Church Website Photos—Stock or Original?

November 7, 2016 Hannah Osborne


One of my favorite things on the Internet is horrible stock photos (seriously, just Google “weirdest stock photos.”). Why would anyone ever need a picture of someone wearing space glasses holding an ear of corn? The Internet is a strange and mysterious place.

When you’re picking pictures for your church website, you can either use royalty-free stock photos or images that are of your congregation. There are benefits to both options, so it’s important to weigh your options and choose an option that fits your church website’s needs.

Stock Photos

Stock photos—if they’re good ones—can give your website a very specific feel. You can find pictures for your welcome page, your home page, or your beliefs page. Stock photos, if done well, can be high quality and professional. Pictures of communion bread and wine are ideal stock photos, as they can be hard to photograph yourself.

But, they’re stock photos, so they can feel staged or cold. Shy away from photos that look like stock photos—cheesy, fake pictures with no personality. You want pictures that reflect your congregation and what you believe in, so make sure the photos have life.

Original Photos

On the flip side, pictures of actual members of your congregation showcase what your church is really like. It can be comforting for visitors to recognize the face of an elder who was seen on the website or be greeted in the same place as a visitor was greeted on a picture on your website.

However, original photos can be blurry, grainy, and low quality if not done correctly. Make sure that the photos you take reflect the mood you want to set, whether that is welcoming, fun, or comforting. Make sure the photos are high quality and clear; a digital camera tends to give better results than a camera phone, especially when using large files on websites.

You should have pictures of your sanctuary on your website, as well as a picture of the outside of your building. Staff pictures should (obviously) be real and updated.

I prefer original photos when I’m browsing a church’s website—as long as the pictures don’t look like they were taken on a computer webcam from 2005. Good lighting, simple images, and a clear focus are important when taking pictures for your church website.

However, there’s no set rule as to whether or not you have to use stock photos or completely original photos—just make sure your stock photos are not infringing on any copyright laws. A mix of both stock and original photos can optimize your website to show the personality of your church while still having professional photos where it matters most.

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