Using Photography on a Website Introduction
Creating and adding photography to your firm’s website can be an intimidating undertaking. It requires clear vision, investment in talent, and more effort than just using stock photos. Alternatively, if you visit your favorite brand’s websites, you’ll find they all use custom-made photo and video content. This isn’t an accident. They know that high quality, custom, photography can help you communicate authentically, have greater flexibility, and give their message the best fitting suit in which to strut its stuff. On the other hand, there are a number of obstacles and challenges that need to be considered before you take the plunge.
Cons of Using Photography
I remember the first time I went to a barber by myself. I sat down in the chair and the barber asked me what I was looking for in a haircut today. “Make me beautiful!” I exclaimed in response. The barber very politely explained to me he didn’t know what I meant by that. My stomach dropped because I didn’t know either. I was banking on the professional knowing what I needed. If you don’t know how you want your website to look, the best photographers and website developers aren’t going to know what your firm needs. If your firm is considering using high-quality photography, you need to have a clear vision of what you want to capture, a clear objective and goal in mind. Without these, any photo shoot or artistic renderings are going to be, at best, well-intentioned guesses that might accidentally stumble upon your firm’s vision. You and the artists you employ deserve better.
Inconsistency is distracting. Inconsistency is the pang of discomfort that audience members have during an awkward transition, or the moment of discomfort a diner has when part of their meal isn’t the same temperature. The same rule applies to your website, and using high-quality, custom photography makes consistency more challenging. Consistency takes careful planning and diligent follow-through. Beginning to utilize high-quality photography for your site piecemeal can make specific pages look fantastic, but, in a backhanded way, can undermine the credibility of your pages that haven’t received that attention yet. Achieving consistency can be more challenging when first using high-quality photography.
Investment in Talent
When looking for a professional photographer, artist, or videographer, sticker shock can be real. In an age when everybody is carrying a high quality camera in their pocket, it can be tempting to avoid investment in talent. We would be wise not to confuse the quality of the tool with the skill of the wielder. A talented content producer will ask thoughtful questions and tailor their product to your firm’s desired outcomes. Enthusiasm and earnestness are no substitute for expertise. The good news? The proliferation of high quality tools has led to a veritable explosion in the size of the talent pool in many markets. There are great options for almost every budget.
I once used a drone to capture incredible footage of the exterior of the organization that I was working at. The video featured sweeping shots over our lake at sunset. Its glorious, high-resolution quality captured the texture of the trees and the lapping of the water, while highlighting our central assets in a dappled sherbet hue. I was proud of the quality of the project and what it was able to communicate about the organization. I created a looping video and made it the background of our landing page. I was horrified to learn that our bounce rate leapt upwards in the following days.
Using especially high quality media can make websites harder to load, leading to increased bounce rate and reduced search engine optimization. When using high quality video or photo content, it’s important to make sure they don’t harm the technical performance of your site. Finding the balance can be tricky.
It Takes More Effort
By this point, you’re probably noticing that using high-quality photography for your website will take a significant amount of effort. It would be easier to grab high quality stock images that more or less fit your firm’s brand, voice and needs. While this is a tempting alternative, stock content looks like stock content and your audience can tell. Using high-quality photography does take more investment but it’s worth it.
Pros of Using Photography
Style communicates a lot about a person. I, personally, look at people’s shoes. I feel like I can tell a lot about a person, what they think about themselves and the world based purely on the shoes they’re wearing. Your website communicates a lot about who your firm is and a good portion of that communication is done by the stylistic choices that are made in designing it. Using custom built media content allows your firm to tailor your vision to precisely what you want your website to say about you. This form of passive communication presents an opportunity to enhance your brand, allowing you to communicate sophisticated and subtle truths about your product.
One of the greatest risks of using stock photography is compromising your perception of authenticity. Authenticity is another way of garnering trust with your stakeholders. One of the worst feelings a consumer can have about a firm they’re considering partnering with is, “are they who they say they are?”. It’s like walking into someone’s office and noticing that the pictures they have up around their workspace seem to be showing generic pictures of someone hiking, or what appears to be a random family’s photograph. Stock media content runs the risk of triggering this defensive response from your stakeholders. The more dependent your firm is on stock content, the greater exposure to this risk is. On the flip side, high-quality photography can create a sense of vulnerability and honesty on your website that can further endear you to the people you want to reach the most.
I remember the first time I had a piece of clothing tailored. It ruined me for other shirts. Finding pieces of content that best fit your firm can be time consuming and ultimately, unsatisfactory. Digging through stacks of stock photos and then editing and customizing them to better fit your brand isn’t as simple or as straightforward as we would like it to be. Settling for a piece of generic media content to highlight your unique value add doesn’t feel fantastic. At best, it might feel like a relief just to have something done, but it probably isn’t something you’re especially proud of, that you want to show to someone. high-quality photography allows for the flexibility that is required to best fit the nuance of your product.
Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed by the details, not all at once. You are not alone and you’ve got people around you who would be thrilled to help connect you with the resources your firm needs. That’s why we’re here. The investment made in your website will pay dividends. You have a compelling vision for what your firm has to offer. Don’t dilute the power of your message with assets that can only convey part of it.