There are three major sources for photographs for your website: Your own digital camera, stock photography websites, and getting photos taken by a professional photographer.

Your Own Digital Camera: I’ve seen far too many small business owners get purchase a digital camera and immediately decide that they can take their own photographs for their website. I understand that this is a tempting solution – after all, you’ve got the camera, and it’s just point-and-shoot, right? But, too often, this leaves you with photographs that leave something to be desired.

The most common mistakes that I see with taking your own photos:

  • You might assume that your graphic designer can magically clean up a bad photo. Sure, with Photoshop and a steady hand, a good designer can improve a photo considerably. But, if your photo needs more than a little cropping, a small bit of color adjustment, or some red-eye removed, then it will take a designer some time to make the fixes.
  • Starting with a good photo is the best way to avoid all of this work and the additional charges that come with it. Make sure that your photo has adequate lighting and that you look as professional as possible – it’s a lot of work to Photoshop out a stray bra strap, wrinkles in your clothes, or distracting things in the background. And, it’s nearly impossible to fix textured items – like a hole in a patterned shirt or a bad hair day.

  • Your dining room isn’t a photo studio. Photographers can make their product shots look so good because they have specialized lighting and backdrops available. Setting your beautiful product up on your dining room table just won’t cut it – even if you use your nicest tablecloth.
  • If you must take your own product shots, make sure that you use a plain background – a nice, ironed tablecloth in white or some other light color is best. And, take the photo outside in indirect sunlight – it’s much more flattering than harsh, direct light or indoor light.

  • You don’t always look at the whole photo. Everyone has a photo in their family photo album with that family member who looks like they have a tree growing out of their head. But, if your professional headshot includes “antlers”, then it won’t make you look as professional as you should!
  • If you are going to take your own head shots, look at both the background and the foreground. And, make sure that the surroundings that you take your headshot in are professional enough to match your brand. That flower garden you love may be a lovely spot, but it might not be professional-looking enough for your consulting head shots.

  • You might be great at taking candid home photos, but professional-quality photos are a whole different ball game. If you are going to take your own photos, I suggest learning a bit about photography first – take a class at your community college, or read a book about taking good photos or do some web searching. The better your photos are, the more professional your company will look.
  • Your digital camera might not take high-enough quality photos for print use. It’s great to use the same photos on your website and on your printed materials – it adds consistency to your Visual Vocabulary. But, if your camera doesn’t take very high-resolution photos, then they might not print out very well, which could pose a problem.
  • Run a test photo by a designer so that they can see if your photo will work well when professionally printed. And, be sure to save your original photo file – once the photo is resized for web use, you will have lost valuable data that you can’t get back.