Church Website Photography
... producing attractive imagery for your site
A good stock of current photographs is a pretty vital
‘raw material’ for any website project and indeed
most church publicity materials. Good photographs
will aid good design. When commissioning
photography for a church website here are some of
the issues it is good to consider:
- Avoid a series of mugshots
Try to capture people in action - talking, relating together, working together and doing things. Avoid loads of shots of people gawping at the camera. Try to document church life as if the photographer is invisible. Think of it as if you are telling a story not producing a rogues gallery.
- Try to avoid using flash where possible
Unless used skilfully, flash will often cause red-eye, unnatural skin tones and odd effects. In general you will get better photos where there is natural light rather than under artificial lighting.
- Consistency of style
Try to use only 1 or maximum of 2 photographers so that you have a consistent visual style throughout your website. Different photographers will produce very varied results when given the same brief. Also it is better to take a lot of photos at the same time with the
same lighting. For example an evening meeting under artificial lighting will look very different from a morning meeting in daylight.
- Avoid ‘artistic’ cropping (and rotating of pictures)
The designer may want to do cut-outs, make montages or use photos in a way you had not thought of. Photos with the tops of people’s heads missing and unusual rotated angles are often not helpful. Leave the cropping and orientation choices to the designer.
- When you do need portraits (eg. photos of
leaders), try to get consistency
If possible photograph them in the same place and time with the same light. Try to get the subject to relax, tell jokes and try to get them to forget they are being photographed and avoid the ‘rabbit caught in headlights’ expression.
- Take 3-4 shots of each subject
The chances are if you are shooting a group of people at least one person will have a weird expression in a shot. The more shots you take, the better the chance of
the perfect shot.
- Happy faces are best
We are trying to project a warm welcoming friendly face, grimaces, frowns and strange expressions will put people off!
- Variety is best
Try to get a broad cross section of photographs showing different ages and ethnic identities. Church is for everyone avoid focusing on just one type of person.
- Get permission
Make sure the congregation is aware when a photographer will be present and that if someone is unhappy being photographed give them an opportunity to opt-out and ensure any photos they are in are not used. Be especially careful photographing children and that you have parents' permission.
- If possible commission someone to be
permanent ‘church photographer’
Use them to capture special events as they happen. Websites keep people interested and coming back if there is recent material and is frequently updated. Highlighting events that have happen helps give people a flavour of church life and provide a great historical document of your church growing and developing. These photos will also be useful when you come to prepare publicity materials for the next event. Also when there is an outstanding testimony, get a photo of the person and get in on the website quickly - good news is worth sharing.
- Do some preliminary sorting of photos yourself
Don't supply thousands of images to the designer / webmaster. Although its good for there to be some choice, at least delete shots that are obviously rubbish. You may need to get approval for use for some photos before you give them to the designer.
- Use a good quality digital camera
Anything over 3 Mega Pixels (with the camera set a maximum resolution) is fine for use even in printed items. If possible supply the photos at high-resolution
straight off the camera onto CD to the designer. (A few photos can be sent by email but avoid attachments totalling over 10Mb). The designer can down-sample them to a size suitable for use on the web. It is not problem to go down in size but scaling images up will produce messy pixelated results.