Photos give you an edge when selling your work on the Web
Published: July 23, 2007
|The Web poses a unique challenge and opportunity for wordsmiths. For the freelancer adept at photography, pitching photos with content may tempt an editor to save time and money by taking the package. Even if a writer is just aiming at designing his or her own Web site or blog, images entice a reader. |
For ease of use and getting the photos from the camera to the Web, a digital camera is the only way to go. Erik Sherman, author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Canon EOS Digital Cameras, recommends a point-and-shoot camera for beginners. This eliminates the need for expertise about settings, lighting and shutter speed. You simply point the camera, look at the screen and click.
But if you have some knowledge about photography, Sherman recommends a digital SLR--"the type where you look through a viewfinder and see what the lens sees."
Sherman suggests checking camera reviews at PC Magazine, where there's a whole section devoted to digital cameras. The online magazine Let's Go Digital also offers reviews in a comparison format, with in-depth information about brands, models, prices and features.
New camera in hand, you're ready to take on the imaging world. What's the single most important factor in composing a shot? "Telling a story visually," Sherman says. "You need a reason for taking the shot and what you want it to say. Everything else in composition comes from that, from finding the visual center to composing a harmonious frame." Sherman also advises you determine what feelings you want to express.
Asked if photos help sell content, Sherman says they can. "But there's an 'if'. Some publishers--online or print--have different editors managing text and images, so you may have to talk to more than one person." He also says writers shouldn't give the photo work away to place the print. "That's just another way of getting paid less for your effort."
Although Sherman's book focuses on a specific camera brand, much of the information can be applied to any camera. There's a section about framing your shot and the importance of composition. A good photographer learns to arrange visual elements to create an intended effect. "What you need to do is find a way to make your subject stand out," he writes. The book provides information about empty or negative space, visual weight and dozens of other factors that influence what you see once you've snapped the shot.
Sherman offers a money-saving tip if you're in the market for a camera. "Consider getting one of last year's models. You'll pay less, but you'll still get what you need."
My personal experience with photography was limited until I signed a contract two years ago to provide articles to a daily newspaper. At that time, I had a digital camera and I also had a workaround. If I wanted a photo, I handed the camera to my digitally knowledgeable teenager. The camera had so many bells and whistles, the best I could do was use it as a point-and-shoot.
So I asked one of the reporters at the newspaper to recommend a camera for novices like me. He suggested the Canon Power Shot A 530. I purchased mine for $179. He also suggested I practice. For a while, I photographed anything that moved. Then I began to explore different features. I discovered that good photos not only enabled me to continue a dependable monthly contract with the newspaper; images also helped me to enhance my personal blog and secure a contract writing for 451press.com. This camera wouldn't suffice if I were taking photos for a glossy magazine. But for my basic needs, it's perfect.
In addition, my camera helps me tell stories better even if an editor doesn't want photos. I write for the magazine Coastal Homes, and the glossy images the magazine runs are always professionally done. But as I research and tour homes and communities, I take photographs. As I write, I prop those photos on my copy stand. This is an immense help to me when I write descriptions. My photos have also inspired quite a few poems.
Web sites rely on visuals to attract readers. Learning to take a photograph broadens the writer's array of services and may broaden the bank account as well.
For reviews, comparisons and prices.
Erik Sherman's blog with in-depth information. Sherman's writing credits include Newsweek, The New York Times and Fortune. His pictures appear in publications like Newsweek, Pages, Boston Magazine and Computer World.
One of my favorite photos. I stopped everything to rush outside for this photo of a butterfly. I used the photo for About Jacksonville, FL, a blog I write for 451press.com.
--July 24, 2007
My next column will focus on differences in writing for the Web and writing for print publications. Learn how to strengthen your writing to sell content to Web sites.