Whenever I visit a church website, one of the first pages I like to visit is the Staff page. Utilising a page like this is a great way for churches to introduce their staff or ministry team. People love reading about how their pastor is an ordinary person with a real family and real hobbies, just like them. A Staff Page is also a great way to introduce a church’s unsung heroes like the receptionist or bookkeeper. These people may not be up the front every week, but without them, church life would be a lot harder. A Staff Page on your church’s website tangibly demonstrates the inner workings of the church staff team, and will help newcomers connect quicker, persuade regulars to give more, and work to create a welcoming, friendly atmosphere in a church.
A good Staff Page should have two components — a photo, and a biography (bio). Both are important, and we’ve put together a few key points and principles to consider when putting together photos and bios.
This week we’ll look at some principles for staff photos on your church website.
Natural, consistent, inviting
Natural but purposeful
When choosing photos for a staff page, try to avoid the two extremes of “overly corporate” and “unintentional”. Unless your pastor is always dressed that way, there’s no need to photograph him in a shirt, jacket and tie. Also, a professional photography backdrop is unnecessary and possibly counter-helpful. If the photo looks like it belongs on a corporate banking website or school yearbook, don’t use it. A casual outfit in a natural environment is perfect. But on the other extreme, make sure the photo you’re using serves its purpose as a portrait. A photo of your pastor at the beach with his family will look like it was lifted straight from Facebook. Be intentional about the photo you use, without being overly formal and business-like.
Consistency throughout the page
Ideally, all staff photos should be consistent. This means each photo should be taken in the same place, in a similar pose, with a similar crop. This will make your website look more visually appealing, more professional, and give a higher sense of credibility to your website, and in turn, to your church. If you have a photographer in your congregation (or at least someone who knows their way around a DSLR), ask them to take the photos for you, all on the same day. If you need to take them yourself, go outside and find some decent shade (you want to avoid dappled light at all costs!) A shallow depth-of-field will have your subject in focus and blur out the background (the further the subject is from the background, the blurrier it will be), so set your aperture wide (around f2.8 for a single subject is great). Take photos of each staff member, then crop them so they’re consistent in size and angle. Consistency goes a long way to improving user experience on your website, so do all you can to keep users on your site for as long as possible!
Use photos that look like your staff are happy to be there!
No duck face here! Choose a photo where the subject is smiling (in their eyes too, not just smiling with their mouth). There’s no need for the arty “pretend you’re looking at another camera” thing — have your subject look straight at the lens, as if to look the visitor in the eye and say “come, we’d love to have you visit our church!” Be careful with staff wearing glasses — depending on the light, you may be stuck with nasty reflection in the lens. If you’re unsure at the time of the shoot, take two lots of photos — one with glasses and one without. You can always decide later, but you don’t want to be stuck with an unusable photo with distracting glasses reflection.
Next week we’ll look at some principles for putting together a basic staff bio for your website. What things do you like reading about when you visit a Staff Page on a church’s website?