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One of the most time-consuming aspects of building our sites is the aspect of photos. This is my attempt to help you get them right.

Photos That Help You Sell

The purpose of the text, the video and the photos on your site and social media presence is to help you sell more tours. Sometimes I feel tour operators lose sight of this fact.

Photos that help you sell are great. The best photos are of great quality (i.e., well-composed, great lighting) showing people having a great time in a great place.

It’s amazing how much damage clouds can do to a photo. Just by changing a photo from a cloudy day to a sunny day, we’ve been able to achieve dramatic changes. The key is to make sure that sunny day is still early morning or late afternoon to get that wonderful golden light that comes when the sun is near the horizon.

Getting Photos Right For Your Site

There are two types of photos on websites: in-content photos and hero images. In-content photos are the photos we put in the middle of tour descriptions, on your “About” page and in your photo gallery. They’re the photos of people having a good time.

Here is an example of a hero image from Vinetrekker(opens in a new tab):


Hero Images That Work

You really do need professional photos of your tour. Like anyone selling online, professional images are key to making a product shine. Imagine Amazon taking photos of the products with their iPhone.

I see pro photos as an investment. A cheap investment with mega returns. How many tours do you need to sell to get a return on $1000 spent on photos? 2? 10? Only the smallest businesses wouldn’t recoup that $1000 within half a week. Without that investment, a small business will stay small.

That being said, some companies go to so many places that a photographer would be way too expensive. Let’s look at alternatives.

What We Need

We need landscape photos. The current dimensions of the hero images we use are 1440px in width and 545px in height – a ratio of 2.64:1. Because this is a much higher ratio than photos have, this may mean that we have to chop off the top and/or bottom of many photos that people give to us. It also means that most photos that are tightly framed don’t work.

Please give us the photos in the biggest size you have them. We’ll resize them down.

If You Don’t Have Pro Photos

You may not have pro photos. There are four real options:

a) Take them yourself. If you have a DSLR camera, this option may be viable, but please be sure to take some photography tutorials first. To get something to the right level isn’t easy. If you don’t have a DSLR, it will be super tough to get photos of the right quality. Only creative professionals are typically able to get photos of the necessary quality from lesser cameras.

b) Appeal to your guests. I’d bet my mother-in-law that you’ve got guests lugging DSLRs around. I would suggest sending an email to your list of past guests appealing for their photos. Tell them you’re looking for photos from past tours to feature on your website.

c) Use Craigslist. You may be able to find people looking to build a portfolio on websites like Craigslist or Gumtree. Even if someone is starting out, their equipment does cost money, and their time is worth something, so you’ll probably pay a fee still – just not as much as you might pay to a seasoned pro.

d) Stock photos. So long as you don’t pick stock photos of people flashing cheesy grins, stock photos can work quite well. We’ve used a lot of stock photos of cities and locations on websites, and they come out quite well. In the case of time or budget limits, this is the best option.

We try our best to pick photos, but we also ask our clients to guide us to the most relevant photos.

Make sure to only use the photos on your own site and marketing materials, as you won’t have the rights to distribute them in other places. As Alex Bainbridge from TourCMS(opens in a new tab) tells me,
‘product photos you need to have full rights on, so you can assign some of those rights to others (e.g. to travel agents for use on a travel agent website’.

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