Business Smarts: How do I Put My Publicity Photo on My Site?

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So, you have a business website that needs your smiling face to welcome visitors. Do you have a good publicity shot yet? I've seen everything from polished, professional publicity shots, to portraits by family photography studios, to the worst shots done in direct sunlight in the back yard.


If you don't have a professional photo, but you think your shot might be good enough to do for now, maybe you're right. After all, most new entrepreneurs are using their credit cards to fund their start up and still operating on a shoestring. Even if you are new you will know how important it is to be seen to the public. As you probably know the public react better to a product with a face than a faceless one.

And, even if you are your own webmaster, there's nothing to keep you from getting your publicity photo onto your site. Whether you have something from a studio, or something home grown, this article will tell you what you need to know to show your face to the public.


Let's start with the professional publicity shot. Since you're reading this, I'll assume that you haven't enlisted the skills of a graphic artist. To prepare a good photo for your site, you only have to concern yourself with size and compression. By size, I really mean "dimensions, that is, how many pixels wide by how many pixels tall. Another kind of size, file size, matters, because a file that is too big will load too slowly in your visitors' browsers. How do you cut down on file size? By reducing the dimensions, and by compressing the image.

First, the dimensions. Normally, your publicity shot is far too large to go onto your website. But don't resize it just yet. First, decide whether to crop it. Cropping means trimming away the outer edges to bring out more of what is important in the picture. In this case, you! If your photographer has already created the perfect framing of your charming face, then you can pass on cropping. However, portraits on the web often need some additional cropping, compared to a publicity shot you might give to a publicist or a portrait that you would put in a frame on a desk. Let me explain.


Most people don't want their picture to dominate their site, unless perhaps they are some kind of superstar, or their face strongly represents their brand. But maybe not. Martha Stewart Living has a picture of Martha that is only about 150 pixels tall. Same for Oprah (except that, last time I looked, her face appeared in five places on her main page). Same for the Pope on the Vatican Radio site, but there are eight of him, three more than Oprah.


Why is this a good size? It doesn't dominate, but it doesn't seem tiny, either. So let's get back to cropping. You want to crop for the web by bringing out your face a bit more than other types of pictures, because you want to fit the picture into a smaller space, smaller even than a typical desk frame. Martha Stewart made her picture feel less constrained by using a white background that blends in with her site's background. Oprah brought out her eyes, and created a bigger presence, despite the small area, by having the top of her head cut off, like they often do for close ups in the movies.


You can use our highlighted program, Bulk Photo Resizer for more than resizing. It makes cropping quite easy. It is a free download, so you can try it without spending a dime. If you need to experiment, you can discard any changes and try again. Once you are satisfied, it is time to resize to the dimensions you have chosen. You'll be glad to know that the Bulk Photo Resizer makes sure that your photo stays in proportion. That is called maintaining your photo's aspect ratio. Nothing gets stretched out of shape.


The program also prevents you from enlarging the image, because that causes something called pixelation. That means you start seeing the pixels of the original image represented as jagged edges (the jaggies), or as squares in the image, like the ones used to obscure people's faces on reality TV.

You can save time with Bulk Image Resizer by using one of the convenient preset sizes in it's drop down menu.


Now for compression. Pretty much all the images you see on the web are compressed. Even the movies and the audio is compressed. Compression means taking data out of a file to make it smaller, but doing it in a way that preserves it as much as possible. With text, compression actually keeps all the information, but encodes it in tricky ways to make the file smaller. With audio, there are various psychological tricks used, but too much compression will make it sound bad.


With images, the same is true. In Bulk Image Resizer, a setting of about 80 will keep the image in pretty good shape. At 90, most people would be able to tell the difference, and you'll still shrink the file size a good bit. You can try out different settings and see what suits your purposes. The type of file most often used on the web is a .jpg file, and that is what Bulk Photo Resizer offers for compression. This is an option, but I highly recommend it.


Finally, let's talk about a touchy subject, the homegrown photo. If you just have to use something non-professional for your site until you feel flush enough to get a real professional photo, then there are a few considerations to keep in mind. One is how grainy or fuzzy the image is. You may be able to make it appear sharper by resizing it to a smaller size. Try the 150 or so pixel height after you crop it and see what you think. Another trick is to do as little cropping as possible, but only if the background gives you some kind of appropriate and pleasant context. If you sell backpacking goods, and you're in a forest, maybe that is the best photo for your customers to see.


Of course, shrinking can only do so much. If the colors are too weak, or you are just squinting way too much in the sun, resizing won't do much. You could spend money on someone to work on it, but why not save the money for a professional shot?


Finally, some tips for those of you that are doing your own html. Remember to include the dimensions, and to put a brief, key-word-loaded description of the image in the alt tag. Your html reference materials will tell you how.

The choices are all yours. I hope this article helped you get your mug on the web so you can sell, sell, sell.

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