Website photography 101


The photography on a website is far more important than most people realize. Why does it matter? Here are a couple facts to ponder:
  • 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual
  • visuals are processed 60,000X faster in the brain than text
So... which did you do first? Read the text above? Or look at the photo?
Most people saw the photo first - it's just the way we're programmed. The photo doesn't really have anything to with the content on this page - yet it has everything to do with the message.
There are so many sites which settle for mediocre photos, or substitute text-filled graphics where photos should be emphasized. Raise your hand if you've ever used a graphic with a bunch of text and logos on your homepage? Yup, my hand is raised. And we all had justifiable reasons for doing it... right? Well, the next time you feel the urge to take a shortcut with your site's imagery, think about this:
  • photography provides a personal connection to your event, venue or destination - and your brand
  • photography allows site visitors to virtually experience what you have to offer - at any time
  • photography evokes desire in your visitors to do what they see others doing

So, what makes a good photo?

And, more specifically, what makes a good photo for your website? Here are the four key points to consider when selecting your site imagery: 

  • Image Quality - High quality photography is often 'invisible' because during a user experience, good photos help guide you through a purchase or task on a website. It helps make the process enjoyable. Bad photos however, can really resonate with users, and work against the flow of any online task because your audience will be “interrupted” by low quality images or out-dated images. Bad photos can also cause your site to appear cheap or low quality overall. 

    not%20so%20superdome.jpgnow%20thats%20superdome.jpgComposition also affects quality. The first image above lacks color, balance and emphasis. The second image is pretty much the opposite: great color, balance, a point of emphasis, and the eye can flow around the entire photo to take it all in.
  • Effectiveness - Is the photo effective? The first image below is one you may have snapped with your smartphone from in front of the stage just before the big show… but the second photo captures some human emotion instead of focusing on the crowd itself. Part of the interest is the photographer's perspective and the wide angle lens that was used. There's nothing wrong with sourcing some exciting stock imagery to help promote that emotional feeling. 


  • Message - What's the message you're trying to get across? Sure, you want to show an event is well attended... but the image on the left may appear crowded, hot & sweaty. Make sure you control the message with just the right amount of 'success' at your event, venue or destination.



  • User Response - It’s important to consider with each photo what you want someone to do. Choosing photos that might not be the overall sweeping shots, might even be better, so folks think, MAN! I want to buy a ticket so I can go experience that too! Perhaps the most important thing to consider on the usage of photography in your online marketing is “empathy” and “aspiration.” You want your visitors and online marketing audiences to WANT to be a part of what you are doing.


And that's all the basics of website photography. Now you just need to take a bunch of photos! And what a great time to be a photographer... you can get high quality images from point & shoot cameras, DSLRs with interchangeable lenses, or the camera that you probably have within an arms reach right this very second: your smartphone. They're all great options, depending on your budget.

If taking photos just isn't your thing, there are other options:

  • hire a local photographer - and if you don't have the budget, offer to trade photography services for: event tickets, a showing of the photographer's work in your lobby, or provide them with a booth at an event. Of course, you might find a hobbyist who just gets a kick out of seeing their work (with a photo credit) on your site.  
  • use stock photos - and if you don't have the budget for buying images, there are some great sites which provide photos at no cost.
  • utilize fan photos - your site is built to accept user-submitted images, so all you need to do is explain during the upload process that any photos provided can be used for your marketing purposes.
  • reuse photos on your social media - you might already have a ready-to-use archive of images on Facebook.

Finally, here's a couple of resources that you might find helpful:

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