Branding Photography for Web Design: What It Is and How to Get the Most Out of It

by | May 4, 2020 | Branding, Photography, Website Content

Branded Images

Having designed websites and created campaigns for hundreds of businesses, we know one thing for certain: images are an important element in the consumer journey. They not only introduce visitors to your brand, but also set the tone for the type of services or products you provide. For that reason, investing in a catalog of branded photos can increase your chances of website conversion and landing new customers.

The best course of action when curating images for your website—or your brand, in general—is to hire a professional photographer to capture accurate images of your business. That translates into highly valuable collateral to share on your website, social media and other mediums.

What Is a Branding Shoot, and Why Is It So Important, Anyway?

A branding shoot is a photo shoot or photo session specifically for a business or organization and is aimed at portraying the subject in a professional light. Branding photography can produce images suitable for a number of uses, including:

  • Sharing on social media
  • Making your website stand out from the competition
  • Creating a professional persona
  • Showing a continued investment in the business or organization

In most cases, the photographer doesn’t involve a web designer or even take into consideration how the photos will be used after the fact. And that poses a problem.

How to Get the Most Out of Your Branding Photo Shoot

When your goal is to get as many web-ready photos as possible, working with someone who has experience with both photography and web design is a huge plus. While most photographers are pros at capturing amazing shots of their subjects, in most cases, only 10 to 20% of the resulting photos will be suitable for web design. So, while you might end up with some great shots, you likely won’t be able to use your favorites within your website’s design in a way that makes sense.

The solution? Choose a photographer who has experience with web design, or create a collaborative environment for your web designer and your photographer. In this article, We’ll explain how to get the best shots for any website.

What Most Branding Shoots Get Wrong

These are just a few of the things I see when a business provides me with their images.

They isolate the subject and make the entire image about only that subject
This is the most common issue. When scrolling through images for a website build, most images contain a single subject—and it fills the entire frame.  As a result, these images are entirely one-dimensional and not very suitable for web design.

They focus only on people
While people are great because they bring a human element to the business and help conversion rates, it’s tough to make a website look great when there are only images of people.

They don’t cover individual services
Most branding shoots neglect to capture images of individual services. Instead, they focus on people, random objects or establishing shots. This is a problem because it means there is a lack of appropriate images for use on the website’s service pages.

They are too intentional
Similar to points one a two, the images tend to be too subject-focused and rely so much on intent that they neglect abstract or filler images that are great for setting tone.

How to Capture the Best Photos for Your Clients’ Websites

We can cover this in two basic sections: setting up your shoot and deciding which photos to capture.

Setting Up Your Shoot

Doing all the right prep work will make the actual shoot go a lot smoother. Some of the most important things you can do are:

Interview Your Clients
Using a branding photo shoot questionnaire is a great option here. It will allow you to get to know your clients and understand who they are, what they do, and how they want to use the images you capture. A simple questionnaire will allow them to formulate their thoughts and help you capture all the information you need.

My biggest tip for the questionnaire is to dive deeper than the superficial. Ask questions about their products and services, what they offer, and how they operate. Knowing these things will allow you to capture images that take it beyond basic subject shots. You can also ask what pages they have—or plan to have—on their website and capture images specifically for those pages.

You can check out my branding photo shoot questionnaire here.

Scout the Location
Scouting the location and doing a walkthrough beforehand will allow you to do a number of things, including getting a feel for your best lighting. You can also start thinking about which will backgrounds will work and how to capture where you client operates.
Build a Shot List
Building a shot list will help you ensure that the day of shooting goes smoothly and that you don’t miss anything. Figure out which shots you need and who you want in them. Being this prepared will help you save time for both yourself and your client.

Deciding Which Photos to Shoot and Tips for Making Them Fit a Website

Let’s focus on photos that work well for web design. We know we want images of people and images that convey how the business operates. The key to making them work for a website is capturing often-overlooked images and composing them well so they work with popular web design trends.

Capture Empty Space and Leading Lines That Leave Room for Text
Modern web design trends call for images that can accommodate overlaid text. We don’t want to put text over anyone’s face, so compose images that have ample space for text, buttons and graphics.

Make these images wide with plenty of clearance at the top and bottom—and either the left or the right—for images that will work well as individual page sections, headers and dividers.

Capture Images for Specifics Service Pages
Make sure you capture images specifically for service pages. Talk to your clients to discover how they provide each service, then stage shots that tell that story. The resulting images will be perfect for service pages and can help your clients’ websites convert.

Capture the Arbitrary and Think About Backgrounds
When capturing your primary elements, think about arbitrary elements that can be used as accent pieces on the website. Web designers will often utilize blurred backgrounds, textures, and other arbitrary image elements that support their design decisions.

These arbitrary images support the brand, as well. Brick walls and elements from the office, such as an empty desk with a blurred background or a full bookshelf, can help solidify the brand build a consistent theme throughout the website.

You’re Ready to Shoot!

Remember: before going into your brand photo shoot, keep in mind how the resulting images will be used. Always make sure to capture shots that fit the business’s website and complement the design. Preparing for your shoot ensures you’re ready to capture images suitable for every page, so don’t ignore on that important step. Finally, embrace your creativity. Those arbitrary shots aren’t always so arbitrary and can be incredibly useful to web designers.

Bill Reinhart

Bill has been an active marketer for over 15 years with experience leading teams in web development, SEO, and lead generation. Bill founded Signature W Studio in 2018 in Charlotte, NC. Bill's goal with Signature W Studio is to create lasting partnerships with his clients.

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