TLDR: Leave lots of space around the subject (much more than you think), and provide a wide variety of images.
When looking at websites, we’re all familiar with cut off heads and images showing the background instead of the subject! For some of us, that’s fine, but for others it drives us mad! Shooting pictures for print can be quite different to shooting them for digital, that’s why we’ve put together an article for Photographers (Professional or Amateur) to give them some advice on what we’d be looking for!
1. Responsive, Responsive, Responsive!
Responsive is a buzz word that gets thrown around all the time, but what does it mean? Put simply: a ‘responsive website’, is one that looks good on mobile phones, laptops and computers. Part of that is in the photography.
When printing a brochure, often the edge of the paper is cut off during production, so designers and photographers will leave some space around the edge that they know will get cut off. This is known as ‘the bleed’. In web, we follow a similar principal of leaving much more space around the subject than is needed. That way parts of the image can be cut without a problem.
Let’s take our heading image as an example. There’s lots of space that we can get rid of around the edges.
This is what our image would look like on mobile:
This is the ratio of the iPhone 15. By keeping some of the subjects centered, but also giving lots of space around the subjects, we can still have a great looking image on mobile.
2. Different Uses
We must also remember that the image might be used for a variety of uses. We’ve already seen how it could be used as a full screen image on mobile and on desktop, but it can also be used in different places around the website, for example, on a hero image.
When cropping for a hero image, the image might look like this:
This is a typical hero size, which would end up looking something like this:
Adding lots of space allows us to get a great picture of our subjects without needing to cut off their heads or hands! Of course, if we also wanted their feet then adding even more space would’ve been advantageous.
There’s one potential problem with the example above, it might’ve been nice to have the subjects more to the right, so that they’re in the centre of the right column, which gives us more space for the title. That leads us to point three:
3. Planning and variety
Often when we start creating a new website (or making changes to an existing one), we are sent a Google Drive link with hundreds of images taken before. This is fantastic! But often this leads us to using images simply as decoration. We’d love to use images to tell a story. Making the images especially relevant to the content can make a huge difference to the website, and give the website that cutting edge above others.
Sometimes, we’re able to plan which images we want on different pages, that’s ideal. If not, simply a large variety is perfect. For example, when it comes to school websites we usually get sent a lot of pictures of children on the playground, but not many in the classroom or hallways. And we often lack pictures of staff. More pictures of staff (and perhaps a parent or two) would make a large different to where we can use them.
If you’re able to plan out the pictures, here’s types of pictures we’d love, but are often forgotten about:
This is one of the most visited pages on any website, yet often forgotten about until the end of the project.
On the contact page pictures of children writing letters, or even answers the phone would be a huge hit. If not, your reception staff in action would go really well here.
Often the contact page will include details of key staff, like the Headteacher, business manager or SENCO, a group picture could help parent’s to link the names to the faces.
Additionally, the contact page is where many stakeholders go to get the address of the school before they visit. Having a picture of the building could help to reassure stakeholders they’ve arrived at the right place.
We’d most likely only include one of these pictures of the page, and we’d have a discussion with the school about what they feel is best.
Vacancies, training and recruitment pages
Another area that is often forgotten, but crucial is the recruitment side of things. We want to show pictures of your staff enjoying their jobs! This could be pictures of staff together, in a meeting (for training pages) or staff interacting with children.
After school activities
Schools usually ask their photographers to come during school time, which means they miss out on a big oppurtunity to show off their after school activities. Sometimes, schools will use photos from ‘special days’, like sports days or school trips, to compensate, but it’s obvious schools are trying to fake an average day! Instead, take pictures of children holding musical instruments, reading in the library, or doing arts and crafts.
School Photography Checklist
We have a checklist made just for school photographers. Feel free to contact us, and we’ll send it over free of charge.