Let’s talk about Church Website Photography. More specifically, Compelling Church Website Photography! So everyone has heard the saying that “a picture is worth a thousand words”. This saying has been around forever and is definitely over-used. However I believe it holds true even more now than in years past. Why? A recent study shows that people on average across the Internet, TV, Newspapers, Magazines, and Radio are hit with 360 marketing messages daily! So this means you have to visually stand out big time to get people’s attention these days with whatever it is you want them to know about you.
People for various reasons have become even more visual these days too and specifically the millenial generation are even more visually oriented than past generations comparatively. Churches and business alike have realized how important it is to stand out in a noisy crowded world to get results with their online marketing efforts. The unchurched demographic out there can often have the preconception that most churches are all pretty much the same, or are lame, or just not that culturally relevant, and the list can go on.
Well as pastors and ministry leaders we know this is not the case at all. Every church is unique and has something different to offer. In addition to knowing some of these preconceptions out there is that the culture in general (churched or secular) is responding more now to marketing that illustrates “authenticity”. People see through the fluff and phony promises that organizations make to sell a product or push their own agenda. People will also see through and not respond well to church marketing that is just focusing on a pastor or that touts their church as the one with the best events, speakers, etc..They want authentic community and something real!
Over the past couple of years churches have realized the need to have more attractive attention getting graphics or a great branded look with their marketing efforts. However, one other thing you will see on the rise more now specifically with church website design is the use of “compelling church website photography. This is especially important for their online marketing efforts since 85-90% of the time statistically people will end up on a church website before they decide to attend. People will typically end up on a website for or anything else they are researching or interested in for that matter too.
Even though churches are starting to use compelling church website photography more this effort is not happening nearly enough. I personally think it is not happening enough due to “laziness” mostly. Yep, plain ol laziness and or not making it a priority really. This is a shame because it can really get you some good results online when done properly. I have outlined some relatively easy ways below on how you can choose and implement compelling church website photography!
1. Find a photographer at your church that can help with Church Website Photography.
All you need to do is start asking around your church or you may already have someone you have used before at your church perhaps. Why not allow that person to serve and be fulfilled in using their God given abilities? More than likely this person will be glad to do so is my bet. However make sure this person is actually a PROFESSIONAL photographer! I have seen for your years now consulting churches in marketing and web design that a Pastor or church will often allow anyone who offers to volunteer to do graphics, photos, or content just to be nice or not hurt this volunteer’s feelings. I think we should all know good and well that just because someone says they know how to do something does not mean they are gifted in that area or will follow through.
You have to sometimes turn into Simon Cowell who was with American Idol and tell a bad singer bluntly that they are a bad singer. Just kidding, you will not want to do it the way he did it but the point us you just have to put your foot down and say no for the greater good of your outreach success. It also will be beneficial to that person to not believe they are great or gifted in that area if that is just not the case.
If you do not have a professional one in your local church then you should consider hiring one locally that really knows your city, community, local scenic sites, etc. The trick can be here that they may not know church life or church marketing so this is when consultation from a professional website design company or church marketing firm can really help. You will need to know how to lead this type of photographer to the types of compelling church website photography that needs to carried out. Yes, there is more cost associated with hiring someone professionally but it is well worth it to have compelling church website photography since the majority of people will end up on your site before they visit in person once again.
3. Make sure you have a great designer or website design company.
You need to make sure that whoever is designing your website understands what compelling church website photography really is. The company or person will also need to take the time needed to research good stock photography. Most professional companies will have an account with a professional photography company too. You need to make sure that if you are relying solely or mostly on the designer or web design company for coming up with photos; that they will not be picking stock photography photos that are not relevant to your church’s unique culture or community. You also do not want them to pick ones that people will see on the walls of target or when walking through the mall for example. This will make you seem generic.They need to take the time to ask questions about your church and local community to give you needed guidance and find the best church website photography.
Lastly, there are some great sites you can find stock photos yourself like big stock, shutter stock, and even some free church website photography can be found at creation swap. I know I have left some others out so feel free to share. The point is though, it is worth the time and an investment when “authenticity” is on the line with our marketing to people who need Jesus and what He is doing at our respective local churches! Any other thoughts on the need and benefits for compelling church website photography? What did I miss?