Step 5 How to Take a Picture for a Website


How to Take a Picture for a Website - A pictures if worth a thousand of words and in step 5, we will cover camera, lens, as well as techniques to capture the perfect pictures for your website.

As the saying goes, presentation matters.  How you present your content can be just as important as the content itself. 

Imagine going to a 3 star Michelin Restaurant and getting served food on a plastic plate, or the bride of a wedding showing up in pajamas.  These events are all made special because of the presentation and the same holds true for websites.  And, when it comes to websites, it’s all about the accompanying images! 

In this step, we will share some of the tips we have learned along the way on how to take a picture for a website!

Equipment

Cell phone cameras are great to take quick pictures or selfies, but if you are looking to produce sharp quality images for a website, the first step on how to take a picture for a website is getting yourself a DSLR camera. 

We know, if you’ve never picked one up before, it can be intimidating with all the settings and the fact you can’t just point and shoot, but with some experience, you’ll be able to produce some great images in no time!  Since we are trying to keep things basic as possible, we’re only going to focus on the camera and lens. 

If you are interested in more advanced camera equipment such as flash, tripods, studio lighting, bounce, etc, here is a great website that covers these topics in detail.

How to take a picture for a website - Canon Line Up
Canon Line Up

Camera Body –  If you plan to use the images only for your website, we would recommend going with a crop sensor Canon SL2.

Cam SL2
Canon SL2 Crop Sensor

These bodies are entry level, super light, easy to handle and will provide enough quality for website resolution images.  However down the line, if you intend to publish books, ebooks, full size promotional material etc with your images, a full sensor entry level Canon 6D would be the way to go.

Cam 6d
Canon 6D Full Frame Sensor

There are other brands such as Nikon that provide similar spec camera bodies, but we only have experience with Canon, so that’s what we’re recommending. 

Again, since this guide is meant to be as simple as possible, we won’t go into all the difference of these camera bodies, but very generally speaking, the Canon 6D will provide higher quality shots at a higher resolution than the Canon SL2 under the same lighting conditions.

Lens – If you’ve heard the saying ‘it’s all about the lens’, it’s very true.  We would say your lens easily is responsible for 70-80% of the quality of the images. 

There are many different types of lens and they are all used for specific reasons.  Again, for the purpose of our guide, we aren’t going to go into great detail about the specs and comparison of each of these lenses, but rather just provide our entry level lens recommendation used for the most common types of images found on websites. 

A quick note, cameras with EF-S mount (crop sensor) can use both EF and EF-S type lens, whereas EF mount cameras (full frame sensor) can only use EF lens.

How to take a picture for a website - Canon Lens Up
Canon Lens Line Up

Food /Close Up – If most of your images are going to be close up shots like food, jewelry, or craft, you are going to want invest in a macro (close up) lens and the best one would be Canon EF 100mm f/2.8

This lens can get in real close to the subject while still maintaining super sharp shots.  Note this is a prime lens, which means there is no zoom function.

Cam Lens F2.8 100mm

Travel / Landscape / Family / Mommy Site – For the demands of traveling or being able to take a picture of your kids running around, you are going to need to have a versatile lens with full zoom functions and the one we recommend is Canon EF 24-70mm F/2.8 or a Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 for a full sensor cameras. Both of these are similar in specs where Canon is a ‘name-brand’ and the Tamron is the ‘off-brand’. 

If you have a crop sensor camera, the equivalent lens would be Canon EF-S 17-55mm F/2.8 or Tamron SP AF 17-50mm F/2.8 Di II

These are great all-around lenses and if you are going to be shooting all kinds of different images, these are the one to go with.

Cam Lens F2.8 24-70mm Cam Lens Tamron F2.8 24-70mm

Cam Lens F2.8 17-55mm EFS Cam Lens Tamron F2.8 17-55mm EFS

Makeup / Portrait – If you are focused on shooting portraits or showcasing beauty tips, you are in luck because this lens is the cheapest of the bunch.  The lens we recommend is the Canon EF 50mm F/1.8 and works well for crop and full sensor cameras. 

This lens is known as ‘The Amazing Plastic’ because you can’t beat the price/quality ratio.  The lens shoots with nice bokeh (softness) you look for in portraits while being sharp around the focus point.  Cam Lens F2.8 100mmLong Lens / Wildlife – If your images are going to revolve around shooting your subjects from afar, i.e. wildlife, your best bet is the Tamron 18-200mm F/3.5-6.3 Di ii for crop sensor EF-S mount or Tamron 70-300mm F/4.0-5.6 Di for full sensor EF mount camera.  These are great entry level lens that will get you the shots you need while keeping a safe distance from your subjects.

 

Cam Lens F3.5 18-200mm EFS Cam Lens F3.5 18-300mm EF

Lighting and Staging

Now that you have your equipment all squared away, the next step on how to take a picture for a website would be taking the actual pictures.

The first and best advice we can give applies to all types of images and that’s to shoot in natural lighting.  Unless you have some sophisticated lighting equipment, you can’t match natural lighting. 

If you are indoors, turn off any lights and just rely on the lighting from the sun.  It’s the cleanest form of lighting and that’s what gets that natural soft balance on your images.

How to take a picture for a website - Natural Lighting
Window Lighting Example

The next advice is if you are shooting indoors, use window lighting.  Window acts as a natural diffuser for sunlight and will provide the perfect lighting for your images. 

If your shooting outdoors, place your subject in the shade.  You never want to shoot with sunlight directly on the subject since you will get ‘harsh’ lighting, or where the images have too much contrast. 

The one exception of this is during sunrise or sunset (golden hours), where the earth naturally diffuses the lighting and you have that perfect lighting in open space.  Many landscape photographs are known to only shoot during these times of the golden hours.

How to take a picture for a website - Golden Hour Lighting
Golden Hour Lighting Example

The last tip we have on this section is staging and composition.  You always can edit your pictures later (post process), but you can’t redo the composition of the pictures. 

Make sure you frame the subject the way you want and there is nothing in the background that you don’t want showing up. 

For example, if you are taking a picture for a makeup tip, a bathroom probably isn’t the best place to take the picture where undesirable things can show in the background.  Instead, take the time to find a clean background to produce quality picture for a website.

Camera Settings

We will come up and state this right away, if you are going to invest in a DSLR, you have to learn how to shoot in manual mode.  No auto-setting is going to even come close to the image quality you can capture in manual mode on taking a picture for your website. 

Yes, you do need practice to really understand and master manual mode, but we are going to share some tips here that will help you get started!

Again, for the sake of this guide, we are going to generalize a lot of things, but if you really want to master DSLR manual mode, we suggest reading up on articles covering each of these topics in great depth.

Manual mode consists of three elements ISO, F-Stop, and Shutter Speed. How you adjust each of these settings will affect the ‘type’ of image you are going to produce.

How to take a picture for a website - Exposure Triangle
Exposure Triangle

ISO means how sensitive you want your sensor to be to light.  You use a lower number (ISO 100) when you have a lot of lighting and a higher number when you have limited lighting (ISO 16000).

F-Stop controls the difference between your subject focus and the background (as well as lighting, but that’s an advanced topic).  A lower F-Stop (1.2) means that there will be a big gap between your subject and the background and higher F-Stop (5.6) means the subject and background will be closer together on the image.

The last is Shutter Speed and this controls how long the shutter stays open.  A lower number means the picture will be brighter and a higher number means picture will be darker.

Now here are some super general manual mode settings for the different types of images you may shoot.  They should provide you with a good starting point and you can adjust them depending on the particular lighting situation you are in. 

Note – these settings assume you have plenty of natural lighting to work with.  Also when taking any pictures, it’s very important to avoid shaking your hands as much as possible, this can lead to a blurry focus which no amount of Photoshopping can fix.

Food /Close Up Images

ISO 500 – 1000
F-Stop 4.0 – 6.3
Shutter Speed > 1/160

Note – if the picture is too bright, raise shutter speed.  If picture is too dark, lower shutter speed but don’t go below 1/160 (focus may be blurry).

How to take a picture for a website - Close Up
Close Up Images

Travel / Landscape / Family / Mommy Blog Images

ISO 400 – 800
F-Stop 3.5 – 5.6
Shutter Speed > 1/100

Note – if the picture is too bright, raise shutter speed.  If picture is too dark, lower shutter speed but don’t go below 1/100 (focus may be blurry).

How to take a picture for a website - Family Travel
Travel Images

Make Up / Portrait Images

ISO 100 – 800
F-Stop 2.0 – 3.5
Shutter Speed > 1/100

Note – if the picture is too bright, raise shutter speed.  If picture is too dark, lower shutter speed but don’t go below 1/100 (focus may be blurry).

How to take a picture for a website - Close Up Shot
Portrait Images

Long Lens / Wildlife Images

ISO 800 – 1600
F-Stop 5.6 – 7.1
Shutter Speed > 1/400

Note – if the picture is too bright, raise shutter speed.  If picture is too dark, lower shutter speed but don’t go below 1/400 (focus may be blurry).

How to take a picture for a website - Wildlife Image
Telephoto (Long Distance) Images

Post Processing Editing

After you take your pictures, the next step in how to take a picture for a website would be to post process/edit them and the only program we can recommend is Adobe Lightroom

This does have a learning curve to it, but there are plenty of videos out there that really help explain how to use this program.  This is really a powerful program that can transform a good picture to an editorial level picture.  But keep in mind it can’t perform miracles and make a bad picture into a great picture.

How to take a picture for a website - Main Dashboard in Lightroom
Main Dashboard in Lightroom

You now have all the proper equipment, programs, and tips on how to take a picture for a website! 

After hours and hours of work, you have everything set and now producing great content on a daily bases!  So the next natural question would probably be ‘when can I start seeing the fruits of my labor’?  Head over to our final Step 6 to see what our experience has taught us thus far!

Disclosure – this page contains marketing affiliate links.

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