using photos as a voice artist

A voice artist’s guide to great photography

Humans are visual creatures – we like nothing more than something beautiful to look at. Using images on your website and social feeds is a great way to show your brand personality.

Images of people often out-perform other image types on social platforms. Instagram and Facebook algorithms especially like an image of a human. BUT poor images give a negative impression and can do your brand damage. Big files sizes will slow your website loading time and in turn lower your SEO ranking.

Here are some tips and things to think about to ensure you always have beautiful and well-functioning photography to use on your website and in your social feeds.


Image size and quality

As good as using images to show your brand personality is, using poor quality images can have the opposite impact. Likewise, if you use the wrong file size image on your website not only can it take ages to load (which will likely annoy your visitors) it can also negatively impact your SEO ranking. Speed is key for this one, so a basic understanding of image formats and how to size them can be a huge advantage.

Always make sure your images are clear and well-lit. It’s not good looking at someone’s photo that is blurred or is too poorly lit to see anything.

Image quality

Jpg and png images are built up of dots of colour. The better quality the image, the more dots there are so the clearer the image and the range of colours is bigger. But this also means there is more data, so the file size is bigger.

Much like with audio files – you can’t increase the quality of the sound once you’ve reduced the size of the file. Think of it this way…

If you look at a painting on a wall from a distance you can see the full image. If you get physically closer to the painting, it fills up more of your field of vision (so may appear bigger to you), but the image itself stays the same size.

You cannot increase the size of an image and keep the clarity/quality the same as the smaller version. If you have a blurred, pixilated or badly lit image, the best thing to do is re-take the image.

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Image size

This is hugely important for websites (as I mentioned above) but there are things out there to help. This isn’t an issue for social platforms, as they compress images when you post them (although some do have a maximum file size)

If you can, make sure the images you use on your website are sized for the space they are being used in. DON’T use a 3 mb image that is 1500px wide in an image space that is 300px wide. In fact, don’t use a 3 mb image anywhere on your website!

At the very least, every single image you use should be passed through a compressor. And I really do mean every single image (and yes, this includes logos).

Tinyjpg.com is one of the best tools out there to do this. And it’s free so you really have no excuse not to do this. Want some proof as to the difference it makes? Have a peek below. When I’m building websites (or adding things to ours) I know the size those images need to be in pixels, but those images often start off as huge photoshop files.

To give example of 1 file.

  • The Photoshop file = 487.6 mb
  • The non-resized jpg (300dpi, 5000px wide) = 2.8 mb
  • The re-sized jpg (72dpi, 1200px wide) = 347 KB
  • The compressed re-sized jpg (72dpi, 1200px wide) = 76 KB

487.6mb to 76 kb. This is a HUGE difference. So no excuses – get compressing those images!

Sample of various image files sizes
Screenshot of tinyjpg.com

File types and formats

Images can come in a variety types or formats. Each format should be used in different instances. I’ve already written a blog about file types for logos that goes into the definitions in a little more detail (if you want to read that click here). But here’s a quick summary…

JPG

Mostly used on social media platforms and in programs like Word or PowerPoint (or Pages and Keynote if you’re a Mac user like me).

USE FOR

  • Digital (websites or social media)
  • Word/PowerPoint/Excel/Pages/Keynote/Numbers

DO NOT USE

  • If you need an image or logo with a transparent background
  • If you’re getting your logo professionally printed on anything

PNG

Great when you need your logo with a transparent background. Png images retain lots of colour detail but this makes the file sizes bigger too.

USE FOR

  • Logos or small images on websites
  • When you need an image or logo with a transparent background

DO NOT USE FOR

  • Print

VECTORS

There are a 3 main types – ai, eps & svg. Your master logo file SHOULD be supplied as a vector (but you may not be able to open it). They’re also used for patterns and icons.

USE FOR

  • This is the file your designer will want your logo in (and the file to create other file types of your logo). Web designers/developers will want your logo as an SVG or png
  • Professional print
  • Websites – logos use in svg format only

DO NOT USE FOR

  • Social Media
  • Word/PowerPoint/Excel/Pages/Keynote/Numbers

Photoshoots

If you are planning a photoshoot, do some planning BEFORE you get there. Many photographers will work with you to put a mood board together. Pinterest is great for this too and if you want some inspiration have a look through my Pinterest board.

Things to think about before your shoot are:

  • Look and feel / colour
  • Poses
  • Props
  • Locations
  • What to wear
  • Where you are going to use the photos

The more you plan before, the better the results will be.

We are currently planning 2 shoots. One outdoors and one in the studio. I’m after different things from both shoots. The outdoor one will be a mix of close up and wide shots – things I can use for the wide landscape spaces on our website. The studio shoot will include props – laptops, ipad, mobile for me and some studio kit for Rob – they’ll likely be closer up and some will have plain white backgrounds, so as not to distract from the thing in the foreground. I have a clear idea how I’ll be using the photos from each shoot too. I know which web pages need new pics, and the type of image I want to use in our social feeds. Having visual examples helps the photographer understand this too. Which in turn should mean a shoot with loads of great images that you can use.

Top Tip – try to find items of clothing or accessories in your brand colours.

Here are examples of very different style photoshoots done by 2 of my brand and website clients. Both shoots were done using the photography style guide and mood boards produced for each of my branding clients.

Liam Gerrard – AKA The Voiceover Chap

Liam’s brand is based around rich autumnal colours – teal, warm yellows, oranges and greens. His brand personality is relaxed but professional. It is approachable and warm. The orange brand colour in Liam’s brand colours is similar to the red brick buildings in the photos. The personality of Liam’s brand has been captured by his photographer.

See Liam’s brand and website project here.

Abbe Opher – Voiceover and Narrator

Abbe specialises in meditation and sleep app narration. Her brand built around her voice’s sound – like a warm mug of hot chocolate for the soul, giving listeners a soothing, more-ish experience.​ Her brand is graceful, elegant, relaxing and calming. Like the soft mood of a hazy summer’s afternoon. Abbe’s photographer captured this feeling perfectly.

See Abbe’s brand and website project here.


Stock images

Most of us need to use stock images from time to time. It would be wonderful if we could always use our own, but often that’s not possible or affordable. If you do use stock images, remember NEVER use images you don’t have permission or a licence to use. You can’t just google an image, download it and stick it on your website. I know people who have been fined over £500 for doing this. And it’s also just wrong. Much like you wouldn’t like someone to use a recording of your voice without the correct permissions or licences in place, you shouldn’t use other artists work in the same way.

There are lots of good commercial stock image sites you can buy from, but one I use often that has free-to-use images is unsplash.com If you do use images from Unsplash YOU MUST also credit the photographer (a bit like I do at the bottom of the blog).


Headshots

These is always much discussion about whether a voice artist should use headshots on their website. I believe your website should always have a photo of you on it, but how you use that photo is up to you.

Headshots not only perform well on social platforms, they help to build brand trust. People like to know they are dealing with a real-life human – especially if that person is one offering a service. If you know what someone looks like you feel like you know that person.

However – I also understand that people make judgements about the way others look. This can have a particularly negative impact if your voice doesn’t sound like you look – or you specialise in accents and characters. Bart Simpson is voiced by Nancy Cartwright – if you just saw her photo and didn’t know who she was, you probably wouldn’t guess that she voiced a 10 year old boy.

I’m not going to tell you that there is a right or wrong answer about headshots – there are too many variables – but do consider those variables and make your choice based on those. Just remember that you don’t have to have a huge photo – it can be small, and it doesn’t have to be on your home page. It could just be on your about page.

If you don’t have a photo on your website the reason shouldn’t be that you don’t like your photo being taken.


The important things to remember

However you use photos within your brand and business, remember these 4 things:

  1. Quality is key – good images can boost your brand, poor images can have a negative impact
  2. Compress every image on your website
  3. Use photography that reflects your brand
  4. Include photos of yourself somewhere

If you want to explore your brand personality or you want some help creating a mood board for your photo shoot, get in touch and I can help.


Cover image photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

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