7 Reasons Why You Want Images On Your Website

Website images are just as important as video on your website. Invest in some great photography to keep visitors on your site longer and coming back for more!

Think your website images aren’t as important as video? Although videos have become important elements in your websites, don’t let the popularity and lure of videos blind you to the enduring power of great photographs and well written captions.

Here are 7 reasons you want to include photos in your websites:

1) A dull, drab site doesn’t entice.

You’ll want to include images that will capture your visitors’ interest, illustrate your services, products and message and arouse them to take action: i.e., opting in to your list, buying your product, shopping at your store, etc. We’ve all become accustomed to visually stimulating websites, so you have to strive for visual excellence.

2) Video is a powerful tool but sometimes your visitor doesn’t have the time to watch it.

What I love about photographs is that a good one can tell a story in one shot. With a two sentence caption, it tells a story that can be consumed in la few seconds. Right after I roughed out this post, I had a comment come in on this photograph I had posted in Facebook.

“I love the fact…you love photography, like I do and in addition to that you are creative with the posts that accompany your photos.”

3) When you do include captions, you can put your tags and keywords in there as well for more SEO juice.

4) Another wonderful thing about photographs, images and illustrations on the web is that they are easy to use and don’t take up much bandwidth.

Photos should be optimized for web delivery so that they are served quickly, but this process is simpler and faster than optimizing videos. You have no browser viewing issues with photos like you do with video, i.e., iPhones and iPads can’t view Flash files.

5) Additionally, showcasing photos that capture you and your business in the best light go a long way toward establishing your brand.

6) Google knows people like to look at images and will reward you with a higher page rank for providing this kind of content.

Although computers don’t read pixels, they do read the image title so make sure you include your keywords and tags in the name of your images. I am surprised at how many people overlook this one simple Google-friendly way of getting more keywords onto their site.

7) Photographs are a great way to deliver links, which Google likes.

Add valid links to your photos whenever you can. Most people are used to images taking them places and will expect your image to link to more information. If they click and just your image opens up, they may get confused and frustrated. If you aren’t going to link this photo anywhere within your site or another site, make sure your image won’t be clickable to avoid a possible visitor frustration.

Have you come across some great use of images on a website you’d like to share? Or do you have a clever, enticing way you have included photographs on yours? Leave your comment below!

You Should Use Photos in Your Videos – Here’s Why

Photos can’t be overlooked in producing your videos! Here’s why:

Sometimes that is all you have to work with.

Your video can be made up entirely of images – without you ever getting your video camera out and shooting a frame!

Ken Burns’ incredibly powerful film series, “The Civil War” is one that immediately comes to my mind. It was done so well and draws you in so completely that it doesn’t seem like it was composed almost entirely of still photographs. Can you think of others?

Sometimes you can’t get video footage of what you need.

Since it was impossible for Ken Burn’s to get footage from an era before the technology was invented, he had to make a choice. While he could have shot his series with re-enactors or through interviews with historians or a combination, he chose something entirely different that I feel actually worked so much better! Also shooting with re-enactors and lining up interviews, expense was probably a consideration.

There are many times you may need a video from a location that is too expensive to get to, or impossible to shoot, like Mars for example, where you can use a photo instead.

The key to using still images compellingly is to give them some motion otherwise it’s about exciting as watching your great uncle Charley’s slide show of his mushroom harvesting trip to the Catskills last summer.

A panning technique was used in the Civil War series. Along with haunting music, sound effects, i.e, the sounds of battle and wonderful dialog, that effect worked really well.

With Photoshop (or other similar programs), you can save images in different layers and animate each of those layers in your editing software. I see this a lot on the History channel. They’ll take an old painting, select out a person, animate it so that it gets larger in the screen while a separate person in the painting gets smaller.

Sometimes these effects can be done with photographs and it totally looks like a video. I did this once with a train track photo. The photo was taken looking over the tracks as they converged in the far distance. I converted it to black and white, then over the course of 10 seconds or so, I slowly enlarged the image. When I was done, it looked just like someone had shot film from the front of a train in the 1940’s.

When we shot our documentary, Patrick Smith’s Florida: A Sense of Place, on my dad, we relied on extensive use of historical photographs throughout the production, ala Ken Burn’s style. This film went on to win a Telly and a couple of film awards. I knew that just showing him on camera, a “talking head” if you will, would not be as powerful without the photos.

Prepare your photos before you import into your editing software.

Your photos don’t have to be more than 72 DPI but they should be a fairly large dimension  if you are going to pan around inside them. I usually have one dimension at is 2,000 pixels and that gives me plenty of room to pan and scan. Save as a PSD with all the layers if you plan on animating each layer separately.

Any photo you use should be in RGB color space, preferably a JPG or PNG. PNG’s carry alpha channels so if you want to maintain transparent areas in your photos, save them as a PNG.

If you’re using Final Cut Pro or Premiere to edit, images saved in CMYK and as TIFFs DO NOT WORK. Yes, you may be able to import TIFFS, but it will mess a lot of things up. Other editing systems may work the same way so to be on the safe side, always convert your images to JPGs or PNG. Nine times out of ten, when I’ve imported a photo and my editing system went crazy, it was because the photo was in CMYK mode.

You can turn your photos to video without having editing software.

There are some really cool programs available that allow you to turn your photos to video. One we use is Animoto. You can use it for free but the length of your video is limited to 30 seconds. For only $30/year you can upgrade and make longer ones. You can also incorporate videos with your photos in Animoto. Another option is Photodex’ ProShow product.

Use your video to make still frames.

What if you want to use photos but don’t have them? Use your video footage. You can pull still frames from your videos and use them as still photos. Sometimes it’s a good way to fix a shooting error (yes, those things happen even to the most professional.) but other reasons  include using it for a graphic, title, emphasis, or doing special effects.

In what ways do you like to turn photos to video? Please share below.