One of the strengths of your synagogue website lies in the quality of its photos. But finding high-quality photos can be a big challenge for all synagogues. Refer to these general guidelines when taking pictures for your website.
Keep two things in mind: high quality camera and good lighting.
- Cameras: iPhones or standard cameras are acceptable. Make sure it has a good flash.
- Good lighting: The space you are shooting in should be well-lit and should not appear dark on-camera. Additionally, your subject's face(s) should be well-lit.
Follow these tips or rules when taking pictures:
- Make sure your phone or camera settings are set for the highest resolution available on the device.
- Avoid busy backgrounds or backgrounds that show a reflection (windows, pictures on the wall, mirrors, etc.). When taking the picture, look at all of the corners of the frame for any extraneous details that can be removed to make a stronger image overall.
- Make sure that all shots are clearly focused and well-framed.
- Avoid high contrast images with extreme light and dark areas.
- Consider shooting images in landscape orientation. Shoot vertically if you know the image will be used that way.
- All images can be edited. IPhones have editing options or you can use Photoshop or their free online editing tool PIXLR.
- Provide enough padding around the subject of the image for editing purposes.
- Leaving a margin of open space in the picture between the main object and the edge of the image allows for cropping that might be needed when preparing an image for your website.
- Always get permission, especially if the pictures are of children.
- Images should always be used with written (on paper or email) permission of copyright holder.
- Never use images found on the internet.
Follow these tips when choosing pictures for your website:
- Let your website's photos tell your story and support your mission. Show off the wonderful community you've created, entice new members to take a fresh look at your synagogue, and encourage existing members to get more involved in synagogue life.
- Stock photos (ex. Getty Images or Adobe Stock) are easy to get, but the costs start to add up. Also, the overly staged nature of stock photos sometimes lends to an inauthentic and impersonal feel to a website.
- The Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) offers a limited number of images you may use. Find them in the Marketplace.
- You can ask your community for help.
- Members of your congregation who are already attending your events may be snapping pics on their phones. After an event, send out an email to attendees asking for photos.
- You may already have a great photographer in your community. Send your congregation an email to make your needs known.
- Display photos of a cross-section of your synagogue's members.
- Consider images of religious school programs, events geared towards seniors, Tot Shabbat, kids playing outside, people in your community celebrating Judaism and so on.
- Post pictures that make congregation members aware of the opportunities for fun and learning. Whether it's youthful, spiritual, or family-oriented, let all the positive adjectives to describe your synagogue guide the photo selection.
- Avoid using photos of empty sanctuaries, social halls, or classrooms. They will work against your efforts to portray a warm, welcoming, and engaging community.
- Format: Preferred file types are .JPG and .PNG (best option)
- Resolution: use the highest resolution possible to shoot images, but make sure to use photo editing software to edit the image and downsize it to 72 ppi (pixels per inch), at whatever size it will be displayed on your site.
- 72 ppi is the resolution of most screens. Anything higher adds to the file size without adding anything to the image quality on screens.
- Uploading images that are larger will cause slower download times for users, especially on mobile devices.
- 72 ppi is low resolution. If you were to print an image, you will want it to be high resolution (300 ppi or higher).
Finally, always remember to label images with alternative tags. Alt tags are written descriptions of images coded into a website's HTML. When screen readers read the contents of a website aloud, they can read these descriptions, allowing visually impaired users to experience your images. Alt tags also provide a description of an image in case your website has problems loading. As you write alt tags, be as descriptive as possible. Provide the names of individuals, places, and objects. The more descriptive you are, the better your audience will be able to understand your content.