With that in mind, here are some tips when taking your photos.
Photo Layouts for Modern Websites
First, understand that modern websites use a variety of layouts and compositions to create visual interest. Three of those layouts include:
- Hero Shots like you might see at the top of a homepage. These photos often take up the full screen when you land on a website. Of course this is a very important photo…maybe the most important on your website. But try not to worry about it. That’s way too much pressure. Just make sure you have an ample amount of photos that we can choose from to create your website.
- Wide Shots that you might see at the top of secondary website pages or as part of a portfolio.
- Run of Site Shots that might appear within the body of webpages at 3/4 the width of the page and smaller. These might also be used in a portfolio.
How To Photo Tips for Your Website
Next, some photo tips that apply specifically to website photography.
Hero Shots and Other Wide Shots
- Shoot with a DSLR for the best quality images.
- Use a wide lens to capture as much of the landscape as possible.
- Use a tripod to keep the camera steady for the sharpest quality photos.
- Take all hero shots in landscape.
- After you take the shots you want, take a few steps back to stand farther away from the subject than you might think, and take some more. Modern website design uses full-width layouts which means using photos that are much wider than they are tall.
Having extra space on the top and bottom of your photos gives us the flexibility to crop them to make the photos appear even wider.
- Also take closeups to capture details of plants, built items and decorations.
Run of Site Shots
- Take a variety of landscape and portrait photos.
- Use either your DSLR or iPhone, but the DSLR is almost always going to produce better results.
General Photo Tips
Lastly, here are some general tips on how to prep for and take photos to make your website interesting and visually impactful.
Have a plan
- Create a must-have list of shots before your shoot.
- Sketch out some thumbnails of your ideas.
- Also take impromptu shots when you’re on site.
- When you think you’ve taken enough photos, take 5 more.
- Produce a variety of compositions using the rule of thirds, centered composition, diagonals and triangles, foreground interest and depth, rule of odds, etc.
- Take photos from different perspectives: consider using a stepladder, or placing the camera low to the ground to create interest.
- Pay attention to vertical lines (like on buildings) and horizontal lines (like the horizon) and try to keep them vertically and horizontally straight.
- Consider including people into the landscape to communicate the usage and scale of the space; make sure they’re appropriately dressed for the environment.
- Take both wide shots that take in the whole scene and closeups to capture the details.
- Take more landscape photos than portrait.
- For every 5–10 landscape photos, take 1 portrait.
- Use the highest resolution setting available on your camera.
- Use a tripod to capture the sharpest photos.
- While having a handful of photos taken on bright sunny days is okay, you want to mostly avoid taking photos at midday (unless it’s overcast).
- For the best lighting, take photos within 2–3 hours of dawn or dusk.
- Take photos on cloudy days for a softer “diffused” light and better details.
- Take advantage of ‘bad’ weather to allow nature to express visual mood. Take photos just after it’s rained for more saturated color and reflections or when it’s foggy to create interesting highlights and shadows. Freshly fallen snow and ice-covered branches create beautiful effects, too.
It’s a good idea to take photos of your landscape architecture projects for marketing purposes. You can use them on your website, printed marketing collateral and on social media. You want to make sure the photos you take are high-resolution shots including lots of details and in a variety of compositions—both wide and closeup—and with a variety of lighting environments to create the most visual interest. Practice! And follow cues from aspirational websites in your field.
Also, I know many very talented photographers in the New York Metro area. You could also consider hiring a professional photographer to shoot one or two projects to showcase a particularly special job or to feature as your home hero image and still have plenty of room for your own photographic masterpieces.