People like authentic and honest brands, and incorporating the right photographs into your website is one way to express sincerity. Using random stock images just won’t cut it anymore. People want relevant pictures – ones that give a window into you or your company.

What is an “authentic” photo? How can you tell the difference? Here are a few quick examples of how to take more relatable photos and how to correctly use these pictures on your website.

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What is Authentic Photography?

Authenticity can mean many different things. It can mean using minimal post-processing, taking photos of something you’re passionate about or focusing on natural beauty.

But what really makes a photo look real? Sure, it’s easy enough to tell the difference between a wacky stock photo and a professional, natural picture. But it’s a finer line than that.

It’s the minute difference between a sanitized family photo shoot and the same family at the dinner table. In the former, everyone is smiling, the lighting is spectacular and the composition is pristine. In the latter, the lighting may be imperfect, the composition unbalanced, the subjects frowning or slumped in their chair.

But these small imperfections, undoubtedly, make it the more authentic photo. No one can empathize with a perfect, smiling family carefully centered in a frame. Ultimately, what makes a photo seem real isn’t just its beauty, its content or how it’s edited. It’s the image’s relatability, and the realism of the people’s interactions.

What is Authentic Photography?

For Photographers: Taking Genuine Photos

If a picture says a thousand words, then body language must say ten thousand. When a scene is staged and the models are forced into an unrealistic situation and pose, it’s very noticeable.

Get to know your models. Don’t make them feel dehumanized by hiding behind a camera. If the actors are comfortable, the photo will look far more genuine – even if it is a staged scene.

Carefully placed props, excessive makeup and not a hair out of place doesn’t make a candid photo. Imperfection can make it feel more authentic. Leave the small mistakes – don’t create something obviously fabricated. Even if a scene is set up, if the emotions are real, it will show.

Most importantly, tell your own story. Instead of riding the trends, do the photo shoots that make you happy. Take pictures of what you want to take. Establish a style. And chase a sincere image before you set up a perfect, unnatural shoot.

For Photographers: Taking Genuine Photos

For Designers: Photography for Websites or Articles

Photography is an exceptional way to turn a visually boring site into a beautiful one. But visitors can tell which company spent five minutes finding random stock images and which sought out beautiful and relevant pictures that complement the site design.

Whether you take your own pictures or find them online, the real challenge is incorporating them naturally with your site’s design. You don’t want to seem forced or artificial.

A store selling video game parts could naturally use an image of two siblings gaming together. But if that same website used an ocean as their header just because it’s pretty, it would seem hollow and fake. This photo being used by a resort, however, would look right.

Remember that realism is key. Better a photo of your employees hard at work, unsmiling, than one of them grinning uncomfortably during a staged office meeting. It’s a false mold that looks silly and does the opposite of what you wanted: making you seem sincere.

For Designers: Photography for Websites or Articles

Relatable, Realistic, and Relevant

Taking your own photos, or hunting down the perfect ones for your website? Either way, remember the three Rs to authentic photography.

Photos should be relatable; tell a story people can understand. They should be realistic; avoid obviously staged scenarios. Finally, they should be relevant; don’t use pictures just because they’re beautiful. Target your audience!

Relatable, Realistic, and Relevant

A lot goes into site design besides just a few images. But keep this in mind, and not only will you have a great-looking website, but you and your brand will seem more human and accessible.

Good luck!

If you’re looking for authentic free stock photos, take a look at these site: Gratisography, Picography, ShotStash and ISO Republic.

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