Ways To Make Your Photos Look Better On The Web
You may have heard the saying “content is king” meaning that the quality of the copy and media on your website are key to adding value and driving engagement with your area. Here are some tips for ensuring that your images are more “King Richard” and less “King John.”
Focus on the subject
This seems intuitive but bears mentioning since it is probably the most important rule for any photo. Make sure that the key person/object in your photo is in focus, either by centering the auto-focus crosshair on them or tapping on them on your screen. Although the Web Office will reject photos that are completely out of focus, the best photos will have a shallow depth of field (DOF) with your subject sharp and in-focus and the background blurred out. Not to say that photos with everything in focus are bad, but having a shallow DOF allows your subject to stand out and draw the viewer’s eye (I’ll address how to do this further down the page).
Center your subject
While the “Rule of Thirds” may have a lot of artistic merit it doesn’t always mesh well with the responsive nature of our website. Image frames get resized, text gets overlaid, and the subject of your photo can end up cropped or obscured. Instead of trying to account for every layout possibility, it is easiest to center the most important thing in your photo so that it can work in every applicable scenario across saintpeters.edu.
Minimum 740px wide
This isn’t much of a concern for photos taken in 2016 and beyond, but images and thumbnails taken from older pages or e-mails can come in at super-small resolutions. These will display poorly to say the least. Make sure that your image dimensions are at minimum 740 pixels wide to guarantee that they can at least be displayed at full width on a page.
Find/use good lighting (natural lighting preferred)
Light is the most important contributor to how sharp your photo is. Even a camera phone can turn out incredible images with enough lighting. That being said, all light is not created equal. Sunlight/open windows can create the most natural and soft lighting for your subject, while built-in flash (though sometimes unavoidable) can give a very harsh, shadowed quality. Notice I said can and not will. The sun at high noon casts very unflattering shadows and a properly diffused flash bulb gives you lots of control over your indoor shots. Know how to make the best of your environment.
Tip: If you can’t use natural light place a lamp (or two) to the front-side of your subject, just out of view.
Holding camera at the subject’s eye level when taking pictures of people
Again, holding the camera at a higher or lower angle can add a lot of artistic value but, depending on the subject, can also add subtext to your finished product (low shots of people can make them subconsciously intimidating). For the best, neutral results capture the the subject at their eye level.
Avoid taking pictures at an angle
See above. Angles can add a sense of dynamic motion but are easily overused and dizziness-inducing.
Steady the camera before taking a picture
After light, camera stability is the second biggest contributor to sharpness. Tripods are ideal, but you can also lean against a stationary object or take the shot at the end of an exhale to minimize shake from your arms.
Use colors that work well together
You don’t need to take a course in color theory, just avoid placing your subject in front of distracting patterns or colors that are too similar.
Clean your lens
Have you ever looked through a dirty windshield or pair of glasses? Dirt, fingerprints and smudges can ruin the sharpness of your photo. Gently wipe your camera’s lens with a soft cloth before shooting to get rid of spots that can compromise your image quality.
Landscape Orientation is a better choice for smartphones
Without going into too much detail, it is easier for us here in the Web Office to manipulate wide content in relation to text. It also prevents us having to crop your image, keeping it at its highest possible resolution.
Get closer to the subject instead of zooming in
The reasoning here is twofold: optical and digital zoom (a.k.a. “pinch to zoom”) degrade quality very rapidly, and moving closer to your subject allows for a more personal feel. As an added bonus you can create a shallow DOF on your camera phone by getting close to your subject but also keeping your subject a good distance from your background.