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8 critical steps to ensure you have great photos on your church website

Written by Mark Steinbrueck

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March is Church Website Design Month at OurChurch.Com and we are walking you step-by-step through the process to create a great church website.

In this article, I am going to discuss one of the most critical aspects of a website that is so often overlooked…

Photos

The decision of which photos to use on a church website usually goes something like this…

“Let’s just use some stock photos we see online” or “I think the Sara (the youth pastor) has some pics from the church picnic and building dedication that she posted to Facebook.  We can use some of those.”

Most of the time, there isn’t much thought given to what images will be used on the church website.

Even though text that explains your mission, beliefs, and programs are an important part of the website, it’s the photos that make the first impression when someone visits to your website.

Since your website images are so important, I want to provide 8 crucial tips to ensure you have great photos on your website:

1) Never copy an image that you find online. This includes going to Google and searching for an image and copying the image from the results.  Those images are most likely copyrighted and using them is stealing.  If you use them, you could find yourself on the wrong side of a lawsuit 🙁

2) Use real photos whenever possible. It is very tempting to resort to using stock photos:  Many are free, they are good quality, and they have great looking people in them.  However, most people can spot a stock photo from a mile away.  In addition to looking “fake,” the stock images you  choose could also be used on a dentist’s website, an ad for a local gym, or worse.  Stock images are okay if there is text over top of the image and the only purpose the image is to provide a supporting background.  However, using real photos of real people from your church is more personal and shows authenticity.

3) Take your time taking photos.  Blurry images are impossible to correct, so make sure the subjects of your photos are in focus. Make sure the lighting is good and even.  Also, unless the image is supposed to be a candid, look closely to make sure everyone is facing the camera and their eyes are open.

4) It is not a sin to use Photoshop.  Sometimes photos benefit from minor editing, for example if its too dark, the shot is too wide, or there’s something distracting in the background. We’re not talking about making the pastor’s biceps look like Mr. America or the 80 yr old grandma look like a 21 college student.  Just minor touch-ups.

5) Don’t email or text photos.  Text and email services often compress images to reduce file sizes and data usage. This compression can reduce the resolution and quality of the images.  When sharing images, use Google Drive or Dropbox.

6) Crop the image to fit on the website. All to often I will see different sized images in an image rotator or a portrait-shaped image used at the top of a webpage when a landscape shaped image should have been used.   Once you have the correct format (landscape/portrait), crop the image to the correct dimensions.  If you are not sure what dimensions should be used, contact your website provider.  If you don’t have software to edit your images, you can use Pixlr X which is free.

7) Optimize your images for your website.   Though you don’t want your email provider to reduce the image file of your images, you don’t want to the images to be so large that they slow down your website.  Use software like Pixlr X or the WordPress plugin, Smush to optimize the image for your website.  In case you were wondering, OurChurch.Com includes Smush with all of its websites.

8) Set a reminder in your calendar to take new pictures every 6 months. If you are not taking pictures for the website every week, it is important to set a reminder in your calendar to get new pictures every 6 months.  Doing this will keep the images from getting old and allow you to get rid of pictures of people who are no longer at the church.

The camera sees more than the eye, so why not make use of it? – Edward Weston

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Comment and discuss:

  • What do you think about these steps to having great images on your website?
  • Are there any other suggestions that would benefit our readers?

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    About the author

    Mark Steinbrueck

    Mark Steinbrueck is President and Co-founder of OurChurch.Com. He is a member of Generations Christian Church, a husband and father of 3. He is a huge Cardinals baseball fan and bleeds Garnet and Gold.

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