Pictures for Websites

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The web is visual. One of the first things I learned when starting out in ecommerce is that people don’t read what’s on a webpage. They look at the pictures. Then, if they’re still interested, they scan the text, usually looking for a price.

So if you expect to sell something on your website, you’d better have outstanding pictures of it.   That doesn’t mean a fuzzy picture that’s so small you can’t tell if it’s a purse or an armadillo.   It means in focus and preferably with a white or solid background.

Of course, if you can afford a professional photographer, even better. If you can’t, here are some tips:

1. Use a tripod to reduce shake.

2. If you don’t have bounce screens for reflected light (who of us does?), the best lighting is outdoors on an overcast day, i.e. very bright light, but no shadows.

3. Fill the frame with the item.   No one cares about anything but the product so why take pictures of what’s on either side of it?    Similarly, no one cares about your dirty laundry on the floor behind your product, so look at everything that’s in your composition before clicking that shutter.

4. If you do take pictures outdoors (on a covered porch, for instance), do it between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Otherwise, your pictures will have an unnatural reddish tint due to the angle of the sun.

5. If you must take pictures indoors, use a flash for “fill.”   Often, using the “red-eye” setting will work for this. Do not rely on incandescent lighting.   It’s too dim and throws off the color.

6. Edit your images appropriately for your website, whether that means cropping drastically or cutting out the background or change the dpi.    In a worst case scenario, you might actually need to read the instructions/help files in your image editing program, such as Fireworks.  (Sarcasm intended)

7. Save the original image before you do anything to it.  Then save a separate copy that you’ve cropped and resized to 96 dpi. Monitors do not show higher resolutions so there is no point having an image that is 300 dpi. It will just take up more file space and take longer to load.