6 February 2017
a-idea studio»Travel Websites»Content Marketing»Make them feel like they are already there: the art of website images (part 1)

Make them feel like they are already there: the art of website images (part 1)

This article has 2 parts. In the first (current) part we’ll cover how to make / choose images for your travel website. In the second part we’ll walk you through the best practice how you should upload these pictures to your WordPress site.

If you are in the tourism business, it’s essential to have a good appearance. Just imagine why stewardesses and stewards are dressed in such an immaculate way on airplanes, why all employees of 5* hotels wear so clean and well-designed uniforms.

On travel websites – beside the site’s design – the pictures are the elements that represent this appearance. In this article we’ll learn how to make sure your imagery is of high quality on your website.

Ask a professional to make your photos…

While on a charity organization’s website it can even be benefitial if they take their own photos (meaning that they don’t spend the organization’s money on unnecessary luxuries), for a travel website it’s almost a must-have to outsource their photoshootings to professional photographers (unless someone in the team is one of them).

The only exceptions are travel bloggers, as they obviously can’t carry their photographer everywhere they go (and it would obviously be too expensive and uncomfortable, too :)). However, good travel bloggers will eventually have to become a good photographers, too – as they need to take good quality pictures to sell their blogs to the readers (update: I’ve just found a great article about how to become a great travel photographer on Nomadic Matt’s blog).

… who can do the afterworks, too

It’s very fascinating, how photo editor software like Photoshop can improve the final appearance of the picture. They can add effects that make the difference between “well, this is a nice picture” and between “WOW! What amazing colors!”.

If you hire a professional, it usually takes him/her 1-2 days to take the photoshoots of your place (the time needed may vary based on how big your place is and what else – e.g. staff pictures – you want to get photographed). After that the photographer may spend weeks with the afterworks. But these final touches are very important to give your images their final shape and colors.

Before and after Photoshop
An example how a little bit of Photoshop can improve the image quality

Should I use stock photos?

In some cases you need other photos, too – not just those of your hotel or restaurant, etc. E.g. you may need photos of the nearby seaside or the buildings of the nearby city. If you don’t want your expensive photographer to spend a few more days taking photos of everything, you can buy stock photos online.

These stock photos are pictures taken by various photographers all around the world. They took the photos, added some after effects and uploaded them to different stock photo sites in the hope that lots of people will buy them. The prices of these stock photos vary from 0 to $50 based on their resolution, quality and intent of the author.

There are plenty of stock photo sites, my opinion is that the following sites offer the best quality images for their prices:

If you are on low budget, you can look around on free stock image sites. Here is a great collection of them (my personal favorite of them is pexels.com, I often use their pictures for illustrations of this blog).

But be careful, these free collections usually offer lower range of images to choose from and their images often have lower quality (it’s obvious: if the picture is good enough to get paid for, the author will ask some money for it). If you look around carefully, you can find real gems among the freebies, but it always takes some time…

Know when you need a self-created photo and when a stock photo

It depends on the uniqueness of the photo. When a photo is needed of your rooms, your colleagues, etc. then you’ll obviously need to hire a photographer.

If it’s a well-known place, e.g. a picture of the Statue of Liberty or the Eiffel Tower, then you can safely use a good-quality stock image.

What is on the picture?

If you are taking photos of your hotel’s rooms or restaurant interior yourself, there is the danger that you shoot the photos from the bad angle, not showing all the potentials of the room.

If you need a good example what should be on the picture take a look at a professional estate agent’s website. They usually know where to stand (yes, they sometimes stand on a chair in the corner of the room to be able to lift the camera into the upper corner…) to take the best picture. And they often use special lens to show a bigger-than-natural angle that just looks awesome.

Which photographer should you choose?

If you look around in your region, you can find lots of different photographers. Their prices will vary based on their knowledge, experience, professionalism and self-confidence.

Before you choose who you’d like to work together with, do your homework:

  • look around on the websites of more photographers
  • choose those experts who have the best example works on their websites
  • ask for a quote from more of them. This way you can compare:
    • what they offer
    • for how much money
    • with how long deadline
    • and how professionally they manage themselves (yes, it’s very important – if they care a lot about their reputation, they’ll more likely pay extra attention to deliver great quality)

If you can’t decide whose example works are the best, ask some friends/relatives who have good eye for arts.

Photographer taking picture of restaurant table
A photographer specialized in your segment can be a real gem

Also hiring a photographer specialized in hotels or real estate / restaurants & food / buildings / people (or what you need) is not a bad idea. Taking studio photos of people needs different settings than shooting outside or taking pictures of empty rooms.

What’s next?

In the 2nd part of this article we’ll go through the best practices how you should upload the images to your WordPress site.

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