As Emphasize Design’s content developer, my main job is to help set up your site structure and create the content for your pages as needed. I work mainly with words, and am skilled at providing the correct meta data needed in order to optimize for SEO, otherwise known as good search engine results.
Mike, our site designer, is the one who makes your websites look beautiful. He is tremendously talented at working with the content I provide, plus your brand, and combining the two to come up with something spectacular.
During the site-building process, and depending on our client and their needs, we will sometimes ask if there are any photos available of their business, products or employees (or all of the above). We do understand that photography, never mind website photography, is not necessarily a priority for many business owners, but it is very important.
First and foremost, photos literally paint a picture of your business and what it’s all about. They are the first thing people will notice on your page (unfortunately, it’s not the words, but I’ve learned to get over that). They also provide credibility that you are a “real” and trustworthy business that is actually providing the service you are purporting to.
If you don’t have any website photography available for your site build, we highly suggest hiring a professional photographer to help build a photo library for you. Professional photographers have thousands of dollars worth of equipment including specialized lenses that can take wonderful photos even in the most cramped and complicated spaces, and lighting equipment to ensure the best features of your products and people are presented. Your photo library will be invaluable not only for your website, but also for your social media marketing, as well as for any email marketing campaigns and whitepaper development you may want to embark on.
If you don’t have the capital to hire a professional, however, here are a few tips for how to help make your website photography look great.
Taking Photos of Your Business
Even though most smart phones come with very good cameras these days, investing in a good camera and lens – and then learning how to use it – is a smart move for any business owner. Basic DSLR cameras set on “Auto” will generally provide attractive images that don’t look, well, look like they were taken by a cell phone.
If you have a storefront, consider the following ideas for your website photography:
- Remember the “rule of thirds.” This is Photography 101. When you take a photo, picture two lines going horizontally across the viewfinder, and two going vertically. Where those lines cross is where you should place the main subject of your photo.
- Consider when your business looks best. Does the morning light provide a pretty glow? Does the mid-afternoon sun stream in nicely through your windows? Take advantage of natural light when you can, as without professional lighting equipment it will provide the best chance for a nice photo.
- Pick one subject. This can be hard if you have a shop or storefront with a lot going on, but you’re better off to pick one main subject for each pic and letting the rest be the background.
- Avoid staging too many photos. Try to catch your staff doing the things they do best – helping customers, putting out products, and generally taking care of your business.
- Learn how to edit. Cropping photos to take out unnecessary content is practically a necessity each time, as lenses tend to be too wide. You can also adjust brightness and colour accordingly, which helps when there is bad lighting in an area.
Taking Photos of Your Products
Product website photography is an art unto itself, and it’s very, very difficult to take good product photos without the right equipment, such as a good camera and lights. Most of the time you should be able to access product photos from the company from which you purchased them, and usually, if you ask permission, you may be able to use them. But if you can’t, here are some tips for taking product photos on your own:
- A tripod or a stabilizer of some sort is mandatory for product photos. The camera needs to be as still as possible.
- Good lighting is also imperative. Renting lighting equipment is a smart idea, and you can ask for a quick tutorial for how to set it up. If that’s not an option, as mentioned, natural light is your best bet if you are unable to access a professional lighting kit.
- Shoot in front of a blank or neutral background. Craft paper clipped to a high rack of some sort then rolled down to cover a table works very well. Place your product where the paper meets the table.
- Try to avoid shadows.
- Take shots from a number of different angles.
Taking Photos for Your ‘About Us’ Page
For small businesses, website bios for the “About Us” page can help convey the type of company you have. Introducing yourself to potential customers will assist them in feeling more connected to and trusting of your business.
Unfortunately, a selfie of yourself in a non-professional setting is not ideal for your website bio pic. A professional website bio pic is called a “headshot” — generally taken from the chest up — and a good one of you can be used for many things, not just your bio.
Take bio pics using attractive, natural lighting. They should be able to portray the subject’s personality at the same time as bring out their best features. If you are acting as the photographer, do your best to help the subject look friendly, relaxed, and competent. Make sure you feel comfortable with the photographer you choose, as that will help result in the best photo possible. This article by Digital Photography School offers a number of helpful hints, such as telling the subject to lead with their forehead, getting them to cross their arms and having them add a slight lean to their stance.
More About Website Images
When we add images to your website, we will always use them wisely. A previous series of blogs we put together speaks about the many details that must be thought about when adding photos, stock imagery, or animations. The first part deals with understanding copyright and where and how to use images. The second part deals with making images relevant, choosing impactful images and adding appropriate titles.
We also have a blog prepared for making your images work for SEO as well.
Website design for small businesses is what we do, and we care deeply about helping you attract attention online in a positive manner. Check out our portfolio for examples of what we can do.