what to tell your photographer when taking photos for your website

This is a common question from my clients, and it's an important one. How do I get the right kinds of photos for my website? What should I tell my photographer? And how do I find the right photographer?

Here are 3 things to consider when hiring a photographer:

1
Don't expect to pay less than $800 USD for a good quality photographer.

Anything less than that is probably going to be an amateur or un-professional photographer. I've discovered this first-hand when hiring third-party photographers for my clients. It doesn't matter if you are in Los Angeles, Boston, Seattle or Dallas. Don't plan on spending less than $800 USD. Otherwise, you'll end up with photographs that you'll be disappointed with. On the other hand, paying over $2000 USD for a single one-day photoshoot also seems to be where there is no extra value-added for a photographer. A $2000 USD photography is going to be very high quality and professional. And, from my experience, a $3000 USD photographer isn't going to be much different unless there is a stylistic preference you have between the two. 

2
Photographers tend to be booked out 2 weeks in advance, and have a 2 week turnaround.

Meaning, the whole process will take roughly 1 month between hiring & getting the actual photos. A hard-working photographer will get this turn-around to be much shorter. I've done hundreds of photoshoots for clients in the past, and it can take me less than 1day to get the photos in my clients' hands. But some Photographers want to delete all the bad photos shoot, and find the top 10 images to present to you. A good photographer will submit to you 3-5 images as a sneak-peak so you're not anxiously waiting to see the final results.

3
The Photographer should be pro-active about choosing a location or background for your photoshoot.

However, you should also give the photographer a few example of the style you want to go for ahead of time so they know exactly what to shoot, and then can make some recommendations in terms of location or backdrops, or at least ask you some questions about the process at least a couple weeks before the shoot actually occurs. 

 

Here is what to tell your photographer about getting good photos for your website

I am always amazed at how few photographers actually know how to take good photos for a website. After all, websites are the most powerful and important marketing tools a business uses these days. But most photographers are stuck in the mindset of treating these pieces as a final piece of art, rather than a raw photograph that will later be used for brochures, websites or social medial. 

So here are 3 things you need to tell your Photographer when doing a photoshoot for your business website:

1
Get 50% Horizontal and 50% Vertical images

Websites, brochures and social media photos are mostly horizontal or Square in shape. Except, on mobile devices, Pinterest images, or tri-fold brochures, they need to be vertical. Therefore, let your Photographer know that you need both horizontal and vertical orientations of shoots, as much as possible. I am amazed at how many photographers only do Horizontal or only do Vertical when shooting. You need both. So be firm about letting your photographer know this. 

2
Lots and lots of white or blank space

This is another thing that bugs me about Photographers. Obviously, text is going to be overlayed over these images. Only on an Art website is the image a stand-alone. Virtually all websites & brochures overlay text on top of images. So make sure you ask your Photographers to allow for as much white space, or simple background, or simple compositions as possible so that these images actually look good on a website. Show your Photographer examples of ones you like so they understand. Most Photographers get this wrong. 

3
Don't have them touch up and crop the images afterwards

Another thing some Photographers do is crop, touch-up or alter images and often spend weeks doing this. The best thing to do is ask them to send you the Raw, un-touched images first, in high resolution, then narrow them down to your final selections. Photographers have this tendency of waiting as long as possible to get you the final images, or to play around with them in Photoshop for too long. Speed up the process and ask for the raw, un-edited, un-cropped, un-filtered photos they took from the photo session. They'll need to be altered for website use anyway, so that we can figure out the right layout & orientation of these photos for your website. 

Why Minimalist Design Matters For Your Business

When email inboxes fill up on Monday morning or your mailbox gets stuffed with more credit card offers, it's easy for businesses to get drowned in a sea of marketing noise.

That's why minimalist design for your business matters. Imagery and text that is clean, clear, elegant & easy to understand is one of the easiest ways to make sure your business stands apart from your competition. 

Simple, elegant design is more memorable. It's easier to focus on. So when you help your clients & customers understand what your business does, and present it in a beautiful & capitvating way - it helps drive more leads, it makes it easier to capture email addresses, and it helps your business dominate your competition. 

Here are some of the top performing designs I have done for clients that people are remembering because of their beautiful, minimalist design.

custom-home-builder-website-designer.jpg

Dixon Kirby is a design & build firm in North Carolina which creates unforgettable homes, and pairs them with stellar photography. Many of my clients remember this website for months after they see it as one of the most beautiful examples of timeless and simple design.

www.dixonkirby.com

 
minimalist-photographer-website-designer.jpg

Loscar Numael is a landscape photographer from Puerto Rico. His elegant, minimal logo, paired with his strikingly colorfulyet simple photography is often unforgettable.

www.loscarnumael.com

 

Carrie Hayden, an interior designer from Seattle, has a website so minimal and unique, visitors who stumble up their website can't help but browse numerous website pages at a time. The surprisingly simple, yet stunning website design keeps more people engaged on each page by 3 times more than the average interior design website. 

www.carriehayden.com

 
 

What I have found over the years of doing minimalist design for businesses, is that there is a lot more to it than just looking unique and different.

Simple, minimal design tends to engage people far better than websites, marketing or logos which clutter, confuse and distract people. The analytics from Google and other tracking tools have proven this. Which is why it is crucial that your business use simple, elegant design to simplify your marketing strategies, while both inspiring your clientele and helping them focus on the content you put in front of them. The same goes for other marketing material, like pop ups on your website, flyers in the mail, or online advertising. 

Choosing The Right Name For Your Business

My favorite stage of running a business is the start-up stage. It's the most exciting part of creating a business. But for many first-time business owners, it can be a bit frightening. But, to me, one of my favorite hobbies is starting a new business. 

Picking the right name for your business is easy. Start with just your own name.

You want something that people will remember. When I was in college, people always remembered my name Justin Page Wood, but only if I included my middle name "Page."  But if I only went by Justin Wood it was too generic, and no one ever remembered it.  So Justin Page Wood, as well as my initials 'JPW' were the right starting point for my business. Once I started using it in my emails or any documents, I suddenly found that strangers or people I hardly knew would easily remember my name, even calling me "JPW" or calling me "Justin Page Wood" as if my entire name was actually my first name. 

So when you are starting out, whatever you do, choosing your first name is the easiest way to go. If your name is unique, but not too hard to spell, then use that as a starting point. 

The other thing to think about is choosing a name that will allow you to do long term growth. For instance, a while back we chose the name "MW Textile Design" for my wife's business. The problem was that she started to move away from Textile Design altogether, so the name no longer made sense. You want your business name to be generic enough that it can work for all sorts of fields, and not corner yourself into a wall. At the same time, you want it to be easy to say, easy to spell, and easy to remember. 

Just think about if you were to tell people what your website address is. If you have to spell out each letter for them, or if it is confusing, or too easy to forget, especially if they were to type it into a browser, then you're going to get a lot of missed opportunities for new business. 

Overall, here are things to keep in mind:

  • Don't make your business name too long, especially your web address. For instance: www.justinpagewoodminimalsitdesign.com is way too long.
  • Try as much as possible to use simple, common words that are easy to say, spell and remember.
  • Starting with your own personal name is always a good start, unless you've found that people have a hard time saying, spelling or remembering it.
  • Don't be afraid to change your business name over the next few months. As you get established, you may find that your business name no longer works. If that is the case, feel free to change it quickly. 

Do I need a logo for my business?

There's nothing worse than delaying the start-up of your business just because you do not have a logo ready. In my opinion, there is no need for you to design a logo or hire someone to make a logo when you are just getting started with your business and have no money saved up.

A professional logo design is going to run you somewhere around $200 to $2000 USD, depending on the logo designer. And if you are just getting your business started, there is literally no reason why you should take on that kind of expense. That money should be going towards other things that will actually bring you income later on. 

To get started, there are some really easy ways around getting a logo for your business:

  1. My favorite is just to pick a nice font, space out the letters a bit, and stick with that for the first few months. My favorite fonts are Futura Book for a minimalist aesthetic, which is what I use for my own businesses, or Garamond for a more classic look.
  2. Find a logo building tool online like Squarespace's Logo Maker. I believe it is only $10 to purchase once you build your own logo online, and tool is pretty simple to use. 
  3. Find a premade logo on a platform like Etsy. You simply find a design you like, and a designer will put together the logo files for you, like PNG, AI, and JPG files for your reference. Simply go to Etsy.com and search for a keyword like "premade logo" and you'll find thousands of options. 

Once you establish yourself as a business, making enough income per month to justify the cost, you can then hire a logo designer to make something custom for you. At that point, spending $200 or $500 or even $1000 might make financial sense. But when you are just getting started, avoid spending money on things that really won't convert towards getting new sales or new customers.