Driving Website Traffic III: Photos and Videos

by Sr. Susan Wolf, SND on December 9, 2014

in website

Stuart Miles Dollarphotoclub_47532532Our ministry websites are important channels of communication and we want to provide our visitors with the best experience possible. We also want to make a positive impression as quickly as possible. We can do that through photos and short videos.


Use photos to tell the story of your community. Photos make a web page much more interesting. They draw in the visitor. If you have not been using photos, start collecting good photos now. Let people know that the photos will be used for the parish website and social media sites. Get parent’s permission for photos of children. Encourage staff and other members to take photos at events and activities. Many people have camera phones and would be happy to email you their takes. For some photos, you may even want to use a professional photographer—volunteer or paid. You can purchase and use stock photos for some of your pages. And there are also photos with Creative Commons licenses that you can use for free.

Use photos that:

  • communicate joy. Pope Francis is a big proponent for letting people know that there is joy in living the Gospel. Do the images on your website reveal a happy community?
  • represent different generations and other diversities. Hopefully, there is at least one image on the home page that the visitor can relate to. Do you want to attract younger adults to your parish or religious community? Be sure that they see one of their own generation on the homepage.
  • show your members engaged in service, or social or religious activities. People want to be part of something positive and meaningful. Show they can do that in your community.
  • showcase your church, your chapel, any part of your environment that people identify you with i.e the statue of a patron saint, a Mary garden, or special crucifix, a food pantry, etc.

Short Videos

Here I am talking about animated videos where the creator brings together images, text and music in an artful and engaging way. A short video (less than 60 seconds) with rich images, select text and appropriate background music can greatly enhance a website or social media post. There are various software programs that can be used such as the popular Animoto or you can save a PowerPoint presentation as a video. This past year, I purchased VideoMakerFX (I am also a VMFX Affiliate.) and have been using it to create videos. You can see some of them here. It takes me 10-20 hours to create a 30 to 90 second video. I do not know if that is typical, but it is my experience. Creating this type of video is both a ministry and a creative work that uses the media of the day. If you have someone on your staff or in your community who can do it for you, then by all means go for it. If not, you may wish to hire someone.

Videos can be used to welcome visitors, share events or experiences, impart information, inspire, console, or entertain.

Websites and social media posts that include photos and videos get more attention and engagement from visitors. Visitors also tend to stay longer on sites that include photos and videos. That’s what we want to happen.

How do you use photos and videos in your online ministry? Where do you get your photos? If you make your own videos, what software do you use and how long does it usually take you to create a short video? Your experience can help the rest of us. Please share.  Thank you.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Robert (BigBob) Lucas December 9, 2014 at 7:40 am

First of all, I should mention we have recently gone to eCatholic.com as our web hosting service, and this has allowed me to take better advantage of using photos on the web site.
I have been our webmaster for about 6 years, and I am also an avid picture taker.
On the home page of our web site, there is a photo album that can display a series of pictures. I try to keep it between three and six photos. The beauty of it is, it allows me to link the photos to articles and photo albums that our visitors are likely to be interested in.

I have a group of parishioners that are also avid picture takers with their cell phones. I have talked to them and encourage them to take pictures and email me copies. This is a great resource, especially for pictures of events I cannot attend. I think creating a group in your parish and letting people know that you love to get photos from them is a good start to having different photo perspective of events.

I do make videos and use two different pieces of software. One method is to use power point and include music if appropriate. Then I use iSpring Pro to convert it into a short video I can upload. The second piece of software I use Cyberlink Power Director for longer videos. If they are less that 5 minutes, I sometimes upload them directly to the website. However for longer videos I use Vimeo or make DVDs which I advertise and let people know they are available.
Some of the Vimeo movies have included our Explanatory Mass, and a trailer for our Epiphany Concert. The DVDs have included our Church Camp, The Epiphany Concert, and our Easter Mass. This allows our visitors to get a copy they can view anytime they want to in their own home.

The iSpring videos add little additional time to a PowerPoint presentation as the software does all the work. The Power Director videos take about four hours for set up and the first five minutes, then two hours for each additional5 minutes of video being prepared. Video sources may include video cameras, regular cameras, cell phones, as well as Edirol audio for better sound.

Finally, I try to include pictures in my articles to identify authors and support the ideas being presented.

Hope this is helpful,


Sr. Susan Wolf, SND December 9, 2014 at 8:22 am

Thanks for sharing, Bob. Great ideas.

Trish December 10, 2014 at 7:46 am

Hi! I love all the great information that I find here. Thank you. We post pictures of our Youth Group as well as other assorted pictures. We have rotating pictures on the homepage. Our bulletin publisher has free Facebook Cover photo’s that I resize and add Mass information to then post as a photo. ( Immaculate Conception)
One item we are very careful about is permission to use people’s pictures. We have parents sign an agreement that we can use pictures from REP or any Youth Group event. We have it added directly to the registration form for Religious Ed and for any permission slip with the Youth Group. If someone does not want us to use their photo, we request that they notify us in writing. Pictures that we use of parish events we ensure that the people we do not have permission from are not identifiable.
I have not posted any videos – yet. I would love to and I am thinking about trying it for our Youth Group’s Stations of the Cross re-enactment this Lent. Do you think that this would work with an iphone or ipad – then just post to the web? Thank you again for all the wonderful information.

Sr. Susan Wolf, SND December 10, 2014 at 8:49 am

Trish, thanks for sharing what you do. The inclusion of permission to use photos on registration forms for youth programs is a good idea. Many schools do that now as well.

Producing a video from a live event has its challenges if you are looking for quality. You might want to ask around and see if there is a parishioner who has a digital video recorder who also knows how to edit. Or a second person who knows how to edit. Another option is to take photos of each station and put them into a PowerPoint presentation which you can then save as a video. Perhaps others can make suggestions.

Robert Lucas December 10, 2014 at 9:16 am

On a side note, we use pictures that we find online of the stations of the cross to show in a PowerPoint presentation each Friday during lent. Some of our parishioners are older, and have difficulty with all the standing and kneeling, so we sit in the chapel and pray the stations from a different book each week while we step through the pictures. This works great, but be careful you get copyright permissions where required.

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