Handy Guide to Website Photography
Consult Your Web Designer
When meeting with your web designer for the first time, ask them what types of photos they think would work best on the website. They might think of something you won’t. Getting a photographer back a second time because something was neglected or didn’t work is an expense you don’t want to have. If you are getting a photographer in, make sure your web designer knows when this is happening and when the photos will be ready so that they can allow for it in the project timeline.
Whether taking photos yourself or getting a professional in, make sure you prepare well. It sounds obvious but many businesses don’t take care of the little details and it can make a big difference to the end result if you and your team thoroughly clean and tidy your work place. Get rid of clutter, hide or fix anything that looks damaged, and make sure all your lights have working bulbs in them so that the lighting in the room is as good as possible. Clean branded vehicles and yards and schedule outdoor shoots for a bright, calm day.
Prepare Your Staff
Make sure your people are well groomed and dressed on the day and that uniforms and safety gear are clean and tidy.
Slideshows and Background Pictures
These types of website photos should always be landscape in orientation as they will be stretching across the width of the website. Make sure your pictures are well framed and don’t be tempted to crop pictures, your web designer will do this for you. Instead provide notes on what you like and don’t like about a shot. Don’t expect miracles unless you intend to pay for them – professional photoshopping takes time and in some cases is just not advisable.
Pictures used as backgrounds work best if they are primarily light or dark. White text on a dark picture, or dark text on a light picture works well, but if you have a mix of light and dark in a photo it gets tricky to work with. A mixed light and dark photo will need either a light or dark filter on top in order to make text legible. Expect colours to be muted in this case. See our client Sygma Automation as an example.
Backgrounds can be anything from action shots (your people working) to buildings and skylines to textures (close up of a grate, wall, non-slip step, fabric, etc.). Think outside the box on this one, your web designer will thank you!
The Team Page
Putting your people on your website makes you, as a business, more approachable and friendly. Many businesses neglect to do this and in fact don’t include any people on the site at all. This makes for a cold, impersonal experience. We highly recommend the use of Team pages and shots of your staff working elsewhere on the website if possible. Even if you are a one-man-band, put your smiling face up there!
A group shot is a great way to start your Team Page – try not to do the same old firing squad line up though. Get creative.
Be consistent! Think long term – your staff will change over time so pick a well lit spot with a clean consistent background and always take the shots the same way (with or without flash, for example). This way your photos will always line up consistently and look more professional. If getting a professional photographer in, make sure they keep notes of the settings they used so that when they come back to do new shots, they can have consistent results.
If you are doing something more creative like shots of staff doing what they most love to do, or being goofy, or sitting at their workstations, etc. make sure the shots are consistent in style and lighting.
Get professional. There are product lighting kits out there for very reasonable prices. Do a quick search for “product lighting kits” on eBay and you will find plenty to choose from. Even more importantly, get some professional training from a local photographer on how to take product shots. You need to become self-sufficient in this case as products will come and go and you won’t necessarily be able to wait for or afford a professional photographer. If you do, however, have the budget for regular professional photo shots by an expert, go for it! We advice using a professional whenever you can but we realize that most eCommerce businesses are on a tight budget.
Product images should ideally be on a consistent background, usually white. Avoid shadows and shines as much as possible. Make sure the background is spotless and the product isn’t cut off.
We highly recommend getting professionals in for this type of shot (specialty photographer and if necessary models). Beauty shots can be of anything from branded vehicles to people working to fashion models to groups of products. Creative, beautiful photography will make your website, and therefore the first impression of your business, look like a million bucks. Well worth the investment.
File Types and File Sizes
Web designers are generally happy to receive .jpg files that are high in resolution (not web resolution) as there is more flexibility with the photos prior to saving them to web resolution. They can be cropped or a close up of a shot can turn into an excellent background texture for a website page section or button. File sizes of between 1 and 5 mg are ideal.
- Head shots and product photos are generally either square or portrait in orientation.
- Photos inline with text on pages and in posts can be either portrait or landscape.
- Background photos, group photos and slideshow photos should be landscape in orientation.
Submitting Photos to Your Web Designer
High resolution images can be tricky to email if you’ve got a lot of them, so we recommend using a file sharing site such as Dropbox.com. This site is easy to use, all you need is your photos for uploading and your web designer’s email address to share the folder with them.
If you need photographer recommendations or you’d like to have a chat with me or a member of our staff, please give us a call on 022-55002 or email us. We’d be delighted to help!
Niamh Ni Cheabhaill