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Alyssa Young

How to snap pictures worth posting.

The strongest websites aren’t just gray blocks of text; they’re visually appealing. When graphics and images accompany the words, the page is more likely to capture and maintain the reader’s interest. Photographs on a small business website provide opportunities to showcase a product, demonstrate a service and inspire customers’ ideas and aspirations. Websites should use pictures as inexpensive yet effective tools to guide consumers through the sales funnel.

Poor-quality photos, however, can have a negative effect. Bad photography damages a company’s credibility, just like misspellings and grammatical errors in the website’s content. This can very quickly turn into a bad first impression.

Use these tips to take and post professional pictures for a more powerful website.

Fill the frame.

Get close to the subject. Even better than zooming in, move the camera closer. Show faces — rather than shooting from a wide angle to show a person’s full body, fit only the torso.

Control the background.

Take a moment to notice what’s behind and around the subject, so the surroundings are clutter-free and not distracting. Ensure it doesn’t look like there’s a tree growing out of a person’s head or something sloppy and unprofessional in the frame. Move the camera or the subject’s position, or zoom, to eliminate the obtrusion.  

When photographing products, use a plain, light-colored base and background so the product is easy to see. For consistency, create a platform using materials such as foam board from a craft store.

Shoot for moments.

There’s a time and place on a small business website for posed photos. When using stock or staged photography, it needs to look realistic. When possible, take pictures that show action or genuine emotions or reactions. Think about snapping pictures the way a photojournalist would while observing a real event or interaction among employees or customers.

When showing people, get their permission to use their image online and in related promotion (such as on social media). Write a brief release form with blank spaces to identify the person and describe where and when the photos were taken and what they’re for, and include a place for the person’s signature.

Sharpen the focus.

It might seem obvious to avoid posting blurry photos, yet it happens often. Be sure to focus the lens on the subject before releasing the shutter. Also hold the camera still until the shutter closes; moving it too soon will blur the image.

Light the subject well.

Photos that are too dark to see the subject clearly are unsightly, and useless. When photographing people, using natural light to brighten their faces is ideal. The best location is outdoors on an overcast day.

While the light source should shine on the front of the image’s focal point — and definitely not behind the subject — don’t force people to look directly into the sun.

When taking pictures of an object, use two lights on opposite sides to eliminate harsh shadows.

Take multiple shots.

Don’t take just one photo. Shoot several frames, and then change the camera’s angle or position and snap a few more. When photographing several products or people whose images will be used the same way or side-by-side, such as in a photo gallery or an e-commerce site, use a tripod to ensure identical composition.

Edit to improve flaws.

Use a simple editing program to fix red eyes, brighten pictures that are too dark or adjust color issues. Crop images with excess background or to further focus on the subject. It’s worthwhile to spend a few minutes making adjustments after-the-fact, especially if it’s impossible or not feasible to take new pictures to correct issues.

Save and upload smartly.

Adjust the size, resolution and format before posting photos to the web so that they don’t slow down page load and so they boost, not hurt, search engine optimization. The optimum resolution for photos being published on the web is 72 dpi. In general, resize them to a maximum of 800 pixels on the longer side. An exception might be a hero image that extends across the entire width of the page.

The photo’s filename should include keywords related to its content, with no spaces between the words. Save the edited photos in the .jpg file format, and don’t forget to add alt tags when uploading to the website’s content management system, for improved SEO.

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