Getting the Picture

In the past, we have often discussed the importance of using good photography for your Web site and print materials. Good photos, especially those that show lots of excitement and action, can capture the true spirit and nature of your camp, and go a long way in selling the camp to the people you most want to reach–the kids and their parents.

But in all our discussions, we have only briefly mentioned the best way to prepare and optimize your photos so that they will appear the way you want them to appear on your Web site.

Let’s Start at the Beginning

When you want your photos to have the strongest impact, start with the best possible photographs. There are many ways to approach the creation of photos. Many camps often acquire good quality photos from either the campers or counselors themselves; it is surprising how many people are handy with a camera.

Each camper is given a small, disposable camera at the beginning of the session, and when they are done, they turn them into the counselors, who then have the photos developed. This process is a great way for the kids to develop a strong bond with the camp, but it is also a somewhat random, catch-as-catch-can approach to photography. For every budding Ansel Adams shot you may find, you have to plow through hundreds of sub-par pictures (of course, the campers’ efforts are never totally wasted; you can keep a revolving bulletin board of photos).

For my money, to truly capture all the excitement and enjoyment of summer camp, there is nothing like working with a professional photographer. An experienced photographer will know immediately what it is you are looking for, and will be able to get you the best shots in the most efficient and cost-effective manner.

Preparing Photos for the Web

The Web has become the primary way for most camps to post and share photos. The addition of beautifully shot, exciting photos can allow your site to really convey the look and feel of your camp.

However, there are several things to consider about your photos before you begin posting them to your Web site.

The most important thing to consider is the size of the photo, which includes more than the physical dimensions of the picture. It is how much information is stored in the photo once it’s been digitized for use on a computer. Whether you scan the pictures into the computer or use photos directly from a digital camera, the size of the photo file is of utmost importance when optimizing for the Web.

Since most camera manufacturers have moved into the digital realm, let’s talk about using photos from a digital camera.

Digital cameras are everywhere, and they are here to stay. Nowadays the quality of the image from a digital camera is superb, rivaling the most sophisticated film camera systems. Unfortunately, the beautifully detailed photos from a digital camera hold an amazing amount of information; this means that the size of the file on your computer is going to be enormous, much too big to use on your Web site.

In order to work with these digital photo files, we have to take some steps to ensure their quality and usability.

Resize the Photo

Because photos files can be too big to work with, the first thing we want to do is to change the size of the picture. And we are going to be changing not just the physical dimensions of the picture, but also the amount of information stored in the picture.

We need to do this for a couple of reasons. One, it is much easier to change the size of the photo BEFORE you upload to your Web site. Resizing it to the approximate size you are going to be using on your site will save a ton of space, and will make it quicker and easier to upload to the site.

The second reason is speed. When a picture comes out of a digital camera, it’s considered a high-resolution image. This means it is made up of a large amount of digital information–much too big for use on the Web. A large photo file will take forever to upload to your site; and once it’s on the site, it can be so large that it will take even longer for the picture to download and be displayed.

On the Web, speed is everything. If the Web site does not load quickly, including all of your great photos, then–bam!–the visitor is surfing to another site.

While the high res photos are perfect for any print media, they are too bulky and cumbersome for use on the Web, which is why we need to change their size.

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  1. Part Two – Getting The Picture
  2. The Three Knows: Part Two
  3. Off-Season Marketing Ideas
  4. Making the Most of Your Web Site
  5. Designing Your Marketing Budget
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