Visuals have a huge impact on your brand and website
As a photographer I am a very visual person and I have always used photography extensively throughout my web design. Generally I recommend that people use their own images, I am not a huge fan of stock photography, although that can work in the right environment. Using your own images immediately allows your readers to connect with you or your business on a personal and relatable level, which in turn encourages engagement and return visits.
What kind of images Do I need?
Photos of you!
Photos of your business or office or work.
Any personal photos (family, pets, nature, travel etc) that fit the purpose of your site.
Day-to-day phone or digital camera snaps for your blog.
Branding graphics, e.g. logo or icons.
Shareable text graphics, e.g. for Pinterest or Instagram.
A few words on the latter, the shareable text graphics. They are all the rage right now and Pinterest and Instagram are full of them. I can see the appeal as they tell a visual mini story of whatever it is that you are trying to promote. Some of them are very well done and look great. And with the introduction of DIY graphic design services such as Canva or PicMonkey people no longer need to pay graphic designers big money to get a professional looking image. I used to LOVE text graphics, especially gorgeous photos with great quotes, and the designer in me can still drool over beautiful graphic images. However, I am not a fan of the click-bait graphics. And because everyone is doing them now you no longer stand out with them, either. I totally respect if people think they need them as they can help you get traffic to your site and even sell products. I do get the marketing benefit of these graphic images. So I will just say this and it is simply based on my own professional experience and preferences:
Whatever you do, be YOU. Do what feels good and right to you, don't be a cookie-cutter website or business, infuse what you do with your own personality and a personable welcoming touch. Whenever I visit a site that is full of those shouty click-bait graphics it immediately turns me off. I don't see YOU among those graphics. If you need those graphics (because there are prominent experts out there who say you do) then at least create a balance and mix in some lovely personal photos, too.
Do I need professional images?
That depends on the nature of your business and your own photographic skills. Hiring a professional to take photos of you and/or your business is never a bad idea. If you take nice images yourself then you should definitely use those, too.
How do I take better photos with my phone camera?
Taking good photos should not be too difficult, either, especially nowadays when phone-camera technology has advanced beyond our imagination and you can take excellent photos with your phone and, if you like, edit them with any of the amazing apps that are available out there. In this spirit I just want to share some of my favorite apps and a couple of links to articles or courses that can help you take better photos with your phone.
Tips from the Experts
7 days to a better Instagram
Me and Orla is one of my favorite Instagram accounts and Sara shares some awesome tips for Instagram which include advice on how to take better photos with your phone.
Madelyn Mulvaney: My Sweet Muse
Maddie is one of my favorite photographers ever! She has a very unique way of telling our everyday moments in beautiful images. Her e-course is gorgeous and super inspiring. Psst, participants in my Squarespace 101 course get 50% off.
Susannah Conway: How I shoot with my iPhone
Great insights from one of my favorite photographers and creative entrepreneurs.
Susan Tuttle: The Art of iPhoneography Self-Portraiture
“You created THAT on your iPhone?” is a common reaction Susan gets. Susan is a phenomenal artist who takes iPhone photography to a whole new level.
What about stock photography?
My preference will always be to use someone's own photos but if that's just not an option than good stock photography can work as well! Squarespace has a special deal with Getty Images whereby you can use a Getty photo on your site for only $10 per image. I did that for one of my clients and it came out great, click here to see her site. You may recognize the photo on her contact page, that is mine :)
There are many free stock photography websites out there these days, a lot of them are quite awful with limited databases and all they do is lead you to a service where you have to pay. I don't have an issue with paying for stock photos as good photographers put a lot of effort and skill into their art and should be compensated accordingly. However, not everyone can afford the license fees and that's when a free stock photography service will come on handy.
My favorite stock photography services:
This is hands-down my favorite free stock photography place. Their database is growing and they have stunning photos.
iStock Photo from Getty Images
This is Getty's low cost photo service and a lot of the images on this site are available through Squarespace. If you go through Squarespace you pay $10 but even purchasing images from iStock Photo is actually very reasonable.
A paid service but prices are reasonable and they have lovely images, not quite so stock photography-ish. Also like the easy and clean navigation and layout of this site.
Free. I like this one, too, they have a pretty big database and great photos.
Free. Can be a bit hit and miss but worth a try if you can't find anything on the others.
Death to Stock Photo
Sign up and receive free photos by email every month. Or pay for premium membership and anytime access to their photos.
Specializing in gorgeous every day photos from India.
Kate Max Stock Photos
Feminine, soft and clean images. Updated regularly. You can either subscribe to an annual membership or purchase bespoke package. Join their monthly mailing list for free photos.
Want to learn more?
This post is an extract from my course Squarespace 101. If you want to learn more about how to build your own stunning and unique website from the ground up click the button below for more info. I put everything I know into this course and share the whole design process from creating your foundation and building your website elements to the launch. If you have any questions about this course feel free to contact me!