Picture Perfect - Tips for taking beautiful website photographs

Powerful and elegant images are essential for professional standard websites.

I would always recommend carrying out a professional shoot or using professional stock photography, however the problem this often presents to small business owners is that it can prove to be too expensive. As a result they may fall into the trap of using poor quality photography or regrettably "borrowing" photos illegally from other website sources. To help avoid the latter at all costs, I have added some quick tips below that will help you on your way.

The likelihood is that you will not be able to justify the cost for a digital SLR camera and the subsequent training for your website alone, with that in mind all of the tips have been drawn up for the camera in your smart phone.

1. Think of the application

It may sound fairly obvious however I would highly recommend drawing up a quick plan of action for the number of photos you require, the environment and finally how they are going to be displayed. It doesn't require more than 15-20 minutes of planning, however it will certainly pay dividends in the long run. 

Here are the two main types of photos that I work with when designing a website:

a) Banner images

These fit across the top of the page and the quality is essential to give a great first impression to the website/page. Make sure you take these in landscape orientation and far enough away from the focal point if possible. This will make it easier for the image to work in banner format when you upload to the website (as much of the to and bottom section of the photo has been cropped away). The end result is that the width of banner images are often far greater than the height (as much as 5:1 ratio). If you are taking a photo of a person or close up object, you will need to ensure that there is a considerable backdrop either to the left or right of the focal point.

b) Content fillers (e.g. homepage blocks)

Content fillers can generally be more flexible and are therefore easier to accommodate into your website. Orientation can be portrait or landscape, although I would recommend working to a theme. Photos that are cropped to square can also provide a wonderful balance to the page, especially if displayed in a row. In most cases, content fillers can also be taken closer to the action as the aspect ratio is generally closer to the camera default (e.g. 4:3 or 16:9).

2. Prepare the environment

It's always worth carrying out a quick tidy-up to ensure that any unsightly objects are not in the shot. Also think of the angle of the shot required (lighting will often play a roll as described in the next point). 

3. Lighting

Working with light sources is generally the most important Always acknowledge the light source and where possible allow it to work for you. If taking a photo indoors, always try and ensure the light source (for example a window or open door) is behind the camera. This ensures that all of the light falls on your point of focus. Take the photo into a light source and there is a good chance that all you will see is shadows, regardless of the quality of your camera. If the environment isn't well lit, try and fill the photo with artificial light by switching on any lights and or lamps in the room.

4. Post-shoot editing

Squarespace has a built-in editor that is both intuitive and fairly powerful, you can view Squarespace image editor tutorials by following this link. Again think of the application. Is the photo best suited in original format or cropped to square? Does a black and white image fit the website better? It is often worth asking these questions to the website designer, giving you a consistent platform to work from going forward.

Hopefully these points will help to provide you with a good starting point. Should you have any questions regarding the tips in this post, feel free to get in touch!