Why do you need professional photos on your website?

Tips for taking your own photos for social media and how to avoid copyright issues….

I am really pleased to bring you a guest blog by Pennie Withers of Photos By Pennie.

Are you having a new website built for your business? Or perhaps you have a great looking website, but are looking to freshen it up? Either way – you will need some cracking, beautiful website photos to really give it that WOW! Factor. You may also need photos for your social media posts.  Read on for some top tips as to how to get the best photos for your business.

Now obviously, I’m hoping you’ll look at my website (that’s http://www.photosbypennie.co.uk by the way!), immediately pick up the phone and book me for your business photos. However, even if you don’t book me, I would love to at least be able to convince you WHY you need professional photos on your site (and while I’m on my soap box, on your social media too!). If I’ve piqued your interest…..here’s why:

Apparently, our brains react differently to visual stimuli. This is because the brain deciphers images instantly, whereas words take more time to process. Photos or images are in fact, processed 60,000 times faster than text.

So – why should this matter to you?

Well, you can spend hours and hours creating a new website with fantastic, eloquent words, but I hate to break this to you, people rarely read website content word for word. However, have fantastic, professional photos on there and immediately, you are creating the impression that your business is professional. The photos reinforce your brand, they can show what you have to offer and in a nutshell, enable your business to create the right impression. In turn, people will want to do business with you. That’s good, right?!

On top of this – don’t forget that if you have a set of professional photos of your business, you can also use them in your social media. It’s a win:win – 2 jobs for the price of one! And if you don’t believe me, here’s some figures…..According to Media Blog – tweets that include a photograph, are 35% more likely to be retweeted. Add to this the fact that Facebook posts that have a photograph in will obtain on average, 87% more interaction. Make sense?

In case you’re not convinced, look at the photos below.  My client was Alison Harmer, a copywriter and. She was having a new website built and didn’t want generic stock images. So, we spent a couple of hours setting up specific shots and hey presto…..a unique website with striking professional photos. http://harmereditorial.co.uk/

So – hopefully you’re now fully convinced of the need for professional photographs on your website and social media posts. If you’d like to have a chat about how I might be able to help you, please give me a call on 07715 889457 or click here to send me an email.

While you’re here however – I promised to give you some tips for topping up your professional photos with some of your own which you can use on your blogs and social media posts. So, here goes:

Tip 1 – The rule of thirds: images where the subject is off centre are always much more interesting.  Divide your camera frame into 9 squares (see below) and place your subject on one of the intersecting lines – instantly your photo will look much better. E.g.;

Tip 2 – Use leading lines to create interest in your shot.  So – a bit like the rule of thirds, you are basically just making your shots that little bit more creative than just photographing from straight on. Here are some examples where things like walls, horizontal lines and a pathway are used to add that interest:

Tip 3 – Do NOT use flash!  If you are using a phone, the  flash is never any good and the photos end up looking really rubbish.  So – take my advice, take your photos on overcast days – you won’t get any shadows or rings under the eyes.  Or – if you can’t avoid a bright, sunny day, head for some top-shade.  This is created either by doorways or under trees.  Your subject will still be lit beautifully but won’t be blinded by the sun.

Tip 4 – on the same subject as top 3 (i.e. – lighting….) try to shoot your photos during the ‘golden hour’.  This is the time either shortly after sunrise or before sunset during which almost all photos look absolutely gorgeous.  (Think those holiday photos early evening when the sun is going down). E.g.:

pic 7

Tip 5 – Control Exposure. This is fairly limited on smart phones, but can still make a big difference. On I-phones when you have a photo you’d like to take, simply tap and hold the screen and you will see a slider, which allows you to increase/decrease exposure, and lock it. This can also lock focus – so you can decide what is in focus and what is not.

Tip 6 – minimize your editing effects. I’m a sucker for a filter on Instagram, and it can be fun to apply them but before you do it, ask yourself is it necessary?  Is it possible they detract from the image?  Sometimes, a simple crop, good lighting and composition are all that is necessary. Here is a photo that has been edited way too much!

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Finally, Tip 7 – Keep your lens clean! It may sound really obvious, but you’d be amazed what I see…..your phone sits in your pocket, your handbag, on your desk etc. and gathers finger prints and goodness knows what else in the process.  Before you take a photo – give it a little wipe and you’ll be guaranteed crystal clear photos every time!

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And now onto the thorny subject of Copyright.

When a professional photographer takes a photograph, they own the copyright.  Unless they explicitly give over the copyright (usually in return for a fee), they retain it.  All the images that I take are supplied to my clients with a full and unrestricted license to use them in any media over any time period. I retain the copyright ALWAYS. I have never found this to be an issue with any of my clients and indeed, have been fortunate enough never to find anyone using any of my images without permission.

One question you may ask however is, how can you find professional photos which you don’t have to pay for.  Whilst I wouldn’t particularly want to encourage this (!), I have to accept that sometimes there is a need for this kind of thing.  So – here are a few suggestions.

Dreamstime.com – you may have to pay for some of these, but they also have free ones. Pixabay – there are also some Shutterstock images on their site, which you must pay for but that is how they finance offering free ones. FreeImages.co.uk – this site is financed by paid for advertising however again, the images are free.

So again, I hope this was useful.  If you have any questions or would like to have a chat about photographs for your website or social media, do give me a call on 07715 8895457 or drop me an email on pennie@photosbypennie.co.uk.