Written by Maxym Martineau
When it comes to making your mark on the online world, two things are vital: stellar web content and stunning images. Better yet? When you pair intriguing information with creative visuals, readers are 65 percent more likely to retain the information three days later. That’s crazy! But if you’re like me, your skills with a camera are limited. So what’s an entrepreneur to do?
Well, you’re in luck. There are a number of ways to source and create quality images for your website. Here are some tips for using your own camera to elevate your brand, as well as how to creatively style and use stock photos.
Polish up your skills
Perhaps your camera skills are limited to selfies and filters. That’s OK — there are plenty of ways to come up with stunning images sans the expensive camera.
Ameteaur or pro, good lighting can make a world of difference. Obviously if you want a good product picture, you’re not going to stand around in the dark. Natural light is king and keeps photos vivid. Sure, the flash on your phone is great, but it’s really easy to blow out images with a harsh burst of light. But you don’t want to blind yourself with the sun’s rays, either. Try seeking out areas with soft lighting — places out of direct sunlight or in the shade — that take advantage of the sun without vastly affecting your potential picture.
I’m not kidding. Initially, I laughed at the people wielding selfie sticks and tripods for their cell phones. But when I saw the quality of images they produced, I zipped my lips right quick. If all you have to work with is a phone, definitely invest in some accesories. A tripod will keep your camera steady, reducing potential blurs in your images. Remote shutters allow you to snap pictures with a different device (usually through Bluetooth or Wifi). No selfie stick required.
Be creative with stock photos
There are a lot of myths about using stock photos. They’re stiff. They can’t possibly represent my brand. They look staged. And sometimes, that’s true. But more often than not, stock photos can be used in ways that add professionalism and flair to your online presence. Free or paid, there’s bound to be an image out there for you.
Found the perfect image, but want to crop it? Maybe add your logo to the top-right corner? Layer on some text? No sweat. Break out Photoshop (or your photo-editing software of choice) and get to work. Remember, if you’re going to utilize free images, you need to play by the Creative Commons rules. And if you’re looking to pay for a stock photo, you’ll have to be mindful of royalty-free or rights-managed images.
We’ve all seen those gimmicky stock photos that feel forced and cheesy. If at all possible, avoiding using overly staged pictures for your site or blog. Look for images with real people, good lighting, action shots and a genuine feel. What are you trying to accomplish with this picture? Keep the emotion that you want to evoke front and center. The last thing you want to do is utilize a cuddly puppy picture if you’re trying to stress the importance of properly filing taxes.
Picture your brand
Are you ready to get started? Head outside with your camera or take a seat in front of your computer and start working. Whether you’re relying on your own devices to add authenticity to your site or finding the perfect stock image that speaks to your brand, there’s an image out there for you.
Maxym Martineau is a copy editor and staff writer for GoDaddy. She’s an avid reader with an unhealthy addiction to Dr. Pepper and chocolate. She binge watches TV shows like there’s no tomorrow and is always up for a good plot discussion. You can follow her on Twitter @maxymmckay for further shenanigans.