Photography is a powerful demonstration of your brand and your values. As people, we connect quickly with visuals as they convey complex emotions in seconds. As a result, they are a key element in any website and marketing.
Just as an engaging photo can resonate with a visitor and make your brand more memorable, bland photos are forgotten as is the company that used them. But if you’re not sure how to use photographs to your advantage, here’s a quick run down of a few of the top ways to use photographs on your website to your advantage.
Images with people
Including images with people can add an element of human touch. Often used in charities and humanitarian organizations this concept can also be used in business oriented websites with photographs of meetings, coffee chats, computer work stations, etc. Not sure how to integrate photos of people? Think of showing happy customers, happy sales people, people enjoying the product or service, etc.
Be extremely cautious here to avoid the typical (and dreaded) stock art photography. This is often the cheapest or even free so it can be tempting to use these if you’re on a budget. However, they have the opposite effect on visitors and have been known to repel instead of engage.
Faces are not required. In fact, viewers tend to project themselves into the image more when faces aren’t included. Cropping these yourself may prove tricky at first but practice makes perfect! Try focusing on hands and core bodies (not limbs). Better yet, several images may have already done the cropping for you.
Using your images to reflect a more inclusive audience can be a powerful move to signal your values. Using images that combine both your business subject + people of colour or visible minorities can be more difficult to find and should be a clear signal that we need to insist on these images in our marketing until they are commonly used and seen.
Images with filters
Adding a filter to an image can add a dimension of interest or an element of branding. This can help expand imagery choices or allow you to repeat images if you’re working from a limited selection. Often used as header images or inset with website copy or on a blog post, filters are quite common.
Using photos with a filter (think Instagram) can add a different feel to the photo. They can be used to add brightness, darkness, grittiness, or you can add colour filters to add in an element of branding. You will likely need a design program to add these to larger images for your website.
Near and Far Combinations
It’s important to combine a blend of different perspectives in your images. Using a combination of images taken from a distance as well as a few from close up brings an element of interest and is easier on the eyes when scanning a page. It’s also a great way to force the viewer to focus or ‘see’ something they wouldn’t usually – like a minor branding element or product shot.
Images with messaging
Often seen as header images, adding text to an image brings even more context to an image. This is a great tactic to use for vague photographs. Photographs of writing on a sticky note or sitting at a computer can be seen as common, but when you add branded messaging the visual is used to support the message and can be an effective tool to engage with the copy.
However, if you choose an image that is clearly unrelated, this can look ridiculous. So make sure there is SOME connection between the two.
As part of our website system package, we offer a branded photoshoot with a partner photographer – Three Crowns (who is quite simply amazing). This offers an incredible element of custom branding not often seen in small business. When a website design has already been created you can work to create the images you need at the best angles instead of making what you have fit the mold or spending hours on photo sites finding something that still doesn’t really fit.
Using branded photography is a great way to demonstrate your values very clearly. Using work scenarios in real space with actual employees and work items can leave you with some pretty incredible images. This is also a wonderful way to bridge the online and offline!
Free vs. Paid images
There are many photo sites to grab images. Some are paid and some are free.
Paid photos offer more complex settings or specific scenarios to choose from. If your business works within a niche industry or offers a niche product or service you may be stuck with paid images. This can offer you natural looking and very specific images that often fit the bill.
Free photo sites are great for certain types of photos. But you can also take a few of your own! I wouldn’t recommend this for large ‘hero’ type images, but for smaller product shots – as a small business – they usually work just fine. Be careful of using too many filters.
TIP: We LOVE working with photographers on our website creations as it gives us more creative control and delivers an exceptional branding experience for the website. Our top recommendation for local photographers that we’ve worked with is Three Crowns out of Oakville. So if you’ve never done a photoshoot or are toying with the idea of doing some branded photos – NOW IS THE TIME!