A Simple Guide for Awesome Website Banner Photography

5 min read
in Blog, Design, Marketing, Web Development
how to crop for website banner photos

Finding the right photo for a website banner can be a tricky process. The average website banner is around 4 times as wide as it is tall, or 4:1. The picture ratio for most cameras is 4:3. This means that only about ⅓ of the photograph will be visible when it’s used for the banner image. Below are some tips to help achieve a great looking banner photo.

Shoot in landscape

Be sure to only use landscape oriented photos. Portrait photos have a much smaller usable area when cropped to a banner size. This will result in a massive loss in photo quality, and make the website look very unprofessional. It is also nearly impossible to crop a portrait photo to the banner dimensions and have any sort of usable subject in the photo.

how to crop for website banner photos

This photo was taken in landscape, and is easy to adapt for banner use.

how to crop for website banner photos

This photo was taken in portrait, and is much less suitable for banner use.

Take a step back

Zooming out and creating more room around the subject is crucial when taking photos for the website banner. It is often hard to imagine exactly how it is going to look when cropped down to the dimensions of the banner. Zooming out or moving farther away gives more options for cropping the photo. Many banner photos are also cropped dynamically to ensure that they look great at every screen size. This means that some photos will have a slightly taller and more narrow picture on some screens and a wider and shorter photo on others. Zooming out fixes this problem by having more negative space in the photo to fill in those areas that might get cropped out.

how to crop for website banner photos

Keeping some distance from the subject leaves lots of space for flexibility in cropping.

how to crop for website banner photos

When the photo is taken too close to the subject, it limits the possibilities for banner use.

Leave room around your subject

This goes hand-in-hand with zooming out, but allowing for space around the subject leaves room more many different composition options. If there is a person in the banner image, but their shoulder goes off the edge of the photo, they will always be stuck to that side. However, if the photo has space all around them, there will be much more room to play with the cropping and composition of the banner image. Having more options will always end with a better final result.

how to crop for website banner photos

The subject is fully in frame even at this unusual size because the original photo was taken with enough space for cropping.

Keep it simple

Simplicity is key in marketing. A busy photo can consume someone’s attention so much that they don’t take in the message that it’s paired with. Choosing a more neutral background, or removing unnecessary items in the photo, will draw one’s eyes to the subject and message much more effectively, ensuring that the information is consumed by a larger amount of website visitors.

how to crop for website banner photos

With only one subject in this photo, the eye is drawn where it is meant to. The idea is clear and uncluttered.

Leave room for text

Banner images are fantastic for conveying messages quickly and efficiently, but only when there is room to place a message. Not only is it important to have an open area in the photo, but a shallow depth of field as well. This occurs when the subject is in focus but the background is blurry. Not only will the shallow depth of field attract your attention to the subject, but the text that is placed in the banner will also pop much more since it won’t be competing with the background of the photograph.

how to crop for website banner photos

You get a lot of usable space in this photo, perfect for adding the text of your message.

Rule of ThirdS(ide)

To create the most visually compelling photo, it is best to use the rule of thirds. Divide the photo into thirds both vertically and horizontally. The four points where those divisions meet are the best place to place the subject of your photo. If the subject of the photo is facing a certain direction, be sure to allocate more space on that side to create proper balance.

how to crop for website banner photos

The rule of thirds is especially important here, as we’re basically using the middle third of this photo to create a banner image.

Get Artsy

Some business don’t exactly have the most exciting visuals to use in their banner images. Sometimes getting a close up detail shot, or something that repeats, can be a great solution. A tech company may use a close up of their code on the computer for an interesting photo. The benefit to photos like this is that the cropping isn’t as important. There will be interesting details to look at in almost any size.

how to crop for website banner photos

Bet you didn’t know code could look so good, did you?


It can be hard to get a great panoramic photo. Moving objects and an unsteady hand can create artifacts that look unnatural. However, most panoramic photos are already the perfect size for a banner image, require little to no cropping, and provide a unique look to catch attention.

how to crop for website banner photos

If you’re taking a panorama photo for a banner, also remember the rule of thirds mentioned above! If you’re using a mobile device, start with your chosen subject and move from there.

In Short

Getting the perfect banner image may take more effort and planning that most other photos for your website, but spending a little extra time and attention will make a big difference. It’s just one more way for your brand to make a great first impression and stand out among the competition.

Meet the Author

Pat has always been enthusiastic about portraying information visually, and aims to do so in unique and clever ways.

In his free time Pat enjoys playing and listening to music. He loves playing guitar and drums, but still hasn’t mastered playing both at once.

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