A picture says a thousand words. It’s also one of the fastest ways to connect with your customer. There’s a reason why a lot of inspiration quotes with a cuddly puppy background are floating around social media sites. They get engagement. You can do this for your own business by choosing the right photos for your business.
The best photos are custom ones taken by a photographer. Find a photographer who listens to what you want. Have a clear idea what photos you want to represent your business. If there are specific products or services you want photographed think about how you’re going to use those photos. Get input from your web developer if they’re to be used on your website so that the photographer can get the right angle or perspective.
Example: If you want a full-width photo on the home page of your website you don’t want the subject of the picture to take up the full height of the photo. That will make the photo take up too much valuable real estate on your website and force your user to scroll past it. Consider telling the photographer that you’d like the subject to take up the middle third of the photo vertically so that you can crop it as necessary and still have the width you need.
Here’s an example of how you might crop a photo to use as a full-width header.
I use Andy Gibson Photography for my own website photos and am happy to recommend him to clients.
If you don’t want to use a photographer and you choose stock photos there are many stock photo sites that sell royalty-free photos. Don’t go to Google images and use any picture you find there. You could end up being fined or sued for copyright infringement. Stock photo sites have terms and conditions about licensing so read them carefully and know how you’re going to use the photo. Most of them allow for you to use them in social media and your websites.
Make sure that you purchase the correct size image for what you need. If the image is going to be full-width on your website you don’t want an image that is 400 pixels wide; it should be more like 2000 pixels wide. A 400 pixel picture that is stretched to full-width would lower the image quality and reflect poorly on your business.
Some of my favourite stock photo sites are: SC Stockshop, Shutterstock, 123rf.com, Pexels, Pixabay and Unsplash. Pexels, Pixabay and Unsplash images are free. If you can find what you want on the free sites that’s a bonus. If not, the other sites charge per image and the price varies but I’m a firm believer that you get what you pay for. If you are looking for photos for your website that will reflect your business and you choose to use stock photos I suggest you consider investing in some high quality styled stock images and use the cheaper or free options for your social media posts.
2. Photo editing/design tool
Tools like Canva or Befunky allow you to edit your pictures, resize them and design flyers, posters, invitations, social media posts, backgrounds, etc. You can add special effects to pictures to stylise them to fit the style of your business.
Both sites also allow you to make photo collages easily.
There are many other tools like this on the web but these are the ones I use.
Here’s a before and after of a photo styled on Befunky. This is an extreme example of how you can style a photo and you may simply use Befunky to lighten a photo or add a vignette or vintage look.
If you want more advanced photo editing capabilities you could subscribe to Adobe’s Photoshop but I think for most businesses you could happily get what you need from Canva or Befunky which both have free and paid subscriptions.
3. Video making tool
Videos are a great way to display a lot of information in an engaging, quick way. For example, a video on Facebook could show your customer/audience 8 or 10 photos very quickly. If you upload 8 or 10 photos to a post there’s a chance people won’t click through to see them all. Videos are getting huge reach on social media sites so it’s definitely something to incorporate into your social media strategy.
Animoto and iMovie are the tools I use most for creating videos. They have pre-set designs you can just drop your photos and videos into along with some text. Animoto is the quickest to use and it also has an app so you can do it all on your phone, if you wish. They have a wide variety of styles and a large library of music to add to your video so if you don’t like the one that comes with the style you chose, you can change it.
Here’s an example of an Animoto video I created for my client The Square Table recently.
With these three tools you can create promotional videos or images to showcase new products or services, highlight special features of your business, promote a competition or event – the uses are limited only by your imagination.
There are more tips in my free Images and Videos toolkit.