One of the things you need before you dive deep into the design phase of a new website is phenomenal photographs. Honestly, great photos can make a site. We live in a visual, connected world, and if you have a personal brand, people want to see you. Great photographs of you capture your spirit and style—and they make your site sparkle.
If you’ve been using the same head-shot for the last ten years, or if you have only one picture of yourself that you love, or you cropped your partner’s head out of a shot, it’s nigh time you go pro and hire a photographer.
Here are 3 things to know to help you get the most out of your photo shoot.
Know the Feel You Want Your Website to Project
Knowing what feel you want for your site will help you get photos that fit you site.
I’m not asking you to envisage your site design. That’s the web designer’s role. But if you know that you want your site to be bold and bright, what you wear for your photoshoot will need to reflect this. If you want potential customers or clients to feel calm when they work with you, your location and outfit should reflect that. If you’re not 100% sure, choose outfits that have neutral colors without too much pattern.
While your web designer will help choose and refine your site’s color palette, knowing the color families you want to work with will help you make good choices for your website photos. A great place to start is to peruse Pinterest and create an inspiration board either for your website, or even your photoshoot. Save color palettes you love so when the big photoshoot day comes, you can pick outfits to match. Save photos that you love of other peopleso you can be inspired how to pose – or inspire your photographer to direct your poses.
Great photographers can often guide you in what to wear for your shoot so that you can look great and create the feel you want. Better yet, wear a number of different outfits, and choose a few different locations so you have some variety to match the moods of a variety of marketing materials.
Feel comes into play if you need product shots too. When people see your hand-crafted salves do you want them to think homey or healthy? Should the shots exude warmth or do you want an edgy coolness? And while we’re on product shots, it is ideal to have high quality product shots on a white background no matter what.
Get a Wide Variety of Shots
One problem I see a lot is too many tightly cropped shots. Don’t think about getting just a “head shot.” You may want some tight shots focused on your face but ask your photographer to take portrait and landscape versions, close-up and at a distance so that your web designer can do the cropping, rather than the photographer.
The most common photographer’s mistake I see is too many portrait shots, and not enough landscape (horizontal) photos taken from a distance. There is a prevalent trend in website design to have long, narrow images that span the width of the screen. The ratio of height to width is much different from the standard 2 x 3 ratio of most photos.
Imagine holding a 7″ by 5″ photo in your hands and compare that to the width and depth of header photos on your favorite sites. Chances are you’d have to cut your 5″ by 7″ photo in half to give it the same proportions. Again, that’s the designer’s job to cut up (a.k.a crop) your photos. Make sure your photographer knows you need these wide shots with lots of space around you so that we can crop them to match the style dimensions of your site.
See how Emily rocked the wide shot for her home page. If we needed a square or vertical image, we could crop it this photo to work, but it’s a lot tougher to go in the other direction.
Now don’t assume that because you’re thinking of a wider view that you need full body photos. Take a look at this image from Dana da Ponte’s site:
In this playful wide shot, we are close on Dana’s eyes. It’s an unusual treatment, but an intriguing one and it works with the space.
We used a more traditional wide shot here. Dana came to me with beautiful photos that captured her essence beautifully, and were adaptable to a variety of color palettes and design styles, and it made a difference in her site:
Heather’s photographer captured a lot of fun and fabulous action shots of Heather so we ultimately created a montage so as not to miss the opportunity to show-off Heather’s effervescent personality.
Do you hate having your picture taken? A lot of people do. I do! Stiff shots showing that discomfort do you no favors. When choosing a photographer, look for one you feel comfortable with and one who “gets” what you are doing.
A good photographer will help you relax into you, the one you want to shine in your photos.
Understand Costs and Rights
A written agreement with a photographer as a must to help you anticipate costs, know what you can expect, and make sure you have the rights to use the photographs as you want to. Costs to consider are fees for the shoot, how many images you can expect from it, how much editing or retouching will be included, location fees . . .
Additional fees may include clothes, hair, and make up. Not everybody gets elaborate, but if you are having pictures done professionally, make the most of it. Hey, you can finally claim that hair appointment and mani + pedi as a tax deduction!
Rights are particularly important to define. You should have written permission to use the photographs in print and online. Photographers legally own copyright to their photos, so you need explicit permission to use them, which should be arranged as part of your initial agreement. Be sure to find out ahead of time whether you need to credit the photos each time you use them. Ideally, you don’t want to be in that situation.
Is it Absolutely Necessary to Arrange a Photoshoot?
The short answer is no. And it depends. On you, your brand, and what you are selling.
Your designer does not need to rely solely on photos provided by you – but in my opinion, original photos of you set the foundation for the absolute best websites.
That said, it is very possible to source delightful, evocative images from stock photo sites. (It makes my job of expressing your essence visually just that little bit more challenging!). Just look at Emily and Dana’s sites (links above) to see a variety of other photos that accompany their head-shots.
My favorite two sites to find photos are Stocksy and Creative Market. I recommend my new clients search these sites to find photos and create galleries or collections of images they love. I draw upon this for inspiration, and will ultimately burrow deep in the sites to find exemplary photos for my clients. We don’t purchase any photos until the designs are set in stone and we know that the chosen images will work well with the website’s dimensions.
Beautiful pictures and a beautiful website go hand in hand. If you’ve got your pictures and are ready to get your site designed, perhaps we’d be a match made in heaven. Let’s find out!