The Eyes Have It: 12 Tips To Show Off Your Best Side With Website Photography

It’s all about authenticity, and stock photos just won’t do.


Visual content is essential for any website to keep visitors engaged, especially since 65% of people are visual learners – 80% of people remember things they see, while only 20% remember things they read. Great visuals grab and keep attention, and research found that websites with compelling images average 94% more views. 


Then there’s the emotional connection forged by images. Done right, photography can reinforce your college or university’s brand, tell a story, and engender trust. Photos also increase social engagement through shares, generating more views for your blog posts and other website content. This is because images more directly connect to feelings – they have an immediate impact, are perceived holistically, and are partially processed pre-consciously. 


Using the right photos is key. An eye-tracking study showed that feel-good images and those that are included for “decoration” are completely ignored. The photos that study participants found compelling and important enough to scrutinize were those that included products and real people. This means using stock photos won’t get you anywhere. Here are some tips to help you take better photos and how you can use them effectively.


7 tips for taking better photos for your website


Whether you take photos using a smartphone, a digital camera, or a traditional film camera, keeping the following in mind will ensure you get the results you want. Remember that your website will limit picture sizes – images with a large file size slow down website loading, so you don’t need incredibly high-resolution images. Set your camera to 1280 pixels x 980 pixels. 


1. Plan the shoot in advance


Decide what you want to shoot before you go out to do it. If you want more posed shots, decide how you want people to dress and the setting where you want to shoot. If your shoot requires props, make sure you have them ready. Keep in mind what you want your website visitors to feel and formulate a shot-list that incorporates the target emotions. 


2. The right lighting is everything


When it comes to photography, lighting is the most important component for producing a high-quality, crisp, and clean image. 


Use natural light if available, so utilize large windows or the outdoors. Don’t use a flash because it can cause harsh contrast, glares, and make the subject of your photography look flat. Light your subject so they (or it) are not overexposed

3. Choose the right background


We’ve all seen photos with irrelevant and distracting things in the background. You want visitors to focus on the story you’re trying to tell. Pick plain backgrounds that are dark or lighter that contrast with the subject. You can utilize settings on your phone to blur backgrounds. You also can create separation between your subject and the background by enlarging the distance between them


4. Try different perspectives


Experiment with angles, distances, and perspectives. For example, if you want photos of students studying on a blanket under a tree, instead of shooting from a standing position, crouch down and take the photo from the perspective of the students. This will add visual interest and make your photo much more engaging. 


5. Frame properly for design options


Most web photography utilizes horizontal photos, so keep that in mind. If using a phone camera, be sure to shoot horizontally. If you want to put text over a photo, make sure your subject is in the right place to allow for that. Take photos with the subject at the top, bottom, far-left, and far-right to give your website designer some options. 


6. Never use zoom


The zoom function on your digital camera reduces image quality, and you risk blurry, pixelated, or grainy photos. Instead, get up close and personal with your subject to get a new perspective and snap expressions, details, and textures you would miss being further away.


7. Mind your focus


Focus isn’t just about clear photos, it’s also about choosing the subject of your focus to convey the meaning you intend. Close-up images will put the focus where you want it. For example, if you are shooting the on-campus clinic, you’ll want to focus on a student being helped rather than a shot of a waiting room or simply a nurse.


Now let’s move on to some advice on how to use your wonderful, compelling photography. 


5 tips for effective use of your photography


The higher education sector is highly competitive, which means you must make the best use of every available resource. You’ve taken some great photos. Here’s how to best use them and get the most out of them. 


1. Relevancy counts


If your school is having an on-campus event, be sure to take photos and post them to social media while the event is happening to make the most of engagement and encourage conversation. This will also get you more attention. This means creating a workflow to make this happen in real-time. 


2. Utilize metadata


Metadata makes search faster, and the additional context informs your caption and leads to better use of your photos. It also reduces image credit mistakes and usage issues.


3. Make photos easy to find


When image content is shared with teams across the school, access must be convenient and streamlined. Create an easy-to-access library with photos that can fulfill demands across campus. 


4. Use photos for a variety of purposes


There’s nothing wrong with reusing photos to get the most out of them you can. Be sure to add metadata and make search easy. Photos that commemorate important events in your school’s history can be used again and again where appropriate. 


5. Use photos that reflect your values


It’s always important to keep in mind the perspective of your audience as well as their perception. If you have a lot of images on your website of sporting events, visitors will assume your school places a high emphasis on its sports programs. If you show only people of one race, prospective students will feel your school lacks diversity. When both shooting and choosing images, make sure they give visitors an authentic impression of what your school represents. 


The right photography keeps prospective students engaged and reinforces your brand and messaging. Powerful photographic content can often speak louder than words, so use it to your advantage.