Mar 12 2013

Finding Good Photos for Jewish Websites

An organization’s website should use photos of its members rather than on stock photos, and Jewish websites are no exception. For one thing, stock photos suggest that the organization thinks its members are ugly.

The Problem for Observant Congregations

Unfortunately, Jewish communities like mine that observe Shabbat are at a disadvantage when it comes to photos: Shabbat and holiday services would offer the best photo opportunities, but photography is a prohibited activity on Shabbat and most Jewish holidays. As a result, I’m having issues finding photos for my community’s website. From time to time, people have taken photos of events like our Purim spiel; unfortunately, most of them are low-resolution, and none of them really capture the things that make our community unique—in particular our davening.

 

When it comes to stock photography, this photo is the Jewish equivalent of two businessmen shaking hands. Seriously, numerous Jewish websites use this photo. Don't be one of them.
When it comes to stock photography, this photo is the Jewish equivalent of two businessmen shaking hands. Seriously, numerous Jewish websites use this photo. Don’t be one of them.

I plan to put the photos that we do have into a gallery, of course, but we also need photos that we can work into our website design, which looks a bit stark right now. We can’t even use a building photo since we lack a building. What options do we have?

(Having someone who isn’t Jewish take the photos or setting up an automatic camera aren’t options. Believe me, I looked into ways of skirting—er, dealing with—the prohibition.)

Possible Solutions

One option is to solicit testimonials from a few members and include their photographs with the testimonials. Another option is to have a few members agree to take more photographs at our events. While most of us aren’t the photo-taking type—or the posing-for-photos type, for that matter—we do have at least one member who likes photography and has a high-end camera. Even a few good candid shots would help immensely since I could turn them into large header images.

If you attend a synagogue or are otherwise part of a Jewish community, what sort of images, if any, does it use on its website?

Update (March 22): A member sent me a great photo from a beach wedding that two of our members had. The photo even coordinates with the website’s color scheme! The photo only contains women, however, so we look like an all-female congregation. It’s not the women’s fault, though, that the men in our community aren’t as good at appearing in high-resolution photographs that can be cropped at a 30:11 ratio. We need to work on that, apparently.

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