Sunday, 8 July 2012

Words v pictures.

Last week I posted a blog entitled 'Do blogs need pictures?' (You can read it here, if you weren't around last week.)

And it caused a little stir. (Only a little one, nothing to frighten the horses.) Comments - on the blog and on facebook - ranged from 'Pictures are wonderful, and essential to break up pages of text' to 'Words are the point of blogs; too many pictures can get in the way.'

So - what is the blogger to do, if she wishes to keep her readers happy and enjoy the whole blogging thing? Alternate? Jump down on one side or the other and hope enough followers will hang in there?

Surely it's about the nature of each post, what you are hoping to achieve, and how you want to communicate. I wonder how many of you found this post on Trish Nicholson's blog. Here are photographs with no words - and I didn't miss them. The images are simply beautiful, all on their own.

Then there are the posts (like most of mine) with no pictures at all. I take the point made in one comment, that pictures can break up very long blogposts. Speaking personally, I am put off by blogposts that take half an hour to read - they have to grab me in the first paragraph to make that time investment. I prefer posts that are short and to the point. In contrast, someone suggested that too many pictures get in the way, meaning you have to scroll on down to find the point the writer is actually trying to make.

So - given that I can't please all the people all of the time, I shall take each post as it comes, and if it needs an illustration I shall try to find one (bearing in mind I'm no photographer). And the rest of the time I'll chunter along, playing with words in my usual haphazard fashion. (Because if I'm not enjoying myself the whole thing is pointless anyway!)

Interestingly (and this is an aside) there are no pictures in Over the Hill and Far Away, even though it is a travel book. And not one critic has suggested that illustrations would have improved it, which hopefully means that the words were enough on their own.

There are brownie points for anyone who can think of a suitable image to illustrate this post!!


  1. Well balanced post, Jo, and thank you for including my link. I agree, each post should be designed specifically. Sometimes I post photo-essays, sometimes a story, or an article that is 90% text, I do think, though, that at least one illustration is welcoming and eye-catching. It depends on the blog design - yours is pretty busy and colourful without added pictures. You are right about travel books, the text of a good travel should be capable of standing alone - photographs are a bonus (and they do have to be professional). They are expensive to reproduce in print, and difficult to format well in ebooks, luckily I have a publisher who is particularly skilled at that and is willing to put in the extra work. As to an illustration for your post - it's fun creating them - I might have put a block of text into an elaborate picture frame and photographed it. Happy blogging, in your own style. Trish

  2. Jo, you are a naturally engaging and interesting writer, so your posts do grab me and I do want to read them. I think that's the crucial thing in making a blog readable. I hadn't actually noticed your blog didn't have pics.

  3. But actually I wish you would get rid of word verification! I don't know if it is just my eyes or whether they've made it harder but it drives me nuts. I do feel one needs some way of filtering comments not just allowing any ole loonies to post, though, so I will continue to put up with it on blogs I like.

  4. I still think there's room for both, Jo. Blogs without and blogs with, and books without and books with illustrations and pictures. And I must just mention that I have just spent a very pleasant few minutes perusing your travel pages here - and enjoying your lovely pictures :)

  5. Thank you all - I shall carry on doing my best!

    And, Jenny - I take your point about the word verification thingy, and have disabled it. We'll have to gang up on loonies if they start hanging around here.

  6. I've seen your travel pics Jo and enjoyed them, and read your book and my head was filled with pictures the whole time, your writing has wonderful imagery. Sometimes the writing on blogs and in books are so good you just don't need pictures!
    The only thing about pictures that you have to be careful about (and I'm sure you would be) is linking to the source if they're stock internet pics. I made the mistake of adding a picture I shouldn't have and the photographer asked me to remove it, which I did with vast apologies. I am now very careful with pictures I use if they're not my own, asking permission, or linking and acknowledging.
    And lastly I agree with you, blogging is fun and there are no rules! Have fun!

  7. I dislike those blogs that think we want to look at all their holiday photographs. I often use photographs to illustrate and this week I've used photographs as the main point of my blog. I think it's a case of moderation in everything (a mantra for life?) I have a strict rule that my blogs will never go over three hundred and something words. If I visit a blog and it's as long as a novel I don't stop. There's too much to do and not enough time to do it AND like you said, we're supposed to be enjoying ourselves here!

  8. Lisa - I take your point about using other people's pictures. I can't imagine using something I haven't taken myself - and only include pictures of people if I've checked with them that it's ok.

    And Ros - I agree, there's a difference between holiday snap blogs and those that use pictures to illustrate. And like you - I'm very unlikely to read long blogposts. I don't count the words on this blog - must check sometime and see how it compares with your 300ish plan.