The importance of good website photography

CampsiteOne of the main things that is often overlooked when planning a website is the imagery that is going to be used. This is especially important if your website is going to be quite heavy on image content, e.g banner slideshows, spotlight images etc. Quite a few websites are let down by the quality of the imagery, common mistakes include:

  • Poorly chosen imagery (not relating to the subject matter or obtrusive colours)
  • Common stock imagery which seems like an afterthought
  • Poor quality images (too small or taken on a poor quality camera phone)
  • Badly cropped images
  • Using unlicensed images

It is important for your website to stand out amongst the crowd in what is now a visual world, good website imagery can ensure that it does.

Plan your website imagery

First of all, it is important to plan the type imagery you are going to use when planning the website content and layout design. The type of imagery you choose may depend on your budget, you may be fortunate and have access to a large image library in house. Alternatively you might seek to hire a professional photographer who can choreograph a set of images for your website to tell the visual story of your company.

Initially you are going to want to have a basic ‘wireframe’ of your website, this will normally be done at a planning stage, although this stage may be skipped on smaller websites. The wireframing stage will allow you to plan what content you will have on each page, most importantly key areas like banner slideshows, spotlight images, feature images and in page imagery will be considered. Once you have done this you should have a clearer idea of the types of image you require and if this need to be sourced using stock libraries or by hiring a photographer.

Types of website imagery

Once you have a plan for your website then you will need to start looking for imagery, the type of images needed will depend on what the function of the website is:

Product photography

This would be mainly for eCommerce and catalogue websites, unless you are confident of getting decent images yourself (e.g. from a manufacturer or in-house) then you will need to hire a photographer who can either come to you or provide a studio for a photoshoot. With product images it is vital that their is a level of consistency between the images. Quite often this will mean isolating products on a white background and ensuring a square crop for final insertion into the website. If you are provided images from a manufacturer make sure you check with them that you are licensed to use them on your website and that they are of a decent size. For web, it is advisable to have product images at least 1500px high or wide assuming you will want customers to enlarge them. If you are planning a zoom type facility then the images may need to be bigger still.

Concept photography

This type of photography would be often led by a branding team or a designer who would help you select suitable images to compliment a theme / USP. These images maybe carefully selected stock images or carefully commissioned images from a photographer. The correct use of colour / tone maybe vital depending on the design of the website.

Portrait photography

These days it is quite common to include a ‘meet the team’ section on your website, this helps to add a personal touch to your company and can lend trust to your visitors. These pages can look bad if the images have been snapped on someones phone, in different locations and different sizes. It is much better to employ a professional photographer who can visit you and take professional portraits of your team. If you don’t have the budget for this, then try to use a tripod and get everyone to sit in front of a similar background. Of course, you might be looking for something a bit more individual, so you might encourage your employees to get involved themselves.

Interior photography

Architectural photography

If your place of work is central to the customers (e.g. physical store, restaurant, pub etc) then you will want to provide good interior and exterior shots of your business. If you have the budget it is worth getting a professional in to take some curated photographs so that they can potray your business in the best light. If have an architectural or building firm it is worth investing in  decent digital SLR camera to document all of your completed projects and work in progress. The images from these can become part of invaluable website case studies.

Event photography

If our business runs regular events, make sure you document these regularly. Perhaps you have an employee who is a keen photographer, get them involved in the events. For the bigger events you would probably look to hiring a professional team to cover your event.

Stock photography

Sometimes if is just not possible to provide imagery from your own sources, it is then time to consider using stock photography. First of all, make a list of all the types of images you will need and the sort of dimensions you might need (e.g. portrait, landscape, panoramic, banners etc). It is sometimes worth spending a bit more on key imagery to ensure you get images that are not used too widely. A lot of the top stock image websites have excellent search facilities which allow you to search by key words and even colour.

Here are some examples of good stock photography websites :

IStockphoto

Fotolia

Shutterstock

Big Stock Photo

Dreamstime

Getty Images

Expect to pay a minimum of £5 for a web based image, although on websites like Getty the prices are considerably higher due to better quality of imagery.

If you are looking for free stock images, here are a number of websites:

Pexels

Pixabay

Freeimages

Adding your imagery to your website

Once you have your imagery, it is important to ensure that images are correctly sized before uploading. If using images for a banner slideshow you will need to ensure that the images are cropped to the dimensions provided to you by your web developer. Whilst most modern CMS like WordPress automatically resize your images for you, it is never a bad idea to size them first to the maximum dimensions required. Typically for a website, 1500px wide or high would normally be sufficient unless you are planning on showing your images full screen. Photoshop is generally accepted as the best image editor around but for most people this might be too expensive, as an alternative there are plenty of free images editors available to download online.

In conclusion

Don’t let your website get let down by poor images, make sure you plan your website imagery, talk to your website designers they may even help you source images if you are finding it difficult. At Dreamabstract we actively encourage our clients to get involved in the selection of suitable imagery and work with them at the planning stage. We provide a website photography service and can also provide photographers to get the shots you require should you need something more bespoke.