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10 Tips for Taking Better Photos for Your Website

Eugene is a keen amateur photographer, primarily interested in nature. He has a portfolio of images on YouPic.


Good quality photos enhance any web page. Composition, exposure, focusing, and depth of field are just some of the factors that should be considered when adding images to complement written text on a site. In this guide we'll go through 10 tips that you can employ to get better results from your camera. These tips apply when using any camera, such as a smartphones, compact cameras, or more expensive SLRs. We'll also take a quick look at what image editing applications are available for post-processing images before you commit them to a web page.

How Do I Take Better Photos?

  1. Pick a good background
  2. Focus properly on your subject
  3. Get your depth of field right
  4. Get exposure right
  5. Set the color balance on your camera so colors look natural
  6. Use natural daylight for photographing subjects
  7. Crop your image
  8. Be aware of the effects of using a wide angle lens
  9. Use a tripod
  10. Use flash, digital zoom and interior lighting effectively

Tip 1: Pick a Suitable Background

Try to find an uncluttered plain background if you're photographing objects. You could use grass, sheets of paper, plain colored cloth, the sky, etc.

Good and Bad Backgrounds

Grass as a background and cluttered background on the right

Grass as a background and cluttered background on the right

The sky can be used as a background

The sky can be used as a background

Tip 2: Focus Properly on Your Subject

Focusing means adjusting the lens on the camera so that the image is sharp and clear. Low end and older camera phones have a fixed lens which can't be focused. Lenses are focused at infinity and if you get too close to your subject, the resultant image will be blurred. The lens on most compact digital cameras and smartphones will auto-focus, and on SLR cameras you may be able to turn the focusing ring on the lens of the camera to manually focus the image (in addition to auto-focusing)

Isolating Elements of a Photo

Focusing and depth of field (see below) go hand in hand. You need to decide whether you want everything in the image to be in sharp focus, or whether you want to isolate specific elements in the image and maybe throw the background out of focus.

The autofocus on my camera failed to focus on the subject resulting in a blurred image

The autofocus on my camera failed to focus on the subject resulting in a blurred image

Tip 3: Get Your Depth of Field Right

When you focus on a point in an image, points closer to the camera or further away from this point will be less in focus to a greater or lesser extent. The depth of field is the region of an image which is in sharp focus. Sometimes you may want a large depth of field to show everything in sharp focus and add perspective to a shot, at other times it may be better to throw part of the image out of focus, e.g., the background. Large f stops (small apertures) give greater depth of field and small f stops (large apertures) reduce depth of field allowing you to isolate your subject. Also as you move your camera close to the subject, depth of field decreases even if the f stop isn't changed. A third cause of reduction in depth of field is an increase in the focal length of the lens as you zoom in on your subject.

So to summarize, depth of field increases when you:

  • Select a shorter focal length; i.e., zoom out
  • Pick a smaller aperture (large f/stop)
  • Move further away from subject

You need to play around with the f stops on the camera to produce the results you want. In aperture priority (A) mode, in lowish light conditions and using a large f stop (small aperture) to produce a large depth of field, shutter speed may become too low to freeze movement. This can be the case even when a tripod is being used e.g. when photographing flowers close up, which are moving in the wind. In this scenario, it's better to select the shutter priority (S) setting on the camera and experiment with various shutter speeds. Reduce the shutter speed just sufficiently to freeze movement. The camera will then decrease the aperture size (remember, a bigger f stop), which will maximise depth of field. You can also increase the ISO setting, which will make higher shutter speeds and/or bigger f stops possible. You can of course use one of the pre-set modes (e.g., sport, macro, etc.) on the camera which optimise all of the settings to give the best results.

Depth of Field

The right hand image has a larger depth of field because the f stop is greater on the camera (the aperture is smaller)

The right hand image has a larger depth of field because the f stop is greater on the camera (the aperture is smaller)

Depth of Field Indications on an SLR Camera Lens

The curved lines indicate the DOF on the focusing ring

The curved lines indicate the DOF on the focusing ring

Tip 4: Properly Expose the Image

A camera will attempt to expose the image correctly by varying the shutter speed depending on what f-stop you select, or by varying the f-stop if you chose the shutter speed.

Sometimes it's difficult to get the exposure right. For instance, if you are photographing a subject which is lit from behind, this will produce a silhouette effect (which may or may not be desired). Also if there is high contrast between objects in a frame; e.g., black and white, exposure can be difficult. Your camera may have an option which allows bracketing of shots, which means taking photos with slightly higher or lower exposure levels than the normal auto exposure would produce. Also you may be able to set the weighting for exposure. Normally the camera will adjust exposure by looking at the average amount of light in the frame. Exposure can also be center weighted so that what is in the center of the frame, on the "cross hairs" is properly exposed.

You can read more about adjusting camera settings for correct exposure in my article:

Understanding the Settings on Cameras: Shutter Speed, F Numbers and Exposure

Picking a Shutter Speed to Stop Motion

Typical shutter speeds for shooting various subjects at 30 feet from camera

 Movement Left to Right in Front of Camera

Slight or stationary movement


Traffic and Pedestrians




Fast Vehicles


Tip 5: Consider Color Balance

Usually this is automatic on a camera, but sometimes auto color balance produces colors which are not quite natural. Color balance weights, or filters an image to make it look more natural under various lighting sources. Better results can be obtained by choosing the manual settings on your camera, depending on the ambient lighting conditions, rather than the auto setting. Choices include tungsten (for "normal" bulb and halogen lighting), daylight, fluorescent, cloudy and flash.

Tip 6: Use Natural Lighting

If you don't have the luxury of an indoor studio with lighting, an alternative is to take photos outdoors. Natural daylight produces great results but bright sunshine can produce ugly shadows in an image, and excessive contrast. Try to take photos on a day which is very bright but semi-cloudy or when the sun goes behind the clouds. Clouds act as a diffuser and scatter light so that it comes from every direction, producing softer shadows. You can also use a white bed sheet or large sheet of white card to reflect and diffuse light into the shadows cast by the subject. Professional photographers use this technique for "filling" in shadows and lighting backlight subjects (which would otherwise be silhouetted against a bright background).

Tip 7: Crop Your Image

Cropping means cutting out sections of your image to remove uninteresting and irrelevant content. Remember also that if the subject only takes up a small amount of area in the frame, cropping discards pixels and this may result in a low-resolution image if the original image was low resolution. So try to fill the frame with the object or region of interest when taking the original photograph. Also take photographs at the highest possible resolution so that a user can zoom in on the photo if this facility is allowed on a webpage. You can always reduce resolution later in your favorite image processing application.

Crop images to remove irrelevant stuff

Crop images to remove irrelevant stuff

Tip 8: Watch Out for the Effects Caused by Using a Wide Angle Lens

Focal Length: A camera lens focuses an image onto an optical sensor or film. The focal length of a lens is the distance from the lens to the image, when the image is in focus.

Lenses for cameras can be telephoto, standard, wide angle or zoom. Telephoto lenses have long focal lengths, and wide angle lenses have shorter focal lengths. A telephoto lens makes the subject look closer, so it's useful for wildlife and sport photography etc. A standard lens makes the subject appear to be at the same distance as the human eye would see it, and a wide-angle lens lets you fit more of a scene into the resulting image. This is useful if you want to take shots of room interiors or can't get far enough back from a subject to fit it into the frame. Often, though, cameras are fitted with zoom lenses which have variable focal length and allow you to zoom up close or far away from your subject. If you extend a zoom lens out to the wide-angle end of its range, it can stretch perspective when used close to a subject.

The same can happen if you're using a fixed focal length, wide-angle lens. So parallel lines seem to converge and square things look trapezoidal (i.e. narrower at the back than at the front). The lens on a smartphone is designed to be wide angle so that you can do selfies and fit everything into the frame, so it can produce the same effects. Sometimes perspective might be the desired effect, however, if you want to avoid this phenomenon, move further away from your subject, and zoom in closer.

The right image was taken with a wide angle lens up close, the left image was taken from further away and the lens zoomed in closer

The right image was taken with a wide angle lens up close, the left image was taken from further away and the lens zoomed in closer

A wide angle lens can distort the shape of your subject. In this case, the rim of the box looks trapezoidal

A wide angle lens can distort the shape of your subject. In this case, the rim of the box looks trapezoidal

I was sitting about 2 feet out on a spur of rock over the Atlantic while taking this photo. However the wide angle lens stretches perspective and makes it look scarier!

I was sitting about 2 feet out on a spur of rock over the Atlantic while taking this photo. However the wide angle lens stretches perspective and makes it look scarier!

Tip 9: Use a Tripod

Camera shake can result in blurred images and a tripod helps to keep a camera steady.

A tripod is useful under several conditions:

  • At low shutter speeds (below 1/100 second), camera shake can result in blurring of images. If light levels are low, even with the largest aperture setting (lowest f -stop), the camera may select a low shutter speed to get in enough light for correct exposure.
  • When doing close up work or macro photography, small movements of the camera can cause image blur.
  • When using a longer focal length on the lens. In other words when zooming in optically.
Camera tripod

Camera tripod

Tip 10: Consider Flash, Digital Zoom and Interior Lighting

  • Don't use the digital zoom on your digital camera or phone. Digital zoom doesn't add any more detail to an image, it just "joins the dots" or interpolates between the actual pixels in an image.
  • If you use a flash, try to avoid reflections from reflective surfaces by angling the camera so that the light from the flash bounces off the subject. Photographing too close to a light surface can produce harsh shadows.
  • You can use low cost, 500 watt, halogen work lights for illumination indoors. They are costly to run and get very hot, but for low-resolution photos for web pages, they are quite useful. The color balance on your camera needs to be set to tungsten when using this type of lighting.
  • Every time you save a JPG file, it is compressed and loses some of its quality. Don't continually save and reload a JPG file after every operation in an image processing program. Save the file only when you are happy with the final result.

Resolution, Pixels and Image Quality

Here are some aspects of images you should know about.

Image Resolution

Images are stored in a digital camera with varying resolution which you have control over. The resolution is specified in pixels e.g 640 x 480. You can visualize an image as being like a chessboard, and each pixel is like a square on the chessboard. The greater the resolution, the more detail of the original scene is preserved. Higher resolution images take up more space on flash cards in a camera, require more storage space on a hard drive and take longer to download and process in your image processing package. However since computers have become more powerful, have more RAM and larger capacity disk drives, and USB communication speed has increased over the past few years, this is less of an issue. Adding effects to images or carrying out certain image manipulations can take some time however with high-resolution images. If you want to print enlargements of your photos and not just standard 5 x7 s, or crop them (select a section and discard the rest), then the higher the resolution, the better. If you just want to take snapshots, you can opt for a lower res setting on your camera.

Image Quality

When you take your photos, they are normally stored in JPG format in your camera. This is an image storage format which compresses images so that they take up less space on the flash card. The result is that some quality is lost. Usually, your camera will have an option in the setup to store the image with different qualities (low, medium, high or similar) for a given resolution. In the days when flash memory was low capacity, this was an issue and if you wanted to fit lots of photos on a card, you had to go for lower resolution and lower JPG quality. Now, however, this is less of a problem, but users still take photos on their cameras without realizing that they may not have setup the camera to get the highest resolution and best quality image.

An exaggerated idea of how low resolution images capture less detail of a subject

An exaggerated idea of how low resolution images capture less detail of a subject

Flash can cause harsh shadows and reflections

Flash can cause harsh shadows and reflections

Food Photography Tips

The essence of food photography is to make food look appetizing and scrumptious!

  • Pick fresh ingredients which look plump, firm and colourful. Old ingredients will tend to be duller and wizened looking.
  • Use natural light if possible to eliminate shadows and bring out the full colour of the food.
  • Use a mist bottle to spray fresh vegetables to give the impression they've just arrived from the garden!
  • Texture is just as important as colour when photographing food. So use a large depth of field to have everything in focus, or a shallow depth of field to isolate, e.g., food being eaten.
  • Make sure cooking utensils, cutlery and tableware are clean.
  • Show food being cooked/prepared - A hand stirring a pot or chopping vegetables adds a human element to the image.

Good Photo Editing Apps

There are lots of image editing software applications out there for manipulating and retouching images from your camera, some freeware and others you have to pay for. Most free software packages will allow you to carry out basic photo manipulation such as cropping, changing brightness, contrast, color saturation and altering hue.

Adobe Photoshop

An image processing software package used by professionals. Expensive, but it can do lots and you can get "plugins" which allow you to add effects to images.


This is a comprehensive, free application. The user interface, however, takes some getting used to.

This comes either with Windows or as part of the Windows Live Essentials Suite.


A free image editor and organizer from Google.

Paint Shop Pro

An excellent application by Corel Software and much less expensive than Photoshop, Paint Shop Pro is a very powerful editing package. Like Photoshop, it does all the basic stuff, with support for bitmapped images and also vector graphics (You can draw objects such as lines, curves, shapes, text and clip art onto images and rescale, reshape, rotate and change their colours later). In addition, it supports layers. This means you can have an underlying image and then add multiple layers on top of it, with different stuff on each layer to form a composite image.
I use this application constantly for image processing, adding captions to photos, cropping, creating Pinterest images and also for creating graphics/diagrams for articles.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2014 Eugene Brennan


Eugene Brennan (author) from Ireland on May 03, 2017:

You're welcome Diana! Hope it helps you take better photos!

Diana Majors from Arkansas, USA on May 03, 2017:

I enjoyed this article, and learned some too! Thanks!

matthew Obinna friday on March 18, 2017:

Am truly gratefül for shearing your tips....

Am very lucky and happy I read this article. Thank you so much for your ideas, I know with this, I am now a better photographer. But please there are some point, I seem not to get clearly, mostly on the area of DOP. Once again thanks very very much. I sincerely appreciate you sir.

Beth Eaglescliffe on December 21, 2016:

Lots of really useful tips here. I've bookmarked the page so that I can keep coming back to it. Thank for a great article.

Eugene Brennan (author) from Ireland on September 19, 2016:

Thanks for reading this Pamela! From your profile I see you like travelling and gardening, so hopefully the tips will come in useful for those pursuits!

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on September 19, 2016:

This is an excellent article that gives us so much detail we can certainly learn to improve our picture taking skills. I like the way you organized this hub, and your examples were perfect. Well done!

johndwilliams from Essex England on November 25, 2015:

Great Hub well written and really practical tips for all Photographers! Cheers

Eugene Brennan (author) from Ireland on August 23, 2015:

Thanks for taking a look John!

John D Wilson from Earth on August 23, 2015:

Good hub, eubug.

Job well done.


promisem on July 28, 2015:

Taking photos with an SLR also looks a lot cooler than taking them with a smartphone, even if you don't really know how to use an SLR. :)

Eugene Brennan (author) from Ireland on July 28, 2015:

Thanks a million Scott! I tend to use my smartphone a lot now for taking photos for hubs. The resolution is perfectly adequate for webpages. Unfortunately its not great for photographing landscapes and the wide angle lens makes everything in the distance look small (mountains end up as hills). An SLR is great, produces higher resolution and sharper images, and usually has the advantage of a zoom lens, but can be a pain to drag around. I suppose we can't have everything....

promisem on July 28, 2015:

I recently bought a new Nikon and took a photo class at the local arts center, which provided some of the same concepts but not nearly the same insights.

This is an extremely thorough and informative article. And your photos are excellent. I wish I could shoot with the same level of quality. Maybe one day.

Eugene Brennan (author) from Ireland on July 04, 2015:

Thanks MG. The quality of images produced by even low end equipment now is very good. When I bought my entry level Sony Lumia 520 smartphone last year (costing less than $70), I was surprised by the results. The resolution and image quality was better than that produced by my digital SLR which cost me about $1200 14 years ago! Ok, a smartphone mightn't have a zoom lens, but it good enough for most applications.

MG Seltzer from South Portland, Maine on July 04, 2015:

Thank you! I can use most of these tips. I really appreciate the before-and-after comparisons so I can see what big effect even a small change can make. I take my own photos for my essays and since I don't use good-quality equipment, it's helpful for me to have these tips to optimize the pictures to make them more appealing and focused on the idea without distractions.

Eugene Brennan (author) from Ireland on June 14, 2015:

Thanks Colin, a lot of the advice about composition, focusing, exposure applies even to cheap cameras, even though they mightn't have fancy zoom lenses.

Thanks for the comments!

Colin Garrow from Inverbervie, Scotland on June 14, 2015:

I only have a cheap camera at the moment, but there's a lot of good advice here that I think will help me to stop taking crap photos! Great Hub, voted up.

Eugene Brennan (author) from Ireland on March 05, 2015:

Thanks for the comments! Yes, it would be a good idea to add a section on post production. Changing contrast, highlighting, increasing brightness of images, amping saturation, and other manipulation helps to boost photos and make them look better. However if the original image isn't great, it can be like "putting lipstick on a pig", and no amount of manipulation will improve matters. Amping saturation helps if it isn't overdone, but if a photo was taken on a dull day, it can introduce unacceptable noise into an image. Ideally good, bright, omnidirectional lighting should be used (sunny but somewhat cloudy) when taking photos.

I'm not familiar with all the complexities of sRGB, gamma compensation/coding/decoding so will have to swat up on it!

JaneA from California on March 05, 2015:

Great advice here. Have you considered whether post-production work such as amping saturation, or changing the color profile to say sRGB IEC1966-2.1, could also improve the look of web images?

Yvan L'Abbé on April 13, 2014:

Thanks Eugbug, I can use all the help I can get when it comes to taking pictures. Your tips will come in very handy.

Sandra from Maryland on March 26, 2014:

@eugbug Hey, that's the plight of the writer :D We're always learning and sharing our take on things.

Have a wonderful afternoon of writing!

Eugene Brennan (author) from Ireland on March 26, 2014:

Thanks Sandra! I had to do some "refreshing" myself on the technicalities while writing this.

Sandra from Maryland on March 25, 2014:

Definitely pinning this. I always need a photography refresher, seeing how I have gone the camera phone photography route. Smartphones are doing some big stuff.

Eugene Brennan (author) from Ireland on March 24, 2014:

Good idea, hope you get some good photo opportunities on your travels!

Thanks for the comments!

Judy Specht from California on March 24, 2014:

Splendid ideas that are clear and concise. I am thinking my tripod must make it into my luggage while I am traveling this summer. Thanks for the great information.

Eugene Brennan (author) from Ireland on March 21, 2014:

Thanks, I'm just sorry I didn't call this "20 Tips...." so I can add more material!

Shasta Matova from USA on March 21, 2014:

Congratulations on being a top 10 hub! Well deserved! The photos are gorgeous, and there is so much information - I have learned a great deal. Voted up.

Eugene Brennan (author) from Ireland on March 21, 2014:

Thanks Writer Fox. I'm happy you enjoyed it and thanks for the comments!

Writer Fox from the wadi near the little river on March 21, 2014:

A truly superb article! You give some great advice to capturing the right picture. Enjoyed and voted up!

Eugene Brennan (author) from Ireland on March 21, 2014:

Thanks, glad it helped you

prasetio30 from malang-indonesia on March 20, 2014:

Very informative hub. I like photography and I learn many things here. You are my teacher today. Thanks for sharing with us. Voted up!


Eugene Brennan (author) from Ireland on March 20, 2014:

Thanks Thelma and Don!

Don you should get better results than I do. My camera is 2001 vintage and could do with replacing! Thanks for the comments, good luck with the photos, and take care!

Don Colfax from Easton, Pennsylvania on March 20, 2014:

So glad I stumbled upon this gem. I've recently been given a fairly nice camera and I've been procrastinating on picking it up and learning to use it right. This morning I was just exploring some hubs and this came up - I think this afternoon I'll play with that camera a bit. Thanks for the information and inspiration!

Thelma Alberts from Germany on March 20, 2014:

Brilliant hub! Thanks for sharing your knowledge. I´ll keep this in mind.

Eugene Brennan (author) from Ireland on March 20, 2014:

Thanks Raymond for the comments and dropping in!

Raymond Philippe from The Netherlands on March 20, 2014:

Sound tips in an excellent hub. Will have to pay more attention to this aspect in the future. Thanks for sharing. Voted Up.

Eugene Brennan (author) from Ireland on March 19, 2014:

You're welcome, hope it's of some benefit!