Great photography in website design is worth it

When I speak to new clients about their website designs, I always try to emphasis the importance of photography in web design. Responses vary, but there are a worrying number of people out there who think they can shoot their own web photographs or commission a friend who has a swanky DSLR. While this is not impossible, it is unlikely that amateur shots be as striking or well composed and this may have a direct impact on your sales and brand.

Why can't I shoot my own photographs?

While high end digital equipment has made it easier for amateurs to take good pictures, it has not reinvented the art of photography. Composition, understanding of light, artistic direction and people management (for portraits) are all skills which good photographers will bring to your project.

These are some of the key elements which will make the photographs more than just a representation of what is in front of the camera. These skills take years to learn and require practice to keep them fresh.

How much does it cost?

Photographers will usually charge by the day. In London professional photographers tend to charge between £500 and £1000 per day. Elsewhere this will vary, and this is by no means an upper limit. Some photographers will also charge for the time they spend retouching the images, other will absorb this in their shooting day rate which will consequently be a bit higher. Be sure to discuss this with your photographer prior to commissioning them.

The length of time required to shoot your project will depend on the brief. If you need photographs from several sites, you will probably be billed for travel time between the sites. If you are having your team photographed and one is not available on the day, you may end up paying for the photographer to come back. So by being organised, you can keep the costs down.

How do I find a photographer?

As with most things, a personal recommendation should be the first place to start. Bear in mind that some photographers have areas of specialisation. You wouldn't necessarily hire a food photographer to shoot you architectural shots. We can help you find good photographers in and around London. Please get in touch if you would like help with this.

Can't we just use stock/library images?

Image libraries such as iStockPhoto offer thousands of photos which can be purchased for use on your website. In some cases, these images may be ample for your requirements, but you need to bear in mind that they are shot to be generic (so that they can sell more), so they are unlikely to add anything unique to your website.

If you need several images for your website, even if you can find enough suitable images, you will almost certainly struggle to find a coherent set which look good together.

In many cases the images you are looking for simply won't exist in the image libraries. Furthermore, if they are specific images (e.g. a person hiring a car), you may find your competitors using the same images in their advertising.

Three examples of great photography on the web

Here are three sites which we have worked on where the photography has made a signifiant positive impact.

Orme Retail

As part of a rebranding exercise, Orme Retail commissioned us to shoot two sets of images. One of street scenes in and around London and a set of portraits of the team. The photos were shot by photographer Stewart Grant. His black and white stylised street scenes really bring the website to life but it is the portraits where I feel he really shines.

Orme Retail

Annie Hudson

The food photography on Annie Hudson's website is taken from the cook books on which she works as a food stylist. A huge amount of studio work goes into these images, but it is Annie's experienced art direction which makes them what they are.

Annie Hudson


The photography on this project was self-shot by the client. Consequently it is of mixed quality. The interesting thing to note is that Devoning saw a direct correlation in sales between campervans with strong photography and those weaker images. This just goes to show that an investment in photography can provide a direct return on investment.

Devoning camper van hire

Topics: Graphic design, Photography

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