How do you deal with images?

Posted June 12, 2016 by Lory in discussions / 57 Comments

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Images are important in the blogging world in general, for obvious reasons — they grab attention, convey emotion or information quickly and economically, and give instant impressions about a blog and its message. It’s interesting to me that among book bloggers, there are minimalists who use few or no images, perhaps (quite logically) choosing to focus on words in this literary corner of the blogosphere. Then there are those who use dozens of them, with the text more in the mode of captions to the images. And naturally, there are all kinds of variations in between these extremes.

My personal preference is for some images — I do like to see at least a book cover to give me a visual “hook” for a review, for example. And I love photo essays about bookish travel or other visual topics. However, when images are too random, busy, or distracting it turns me off. I have to confess that I can’t stand seeing tons of GIFs and will navigate away from posts that have more than two or three. Sorry, GIF lovers!

In my own posts, I always include at least one image — a book cover or post type graphic, if nothing else. Sometimes I use more, if I feel the post needs it, but it takes so much time to locate, download, resize, place, and otherwise deal with multiple images that often I don’t bother.

Which leads me to the stupid technical questions I want to ask. How do all of you bloggers who have such neatly organized images on your posts do it? Do you use a plugin? Or do you have to place each image manually? If so, do you have suggestions for how to do this? I know that having images that are too large is a problem for site loading times. Do you have a method for dealing with this? Again, is there a way to streamline it or do you have to do each one individually?

Here’s an example of a blog post that has book cover images arranged in different ways. I know how to resize and place images in a single row, but it’s so tedious and time-consuming. And I have no idea how to get the collage-like effect. Help!

What are your tips for dealing with images? And what are your personal preferences? Do you find images an unnecessary distraction, or are they an essential part of your blogging style? What do you like to see (or not) on other blogs?

Linked in the Book Blogger Discussion challenge hosted by Feed Your Fiction Addiction and It Starts at Midnight.

 

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57 responses to “How do you deal with images?

  1. Tiffany

    I personally love images! I think it’s essential in blogging. If a blog post only consist of texts and have zero image, I imagine it’d be really boring. But yes, if there’s too many images (especially gifs), I’m often annoyed because it takes too long to load. Usually, I only use images at min 1 and at max 3 per review, but could be more if it’s a recaps or something (not a gifs though). Anyway, this is such an interesting post! 🙂

    • Though there are some bloggers who are excellent enough writers to keep me coming back to their image-free posts, I’m definitely drawn more to those with a visual element.

  2. Audrey

    Hi.Lory,
    picmonkey.com is one resource (and you can stick to the free services if you want) .. .it’s a little clunky, but it makes it a little easier to make collages, or even to put two or three images in a row.

    • I have used PicMonkey actually and it is a great tool. I just find all the extra steps annoying – but I probably cannot avoid them in some form.

  3. Images are indeed an important part of blogging. With that I am not all that skilled in arranging pages and making them look appealing. I just find the images that I want, drag them into Blogger, and try to arrange them so that they look good.

    Not violating copyright laws is also important so I usually restrict images to book covers which are should be OK if one is writing about the book, and photographs that my wife or myself took. I also occasionally use artwork created by my wife.

    • Good point about respecting copyright. I try to use public domain, fair use images or ask permission. Wikimedia Commons is a good resource too.

  4. I always try to keep it simple with my posts. I do a pic of the book cover and a pic of the author. I have a subscription to Istock photos, which can get expensive. But I want to make sure I’m never violating any copyright laws.

    • A picture of the book cover just helps me keep track of which review is which. And it’s always interesting to see an image of the author too.

  5. This is such an interesting topic, Lory, one that I sort of assumed you must have covered a while back! Of your two main points I can’t say much on the technical side (except that WordPress seems to cater for most of my needs). The general principal is fascinating though: to post pics or not.

    My thoughts are these.
    1. I’m a visual person so I do like a picture. It makes a post individual. Blog posts to me are like newsy magazine articles: they usually start with an arresting image to draw the reader in. Not that I’m shallow or anything (?) but without such a hook (as has already been mentioned) I’m less inclined to read what follows; it probably stems from me preferring real books to ebooks, and limiting online reading to blogs and news articles.

    2. As to choice of images, I’m usually very particular. If I’ve my own digital photo or diagram that’s relevant I’ll use that, otherwise it’s whatever is public domain whenever possible. I rarely use author images, and even more rarely book covers — newly published books usually have different covers depending where they’re published, and covers of older editions of classics and modern classics I review may differ from what’s currently available.

    3. How many images? Like you, Lory, it may vary from 1 to 3 at most. But that’s not a rule set in stone: you’ll have noticed my discussions on aspects of Joan Aiken’s Wolves Chronicles have relied somewhat on contemporary maps, prints and diagrams so that they more resemble a National Geographic feature than a simple book review.

    I’m now putting together a post about members of the crow family in literature, and have already begun to think how to limit my image selection, never mind editing my copious notes. Call me obsessive …

    • Point taken regarding different book covers. I usually try to use the cover of the actual edition I’m reading, unless it’s completely boring (like some very plain library bindings) and then I just pick out one that I like. Which is misleading, but fun!

      I’ve always enjoyed how you use different and creative images to go with your posts. I sometimes do some hunting for relevant (and legally usable) images other than covers, but confess to being too lazy most of the time. I do appreciate those who take the time to add this extra touch, however.

      • Just realised what I said about book covers sounded critical, but it wasn’t meant to be; I always like well designed covers, and especially seeing how well they relate to the text.

        • I didn’t take it as critical – all of us have our different preferences and choices, which is what makes blogging so interesting! I do think all the different covers can be confusing sometimes; on the other hand, it’s fascinating to see the variations. Some bloggers include several different covers in their review, which is another possibility.

  6. Great post, Lory! I always use a cover photo for book reviews, and usually several photos in movie reviews. For covers, I link to the image on Goodreads. Like you, I know how to put images in rows (I use a little bit of html so I can have multiple centered rows that adjust to the screenwidth.) I do know several ways to do collages, but all are somewhat time-consuming — Picmonkey is good, and there are a couple of other free collage programs out there. For bookish quotes or to make a graphic for a particular post, I use either Picmonkey or Canva. But I wish I knew how to do more with images.

    I don’t like to overload posts with images, except list posts like Top Ten Tuesdays. For those, the pictures (usually book covers) are often the entire list — in other words, I don’t necessarily have additional text. Other times I do use both text and images in TTT posts.

    Now you’ve got me thinking about what I do and what I can improve — which is the hallmark of a good discussion post!

  7. If you do learn some good tips for dealing with images in a blog post, I’d love to hear about them, maybe in a future post? I nearly always include a cover image if it’s a book review post, and sometimes I’ll include a reaction gif or two, if I have some in mind that fit well with what I’m trying to say. Just to break up the blocks of text! But there are many bloggers I follow and love who don’t use many (or any) images, and that’s also fine.

    • It’s good to see different ways, almost anything can work if it makes sense for that person. I’m even fine with a well-chosen GIF or two, just not when there are so many of them in a row flashing at me …

  8. There are a few phone apps that’ll make it easy to make collages (I use Diptic on my iPhone) or do funky images that I resort to if I need to. Mostly I use my Instagram photos, take photos on my phone and use apps to edit them, or I have lots of templates I’ve made for my blog with Pixelmator on my computer. In general, I use all photos I’ve taken personally or from Depositphotos or book covers straight from Amazon. I don’t have a lot of time for all the perfectly set-up photos I see on a lot of blogs so I skip them. Everyone else does them better than I do. 🙂

  9. For book covers to be centralized with other covers next to it, I make sure that where I will put the picture is centralized BUT make sure the picture is set to the None alignment. That’s how I always do it and not time consuming at all!
    If you’re looking to make a collage, I use picmonkey. In my post (thank you for linking!), the only two collages I made were for the Bookstagram pictures. The book covers itself aren’t collages, just uploaded directly from the Media and how I explained 🙂
    I hope this helps!

    • Thanks for explaining! How do you get the covers in a line to be all the same size? When I download them from goodreads they are always all different sizes.

      Looks like PicMonkey is going to continue to be my resource for collages. That’s OK!

      • I usually put them in medium size before putting them on the post so all the posts are the same size and if I want them smaller, I do the resizing on my own by clicking on the image and then resizing with the little white squares that appear. I don’t always have them all the same size but close to it.

        • Right, resizing them within WordPress – When I do that I think they end up all different sizes in the email version so I try to make them the same size before uploading. I haven’t noticed a way to click on the image and resize with squares – will have to experiment.

          • Thank you, Genesis! I resize the way you do, but instead of centering before placing the pictures, and then using the None alignment, I go into text view and use a little cut-and-paste html that works really well for me. Next time, I’ll try your way and see how it goes. Lory, I can’t show the html code I use here in the comment, because it will think some of it is meant to be code and will execute it instead of displaying it. But maybe I’ll do a little post sometime, for people that like mucking around with the html. (Of course, they all probably know more than I do. I use a cheat sheet, and copy-and-paste!)

            • That would be great, thanks! I’ll also do some hunting to see if I can find online tutorials. Just haven’t come across any so far.

    • Making HTML templates is a good idea. I usually don’t use images hosted on other websites though. Isn’t that supposed to increase your load time or something? (See how non-technically savvy I am?)

      • It can increase the load time, but some bloggers also have limited space for their image database. I used to upload all the images I used, but for covers, that meant downloading it from Goodreads, saving it to my computer, and uploading it to WordPress. (If you know a better/quicker way, please let me know!) On the other hand, if I use the cover image hosted by Goodreads, the load is pretty fast, and all I have to do is “copy image address” and paste that into Add Media using “Insert from URL”, so it’s quicker for me, too. Plus, with Goodreads I can be pretty sure that the image will stick around. Not so with other websites, of course. (I also try to make sure that the image is publicly released for use in promoting the produce — like covers and movie posters — or OK’d for use under CC license, or in the public domain, or usable under “fair use”.)

      • Be careful using images hosted on other websites! I did this with giphy once and it ended up crashing my entire blog! Finally realized what happened, deleted the post, and moved shop to WP instead of blogger. Was a nightmare. (I didn’t realize at the time, but this is called hotlinking…and while I thought giphy gave me the code to embed, I guess the code got hacked).

        • Right, that’s another reason I don’t link to images hosted on other sites – I’ve heard these kind of horror stories.

  10. I can be a bit of an image junkie … I was very, very inexperienced in web publishing when I started blogging and just treated it like a scrapbook. I have run into issues on two occasions, one time in particular when I had used a public domain image which turned out to have been stolen from somewhere else. Luckily, both times I’ve been able to apologise and move on. Citing copyright is definitely something that I’ve learnt a lot about.

    I think there’s so much book-related art that I feel that not sharing it would really change the tone of the site – I very rarely share posts without images. I also find it hard to concentrate on reams and reams of text on a screen without something to break it up. But I know that others are far more concise than me.

    • As with Chris’s blog, I love seeing the variety of images you come up with! And I also find it hard to look at lots of screen text without something to break it up. The longer the post, the more I’m hungering for some pictures.

  11. Haha, this is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. “How can I bring my blog into this decade? I need some graphics! More images…how do I do that?!” I generally just put book covers in my posts. Sometimes I remember to take a photo of my own books. I would love to get a bit more creative in that regard. I’d like to make simple graphics with some text, like the one at the top of this post. I’ve started investigating how to do stuff like that. In general, though, I don’t like how Blogger incorporates images into posts. I’ve always imagined it can be done more smoothly via WordPress…

    • WordPress does have a few more options, but the feature I really love is that you can search all your stored images by title. That comes in really handy when i want to reuse something.

  12. This is a great topic and something I’ve struggled with. I love reading everyone’s suggestions! I’m definitely in the “keep it simple” camp, and maybe it’s my age but I’m not a fan of GIFs. WordPress recently came up with some new image features that are easy to use, and otherwise I just use clip art. I’d like to make some of my own graphics, and I hear PicMonkey is good.

    • It looks like I’m going to be exploring PicMonkey more. I also hear Canva is good for graphics but haven’t tried it out yet.

  13. I think I use images pretty much the same way you do 🙂 I use the UBB for my book cover images, but other than that, I just muddle through trying to get them to show up the way I want.

    • Hm, there was some reason I don’t use UBB for my book cover images. I think because I invented this special way of putting the book info at the end of my post, so I can’t have it both ways. Muddling is my general approach as well…

      • Hey Lori! There is a way for you to use the UBB plugin and have the info show at the end of your post 🙂

        You simply go to the UBB settings-book info, turn off the Automatically Display Book Info option and use this shortcode [book-info] anywhere you want the book info appear. I use this on my blog because I post a few texts before my book info 🙂 Hope this helps!

        • Thanks Zeee! That is actually what I do … what I meant was that maybe that means I have to upload the book cover manually. But perhaps not; I have to look into it.

  14. I love images! And I do add gifs sometimes but I suck at picking the right ones and I can’t do a full gif type post…and that’s not a review that I personally like to read anyway 🙂

    I would love to see at least ONE image: if it’s a review: the book cover, if it’s a discussion: a cover image or a discussion image. I like to see at least ONE because I tend to not look at all text posts… 🙂

    On your question, I use the Easy Content Template plugin for WP and make templates on all the post features that I have. When it comes time to write my post, I just load the template and then it will simply load the preformatted template for me! Easy peasy! And it’s free!

    As for the larger images, well the trick is to save it at a lower resolution so the file itself is not too big so it wouldn’t affect your loading times 🙂

    I also do not organize my post images because I really don’t have time for that! LOL

    • I think I have that template plugin but I have not used it all that much. But it’s such a time saver, I really should. Thanks for sharing your practices!

  15. Hi Lori, this is a great post discussion! I love images on my blog. I’ve been a bit spoiled because I’m a trained graphic and web designer. I can open up a text file and write HTML/CSS and then…voila!.. it’s transformed into paragraphs and images for my audience. I’ve been debating whether to write how-to posts on my blog to assist with blog designing but as life would have it, my two young sons are my priority and these ideas for the blog have taken shifted lower on my priorities. But, I think your site is so elegant!!

    • I always appreciate tutorials and how-to posts so I hope you find the time to do some. And thanks for your kind words, I love my design too (thanks to Stephanie of These Paper Hearts).

  16. I only use 1 or 2 images per post as it’s just not a skill of mine. I use PicMonkey to make them but in all honesty find it time consuming and I’d rather just write my post! I’m not a fan of GIFs either, I just prefer words. And if they are animated, that can be annoying. But each to their own and I know loads who love GIFs.
    I use PicMonkey too for collages but I need to practice this more! Otherwise I just drop the images straight into my post and line them up 3 in a row, making sure they are all the same size. The lazy way! But then it doesn’t have that nice pinable image so that’s not the best way.

    • I’ve gotten my time spent dealing with images down, but I still find it not as much fun as reading or writing. A necessary sacrifice, though!

  17. I’m with you on GIFs. I tend to bypass the post even if the topic interests me, too much going on.

    I like to see images but I’m also, like you, used to posts without them. Sometimes you can’t find a good image to match and no matter how many time ‘experts’ say it, you don’t necerssarily need images. In regards to book covers, they definitely help but I read a couple of blogs that do it differently. (You quite possibly know these blogs but I’ll discuss anyway) Jeanne of Necromancy Never Pays doesn’t include them and you end up being very invested in her words because that’s the only context you get – I like it a lot. Jessica from The Bookworm Chronicles adds a cover but it’s in the form of a photo of her copy of the book so it adds a personal element to it, visually. I know others do that, too.

    Regarding organisation, I put all my images in a folder and link to them via HTML code. For size, the best thing is to edit them before you upload them and save them to a smaller file size. Obviously you can do whatever you want if they’re your own photos. If they’re creative commons I believe you can resize them, just don’t change anything else. As important as loading times is data usage so downsizing quality is a good habit to have anyway.

    If you just want to resize for a certain post I think you can do so via the regular ‘BB’ code in post editor. You should be able to use BB to set up covers like the post you linked to does, too.

    • I do like the idea of photographing one’s actual copy of the book. Would it really take more time than finding a cover on Goodreads? I’ll have to try it and see!

      I’m not sure what BB code is, so I will also investigate that. Thanks for the great tips.

  18. I typically resize all my pictures in Photoshop and use the “Save for Web” feature so that they are a reasonable file size and don’t take too long to load. I also use Photoshop to do a lot of my collages and graphics. I used to do a lot of digital scrapbooking, so I have Photoshop Elements because of that and know how to find my way around it. That makes my life easier.

    • I hadn’t thought of using the “Save for Web” setting in Photoshop. I tend to do resizing in Preview and choose the pixel size manually, so that might save me a step. Thanks!

  19. Going back up to read all of the comments because I’m always looking for an easier way to do my images as well. I will note that I have started using jpegmini (http://www.jpegmini.com/) to resize my images. Got this tip from NoseGraze several months ago. It takes images from several MB down to a couple hundred KB–definitely helps with loading time!

    I also use PicMonkey like many of the others suggested, but I would love to know how to put images in a row like the example website you showed. Ok, off to read the comments!

    • I think I remember that Nose Graze post, but I didn’t do anything about it at the time. I will look into jpegmini for sure.

  20. Amy

    I like to use images! Of course, the whole point of the post is to read the content, so too many images are distracting. But they help break up my content, and at the very least, tell people what my post is about. And they are VISUALLY STIMULATING. There is no downside. Sometimes it takes as much time to make my edit as it does to write the post… But often, it’s just worth it.

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