Hint: Don’t use your camera phone
If you’re going to provide photos to use on your website, you need to start with high quality images. Whether it’s a fairly small shot of a product, or a large, wide photo for the banner, you want to have top quality in the image to make your website stand out and reflect well on your business. You want to avoid having to say the image is good enough. If you have to say that, most likely it’s not.
It starts and often ends with what you shoot. If you don’t have the quality resolution or focus to begin with, there’s really nothing anyone can do. Here are some steps to get you started.
Use a real camera
The camera in your phone is great for spur of the moment photography or shooting selfies with your friends, yet no matter how many megapixels they cram into a phone, the lens still isn’t adequate for high-end images. You want your website to spark interest and impress visitors, and so do we. To accomplish that, we require high-resolution images shot on a real camera.
Use enough lighting
Lighting is essential to see detail in product shots. If an object is well lit, your camera can operate with a greater depth of field, meaning more of the object will be in sharp focus. If you shoot in a dim area, your camera will shoot at too low a shutter speed, blurring the photo unless you use a tripod. A flash will help, but can result in stark, high contrast images that also lose detail. Auto settings on modern cameras can correct the brightness from the flash, giving an acceptable result if the background isn’t important.
Give us the originals
This isn’t like the last century where the originals meant negatives or slides. It’s not that we want the original file your camera creates of the image. What we do want, however, is a non-edited version of that image. That allows us to crop and adjust the image as needed for web design. The easiest way to submit photos, for you and us, is to just burn a CD or DVD with the unedited images and send or give that to us. Make sure you keep a copy of those images yourself.
If you have existing photos and need a size guideline for what will work, think of it this way. The average screen monitor is 1920px by 1080px in size. That is equivalent to 26.7″ by 15″ at a screen resolution of 72dpi.
So we need photos that are in the ballpark of 18-27 inches wide if your computer displays the photo images at 72dpi, or 72 resolution. OR if your camera/computer displays at 300dpi or 300 resolution, the photos would read around 4 to 7 inches wide.
If not ALL of your photos are 1920 x 1080 pixels, that’s ok
We mostly need those really large photos for homepage banner images or backgrounds that stretch the entire width of your site, depending on the design. We use smaller images for content pages throughout your site, so don’t panic if not all of your images are huge. Just know that for full screen size images or opening slideshows on your website, we do need them to be that big. So make sure the shots you really want to show off are sharp, large, high-resolution images.
How do you tell how big your image is?
If you don’t have a photo editing program where you can easily right click an image and get its photo properties to see where it lists the pixel size, or the size in inches, then you can also use the file size as a hint as to how large your images are. You can go to any photo on your computer and right click on the name of it, then scroll down to “properties” – it will pop up a window that shows you the name, type of file, and the size in kilobytes (KB). It should also show you the dimensions in pixels as noted earlier. A general rule of thumb is if the file you are looking at is only 8KB, it’s way too small. If it’s in the range of 350-400KB and up, then it’s much more usable. The larger the images and photos you can give us to work with, the more we can do with them.
Ditch the watermarks
If you’ve had a professional photographer shoot photos for you, and you’ve purchased the rights to all the images – then they should provide you with a disc of images that do not have their watermark or logo on them.
Provide RGB photos. We can convert them if they are CMYK, but CMYK images are made for print and the web will not recognize a CMYK image.
Labeling or identifying photos
Now, if you’ve just shot 300 photos of your warehouse, products, staff, etc. and we’ve just asked you to give us your original images on a cd, then we won’t necessarily make you go through all 300 and rename the photo to what is being pictured (unless you want to….because we ARE ok with that). However, when working on building a site that has several types of products or services, etc. a sorting or filing system of some sort is very helpful. You know your business inside out. You know what every image, product, part, and do-hicky is. We don’t. So it helps if you can at least place product photos into folders labeled for that specific product. This way, we at least have a ballpark of what images to use when creating a page for that particular service.
ON THAT NOTE: Unless you need 300 photos on your website, we probably don’t need all 300. Look through them and narrow them down to the best photos that you took of each piece of equipment. We don’t need the blurry ones, or the ones where people’s eyes are closed. Or if you have 10 photos of the product from the same angle, pick the one you want us to use and just provide those. If you are unsure on a couple, that’s no big deal include them both, but in general weed out the junk images.
Naming photo files
If you can name each photo, terrific. We will love you. Say you have a folder called “products – pumping stations” and inside that folder you have three different types of pumping stations. Name each photo with something that distinguishes what it is. For example: 9500-center-pivot.jpg, 8500-center-pivot.jpg, 7500-small-field.jpg, etc. Not only does this help us make sure we have the correct project photo in place on your site when describing it, but it also helps search engines when your photo is called something relevant to what it is rather than something random like DST000456.jpg (or whatever generic number your camera gave it).