials, you could also use a quote from the client about the photograph and their personal perspective of the experience or the story in the image.
Cheating (A Little) With Blog Collages
Do you still feel like you want to include more than a few photographs in a post but you do want to avoid the overwhelm?
One great idea for that is to use something like the blog collage tool within Fundy Designer from Fundy Software to create an appealing collage of a few images all in one. This works especially well if you have several images that depict a sequence of events, for example.
Make Life Simpler And Easier!
This approach of using less photos more strategically in your photography blogging is actually very easy to do once you get used to the idea.
I understand the most challenging part is coming up with the words to tell the stories, but I promise that it gets a lot easier the more you do it. In fact, the secret to creating great blog posts that people will want to read is to forget all about those pesky writing rules they tried to drum into you at school, and to let your writing relax to something more like an intimate conversation.
One thing is certain. If I can do this, I know anyone can! Much to the dismay of my English teacher, I managed to fail my English literature exam meaning I probably didn’t have much of a future as a novelist or famous reporter!
But we’re not writing novels or creating award-winning reporting, are we?
No – we’re having conversations with real people who matter to us.
Don’t Forget Your Call To Action!
The one thing you shouldn’t forget, though, is your call to action at the end of your blog post, which can be anything you want.
For example, ask them to leave a comment, share the post on social media, join an email list, download something, or get in touch with you for more information.
The key is to not leave your readers hanging, wondering what they should do next, and being forced to wander off somewhere else in a daze.
Don’t Set All Your Fireworks Off At Once!
I do hope this has been useful and interesting for you, and you can always get in touch with me if you have any questions about it.
So, please rethink the strategy of setting all your fireworks off at once in your blog posts, and create beautiful and emotional displays instead that will have your readers feeling excited and enriched by your amazing photography, and will inspire them to want more from you.