Tips on Taking Website Pictures For Your Small Business Website

When people view your web design, they expect to see pictures. High quality pictures make a good impression, so you should pay particular attention to taking them. Here are some tips.

Compose pictures for your web pages carefully

Composition

Compose your pictures carefully. The beam of light is the focal point of this picture. The people add to the picture’s composition, not distract from it.

Product pictures should not have shadows

Taking Product Pictures

Use two light sources to avoid shadows and use a uniform grey background. Or, buy a professional light box (described below).


 

General Website Pictures

1. Take Low Resolution Pictures

That’s right, low resolution. Taking pictures for websites is different from taking pictures used to make prints. Website pictures are generally taken at 72dpi (dots per inch). This means that even a 640 x 480 picture is fairly large.

You can probably set your camera for as low as 1280 x 960 pixels or equivalent. If you do not, the result will be a larger file size that will slow down how fast your web page displays. As a guide, the pictures on this page are only 248 x 164.

Regardless of the resolution you choose, edit your pictures so they are the exact size needed on your web page, then upload them. Consider compressing them if they are JPEG (.jpg) images. You do this by setting the image quality when the image is saved. Do not upload full-size pictures and resize them using HTML. If you need a free and very capable photo editor, try http://www.getpaint.net/

2. Lighting

Make sure the pictures you provide are well-lit. Generally, avoid the use of flash unless it is used as fill-in flash. The main source of lighting should not be behind the subject (e.g. a bright window behind the subject). You do not want dark pictures with low contrast.

3. Focus and Composition

All digital cameras take pictures that are in focus, but is the focus on what you want? If you are taking a photo of a person, you may want the background to be out of focus so that it is not distracting. Avoid taking long-distance shots of groups of people. Nobody is going to look at their feet. Take close-ups.

Likewise, if you have a store, a picture of the storefront or an interior isle might be nice, but also take close-ups of individual counters, wall displays, and racks so that visitors can clearly see the kinds of merchandise you offer.

4. Perspective

If you are taking pictures of people, lower your camera (bend down) so that your camera is at chest height, not at the height you would be at if you were standing up. This is the trick that wedding photographers use to take such attractive pictures.

5. Camera Color Temperature Setting

Regardless of what kind of pictures you take, the camera should be set to match the light source.

Do not depend on your camera selecting this setting automatically.

You should manually set your camera to the color temperature of the light source so that colors are accurate. i.e. Sunlight, Cloudy, Incandescent, Fluorescent, etc. All cameras have such settings.

Taking Product Pictures

Product pictures for your small business web design are extremely important. To take good quality pictures, you should invest in a few simple items and use them for all of your pictures.

1. Background Mats

Go to Staples or OfficeMax and buy two 20 x 30 inch foam display boards, commonly used in sales booths and office presentations. Choose a medium grey (works for all) or perhaps dark blue (unless your product is blue). White may not be a good choice because then the brightest part of your picture will likely be the background.

Prop up one board vertically against the other which is horizontal. Now you have a grey bottom surface to place your product on, and you also have a grey background.

2. Buy a Professional Setup

If your budget permits, you can buy a complete table-top shooting kit from suppliers such as B&H Photo. The setup will include a pair of light sources, a light shed (into which you place your product), or a light table.

3. Product Positioning – Use a Tripod

You should use a tripod. The lens should be at the same height as middle of the object. If you hold the camera in your hand, one picture may be focused on the top, one far away, one too close, one to the side, etc. You want product pictures to be consistent.

Mark the exact spot on the bottom mat where each product should be placed, then take your pictures. This way, pictures of three products that may come in different colors come out exactly the same except for just the color.

4. Cropping

Do NOT tightly crop the picture. The product should be in the center of the frame with some background color visible on all sides.

5. Product Lighting

You should use fairly intense lighting on your subject. This forces the camera to use a small aperture so that all portions of the product are in focus. To get started, you can buy two identical halogen desk lamps with 50 watt bulbs (or equivalent if using LEDs). Higher intensity light sources are better because your camera will use a smaller aperture and give you more depth of field. Place the light sources on the left and right sides of your product at about 60 degrees from the front.

I use a diffuse light source for better results, as it eliminates harsh shadows. To do this, I just place a sheet of printer paper in front of each lamp, holding it in place with clothes pins.

TIP: Do not let the paper touch the lamp unless you have marshmallows handy!