Once visitors have had a chance to interact with your church on one of its social media platforms, chances are good that their next stop will be your website. You do have a fully functioning website, right? If not, you definitely need to check out Kurt Abel’s article How to Make a Spectacular First Impression with Your Website’s Homepage. After you know that everything works the way it ought to on your website, your next steps in the creation of a welcoming website experience are some great photos! Where do we start?
1. Start with the Essentials
Let’s admit it –websites are an extremely visual experience. Setting expectations is vital to informing your visitors as to what they will see on your campus. The “essentials” will likely look different from church to church, and campus to campus; however, I’d consider the following types of pictures to be essential:
- church grounds,
- pre/post-service interactions,
- your pastor,
- congregants standing/sitting/singing/greeting and praying.
Each of these subjects gives your guests a glimpse into what they will see when they visit your church – weekend and midweek alike. If you set the table right, people will come hungry for that meal. Beyond these pictures, do try to get quality images of your staff with a unified look, in which they are similarly dressed, posed, and composed.
[If space, add something about your church’s “schtick”… We Love People… Joy Lives Here… etc.,]
2. Quality Over Quantity
While hiring a professional is a wise decision, sometimes there’s just no room for them in the budget. Nearly every church has someone with a decent working knowledge of a camera and a good eye for pictures – be willing to let the body help the body. If you’re going to go through all of the work of creating a website that loads quickly and is mobile-friendly, you need to be utilizing high quality images. Generally, there are four no-nos when it comes to website images.
- Blurry pictures – these are often the result of missed focus or motion; try to give your photographer well-lit subjects, as this can overcome both of these causes.
- Small photos – Small photos are the bane of all internet interaction experiences – you click on a tiny picture, expecting it to link you to a clearer, bigger image, and it gives you… a full screen with a tiny picture in the middle. Most websites display 1920×1080 pixels, so your website images should be that size (unless your website designer specifically needs them to be a different resolution).
- Stretched/distorted photos – when your website is being built, your designer will need to make sure that the placement does not distort your images. For example, a “portrait” (tall) image could be placed in a “landscape” (wide) space, and you’ll end up with a rather unflattering picture of an associate pastor doing announcements.
- Too many pictures – Less is more, right? Give your visitors just a taste of what to expect, whet their appetite, and don’t overdo it. Choose just a few of your very best pictures for that rotating banner at the top of your page, and it will be much more effective than an endless roll of images that might be scrolled past as soon as your visitor arrives.
2.5 DSLRs (or Mirrorless) vs. Phones
The gap between what a dedicated camera and a phone camera can do has been shrinking for the last decade, and it is becoming more difficult to tell the difference between the two. Everyone has their own preference as to which they think should be used, and I thoroughly believe that each has its own place. If you need to snag a quick picture of some people laughing outside at the coffee bar, your phone is two clicks away and works great in this optimal light situation (just make sure your lens is smudge-free!). However, if you are looking to capture a prayerful moment from afar, or want that perfect shot of the pastor laughing at the delivery of his pre-sermon joke, a DSLR is still unmatched in quality and flexibility.
3. Stock Photos
Shy away from photos that aren’t of my own congregation. Sometimes, however, there are a couple of occasions where we just can’t get away from using stock photos. If it’s entirely impossible to get high quality pictures of your church and its members, AND you can’t even get “good” quality pictures, stock photos can help you communicate to others the feel of your church. Blog posts, on the other hand, are a great place to be using stock photos! Here, we are conveying ideas and concepts, as opposed to showing who we are. Stock photos are a convenient, quality resource to fill this particular need.
I hope this has given you something to consider regarding the capture of your church’s image. Please feel free to share your thoughts and questions on this topic: email@example.com