Will My iPhone Photo Work?

Our new CMS templates put a premium on photography. Compelling images help tell better stories. They catch your eye and draw you in. Make you say ‘wow.’ A picture is worth a thousand words, right?

Everyone seems to have a smartphone with an amazing camera these days. My iPhone goes everywhere with me. I’m sure yours does too. It can capture a photo from your research lab as you conduct a new experiment. Your internship in Silicon Valley. Your kayak ride on the canal. Or mountain biking on the Tech trails. There are many opportunities to capture the Michigan Tech story each day.

Lately, more people have been asking if an iPhone photo is high enough quality for a CMS webpage. The answer is “it depends.”

Photo Quality

Two factors determine if a photo will “work” on a website:

  1. Is it actually a good photo?
  2. Does the photo have enough pixels?

What Makes a Good Photo?

I’m not a photographer. I can tell you that straight up. I can tell you the basics of a good photo though. The lighting has to be right. The zooming appropriate (not too close). The photo must be clear (no shaky hands!). The subject has to be in focus and, if a person, hopefully smiling or making an appropriate face. If the photo is in a lab, proper safety equipment must be used. Is the photo compelling? Does it tell a story? Does it make you say “wow?”

Pixels and Filesize

If you want to use your iPhone photo as a large, feature photo in the CMS, it must be at least 1200 pixels wide. More is better, though, as the Image Editor will scale it down for you. If you are using a smaller photo, in a Boxed Item or Sidebar, you can likely get away with a photo that is only 500 pixels wide. Again, more is better, though. I’ve often found that a photo that is under 1MB is usually too small or zoomed in to work. That is a very general guideline, though.

Give It a Try

All in all, it doesn’t hurt to try a smartphone photo on your website. Upload, crop, and put onto a webpage. See for yourself if the photo looks “good” or not. Try previewing with both a wide screen (standard desktop monitor width) and a thin screen (make your browser window smaller, to mimic a smart phone).

If you don’t like what you see, you don’t have to use the photo. However, you or your faculty or your students may have access to some wonderful shots that will bring your website to life.

One great example is the banner photo at the top of this webpage:


This is a business student at an actual co-op/internship and the photo was shot with a smartphone. Is the photo “award winning” for quality and composition? No. But does it work? Does it tell a story? Is it authentic? And quality enough? Absolutely. Just think about the types of photos you get access to for your CMS website. Even for your research blog or your department’s social media account!

If you have a photo that you’d like to run by the web team, you’re welcome to email it in to cmshelp@mtu.edu and we can let you know what we think.

Joel Vertin
Digital Services Manager