Does Your Website Need a Photographer
Many people ask me, in the course of developing websites, if they need to hire a photographer. The answer I give most often will leave some photographers flatfooted. But before we get to that answer let me convey a couple of known facts about images.
First of all, our brains process images much faster and with more cognitive detail than text. (How much faster is up for discussion. Some believe it to be 60,000 times faster.) Second, humans store images in their long term memory in something called “chunks”. So if you want someone to remember some “factoid” of information, draw them a picture.
Here’s the kicker. When you combine text with images, the retention value for the viewer increases dramatically. Take the picture to the right, which appears on a real estate website. Without the words it is a front door. With the text, you know it is two units. But more importantly, you instantly know that the front door to the other unit is somewhere else. A seemingly small, but important feature of this property. So here we have an image with “missing” information? Is this a good image?
So where is the other front door? This is a subtle “call to action”. An important term in website building. Make the users engage with the website to get more information.
So back to the original question of hiring a professional photographer for your website. My answer is embedded with the real need of the website. What the question really invokes is the need for good images, not a professional photographer. A good photographer is only one way, in today’s world, to get good images. You can take them yourself (not suggested most of the time), you can purchase stock photos on line, or, yes, drum roll, you can draw them yourself! Think about it. If you are selling children’s toys, drawings (which are images) by kids, of toys, might work quite well.
The image must convey something about you and/or your product, and there are many sources to “draw” from.
In today’s digital world, images (along with their video cousins) reign royal. Last month (April, 2015) Google announced that your website had to be Mobile Ready or you would suffer the consequences of dropping lower on the search page. What was that about? It was about (in part) money, images and mobile search ability. Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram are gaining ground on mobile searches. These social platforms are, to say the least, image heavy platforms, and the images (with their tags, etc) are searchable. Google is pushing you to make sure, your images (among other things) show up correctly on their searches. The importance of images, and good images has come to an apex on the internet.
The key is quality images. You don’t want an improperly lit, unbalanced, low contrast image for today’s web. High resolution is where you want to start. Unlike the featured camera image for this article, having a decent digital camera is a key element, both for ease of posting images to the internet and for the ability to get high resolution images. However a quality image is not just one that is in sharp focus, but is one that is cropped correctly to convey your message. This is where you can bring a professional photographer or graphic artist to help dress your image for the web. The image to the upper left was done by a graphic artist. Getting help at this stage could prove crucial in getting the end result of a quality image.
So to wrap up it is all about getting quality images. These images can come from a stock online image house, a professional photographer, an artist, you, or the combination of any of these sources to help you focus your online presence.