The Use Of Imagery On Your Website: Your Own, Stock, Or Professional?
Posted on 29th December 2020
Images, specifically photography, have a huge impact on web design. Really captivating visuals can enhance the overall effectiveness of your website and make communicating with your customers much more direct and impactful. In fact, the visuals are often one of the most important parts of any website, but there are various choices that you need to make about what your visuals look like.
Predominantly, this revolves around choosing images that both suit the tone, needs, and aim of your site, and then sourcing these images in a way that means you get high quality visuals without the high-end price tag.
There are generally three ways you can go with this. One is to go it alone and try and take your own photographs to use on your site. Another is to commission a professional photographer to take images for your site. Lastly, you can use one of the many online stock image services. But which is the right option for your business?
Each has its own set of advantages and disadvantages, and below we go into more detail about what each option will bring you and how much it might cost.
As you might imagine, this is the most expensive option and one where getting what you pay for really applies the most. Professional photographers don’t just charge you for their time, you are also paying for their training, experience, equipment, and the impact they can create.
If you want your website to deliver the most positive portrayal of your business, then there is no doubt that commissioning your own set of professional photos is the way to go. Your chosen professional will have an eye for composition, subject matter, lighting and more – all things that a few snaps on your iPhone might not deliver.
Whether the subject matter is people, products, or landscapes, a professional will be able to frame shots and use postproduction techniques to give you shots that work well on your site. This personal touch works really well with your audience and resonates in a way that stock images or your own shots might just not manage.
Authenticity is important when you are trying to cultivate your brand image. However, authenticity generally comes at a price. If you can afford this option, then it is usually the best way to go. If you can’t, then one of the two following options might be more suitable.
These days the phones on cameras are really good. They’re far superior to the cameras of five or ten years ago, and even better than most cameras you could buy up until the digital revolution. Capture a great image on a phone and the resolution will allow you to use it in most marketing situations. Or you can invest in a reasonable quality DSLR camera that won’t break the bank but will provide you with some good shots.
However, if you are going to go your own way, there are a few things you need to consider. First, be critical of your own images. The shot might look good at a glance but is it blurry, out of focus or badly framed? The last thing you need is images that make your brand look unprofessional. Think about the lighting. Is the image too dark to be used on your site?
Think about what time of day you are going to take your shots and what the light will be like. Without expensive professional lighting equipment, you will need to rely on natural lighting.
The subject matter should be things that people can relate to. Try not to be too abstract, even if the image is a good one. Create interesting visuals with closeups and unusual angles.
If professional photography is out of your budget range and you really don’t have an eye for taking your own, your next best option is to get some stock images. They are available on hundreds of stock photo sites online. However, many of these offer little more than cheesy pictures of ‘professional looking’ people pointing at whiteboards or sitting smiling at a computer.
If you are going to use stock images, then you need to try and do it in a way that doesn’t damage your authenticity. You need to choose your stock images carefully. That means making sure you choose shots that communicate your brand voice and add value to the page. If the photo was missing from the page would the message be weakened? If not, then you can probably change it.
You can also alter the stock images by cropping or altering the composition to make them look less boring. Try to choose images of people looking natural. Photos of people looking at the camera and smiling are not ideal. Look around your competitors’ websites and see what kind of stock images they are using for some inspiration.
If you want to give your brand some identity and avoid it simply looking like all the other stock image heavy sites online, you need to be careful in your choice of images. Try and personalise the images and only pick ones that stand out or have something to say.
Whichever route you go down, there are pros and cons for each kind of image. But you should always try and choose images that match your tone of voice and messaging. If in doubt, seek professional advice for choosing images. Here at it’seeze Web Design Twickenham, we can help you to create visuals that really work with your brand.
Our own website features some great images from Andrew Lunn which we feel add to the visual appeal of our site. To get help creating a visually appealing site for your business, get in touch with our team today. As well as designing an eye-catching website for you that has great functionality, you will also get image input from a design professional. As always, we look forward to hearing from you.
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