A Step-By-Step Guide to Taking High-Quality Website Photos That Get You Noticed & Drive Conversions

 

Compare the two photos below. Which one catches your eye? Which dental office would you rather visit?

How about these next photos, showing the work of a home contractor? Which photo is more compelling?

The answers may be pretty obvious — most of us are probably drawn to the photos on the right. But beyond looking friendlier and more professional, did you know that the pictures on the right are also better for SEO?

Professional images are vital to your website design and can improve conversions by 40%!

Carefully planned and professionally-shot photos take a good website and make it great. Not only do high-quality images provide flexibility in website design, they allow you to engage more effectively with your audience.

In a past article, we went into more detail about why original and professionally-shot visuals are important to website design and online marketing. If you have some extra time, I recommend giving it a read (it will take about 5 minutes).

No time to spare? Here’s a quick recap of what you need to know.

When it comes to photography for your small business, are you…

  1. Using too many stock images and video?
  2. Not featuring team members or office photos?
  3. Using poor-quality and missized media?

These are all big online marketing mistakes and can…

  • Turn away potential clients
  • Look sloppy and hurt your brand
  • Slow down your site
  • Hurt your SEO efforts

It makes sense to invest in professional photos because…

  • The planning process will encourage a strategic approach
  • The quality is incomparable
  • They provide flexibility in website design & other marketing materials
  • You’ll engage better with your audience and improve conversions

Still have questions about why professional, high-quality photos are important? Read the full article.

How to take professional images for your business

Your natural instinct may be to find a friend who has a nice camera and ask them to take some shots or buy a tripod and try to stage some images yourself. This will not produce the results you’re looking for.

If you want a polished and professional website that drives new leads for your business, DIY photos are a non-starter. Professional images can only come from professional photographers.

Tips for planning a photoshoot for your business

Even when you hire a professional photographer, planning a photoshoot for your business does take some work on your end!
Bonus: Are you a dentist, contractor, or lawyer? Stick around to the end of the article for a few photo tips specific to your industry.

Step 1: Look at the big picture

In business, success begins with a strong vision and well-defined goals. The same can be said of planning a photoshoot. So let’s zoom out and look at the big picture. This will help make sure you end up with beautiful images that work for your business and online marketing needs.

Answer these questions:

  • Do you want just photos or do you have a need for video as well?
  • How do you want the photos to look?
  • Are there any photo editing styles you don’t like?
  • How will your company values and brand be reflected in the images?
  • What type of images do your ideal patient, client, or customer want to see?

This information will act as a compass during the planning and execution of your photoshoot — for both you and your photographer.

Step 2: Choose the right photographer

It seems that most everyone is a photographer nowadays. But you don’t want to choose just anyone for this project. You need someone who has proven experience (and a portfolio to prove it), is easy to work with, and who understands how to translate your vision.

If you’re not sure where to start, look at Google’s recommended photographer list. This site organizes a list of trusted professionals in your area. Once you’ve identified a few potential photographers, reach out to ask questions and get more information.

Here’s what to look for:

Years in business

While a brand new photographer may be talented, we recommend choosing someone who has at least a couple years of experience under their belt, a solid portfolio, and good reviews.

Questions:

  • How long have you been shooting?
  • Do you have a portfolio?
  • Can you send me a link to view the full set of photos you delivered to your last client?
  • Do you have references?

Relevant experience

Select a photographer who has experience shooting images for small businesses in your same industry. They’ll have a better understanding of what’s needed, be comfortable in your environment, and have the ability to reach your photography goals.

A good way to judge whether or not the photographer is a good fit is to describe what you’re looking for. Reference your vision for the project (from step 1) and explain how the photos will be used. Find out if the photographer has the experience to meet this vision.

Questions:

  • Who else in my industry have you photographed?
  • How many other businesses like mine have you worked with?
  • Here’s what I’m looking for — how will you help me achieve this?

Equipment needs

A professional and experienced photographer should come to the shoot ready to hit the ground running. Novice or budget photographers, on the other hand, may require extra supplies, like extension cords or lights. Know who you’re hiring and what they’ll need.

Questions to ask:

  • What will you need from me?
  • Do you have all necessary equipment?
  • Do you provide any staging items or backdrops?

Technical details

There are certain technical details that photos that will be used online should adhere to. Discuss these with the photographer to make sure you’re on the same page.

For instance:

  • Can you shoot the majority of the images in landscape mode? (This is important for web design)
  • Can you provide a variety of angles of the same shot? Including wide, far away, close up, different compositions, etc.? (Also very important for web design)
  • Will you need to (or will you be willing to) talk with my website designer to plan a few specific shots that are necessary for the design?
  • Will you utilize professional editing programs and be able to edit your images so they look natural and consistent?
  • Can you deliver images in various file formats and sizes to ensure high-quality, SEO-ready images?

Deliverables & timelines

Finally, set the right expectations by making sure you understand the photographer’s process, such as:

  • Their availability
  • What they will need from you
  • Pricing and payment schedule
  • Whether or not they’ll do location scouting ahead of time
  • How long it will take to get the final photos after the shoot
  • How many photos you can expect to receive

Step 3: It’s all about the prep work

When you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail — or so the saying goes. In this case, it really is true. Most of the work of a photoshoot happens during the planning stage, so do it right to avoid surprises and get the best result.

This step of the process has multiple parts. We created a checklist for you to follow along to make it easier.

It’s best to loop your photographer in on these plans as well. They’ll have valuable insight and can help you along the way. Your small business website design company is also a helpful resource — especially when it comes to getting the right images to match the design of your website.

Determine shoot locations

  • What physical spaces (indoor and outdoor) do you want to highlight?
  • Determine if these areas have good natural lighting
  • Determine what time of day is the light best in the room
  • Organize any special cleaning or staging of the areas
  • Consider how business operations will be affected by shooting in this area
Create your shot list

  • Download this shot list as a reference
  • Add any additional/specific must-have shots (remove the ones you don’t need)
  • Send your shot list to the photographer for review
  • Find out if there are any additional shoot locations the photographer or your online marketing agency recommends, based on your vision. For example: if you’re a community-focused dentist, the photographer may recommend shots around the city/community to achieve emotional impact with potential patients.
  • See Step 4 for more industry-specific shots to consider
Select your “models”

  • Determine who will be in every shot
  • Inform participants of their role in the shoot
  • Give them information about what to wear and bring
  • Always get signed photo release forms
Create a day-of schedule

  • Work with your photographer to create and finalize a timeline
  • Plan to have one person who will help the photographer manage the timeline the day of
  • Include phone numbers of every participant in the schedule in case you or the photographer needs to get ahold of them
  • Send the schedule to every photoshoot participant at least 24 hours in advance
  • Consider planning to have snacks and beverages available to keep spirits high

Colleen Cahill has 30+ years experience as a professional photographer. See her work at Colleen Cahill Studios .

8 tips from an expert photographer

1. Select someone from your office to work with the photographer to “produce” the shoot

2. Work your brand colors into each shot — even if it’s subtle

3. You might need a stylist who can help with wardrobe and makeup

4. If hiring models to act as patients or customers, provide food and drinks during the shoot

5. Get signed model releases plus parental releases for anyone under 18

6. A photographer’s estimate is just that — an estimate. Post production and day-of variables can affect the cost of your shoot.

7. Models should match your demographic — no tuxedos if your customers are construction workers!

8. An on-set art director can help manage the small details throughout the day

Step 4: Hand the reins to the photographer

On the day of the shoot, there’s nothing wrong with contributing an idea here and there or wanting to see progress photos. But you’ll get the best results if you hand control over to the photographer and go with the flow.

You’ve done the legwork by following all the steps above. Plus, you’ve planned to have someone helping the photographer keep the day on track. Now it’s time to let your professional do what they do best — take high-quality, beautiful images that will compliment your website design and online marketing efforts.

Bonus: Some additional photo considerations to make, based on your industry

Dentists

Showcase high-tech equipment, but avoid photos of sharp instruments or “scary” dental tools.
Get shots of your patient rooms and waiting area to foster a sense of familiarity in potential patients.
Plan for a mix of candid and posed images, including patient-dentist interactions and team headshots.
For a great example of high-quality, professional images for a dental practice, take a look the website of Dr. Mark Riederer!

Contractors

Plan to get portfolio photos of your work, which are best shot by someone with experience.
Shoot during the day in clear weather, if possible. Brighter, sunny photos tend to create a better emotional response.
Drone shots are very popular (especially for roofing contractors). They can have a huge impact but only if done right.
BnK Construction is a great example of a contractor that always takes high-quality, professional portfolio images of their finished work.

Lawyers

Ensure no sensitive information (like paperwork) is visible in shots.
Always include attorney headshots in your shot list.
Encourage approachability by including candid shots.
Adam Greenman Law does a great job of including photos on his site that showcase candid images of him and his staff working with clients.

Other Small Businesses

Plan for exterior and interior shots of your space.
Take key product photos, if applicable.
Candid customer interaction shots are incredibly valuable.
Samuelson’s — a jeweler who buys and sells diamonds in Baltimore — not only features descriptive shots of their products, they also have high-quality images of their staff and their building’s exterior and interior.

Delmain is here to help

We hope this step-by-step guide for planning a photoshoot for your business was helpful and cleared up any confusion or misgivings about the process!

If you still have questions or are looking for advice on what specific photos will complement your web design and online marketing efforts, don’t hesitate to reach out. Our small business web designers and entire team would love to hear from you.

 

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