Choosing the right images for your website

When it comes to sourcing the right photography for your website, there a several options available. You can…

1. Take photographs yourself

The quality of the average digital camera has vastly improved in recent years. Even smart phone cameras are great at capturing good images.

If you are confident with framing and taking  photos, and can enhance your shots with photo-editing software, then there in no reason you can’t do your own website photography. Plenty companies do, and the results are great. If, however, you’re in a competitive industry where your competitor websites use professional shots, then you might have to look at stock images or a professional photographer.

Take time to consider who you are as a business, your value proposition and target market. And what your customers may be looking for – price, quality, exclusivity, expertise, reliability or variety? The images you choose for your website can help to convey these values to visitors.

If you have an eCommerce site, then good product photography is important. More often than not, the DIY option produces poor quality and badly lit images, which don’t showcase products at their best. See my top three techniques for making ordinary images look great.

2. Buy stock images online

There are a number of image libraries out there with fantastic photography. Most of them offer a fixed fee for an image, depending on use. Some even have a subscription that allows you a certain number of downloads every month. Have a look at iStock and Shutterstock.

Stock image libraries are a great choice for companies who offer a generic product or service, such as utility providers and IT companies. If, however, you are a company with a specific product and a personal offering, then chances are you won’t find your perfect image in a stock library.

3. Use a professional photographer

A professional photographer will be able to offer you a bespoke service, with tailor-made images to suit. You will be able to get advice on the style and subject matter for your web site photography. Your web design agency may be able to recommend someone, but it’s always a good idea do your own research, as photographers all have different styles and areas of expertise. Make sure you agree what sort of rights you have to use the imagery – very important if you intend to use the images in future marketing campaigns and different formats.

Formulate a clear brief of your requirements, before you engage with a photographer, and ask to see samples of similar work they have done. That way you can compare like-for-like and find the best person to take your shots.

Often web design agencies will use a combination of professional photography, stock images and photos supplied by the client in their design.

Tabasco bottles - iPhone 5S (left), professional DSLR (right).

Tabasco bottles – iPhone 5S (left), professional DSLR (right).

Whichever option(s) you choose, the imagery on your website will speak volumes about your company and what you offer – so it’s important to make sure you consider the right approach.

Portrait Salon 2014

Portrait Salon 2014 - Carlotta Cardana

For many photographers, myself included, the annual Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize is a highlight and a must-see exhibition. The portrait competition is open to photographers worldwide, professionals as well as amateurs, and this year more than 4,000 portraits were submitted, from which 60 have been shortlisted to go on show. The exhibition will be open from 13th Nov 2014 – 22nd Feb 2015 at the National Portrait Gallery, London.

I really enjoy visiting the exhibition and seeing the diversity of work on display – from intimate images of friends and family to striking portraits of famous faces. The style of portraiture photography varies enormously, in the use of colour, light and different photographic techniques. I also find it fascinating to read the photographers’ bios and short descriptions of their work, to try and glimpse an insight into the story behind a portrait.

This year, however, I may be fortunate enough to see TWO exciting shows of the best in portraiture photography. The Portrait Salon is exhibiting for the fourth year, and is a unique collection of 70 portraits originally submitted to, and rejected by, the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize. Portrait Salon opened at the Four Corners gallery in London on the 6th November 2014. The print exhibition will later tour the UK – visiting Bradford, North Wales, Scotland, Birmingham and Bristol. Dates can be found on the Portrait Salon website.

Portrait Salon 2014 - Phil Le Gal

Looking at the Portrait Salon portraits and comparing them to the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize images, I find it difficult to distinguish between the quality of work in the two exhibitions. In my opinion, the Portrait Salon is equally as engaging and impressive as the Taylor Wessing Prize portraits. It just goes to show that the perception of what is ‘best’ in photography is very subjective – and that even an image initially rejected can go on to become a winner!

Homeless Fonts

Homeless Fonts is a wonderful initiative by the Arrels Foundation to help the homeless. The Foundation has set up a website – Homelessfonts.org – where you can buy unique fonts for use in advertising and marketing projects, which have been created from the hand-written signs of people living on the streets in Barcelona.

The Foundation invites homeless people to workshops where samples of their handwriting is photographed and converted into a typeface. A good example of how photography can play a vital part in the creative process.

Homeless Fonts - Photographing handwriting

 

Homeless Fonts - Cleaning up the font

I love the simple, clean design of the Homelessfonts.org website. The impactful use of video and beautiful black & white photography really engages, and gives us an insight into these people’s backgrounds and life stories. Knowing who they are also adds personality and understanding to the typefaces they have created.

Homeless Fonts - Creators

Homeless Fonts - Loraine's font

The Homeless Fonts project is run by volunteers and currently has ten designers who have given up their own time to help with the digitalisation process. It takes around two and a half months to create a finished font. Inspiring!