The Church Website Photography Checklist
One of the issues I see on many church websites is a lack of quality photography.
Often the photography is unintentional, low resolution or it unintentionally communicates something bad about the church (eg: a drone shot of a church with an empty parking lot = an empty church)
At the end of the day, your website is the window into your church. It’s how people know who you are and what it’s like to be a part of the church. So if your website has no photography or bad photography, I guarantee you’re missing out on visitors.
When you look at a Clearpath church website, one of the first things you’ll probably notice is photography. We don’t do a lot of complex graphics on our sites and we keep the copy writing down to a minimum; but we always have lots of good photos.
Why? Because photography gives potential visitors an accurate and memorable impression of your church. Every website we create has great photography. Some of it we produce ourselves, some of it’s done in house.
So when a church wants to produce their own photography for their website, I make sure to give them a checklist. Because just like a wedding photographer has a list she or he uses to capture the entire wedding, so should a church photographer use a list to capture the entire church.
So here it is, our church website photography checklist. Find a great photographer, (if don’t have a quality volunteer photographer in your church, consider paying for one. It’s worth it) hand them this list, and you’ll be well on your way to having the photo content you’ll need to build a great website.
Capturing the Worship Service
This is probably the most obvious item on the list as the worship service is (usually) the centerpiece of Sunday morning. But capturing the worship service is bigger than getting some good shots of the preacher.
You’ll want to choose a Sunday where you expect solid attendance and have your best foot forward. If possible, you’ll want to photograph your service on more than one Sunday so you don’t have the same people (and wardrobe) all over your website.
This is also a good time to suggest that if you have a smaller church, a floating photographer snapping pics may distract (and even annoy) the congregation. In this case it can be helpful to get in front of the complaints by warning them about the photographer beforehand.
- Worship team (distance + close-up)
- Preacher (distance + close-up)
- Announcements + scripture reader(s)
- People sitting + standing
- Greeting time
- People filling out connection cards
- Baptism + communion + offering
Pre + Post Service Shots:
Capturing your congregation and leadership in their candid pre/post service moments can add a lot of personality to your website. I place these types of photos on pages like the homepage, plan your visit, and our story. These shots add life and joy to your website. Without them, things can feel a little too staged.
- Greeters + ushers in action
- People shaking hands + hugging
- People getting coffee + snacks
- People arriving in parking lot
Did you know your staff/leadership page is one of, if not the most visited page on your church website?.
That’s why the leadership page cannot have low resolution, mismatched portraits. Leadership photos should be done with a quality camera (or a smartphone with portrait mode), in good lighting and a consistent background.
Anything less should be rejected immediately!
There actually is a place for “artsy” photography on your website, like as a background to important content. You don’t want to go crazy with this sort of thing but having some nice artsy photos can be helpful.
- Attractive facility shots
- Landscaping / Church Grounds
- Staff working together
This one is crazy important.
Most churches have an individual page on their website for each and every ministry in the church. If you’re going to do this, you’re going to want at least 3-4 great shots of each ministry.
For example, if I’m creating a Student Ministry page, then I’m going to want pics of the students playing crazy games, worshiping, giving hugs, all the things that would make going to student ministry attractive.
Now, do that for every ministry.
- Children + Nursery (with signed permission from parents)
- Small Groups
- Women’s + Men’s Ministry
- Trips (mission + youth + retreat)
- Any other ministry not listed
Closing Thoughts and Tips
Don’t forget, your church may do something really cool and unique that’s not listed here. My church does an annual baptism service at the beach. That’s the kind of thing people need to see when trying to decide whether or not to visit your church.
When you get done with all your photography, make sure you resize the images for web content (less than 1 mb). Then, sort all the usable photos into clearly marked folders so it doesn’t take forever to find appropriate photos for each page on the website.
For those shots where someone may not have looked their best that day (it happens to the best of us), ask yourself, “would this person want to be on the website at that angle / in that outfit / with their hair looking like that?”
Remember, you’re going to quality, authenticity, and variety. Put some time and resources into this and it will pay off.
Founder and Lead Catalyst for Clearpath. Josh is ordained in the Reformed Church in America and is passionate about helping small churches find their voice. Josh lives with his family in San Luis Obispo on the Central Coast of California.