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10 Tips for Getting Beautiful and Professional Looking Imagery on Your Website

Website_Images

When it comes to figuring out what type of content to have on your website, one of the most important aspects of engaging your audience is to use professional-looking imagery throughout your site. And when we talk about imagery, it’s important to remember, that imagery doesn’t necessarily have to mean photos. Imagery could also mean digital graphics or content, which might be easier or more relevant for some of you to create rather than photos.

Here is why you should focus on creating the best quality imagery for your website:

  • Readers are smart enough nowadays to know if you’re using stock photography or stock graphics, which can often come across as inauthentic or impersonal
  • Readers expect high-quality photos and graphics
  • If you don’t have custom photography/imagery on your website, you lose credibility right away

One problem many people face when they’re first starting a website is not having a large budget to work with, especially when it comes to making the website look professional. Most people who start a website are probably not professionally trained photographers or graphic designers, and hiring those that are can be expensive, especially when you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for. 

But what’s nice about technology these days is that there is a huge selection of cheap cameras and tools that will allow essentially anyone to create beautiful imagery  quickly and easily.

If you’re wondering how to create beautiful, professional-looking imagery for your website without having to spend a lot of money, then look no further, because below are my top 10 favorite tips for creating the best looking professional imagery for your website, even if you have no photography or graphic design experience.

#1 Use a Free High-Quality Stock Image Site Like Unsplash

You don’t want to use stock images for all the photos on your website, but when you’re just starting out, free high-quality stock image sites like Unsplash can be an invaluable tool. The reason why I recommend Unsplash is that all the photos are of high quality, both in composition and in resolution, without looking like your typical stock image photos. They also have a pretty decent search function and a huge collection of images, so you can find photos on almost any subject.

More importantly, images available on Unsplash are royalty-free, are free to use commercially, and you can even edit the stock images to fit your website theme.

Just remember that people are very savvy now when it comes to being able to tell if you’re just using stock images or not. Again, if your entire website is made up of stock images, you will lose credibility as your website experience will feel inauthentic.

#2 Mix Up Your Content by Creating Free Graphics , with Canva

Having an array of high quality, professional-looking photos is not the easiest thing to accomplish, especially if you’re not a photographer.  Additionally,there will be times when it just doesn’t make sense to use photos for specific parts of your articles, or they just wouldn’t be relevant to certain areas of your website. 

When this happens, one of the best solutions I have found is to create custom graphics through free tools, like Canva.

If you haven’t used Canva before, it’s a very powerful graphic design tool with a huge selection of different elements and templates that are free to use. Even if you have zero graphic design knowledge, I guarantee you’ll still be able to create beautiful graphics through its easy-to use drag and drop editor. Many of the templates are already even pre-designed for you, and you just have to replace the content with your own. It’s also a great starting point to draw inspiration from and to work off of when creating your own graphics.

As a heads up, some of their more specific graphic design elements are locked behind a paywall. Usually buying these graphics one-off only cost a couple dollars, and I’ve found that their free design elements and templates more than fulfill my graphic design needs anyways. However, if you do find yourself paying for a lot of these design elements, or if many of the designs you want to use are not free, then it might make sense to try out their Pro Plan. 

It’s actually a pretty good deal at $9.99 per month for 1 user, and it gives you unlimited access to all their designs with even deeper customization tools. Plus, subscribing to the Pro Plan is still much cheaper than hiring a graphic designer. 

#3 Plan and Batch the Photos You Will Need Before Creating Them

Eventually, you will need some photos for your website, whether that be headshots for your team,  images to enhance the overall look and feel of your site, or product photos for your sales page.

One of the best ways to save time and money is to plan ahead and think through all the various types of photos that you’ll need throughout your entire website. By planning ahead and visualizing the look of your entire website instead of just one specific article or product, you’ll be saving time in the long run by finding photos that you can batch together. 

And if it makes sense for you to hire a professional photographer, it will also save you money since you’ll be hiring them for one project versus multiple. 

#4 Learn How to Get the Best Out of Phone Photography

The cameras on most modern smartphones are more than capable of capturing stunning, high quality photos. With that said though, because the sensor size is much smaller on phone cameras, there are certain things you should watch out for and features you should use to get the most out of your smartphone camera.

Here are some of my favorite tips for phone photography:

  • Use portrait mode to create more depth of field with a blurry background for your portrait and product photos.
  • Take advantage of the camera’s HDR mode for a better dynamic range. This is especially useful if you’re taking photos at sunset or sunrise times.
  • Use free photo editing apps such as Snapseed or Lightroom to edit your photos directly on your phone after capturing them.
  • Experiment with different perspectives and angles which are easier to do with a phone.
  • If you’re taking action shots, use the camera’s burst mode to freeze the action and capture it exactly how you want.
  • Don’t use digital zoom as it’s only enlarging the pixels in the image which will decrease its resolution.

#5 Use Basic Compositional Rules as Guidance

One of the easiest ways to create more interesting and dynamic images is to follow one of the basic compositional techniques when you’re framing the subject. Of course, all rules are meant to be broken, but these compositional techniques are a great starting point for any picture.

Here are three of my favorite composition rules to use:

  • Rule of Thirds: The rule splits up your image into imaginary vertical and horizontal thirds. The main theory behind the rule is that if you place the main subjects in your composition along the imaginary lines or intersections which the Rule of Third creates, then your overall image will be more balanced and interesting.
  • Leading Lines: Leading lines are lines in the image which are used purposefully to draw the viewer’s attention to a specific subject. What’s important to note is that the lines don’t always have to be obvious, such as a long road or bridge, but they can also be more abstract and subtle, such as waves in the ocean for example. 
  • Foreground Interest: Including something in the foreground is one of the best ways to create more depth in an image. One of my favorite ways to do this is to frame the subject with brighter colored or softer items, such as flowers and leaves in the foreground.

#6 Invest in a Previous Generation Mirrorless Camera

You really don’t need the newest and most updated camera in order to take great photos for your website. In many cases, mirrorless cameras that are a generation or two older still have the same sensor size as the newest generation camera, and are still able to take great photos.

Maybe most importantly, by buying an older camera, you’ll be saving money, which you can then invest back into your website. If you don’t have a camera yet, some of my favorite “older” cameras that take really high-quality photos include the Sony a6500 and the Nikon D3100.

#7 Take Your Photos in RAW Format and Edit Them Using Photo Editing Software

To get the most out of each and every photo, it's best to take your photos in RAW format and then edit them using a photo editing software, like Adobe Lightroom.

Taking your photos in RAW format has many advantages. With RAW format, your camera captures more data, giving you much greater flexibility to edit the photo as you please in post production. Additionally,it’s much easier to correct any flaws in the image - like if you over or underexposed the image - when it’s taken in RAW format. 

Although shooting in JPEG format might seem more convenient because the photo has already been processed for you in the camera, this also means it won’t be as easy to change because it’s already been processed.

#8 Invest in High-Quality Lightroom Presets

You might have seen the latest influencers and pretty much anyone under the sun that claims they’re a content creator selling their own Lightroom presets, which has kind of given presets a bad reputation with so many being sold. It can be hard to sift through the offers for high quality presets, but in my professional experience, investing in a good set of Lightroom Presets is still one of the best ways to create a consistent look and style throughout the images you use on your website. Plus, it’ll save you a lot of time to use a preset on your images instead of having to edit each one manually.  

However, keep in mind that Lightroom Presets are not a one-click photo editing solution. Since the settings of each image you take is different, they are best used as an initial base foundation for your edits before you make additional (minor) adjustments to your photo

#9 Create a Color Theme and Stick to it

Taking stunning photos specifically for a website is different than just taking great photos for your own enjoyment or even for commercial use. When you take a photo just to take a photo, all you have to worry about is that specific photo. However, when you use a photo on your website, it will look more put together if the photo is in cohesion with the rest of your site. 

The easiest way to do this is to create a color theme and style for your website, and to make sure your photos also match this color scheme/theme. For example, if your website is all about outdoor gear, and you have a moodier “Pacific Northwest” vibe, then make sure each photo you use communicates this color and style

Going off of tip #8, using high-quality Lightroom presets will help you create a consistent look throughout all your images.

#10 Optimize Your Imagery for the Web

Even if you have the highest quality high resolution images, they can still create a poor experience for your readers if they’re not optimized for the web. If you have too large of an image file, then it will slow down your website, but  if your image file is too compressed, then the photo will look pixelated and blurry. 

If you have and use Lightroom, I have found that decreasing the image quality to around 70 works the best for the web..

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Thursday, 21 January 2021

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