Website photography: go with a pro

07/09/2010 posted by Matt

image of our feet

We're not short on style

I’m sometimes surprised at how often photography seems like an after-thought for marketers online. The surge of user-generated-content has created a level of complacency that tempts us to believe the images will take care of themselves. And there’s plenty of other reasons to under-value the visuals and do it all yourself:

  • Low-cost cameras
  • Low-cost software
  • Speed of transfer from camera to screen
  • Low-cost web publishing tools

This has created a monster in which bad website photography is often simply accepted as ‘good enough’. Why is it that someone who wants to sell their sofa on ebay intuitively understands the value of good photography but will gladly publish amateur shots of their products and services on their business’ website?

Perhaps worst still is the use of stock photography when, for just a little effort, the real thing is easily shot. Stock photographs often lack the ability to connect in a positive way with the viewer. Some have made it into an awkward hall of shame, others just send you to sleep and can reflect more poorly on the business than having no photos at all.

I looked at the professional services category of accountancy in nearby Brisbane for some insight. This is an industry that relies on the quality of their people to build relationships, trust and competency.  It’s hard therefore not to be critical of the way they present their services:

So, apart from proving that accountants don’t value their image, what does this prove? Well, it suggests several other things:

  • They are forgetting the needs of their prospective clients
  • They don’t convey their business as an inspiring place to work
  • They don’t value the web as a lead generator or reputation builder (I wonder how many of these offenders will post a comment below?)

Most of them are forgetting what they’re selling….their brains. They’ve overlooked the first rule of selling online. Show me what I’m buying. Or in this case, show me who I’m buying and what they’re like.

Accountia actually look like a really professional and serious outfit, especially when looking at the ‘real staff’.

These guys are actually interesting folks – they are the REAL value of the company, but not enough care has been taken to make them shine.  Companies who have high integrity will value their people and they will then feel valued as a part of something bigger.

That’s a lot to convey and a big ask for Steve from HR to achieve with his brother’s Canon, even if he does know a thing or two about Photoshop. There’s a lot at stake so for pity’s sake, get a professional to help you!

We’ve recently re-designed our site: and asked Andrej from Artisan to help us capture our personality. We may not have got it 100% right but we’re happy that he captured our real selves.

Andrej is fun to work with, thinks creatively and really applies himself to a project. He’d be no good with your tax return though!

Further reading:


  • Jackson Beale

    A great way to prove this would be to take an existing site that has paid no attention to the detail of professional photography, set up conversion tracking in analytics and run for for a period of time before making adjustments to the images ONLY. See what sort of effect it has on the conversion rate.

    Here's an interesting post explaining a better looking pear can boost conversion 147%.

  • Bee

    Spot the German!

  • Warren

    Agree 100%… almost. Brespoke images will always be more effective at representing a business, concept or product etc, however sometimes it's simply not possible to commission the photo you need, whether for reasons of geography, subject matter, time or budget etc…

    In this case there is a strong argument for stock images, however it is. Hard to find something unique and engaging… So much stock is pure dross.

    So here's the pitch… I am based in Brisbane but have a library of worldwide images which are Not your run of the mill stock photos… See for yourself at http://www.Xoodu.xom

    Apologies for the plug but i wanted to demonstrate – hopefully – that creative, non-cliched stock pictures do in fact exist, you just need to know where to look. That usually means one of the few remaining independent sources, and. Possibly closer to home than you might expect.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the comment Warren. I checked out your site and you have some terrific stuff that certainly helps overcome the many of the issues with stock photography. Happy for you to plug xoodu here because it’s relevant to the discussion. Thanks again.

  • Liz Franzmann

    Ok Matt, we’re taking your advice and bringing in a big gun (well, bigger than the guns/cameras we’ve got anyway)
    P.S. Not sure if it’s the German in me but I quite like Jackson’s conversion tracking suggestion…

  • Danielle

    soooo. are u saying u have some genius on turning my accounting chessiness into something that pleases?? lol…… all ears…..its overhaul time…..Accountants -: crappy designers…ha ha but not afraid to give a few tax returns a shot!

  • Danielle

    I meant….cheesiness….hate u to think i cant spell either!!

  • Danielle

    and yes indeed…one of those ‘hall of shame’ websites is indeed mine!!! ha ha

  • Anonymous

    Hi Danielle, well I’m chuffed that you’ve not taken my negative review to heart – thank you so much! Not everyone would allow me to get away with being so cheeky! You’ve left the door open for me now though!! It’s such a promiscuous business name and the flirty office talent on the right hand side of the page almost makes you look like an escort agency!
    Good for you for tracking your brand mentions or reviewing your site traffic to notice this post. It shows you’re ahead of the pack on reputation management at least!
    I think you should consider abandoning your website and using a blog instead. Your 5 or 6 web pages will never rank well in Google as they are but if you blog regularly, you’re likely to be found much more frequently by prospects. We don’t really work in your sector so can’t help you directly, but happy to offer more in depth advice if you would like to email matt at punklogic dot com dot au
    Very best wishes to you and accounting affaires.

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