May 13, 2009

Ten Tips for Improving Your Online Photos


Hostway Team

Whether you're preparing product shots for your online store or posting personal snapshots online, a little preparation and editing can make your images more powerful. Read on for 10 tips for improving your online photos.

1. Work with a copy of your digital file rather than the original.

Before you begin to manipulate a photo, create a copy to work from. Never make changes to your original file. If you make a mistake on the copy, or the image becomes fuzzy from over-manipulation, you can always go back to the original image and create another high-quality copy to work from without losing the entire image.

2. Make all changes to a JPEG file in one session.

Most digital cameras create pictures as JPEG files, so this is the format you're most likely to have. Because JPEGs are designed for compression, they lose quality each time you edit and save them. To save yourself time and get the highest quality image, try to limit your photo manipulation session to only one.

3. Use only relevant photos.

If you run a business Web site or want a professional-level personal Web site, avoid posting pictures simply because you like them. Each image you choose should reflect the tone and personality of your Web site and work toward the goals you establish. For example, if you have a comedy Web site, you should use pictures that make people laugh. Serious or corporate images would not fit well.

4. Choose an appropriate backdrop for product shots.

If you're running an ecommerce site or eBay store, your images are essential to the sales process. Not everyone has access to a professional photography studio with backdrops and lighting, so you may need to eliminate distracting backgrounds from your photos to make your products stand out.

Most photo editing software makes it easy to define the borders of an item and remove everything around it. You can also add a drop shadow to give the background some depth.

5. Crop your photos.

Eliminate unnecessary elements from a picture to give it more impact. By cropping the picture, you can create focus on the most important element, make the composition more compelling and even reduce the file size for a faster load time.

6. Resize your photos.

Posting a raw file from your digital camera will give your viewers a large picture that takes a long time to load. Make sure each photo fits well into your Web site design. Also, resize the photo only once. When you resize a photo several times, it will become fuzzy. If you make a photo too large or small, make a new copy of the original and fix the size.

7. Save photos at the correct resolution for online viewing.

Computer monitors can only display an image at 72 dots per inch (dpi), so saving your photo at a higher resolution will not enhance your image. In fact, it will make your Web site load more slowly with no benefit to your audience.

8. Rotate your photos.

Sometimes when you snap a photo, the camera is at a slight angle, making the horizon line or the subject sit at an angle. You can use photo editing software to rotate the photo either way to bring everything into alignment, and then crop it so the edges don't look tilted. This will make your images appear more professional.

9. Eliminate red eye.

Some of the best pictures are ruined when the subject has glowing, red pupils. Fortunately most photo editing programs make it easy to eliminate the red eye with a few clicks of the mouse.

10. Adjust the lighting

Finally, take a look at the lighting in your photograph. Excessive lighting or shadow can cause important details or color to be lost. It is especially important to adjust the lighting on product shots for your ecommerce site since customers cannot physically see the item until they've already made the purchase.

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