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Choosing good photos for your church website

In the era of smartphones, it's never been easier to obtain excellent photos of your congregation for use on your website. Remember the old saying: "A photo is worth a thousand words," and the same will be true for the people visiting your website to learn about you for the first time. 

How to get good photos

Send someone with a decent eye for framing and composition to stand at the back of your sanctuary on Sunday morning. Even with an iPhone, you should be able to get decent quality pictures for your website. A couple during worship, a couple during the sermon, and a couple before/after the service as people mingle are a great start. 

If you want bonus points, capture a couple pictures during special church events (like picnics and baptisms), or pictures of ministries unique to your church (kids' ministry, community outreaches, youth group, etc). 

Here are a couple of Photography 101 videos (Part 1, Part 2) if you want to get a little deeper into good lighting and good composition. But overall, remember this: any photo is better than no photo! 

Don't get bogged down in technical details, or worry that you need a professional photographer to capture your congregation properly. 

Do's and Dont's

Don't: Include stock photography!

If you only take away one truth from this article, let it be this one: stock photos do nothing to communicate the life of your church to visitors! They're only useful in very basic situations where a photo might serve as decoration, and even then, plan to include real photography of your church if you possibly can. In many cases, no photo would be better than a stock photo. 

A stock photo communicates to visitors that your church is generic, didn't put a lot of effort into a website, or doesn't have a vibrant community to photograph at all. 

Don't be fooled: while our theme demos include stock photography, this is just down to their nature as 'demo' sites, not real church websites. We always, 100%, whenever possible, recommend using real photos of real people at your actual church. 

Do: Include lots of shots of people.

Visitors want to know what your church is like. A single shot of your congregation can answer a lot of questions: what are the demographics of this church? How formally do people dress at this church? Will I be able to get inside if I need special accommodations (such as ADA accessibility concerns)? All of these and more can be answered with a quick glance at the photography of your website. 

Don't: Include lots of shots of your building

All your building does is house your church, which is the people and the congregation who are your lifeblood. While a picture or two of your building may be appropriate in places (perhaps on a Plan your Visit page to orient visitors to the layout and parking around your church), it should never be the main point of emphasis on your site. Avoid leading with pictures in your hero section that are just bricks and stones: keep the focus on people! 

Do: Keep your photos up to date.

Make sure your photos of your congregation are recent — at most, two or three years old. The people in the photos should be attendees that a visitor would expect to meet if they came and visited your church. Don't include photos with a lot of people who are no longer at your church. 

Do: Include photos of your leadership team and staff

Taking an hour at a staff meeting to get some "decent and recent" photos of your leadership will go a long way. Having faces to put to names, say, of the lead pastor or the worship minister will go a long way towards making visitors feel welcome when they first walk in. Having all of your staff photos look similar will also communicate professionalism. 

While professional headshot photos are not necessary or a requirement, many churches do have a photographer or a volunteer in the church photograph their entire staff, usually on a yearly or every-other-year basis. 

If you have questions, just get in touch or file a support ticket. We're only an email away, and we are here to help!