The photos on your site do not need to say a thousand words. They do need to speak to your users and align with your business goals. Try to put your written content into the proper context by displaying images that lend and enhance your message and connect with people's emotions. Use the science of psychology and art of storytelling to show people why your church is so amazing.
When you chose imagery for your site; avoid using stock photography. Incorporate photos from around your church and pick real people from your congregation and staff. Too expensive you say? Why not contact local high schools or colleges to see if there are any photography students wanting to fill up a portfolio. Better yet, see if someone in the congregation is a budding amateur! Regardless, get good photographs for your site that are not.
Natural is best
Avoid using posed portraits for your staff. Put the person in their appropriate setting, not isolated on a neutral background. If your pastor shakes hands with the congregation as they leave, get pictures of them doing that. Show them in their element and in a setting that the user will most likely see them in very soon. Continue with this idea and put your secretary's first name and a photo them sitting at their desk on the "Contact Us" page. Let users see the person they are going to hear on the other end of the phone.
Lastly, consider the interaction between your photos and your site's color scheme. Research the possibilities of altering the colors of your photos to feel more in line with your site's overall design. Some options are colorizing them (tinting the entire image to a single color) or converting them to black and white images. If you are setting up the photos, ask your subjects to wear clothes with colors that will compliment the site's color. Perhaps take pictures of your church when it is a particular holiday if the colors used would go well with the website. It is not a major factor, but that attention to detail will make your site look that much more professional.
Start obtaining good photographs for your new site, or consider updating existing photos. It will add to the aesthetics of the site, lend credibility to the organization, and will make your website visitor feel like they already know someone at your church!
Photo courtesy of Fran Flores