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Recently we launched a new local directory website for Northern Westchester County, WestchesterNorth.com. Westchester is home to a number of amazing places and people. The area is rich in history and beauty. Westchester is located north of New York City (no it’s not upstate – that would be Buffalo). It is a convenient and enjoyable commute to Grand Central Terminal (no not station – that would also be incorrect). Westchester North is a gateway to the local businesses and people of Northern Westchester, and we continue to enjoy developing content for the site and social. But I digress, the point of this post is to talk about the importance of images on your website, in your social media, and for your brand in general. 

In building and designing Westchester North one of our primary tasks was to capture and organize 1000s of photos for the site and for social. As content creators we tend to go overboard with high-end cameras and lenses, often capturing content in 4K and beyond when necessary or just enjoyable. When it comes to a website however it is best to keep in mind the mantra “size matters.” If you are building an image-heavy website you need to make sure your site will load quickly and efficiently for both proper google ranking (and SEO) and most importantly for ease of use by your visitors. Below we breakdown some important steps to help you optimize your content. Our quick guide to preparing your images for your website, brand, and beyond. 

Let’s start with the basics. 

QUALITY

Julie is a PaH patient sharing her story.

First, start with high-quality images. Whether you are sourcing stock imagery or taking your own photos start with the highest quality possible. This will give you the opportunity to properly resize, crop, correct, augment, or enhance as your heart desires. 

It’s also important to remember if you are using your phone to capture images for your website how you plan on using the image. Play it safe and take a PORTRAIT and LANDSCAPE photo, you’ll thank me later.

chris valentino, Bean Labs, producer and director - headshot

Portrait of Mr. Chris Valentino

 

Landscape Photo of Nancy Burpee for NYU Winthrop Hospital

Landscape Photo of Nancy Burpee for NYU Winthrop

 

FILE FORMAT

In most cases, your image is likely to be a JPEG file. While there are other web-compatible files such as GIF, SVG, and PNG, JPEG and PNG are most common. PNG’s offer you the option to have a transparent background say for your logo if you want to overlay it on your page or another photo. Starting with a high-quality LARGE jpeg file will give you the opportunity to edit it for a variety of uses. Remember you can always make a large image smaller, but making a smaller image larger well that results in a poor looking, pixelated disaster.

Story Half Told: Esther Director and Producer, Chris Valentino, on set TexasJPEG for Photos

PNG for Graphics and Logos

Many simple image programs you might find on your computer or phone let you choose JPG or PNG by going to “Save As,” “Export,” or “Save for web” and selecting your preference. There are some great web apps that make editing images and graphics super easy. (We love canva and crello for creating simple graphics.)

 

RESIZE TO OPTIMIZE

Life is all about balance. When it comes to your photos and your website you will need to find the right balance between page speed and appearance. If you are using a high-resolution image (read large file size) you will greatly affect the speed at which your web page loads. Large file = Slow load, this hurts your user’s experience and your SEO as I mentioned above.

That said there are times when you want to use a large image for your page header or hero banner or to showcase an amazing feature that requires detail, so it’s okay, but don’t go overboard. You want to keep an eye on the size of the image after you save it. Is it 6 MB or 128 KBs? Are you using multiple images on a page? They add up too.

Size and Resolution (DPI). DPI or dots per square inch refers to the pixel density of an image. If you plan on printing you will often want your images to be 300 dpi minimum and scale up as necessary (which if we jump back up a few paragraphs is why we often capture content with super cameras and lenses, or as we say, overkill). However, if your goal is the internet then you need to think smaller, 72 dpi to be exact (although 92 dpi is also an acceptable practice). Now, the resolution is only one part of the equation, the other is dimension. Like most humans you are probably familiar with typical photo formats such as 4×6 or 5×7, perhaps you even have your 8×10 highschool photo matted in a nice 9×12 frame. On the web we talk about dimensions in pixels. For example, a hero blog pic may be 1600 by 800 pixels. We typically start with our images at 2000x 1200 and scale down as appropriate. There are times where we will play with the scale of an image for a more cinematic look and others where the image dictates the format (such as a portrait or landscape photo).

We could talk for hours about the numerous ways to format a picture from 1:1 for Instagram, to 4:3, to 16:9, to 9:16, and so on. Every social media page has its own requirements and guidelines and you have to think of how your image will work on both desktop and mobile as well. 

 

CONSISTENCY IS KEY ( a side note)

Before we jump into the all-important topic of naming and organizing, we’d like to stress that consistency plays a huge role in your web design and presentation. Think about how your images will be used on your page or in your post and create your own brand style guide to uniformly organize your images.

 

THE NAME GAME

As some of my clients will tell you, I can be a bit pushy when it comes to naming things clearly and properly. When it comes to images most people don’t think about their file names at all. If they took a pic and it is “DSC_120312343489.jpg”, “Photo2.png” or, dare I say, “Screen Shot 2019-07-01 at 3.28.42 PM”

If this sounds familiar, take a break from reading and start renaming your images before you upload anything to your website. Why? Why? Because doing this one simple thing makes managing your photos easier and in the process, it may just help boost your SEO (depending on where the images appear online.)

Again on the topic of consistency, stick to one format: use lowercase letters and numbers 0-9. Don’t introduce punctuation or spaces, it is best to use-hyphens-to-separate-words-rather-than_underscores. (Think awesome-photo-of-chris-valentino-on-set-looking-dashing.jpg rather than DSC12345.jpg).

 

CAPTION THIS

Once you properly name, resize, and UPLOAD your images think about the other SEO seasoning called Alt-Tags (Alternative Text). While not visible to your average user this information tells search engines what your image is all about. Typically with Alt – tags you want to describe your image in a simple, descriptive way this helps visually impaired visitors who navigate your site with audio-based software. It’s also a great way to improve website accessibility.

 

PLACEMENT

The last thing to add is to always keep your images placed in a relevant position on your page or post.

Don’t just toss it on the page, place it close to the related textual content. While Google is getting better at recognizing images they won’t do your work for you. 

All in all, think organization, optimization, and quality!

Video and photography go hand-in-hand it is why we have always championed a tandem photo shoot with every video production. We have a talented team of photographers who specialize in different types of imagery, from commercial to corporate, from architectural to behind the scenes and more. Whatever your need we can meet it. Before you start your next project talk with us about the different ways and mediums in which we can champion your story. It all starts with discovery and planning.

We love to tell stories, especially personal stories that uncover a person’s journey which can, in turn, help others in a similar situation. Earlier this year we had the opportunity to get to know Julie and her family as she shared her personal struggles and triumphs living with PAH.

Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a rare, progressive disorder characterized by high blood pressure (hypertension) in the arteries of the lungs (pulmonary artery) for no apparent reason. The pulmonary arteries are the blood vessels that carry blood from the right side of the heart through the lungs.

Julie was a pleasure to work with and her family and we thank her for allowing us into her home and life if for only a short time.

As #Pinktober winds down and the focus all too quickly shifts from the breast cancer conversation, we celebrate the story of Esther Garza. Esther is a 55-year-old mother, grandmother, metastatic breast cancer patient and advocate within the Latina breast cancer community.  Esther brings her story to the mbc awareness campaign Story Half Told.  We had the honor of working with Esther and her family and friends to shed light on her personal story.

Breast Cancer: A Story Half Told is the initiative by Pfizer in partnership with advocates, patients and healthcare professionals that aims to elevate public understanding of metastatic breast cancer, dispel misperceptions, combat stigma and expand the breast cancer conversation to be more inclusive of metastatic breast cancer.  The unbranded campaign focuses on metastatic breast cancer patients in their daily lives at home, at work, at play or at the doctor’s office.  The goal was to create socially engaging content rooted in honest storytelling.

Story Half Told was nominated for a 2016 Cannes Lion and 2016 Sabre Award.

‪#‎MelanomaJustGotPersonal‬ – We are proud to share our latest production, Melanoma Just Got Personal.
It was a pleasure working with Troy Aikman and ‪#‎Novartis‬ on this campaign and to have the opportunity to work with Troy to tell his personal melanoma story.

Melanoma Just Got Personal is a portal to help patients living with advanced melanoma (unresectable or metastatic melanoma) learn about the personalized nature of their disease so they are better equipped to fight against it. We had the privilege to speak with patients living with melanoma and their supporters as well as healthcare professionals who provided insight into the importance of knowing their diagnosis.  It was an eye opening experience to learn about the different types of the disease and how knowing your mutation can lead to better treatment.  The team at Novartis is dedicated to spreading this message.  

Join pro football legend, Hall of Famer and former melanoma patient, Troy Aikman, the Melanoma Research Foundation, Melanoma International Foundation and Aim at Melanoma, and learn more about advanced melanoma to help raise awareness of this rarely discussed cancer.

 Join the campaign and show your support at www.MelanomaJustGotPersonal.com

No, we aren’t talking about the country Egypt, rather the incredibly talented television, radio personality, author, speaker and home space expert, Egypt Sherrod.

Nothing like a trip to Hot-lanta in the middle of winter to keep you warm and fuzzy.  Chris Valentino directed Egypt in a series of new promo materials for HGTV and the Cider Company. Once again shot by long-time collaborator, DP Mike Falasco, the promo campaign was a delight to work on.

Egypt is a passionate professional who always brings her a-game to the set. It was a fun time working with Egypt (she has some serious dance moves).  Check out her show on HGTV!

Jason Cameron knows a thing or two about landscaping.  This Licensed Home Improvement Contractor, Finish Carpenter, Personal Trainer, Writer, Actor, TV Personality and Fitness Model was a joy to work with and brought a lot of laughs to the set.  (Thankfully, he left the sledgehammer at home).

Director Chris Valentino wrapped a promo shoot for DIY network and The Cider Company.

Catch Jason on DIY’s Desperate Landscapes and America’s Most Desperate Landscapes.

 

It goes without saying that the incredible talent at DIY knows how to have fun.  We worked with DIY, The Cider Company and super-nice, award-winning host Scott McGillivray on some new promo campaigns.  Chris Valentino directed the shoot for the Cider Company and DIY alongside the DIY design team.  This shoot was a blast as it reunited many of our old crew people together at one of our favorite NY area locations.  The shoot went incredibly well and we accomplished everything we hoped to.  It was a memorable day.  Our favorite highlight has to be Scott tossing a sledgehammer to Director, Chris Valentino while he wasn’t looking.  Thankfully, Chris’ panther-like reflexes were on point.  Lastly, we have to mention the shoot was shot by our talented and lovely DP, Mike Falasco.  Kudos and thanks to Kim Bratt and team Cider for another fun assignment.

 

Recently Chris Valentino once again collaborated with The Cider Company to direct promos for one of our favorite shows, HGTV’s Fixer Upper. Having the opportunity to spend an August Summer day in Waco, TX should be on everyone’s to-do list.

Working with Chip and Joanna Gaines was full of fun and laughter.  The HGTV team is a great, collaborative group of creatives who love what they do.

Watch Fixer Upper on HGTV!

Recently Chris Valentino collaborated with The Cider Company to direct promos for Lara Spencer’s Flea Market Flip.  The HGTV show has found its new home as the flagship program for Great America Country, the Scripps family’s latest network addition.

A great time was had by all on location at the Brimfield Antique Show and The Elephant’s Trunk.  Both venues offered a look into the past and some truly amazing textures.

Lara is a pro and proved why she is so great at her job.  She is passionate, driven and artistic.

Many thanks to The Cider Company and Kim Bratt for the opportunity.