Within the entire process of putting your website together, choosing your photos has got to be one of the most fun parts. But before you get lost in the excitement of choosing your images, make sure to steer clear of these four common pitfalls.
Whenever I’m working with a client on a new website design, hands down one of the things they get MOST excited about is picking out their photos (whether from their own photoshoot or from a stock photography website).
And why not?
Images are a powerful tool that can take your website to a higher level, conveying the feelings and emotions that words alone simply cannot.
But here’s the thing: with great power comes great responsibility.
While strong images do indeed have the power to transform your website into something that reaches the hearts of your viewers, they ALSO have the power to diminish your website to something that comes across as unprofessional or confusing, or might even send visitors away.
But fear not. Arm yourself with the knowledge of the four common photo pitfalls below, and you’ll ensure that when you choose your website photos, you’ll be picking ones that will serve you well.
Mistake #1: Choosing photos that clash stylistically.
One of the primary benefits of hiring a professional photographer to take the photos for your new website is that you can bet all those photos will mesh with one another, creating an overall aesthetic that is united and cohesive.
When we’re choosing our photos on stock websites, a danger we can run into without realizing it is choosing photos that are starkly different in their style. This will result in a website that appears discombobulated and presents an overall confusing message. As you’re looking at photos, pay close attention to the color hues and lighting styles used. Try to choose a collection of photos that look like they all come from the same vein. I like unsplash.com because their photos seem to all have a similar aesthetic vibe.
Mistake #2: Showing the THING, not the RESULT.
When choosing photos, it’s usually our first inclination to choose photos that show our service directly. For example, a web designer might choose photos of computers. A floral arranger might choose photos of bouquets.
But ask yourself this: what is the ultimate gift, the ultimate end result that your customers receive by way of working with you? For a web designer like myself, it’s not a computer – it’s the confidence a business owner will feel when they know their website perfectly emulates the experience of sitting down with them face-to-face for a cup of coffee. And for a floral arranger, it’s not the bouquet itself – it’s how uplifted a person can feel when they’re thought of by someone they love. What sort of photo would depict those outcomes? Answer that question, and NOW you’re choosing powerful photos.
Mistake #3: Choosing stock photos that look like, well, stock photos.
Let’s face it: not all stock photos are created equal. Some of them are bad – really bad. Poor lighting, unauthentic smiles, and groups of people who look posed and fake (i.e. high-fiving in the office) – are just a few of the qualities of stock photos you’ll want to avoid altogether.
So what makes a good stock photo? It’s more a feeling than anything else. Does the shot come across as authentic? Do the people look like real people and not paid models? If you’re not a highly visual person, this might be a good area in which to get some professional help.
Mistake #4: Not representing your audience inclusively.
When we browse websites, we either see ourselves in the photos and videos used, or we don’t. And if we don’t? While it’s not being explicitly stated, the message is this: you don’t belong here.
What demographics make up the audience you want to serve? Men? Women? Non-binary? Young? Old? Disabled? While you might not realize it, when you inadvertently choose photos of mostly white men, what you’re saying to your viewers is “we serve mainly white men.” If your desire is to serve a diverse demographic, make sure your photos align with that intention.
As they say: “a picture is worth a thousand words” – and it’s true. And because each of your photos conveys more than could be said in a thousand words, it’s important to get them right. Stick with the rules above and aim to choose photos that are authentic, inclusive, and show the real gift that you give your customers. Then you can’t go wrong.
Looking for more?
For more on website photography and images, check out these other quick reads from Janelle (that’s me!) at Ellanyze: