When custom photography is used right on a website, it can make a momentous difference in user perception, emotional connection, and overall impressiveness. Imagine the clouds part, there’s a majestic light beam shining right on the computer screen, and lady justice is singing ever so sweetly in the background. Really, custom photography has the power to do that! However, when it comes to obtaining and getting it, the key word is “right” and believe it or not, there actually is a lot involved in making that happen. It’s a downright shame to have spent the time and budget on a professional photographer, only to wind up with sub-par results on the website. I’ve seen it repeatedly here with PaperStreet clients, and each time it tugs at my creative heartstrings because there was so much potential missed. After observing one too many of these unfortunate photography blunders, I’ve compiled a step-by-step guide (using examples from our portfolio) to ensure you get the best custom photos for your law firm website.
Find Your Inspiration
Whether it be from your own research or a recommendation from your web designer, it is imperative to first find the style you are looking to achieve. There are so many directions you can take the photography, from candid action shots in the office to a thoroughly planned and posed photo shoot with your team. Perhaps you want the user to feel energized or to get a realistic glimpse into your firm by having the pictures vibrant in color. However, if you’re going for a more serious or experienced tone, black and white photos are a perfect fit.
Hire the Right Photographer
Often clients start the custom photography process by hiring a photographer. It could be due to budget, but most likely “somebody knew someone…” and poof, the decision has been made before anything else. Now there is nothing wrong with having a tight budget or getting a referral, but you may find that choosing your photographer before choosing your style inspiration could be like fitting a square peg into a round hole. Photographers have different styles and strengths and some are versatile. You have a sure bet if you approach a photographer with your chosen style and inquire if they can produce the same look and caliber. If the answer is yes, ask to see similar examples from their portfolio. Share these with your web designer to make sure everyone is on the same page for vision.
The Hiring Breakdown:
a. Choose the style before hiring a photographer
b. Ask the photographer if they can replicate the style
c. Request to see similar examples of their work
d. Share their examples with your web designer
Follow the Web Designer’s Format Instructions
Whether you put your photographer in touch directly with the web designer to communicate about format (recommended) or you pass the instructions along, they absolutely must be obtained and followed by your photographer.
The instructions should include these basics:
a. File Size & Resolution
b. Active Area (where the main subject matter is placed) vs. Inactive Area (the “background” area)
c. Website Project Wireframe or Design Concept
d. Style, Color, and Editing
Best Practices for Format:
a. Send Original Files
b. No Cropping or Editing (unless instructed to do so)
c. Leave Ample Space (around the active area in each photograph)
Custom photography is completely worth the time and money spent, not to mention a fun team-building event. It can be incredibly powerful and useful for many law firm purposes in addition to your website such as marketing material, invitations, articles, and presentations. So get ready for the bright lights and follow this guideline to get the full value and potential out of your custom photography!