Photos can make or break even the best website design, so it’s important to have great images when you’re building a new site. The easiest way to get great photos is to hire a professional to set up a photo shoot — they can get exactly the right shots and make sure everything is covered, and they’ll edit and resize the photos for you. But what if you can’t make that happen?
Not every budget allows for original photography, and even if you do hire a professional, you’ll probably want to supplement with photos your business already has — but that’s easier said than done. Here are our tips for making the process gathering photos for your website as smooth as possible.
Pull Images from Your Current Website
If you’re working with a web development team like Infomedia, there’s a good chance we can pull images from your current site’s database over to your new site at launch so you’ll still be able to use those images. If you’re hoping to use this service, be sure to check with your development team at the beginning of the process to be sure it’s possible.
Another option: Pull images from your current website and save them to your desktop so you can upload them to a Google Drive or Dropbox folder; here are instructions on saving photos from your WordPress Media Library.
Collect Additional Photos
Photos give life to a website. The better your photos, the better your site will look. If you think your colleagues or other divisions of your company may have access to more images, be sure to ask them! This is a great time to gather photography together so you have access to it for any use, not just your website. For best results, ask them to upload them to a shared folder so the images are easy for you to access. Having these photos could also help you in the future when you’re doing employee spotlights, blogs, etc.
Pick Your Favorites
Make sure your web designer knows which photos are your favorites — the ones that represent your company best. If there are photos you don’t want used on your website (if people aren’t wearing the right safety equipment, for example), don’t include them in the folders you share with your web team. If you have more than 30 photos, be sure to earmark the ones that are the best, either with a naming convention that you share with your web designer or by including them in specific folders.
Fill the Gaps: Reshoot Photos You Still Need
Be honest about the quality of the photos you were able to collect (you can ask your web designer to weigh in on this, too). Are critical pages missing photography? Do you have clear product images that show your products in the best light? Do your bio photos look dated or inconsistent? Do your hero images have a “wow” factor, or are they out of date or shot with a phone instead of a camera?
Hiring a photographer to fill any gaps is a relatively small investment that can pay dividends in how much it helps your site. You can also supplement with stock photography, but that’s not ideal. Stock photography is less unique, less likely to attract new customers, and less likely to show what’s great about your business or your products.
If you have high resolution photos from your photographer, that’s great! But they’ll need to be resized for use on your website, because large photos can cause your site to take too much time when loading.
It can also be a good idea to have your photos professionally edited, especially if you’ve taken them yourself or used various photographers throughout the years. This doesn’t need to be expensive, detailed Photoshop work. You might be surprised how cost effective a quick consistency edit of your photos can be, and how pulled together it can make your site look.
Decide How You’ll Store and Share Photos
You’ll most likely be gathering photos from several different sources, so choose a way people can send photos to you. We like Google Drive or Dropbox because they make sharing easy.
Be sure to save copies of your original photos before you edit them. High resolution photos will need to be resized before they’re used on your website (extremely high res photos are unnecessary on screens and can slow down your page load speed), but you’ll want to save your originals before editing so you still have high resolution options for other uses (like print brochures and newsletters).
Staying organized throughout this process is crucial — you’ll want to be able to quickly know which photo you’re working with and where it belongs without having to open it and actually look at the image every single time. Deciding on a naming convention and organizing file folders only takes five minutes when done at the beginning of the project, but these steps save so much frustration throughout your project.
Remember that your file names and folder structure needs to be quickly understood by anyone so that your web team can step in and know exactly which images belong where without your having to explain. If your web designer has to spend five hours trying to guess which photo matches which page, that’s hours of work they can’t spend making your site better.
Decide on a Naming Convention
Naming your photos so that you (and your web designer) can actually find them is hugely important. If you’ve ever had to hunt for a specific photo only to be met with a long string of “names” like “8908932333.jpg,” you already know it’s not a fun process.
Here’s a formula we recommend for naming photos:
Here’s how that looks with real clients:
If you have very specific products that must be matched with the right photos, be sure to name your photos very specifically (probably with the item number or SKU) so they can be matched correctly.
Create Your Folders
Saving your photos into folders helps you keep track of what’s what, and it’s also hugely helpful when you pass photos to your website team. Here’s the system we like to use for setting up folders in Google Drive or Dropbox:
- Parent Folder: Home Page
- Subfolder: Hero Images (the large images that will run near the top of your site)
- Parent Folder: About
- Subfolder: Head Shots (name the photos using the names of the people in them so they’re easily matched)
- Subfolder: Group or Team Pictures (if any)
- Subfolder: Culture Pictures (include casual shots, people playing games, etc.)
- Parent Folder: Services or Products (for products, the name, item number or SKU should be included in the name of its corresponding photo)
- Subfolder: Service 01 (or Product 01)
- Subfolder: Service 02 (or Product 02)
- Subfolder: Service 03 (or Product 03)
Send to Your Web Team!
Once you’ve gathered and organized your photos, it’s time to send them to your web design team. A little extra effort at the beginning of the project to gather photos will pay off big time when you have a site that’s exactly tailored to your business.