Strong imagery can really make a website; if a website has clean, professional-looking images then this instils trust in the brand and encourages visitors to buy products or services. Website images can grab our attention and make us feel a type of way, not only will this improve your user experience, but in turn, can boost your SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) by improving your bounce rate. If that's not enough, using the right images can improve your conversion rates, as people will respond well to a website that uses good quality imagery and may make your website seem more trustworthy and professional; therefore people may be more likely to use your Call To Action (CTA) buttons. However, not everyone has the budget to hire a private photographer to take beautifully framed, wonderfully lighted images for their website, so instead of relying on the same stock photography as everyone else, here are our 6 tips for taking perfect pictures yourself.
1. Understand your theme
Before you reach for your camera ask yourself "why am I taking these pictures?" While this may seem like a simple question, it is important that you understand the motivation for taking the pictures, and what message you want to portray to your visitors. For example, if you own a relaxing spa, you may want your images to really portray a message of tranquillity and relaxation. This could be clean white images showcasing some of your spa area, your massage table or products. You can use similar businesses to yours to get some inspiration for your own pictures, try and put your own spin on them though so that your pictures are unique. You could even use Google images for inspiration and paste some pictures into a word document, this way you can look back at them when you are ready to take your pictures. You may even want to use Pinterest for inspiration and pin some of your favourite looking images. Looking at professional pictures will give you a good idea of image composition, do you want your subject central or are you going for something a bit more quirky? Also, look at the type of backgrounds they are using, are they clean and crisp or are they colourful? Are they in focus or blurred? Once you have got your vision nailed, you can then go wild with creativity.
2. Have a plan
Good execution comes from good planning; with a well thought out plan, you can counteract difficulties before they arise. The main areas to consider are:
What images would you like to have on your website?
This will depend on whether or not you currently have a website. You will probably have a rough idea of how many images you would like on each page of your website. For example, you may have a photo gallery featured where you can display as many images as you would like. You may have a banner at the top of your homepage where you may show three or more header images. You may need product images for your online shop and even some team photographs to feature on your About Us page. It's a good idea to make a list of all of the images you would like to shoot, so that you don't miss the all-important banner image or your best selling product, then you can cross them off as you go!
Where will you photograph your images?
Location; where are your pictures going to be taken? This could be very straightforward if you own a hotel or attraction, you will be taking your photographs at your business! But be specific, which rooms or features are you going to shoot. If you are taking your own product photographs, then this could be in a room in your house or even outside to make the most of the natural light! You will also need to consider the background of your images. If you want a clean background then a white screen or wall will work well (you could even make this out of paper and cardboard for your own DIY studio). It may be worth having a quick look at your premises and note down some areas that are on hand. Finally, remember that light is important when taking photographs yourself, so try to find somewhere with a lot of natural lighting, or somewhere you can control the lighting to ensure they will look picture perfect!
When do you plan to take your photographs?
Now it is time to plan when you will be taking your pictures. You may need to do this over a number of days for each section of your website. You may have to wait for the optimum weather conditions or even waiting until all staff members are available for your team photos, you may even opt for a group photo which is going to require a little bit more planning. Planning this all out and even writing it down will be hugely beneficial when it comes to executing your photography mission.
3. Take good quality pictures
This is going to depend on whether you are going DIY or professional when taking your pictures. If you are splurging on a professional, then you won’t have to worry too much about the quality of the pictures as you will have seen examples of their work already! However if you don’t have the money to hire a professional, then you can use a DSLR or good quality camera if you have one, alternatively, most smartphones have pretty good cameras these days and will get the job done! Using a tripod when taking your pictures will ensure that they are crisp and clear, and allow you to make slight adjustments quickly and efficiently. You may not even need to hire a tripod or buy one; you could make a tripod out of stacks of books or pop the camera on a steady surface when you are taking your pictures. As we mentioned above, when you are taking your pictures you will need to have taken lighting into consideration, as bad lighting can ruin an otherwise perfect shot!
4. How to execute your vision
You have taken the time to prepare and today is the day (or the first day!) of the big shoot. Since you have prepared your list of images that you need, alongside how you want to frame them and where and how you will be shooting them, you can now simply follow your plan and begin! Just remember to take multiple pictures of the same thing so you have a selection of images to choose from.
5. Use editing software to enhance your images
You have taken your pictures, now what? First, have a look through and delete any that may be blurred or that are not central etc. Next, it is worth looking through your image list (the one you made during planning) to match up the images you would like to use. Once you have this list you can begin editing! While this may sound daunting, it doesn't have to be. If you have previous experience using Photoshop, you can dive straight in, otherwise, we would recommend using a simpler (and free!) editor to make your small touch-ups. Some photo editors that we would recommend are:
Adobe Photoshop - Paid
GIMP - Free
If you are using your Smartphone, then you can use the built-in image editor for basic crops, light changes or contrast settings. You can also use free apps such as PhotoRetouch, which will allow you to remove unwanted subjects that are in your pictures.
Generally, you will probably only need to make a few changes to your images such as colour correction or brightness, so don't worry about trying to make the image "perfect". Most images editors will have simple options for making these changes.
6. Don’t forget to optimise your images for web
Before you upload your images to your website, just be mindful of your website’s page speed. High-quality images tend to have a large file size and this can make your page load slower, and have a negative effect on your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). So it is important that you optimise your images before uploading them to your website. Here is an easy guide for optimising your images.
Please note that if you are using a Smartphone for your pictures, you will need to upload all your pictures to your desktop before compressing them and uploading them to your website.