Why Beautiful Imagery is Important for Fashion Blogger Success

When I first read yesterday's Links à la Mode intro by Jessie of Denimology, my first thoughts were “the community isn't going to like that.” But that doesn't mean that I disagree with what she wrote. Fashion is a visual art. If the human race would suddenly become blind tomorrow, it could with the rapture and all… what would that do for the fashion industry? Ok, if the Rapture came tomorrow, we'd have other worries, but I digress…


There were a few people who thought that imagery isn't important for a fashion blog. But I have to wonder, why is it not important to source beautiful imagery to articulate further what you write about? For any subject, it helps to create a visually pleasing place to surround your words. With fashion, it's utterly important.

Beautiful imagery provides:

  • Credibility: Personally, I have a hard time believing someone has good fashion taste if they don't present images of clothes in a beautiful way. Even if I wouldn't personally wear the clothes. It shows that they value visual articulation, which, in my opinion fashion and style are arts that visually articulate expression.
  • Sense of Professionalism: This may be another way of saying ‘cred' but do you read any fashion magazines with no images? How about magazines with terrible photos?
  • Scannable Content: As much as we wish people would cherish every last word, truth be known, assume people on the web have ADHD and you have exactly 2 seconds to grab someone's attention. Do you think you can do that in a 1500 world chunk of text? If you can, email me, I'll hire you.. but then you probably already have a job writing 150o word chunks of text.

Tips on learning what makes a great image:

Beautiful imagery is important to me, and while it may seem like it comes natural, I have to say… nothing comes naturally to anyone. Some people may have what seems like an intuitive knowledge of what looks good, but I bet that along the road they have had a lot of help and a lot of encouragement to get that “intuitive knowledge.” My “intuition” came from taking art classes most of my life, and being a graphic designer for a decade. Makes me look like a slow learner now doesn't it? Yeah, I think so.

  • Pick you heroes. Who are you favorite photographers? What do you love about them?
  • Take an art history class, heck, go to the museum and take a tour if you don't have time for a class.
  • Go to the public library, and look at the photography, arts, fashion and design sections. Go regularly.
  • Look at images and see what is it that makes something appealing. Is it the color? Is it the composition? Is it the light? The subject? Really look at an image and dissect what it is that makes it great. I know this is vague, but I remember in college, everything was vague. But the one thing I remember from college was that it wasn't enough to like something or not like something, you had to say why you felt the way you did.
  • Look at the images people pick as being beautiful, look at the images the people you admire like. What is it about them? Why do you admire a certain persons editorial skills?  I'm not saying copy them, but in a therapeutic sense, it's good to have a grasp on why you react to another's editorial sense, and maybe your readers may benefit from seeing that in you.

Tips on learning photography:

Ok, I'm going to be presumptuous, and assume that if we blog, we are affluent enough to buy a computer every now and then, if that is the case, we should be able to invest in a decent camera. Nikon Coolpix makes an amazing point and shoot for about $115, that's cheaper than a pair of Jeffrey Campbell Litas. Take pictures, practice. When I first started blogging, I took crappy photos, but I kept practicing every day… and now I'm a little bit better, much more so than if I never practiced.


If you would like to take better photos, try here are a few cost effective ways to learn how:

  • Reading photography blogs like Digital Photo School and read through the tips and practice.
  • Take a class at your local community college.
  • Lomo offers Lomography classes for affordable prices. Take one there (Lomos are so cool!) They offer really great ways to look at photography without getting to heady about it.
  • Get a friend who is good with photography to give you a few tips
  • If you have an iPhone, or iPod touch…install the Instagram app. I have to say it is amazing for taking quick photos and not being too precious about it.

Photography isn't everything:

You don't have to take photos, you can draw, collage, make typographic compositions, VIDEO… performance art pieces. The possibilities are endless! Just make sure whatever you put on your blog looks amazing.


Sourcing great images:

If you can't take great pictures, or you're not there yet.. no worries. That doesn't mean that it's time to pack up and call it a day. There are plenty of options and tools for you.

  • Creative Commons images: Creative Commons is a license people give to their images that allows them to be shared freely. Look into the details of each images license to understand what you can do with an image.
  • Public Domain: These images have no copyright restrictions are available for public usage.
  • Fair Use: is a clause for US residents to use samples  images and text for editorial purposes only. This clause is used a lot on the web, but look carefully into the way you are using the images and the laws applicable to you.
  • Press images: If you have been sent an image by a PR to use in a post, you probably have the right to use it.
  • Collages: Create your own images through collages: Polyvore is a great tool for this if you don't have a photo editing tool.
  • I've been finding Looklet to also be a handy tool for putting together custom styled outfit images… it's fun to play with anyway.
  • Partner up with someone. Do you know a blogger who creates great images, a friend who snaps great pics but doesn't want to be a blogger? Maybe start a photo sharing pool?


Perfection isn't everything:

I'm saying don't settle for less than amazing. But that's only because I believe in the blogging community's continual ability to generate amazing content. The fact is, amazing is not the same thing as perfect. Anything can be amazing, and perfection doesn't exist. All I'm saying is that aim for amazing, but don't get caught up in “perfection.” Over the years, blogging has been a process of just showing up and doing what's possible today, and it's pretty amazing what's become possible by doing just that.



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34 Responses

    • CMB

      When it comes to fashion blogging image is everything and that should go without saying because its about the styling and photography DUH!. I feel like I”m struggling because I don’t have awesome photography, light, crisp clean images etc. I don’t have a sweet SLR camera, I don’t have a willing participant to follow me where ever I go while I parade in my outfits. It’s hard work. The saying ”it’s what on the inside that counts” can be completely thrown out the window because readers don’t personally know you; they go by your presentation and the outside appearances (obviously b/c that is what fashion is about!) I decided to crop myself out of my photos, maybe even start something new.. hey, a girl can dream!! 😉

  1. Vyque

    So true, once I got my SLR and started really improving on my picture taking I started getting approached by mainstream brands for campaigns and whatnot!

  2. Annimal

    I totally agree. Fashion is a visual art and a picture says a thousand words. Plus, most people won’t spend the time it takes to read a thousand words!

  3. LittleRus

    I agree with you completely, but still disagree with tomorrow introduction, which wasn’t really, should I say, polite towards other bloggers who entered that week. Personally, I take great care of the quality of images I use on my blog and it is known as a source of high quality photos and editorials. However, I also believe that blogging is a source for LEARNING something new about fashion and style and without reading the text it is impossible to learn things deep enough to be considered an intellegent person.

    And yes, I did submit a post last week. Not that I was hoping for anything, but this is something I do on a weekly basis. My post was about Chanel’s biography and my persona view on her life. The images were black and white high resolution photos taken quite a few years ago. Perhaps, this week editor just didn’t recognise Chanel from the first image or reading books isn’t her thing… I don’t know.

    But to refer to the rest of the pack as “bleh” was very rude, I thought.

    Just an opinion.


    • Jennine Jacob

      hmm… i don’t know why the editors pick the posts they do (which is why i have editors in the first place) but i hope you don’t take it too personally. i’ve submitted posts which i thought were great that didn’t make the roundup, it’s really up to the editor. there are a lot of other reasons for picking one post over another. perhaps she’s already selected a chanel biography post, or ode to chanel… or maybe she doesn’t like chanel… hey, you never know!

  4. KN

    I like blogs that have great photos. Not necessarily professional looking ones, but those that are given thought and love.

  5. Sabrina

    I agree. The essence of a great blog is the photography! My favorite blogs are the ones that take fresh, original and beautiful photos.

    I took a photography class to learn how to use my DSLR better. Every chance I get, I am trying to improve my skills, whether it be documenting my design process or just photographing my friends.

  6. Mishka

    Hahaha. “Oh no — the Rapture! How will I blog?” is actually a valid concern. 😉

    For a blog of a different nature, images might not be so important. But for a fashion blog, even if you were writing wildly exciting essays on the psychology of fashion, reporting news, or sharing witty, worth-reading opinions… without the great images to bring it to life, you’re probably cutting your readership in half.

  7. [email protected]

    Excellent response,Jeanine. A big part of my journalism teaching is the importance of photography and graphics for a great look if you want an audience to read what you have to say. Without it most readers will not stop on the page…you handled this topic really well!

  8. VivaLaVida

    I agree with you completely! I as well find myself disinterested in an article if it doesn’t have beautiful imagery! I’ve recently started blogging as well & I’ve made sure I add the color popping brights & interesting images to get my msg through! Here’s my fashion blog: http://vivalavida7.blogspot.com/. Check it out & let me know what u think! x

  9. Heather Fonseca

    It’s interesting to see what the different editors look for in their posts of the week. I appreciated her honesty and would like to see what the other editors are looking for as well. I also submitted an article that wasn’t chosen but my photos weren’t all that good so i can see why she passed me by. Next time!

  10. Anika www.byanika.com

    I think this discussion is very interesting, and completely relevant. I do use pictures and I do it with intent. I want my pics to pull the reader in, so that they might take a look at my content too. Thank you for this follow up post, Jennine! Happy sunday to you.

  11. JayMarie

    I agree. As an aspiring graphic designer, imagery is everything! It can be the difference between staying on a blog and exiting. I love nice clear images that can give me as much information as some text.

  12. Yen

    Do you think blogger should have a expensive camera to take pictures? How can you take picture yourself? Do you go with someone else to take picture for you?

  13. Anna

    I totally agree that we should pay very much attention to the photos we use. The simplest thing one should think of is light+focus. I am saddened to see bloggers using photos where 90% is background or are dark. Sometimes I think of sending an email to the blogger saying, “hey I like your blog, have you ever thought of the lighting in your photos?” but I guess I’ll come accross as mean…

  14. Stylishly Short

    It would great to say that beauty doesn’t matter on a blog, but that’s the same thing as saying that flavor doesn’t matter in food. With so many blogs, it makes sense that people would start comparing. For fashion bloggers, it’s not just beautiful images. It’s also about showing details, and that’s hard to do when pictures are grainy or fuzzy.

  15. Pheobe

    CMB~ I feel you. I work full-time, and at the end of the day is when I take my pictures. Like many others, I rarely have time to take pictures of myself, perfect it on photoshop and then publish it. I also do not have a fancy SLR camera or a person that can follow me through TONS of locations just to get the perfect shot. Like you said, It’s a lot of hard-work to get a following and maintain it.

    I wish fashion blogging wasn’t so image heavy…I wish that most actually read through the content AS WELL AS appreciate the image that comes with it…in a perfect world maybe, but like I said before, time is of an essence in blogging and most of us just don’t have time to do alll that..

    The important thing is we all try–try to read through the content, try to post some gorgeous photos, try to talk about something relevant. That’s all we can do.

  16. Mulika

    Sound article which I wholeheartedly agree with. I see so many ‘fashion’ blogs out there with diabolical images that it just leaves me wringing my hands in exasperation. You mentioned credibility and with so many not respecting the importance of quality images, it somehow eats away at the credibility of others aiming for great visual content.

    Ooop, did that turn into a mini-rant!? I guess you must have hit a nerve Jennine 😉

    Thanks for shining a ‘spotlight’ on this!

  17. melina bee

    great post, the internet and fashion are both largely visual fields. not all well-known bloggers have fancy slrs, Tavi from style rookie has a point and shoot.
    I wish I had better control of light in my photos.