How To Brief A Photographer To Take Awesome Photos For Your Website

IGNITE® Digital Agency - 27 October 2020

Photography and videography can be make or break to creating a powerful and impactful website or marketing campaign. It’s an important opportunity to showcase your brand and your values, while capturing the interest and excitement of your customers.

Follow our three easy steps to ensure you get the best results possible from your photography.


Step 1 – Research


Check out online photography sites for ideas and references
  • iStock by Getty Images – iStock has a huge library to help with ideas
  • 500px – Get inspired with incredible photos from diverse styles and genres around the world.
  • Pexels – High-quality free stock photos, if you like any you can use them at no cost.
  • Instagram – Instagram is full of incredible photographers. It takes a little bit of exploring to find them, but it’s worth it.
  • Pinterest – As well as using this platform as a source of inspiration, create your own mood board by pinning all those online images that inspire your ideas.


Check out what your competitors are doing

Checking out what your competitors are doing is always a critical step in the process. This may not necessarily be to find inspiration, but instead to see what they’re doing so that you can ensure you’re doing something different to stand out.


Step 2 – Plan

Work out the photos you’ll need.

Below are some typical areas that may require photography.

  • Hero photos for page headers
  • Team photos
  • Physical space/facilities
  • Action shots
  • Products and services
  • Photos relevant to particular marketing campaigns


Put together a brief

To get a great result that is in line with your expectations, you’ll need to brief your photographer well.

Photographers will typically receive a ‘shot list’ which clearly details the exact photos required, the style, format (landscape or portrait) and any ideas in terms of important things to capture.

Don’t expect them to just roll up to your workplace and for you to be able to guide them on the spot. This will not lead to a great outcome.

Search Google for ‘photographer shot list template’ to see some examples in Google images for both video and still photography.

Be sure to also include reference photos based on your research to guide the photographer on any specific styles you were hoping to achieve.

Find a photographer and brief them.

If you don’t have a photographer, there are a few directories you can use to find someone such as the 500px directory, Photoshelter directory or Snappr directory.

All of these sites have the ability to filter by your local city, and you’ll be able to review their folio of work to see if it’s inline with what you want to achieve.


Our additional tips for taking great photos to use on a website.


Overcast days are better than sunny days for outdoor shots.

For non-photographers this seems odd, surely a sunny day is better! Sunny days have harsher light which casts shadows on faces and objects, which gives less control in the final image. You’ll see more detail in the final image if shadows and highlights are more neutral.


Landscape orientation is more versatile than portrait

Landscape images can generally be cropped to portrait easily enough, however it’s nearly impossible to crop a portrait image to work as a landscape crop. Tell your photographer that landscape shots should be the default, unless you specially need portrait shots and know that they’ll be used in the same way on the website. An example of this would be if you were taking individual portraits of team members for a ‘team’ page.


Be wary of the focal point

A key photography rule is the rule of thirds, but you need to be wary with placing an object of focus too close to the top, bottom or sides of the frame as they could end up cropped on the website. This is especially true if it’s photos of faces or people that you’ll be shooting. See the point below about ‘Shooting wide’.


Shoot wide

Shoot wider than may seem suitable to allow for cropping on various devices. Due to the nature of responsive web designs that adapt to different devices, your photos will likely be cropped at all kinds of various sizes that may not have been intended.

Shooting wide also allows for more freedom in the design phase. For example, if we have a selection of shots that are shot wide, it allows freedom to maybe crop the image to allow for the focal point to be on one side of the image, and we can overlay text on the other side.

Blur the background

Keeping the subject in focus but blurring the background is called creating ‘depth of field’ or ‘Bokeh’.

Be aware that any objects or colours in your photo will be competing for attention with the other content on the page, so in general it’s best to blur out these details if they don’t present value to minimise the risk.


Avoid Stock photos

Stock photos can be tempting, as they’re cheap, easy and ready to go. However, everyone can tell that a stock photo is a stock photo. This conveys an element of distrust, as it’s not a genuine reflection of your organisation.

Anybody can fill a website with stock photos and attempt to look like a large organisation, and may do, which is why this is an issue.

In general, all photos and videos used on your site should be authentic shots of your business.


Go with candid rather than staged

In our experience, when it comes to shots of people, candid photos are much nicer than photos that have been too heavily staged.

Photos that are too heavily staged feel unnatural and begin edging towards looking like a stock photo, which decreases trust.

People can tell a real smile or interaction versus a fake one. Try to capture people in the moment.


Less is more

Following on from the point above, try to keep your photos simple. Don’t cram too much into the frame and try to achieve too much with one photo. All of these elements will be competing for the viewers attention.


Be wary of colours

Any colours that you introduce in your photos, will be placed there in the design of your site, amongst your brand colours. So be aware of the colours in the photo and make sure they
work with your colour palette.

For example, if there’s a big red poster or object in the background of one of your photos, but your brand colours and website will be green, then be aware that the website may end up having that red and green sit together, which may not look great.

This may be unavoidable in some instances if your brand has colours which need to represented (ie house colours in Schools).

If your brand and website will be predominantly neutral colours, like black, white and grey, then you may actually want to introduce colour via the photos, and if you do, you won’t have to worry about colour clashes as nothing clashes with black or white.


Get some video clips as well if possible

This gets back to hiring the right photographer, but professional SLR cameras these days have some powerful video capturing functionality. Some photographers may be skilled enough to take a few short clips of the designated scenes throughout the shoot, which could come in handy to use on the website and save you having to do the same process for a videographer.

This could be an added level of complication that may not be necessary, but it might be worth asking your photographer if they could do this.

If you’re looking for something more polished or maybe want to include drone footage, then this will likely need an additional videographer contractor.


Step 3 – Execute


Once your photographer has been booked and you’ve locked in a date, make sure you’re fully prepared to make the most of their time while they’re there.

Photographers typically charge in half-day or full-day blocks, not by the hour, so if you’ve paid for a half-day and you’re not organised and time blows out a little bit, expect to be charged for the full day.

Make sure all of your team, models, products or anything else to be photographed is ready to go.

If you’re working with people/models make sure they are also across the shot list so that they know what’s expected of them and when.

If lighting is required for any shots, be sure to have power points or extension cables ready.

Important: Make sure you own the full rights to the photos you purchase, and your photographer isn’t ‘licensing’ them to you.

We have had clients that have paid thousands of dollars to take photos to use on a website, but then needed to pay thousands more to use the photos on a future billboard campaign. Ensure your photos are yours to do what you want with, whenever you want and get it in writing.

Once you have all of your high-res photos from your photographer be sure to save them in a safe place on your local network that your team can access, and then share a copy of them with your web development team.

You can read our other article on how to best supply these photos with your web agency to implement on your website.




Includes a list of useful online tools