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Including images, graphics and photographs on your website is extremely important. Today the web we use is more visual than ever, what with full width sliders and image panels becoming a huge trend and the inclusion of many graphics and icons breaking up the text.

We have briefly touched on Stock Imagery VS Professional Photography previously, but with the increasing quality of mobile phone and digital cameras, it is now possible to shoot your own professional looking photos, without spending another penny!

Taking a photo for your website isn’t as simple as just pressing the shutter release button. There are so many tiny changes you can make to the way you take your pictures that can make a huge difference to the outcome of your photos.

As your photos are the first thing to catch the eye of the website viewer, you want to ensure that these photos are looking as best as they can because blurry, dark images can look unprofessional.

Tip number one: Don’t trust your hands - all of the best photos are taken using a tripod. By preventing camera shake by the operator, the tripod will assist in obtaining clear focus and ensure that the photograph is as sharp as it can be – looking as professional as possible.

Tip number two: Paying attention to light is a huge step in improving the quality of your photographs. Ensuring that you have plenty of light will enhance every detail of subject of your photo, making your photo really sharp and clear. You can experiment with light too. Different types of light will have different effects on your images, even natural light from different times of day can completely change the look and feel of your photographs. Focusing your light from different angles will completely change the look of the subject of your photos too. Light sourced from behind the camera, like shooting with the sun behind you, can create a very flat photograph, but shooting with side light can create a more interesting, mysterious look as it shows the depth and the shape of the subject of your photographs.

Tip number three: When taking photographs, shoot straight. Always make sure that any horizontal lines in your photograph are completely perpendicular to the left and right edges of your photograph, otherwise the photo may lose its dramatic effect due to looking off-set. Don’t just consider the horizontal lines though, also consider the vertical lines. Use the edges of a view finder as a gauge and once you’ve got the view finder lined up do of course make sure you don’t move around too much. Alternatively, you could use the previously mentioned tripod so that your camera always remains aligned with your view finder.

If you’re taking photos of products for your website, you definitely want to make sure that the photograph doesn’t lessen the look of the product – bad imagery could cost you a sale! Always ensure that you leave enough room around your product so that it doesn’t look too squashed within the photo. Do consider the background behind your product though. You want the background to be clean, neat and tidy. You also want the background to be minimalistic as to not draw the eye from the product.

Tip number four: Most products are shot on a plain white background. Make shift your own photo studio by simply draping a sheet over the table or unit, to have a plain background to emphasise the products in the image.

Tip number five: You can use your smart phone! Just check the settings for resolution, and more. Most smart phones these days work just as well, if not better, than some cameras on the market. Experiment and try different effects, settings and lighting.

There are millions of hints and tips specific to different subjects, for example, if you’re taking a photograph of a room, take the photo from below eye level because this will make the room look like it has come straight out of a magazine! Always remember to do a little research before snapping some photographs for your website – use books and the internet to see how images of similar subjects are taken by the professionals!