I'm a novice web designer and I want to leverage browser caching to increase page speed, but I haven't found many tutorials online that a beginner like me can understand and that really tell me exactly how to do it. I have many images on my website and I want the pages to load faster and I want them to be fast for seo purposes too. It sounds like max-age and last-modified are good choices, but I'm unclear on this whole thing in general and what the code would look like in my htaccess. I would like to find someone who knows the best way to do this and can provide some explicit help for me. I can pay you for your assistance too. Thanks.
You need the HTML meta tag to control cache in the webbrowser. However, all browsers caches images in their 'temporary internet files' (or something similar) folder. Moreover, you should rather optimize the size of the actual photos. You can create nice quality web friendly photos, little over 200KB. And you really shouldn't worry about SEO. Your page would have to load really slow, and this for quite some time, before it would affect any SEO ranking ;-)
I don't know why you think you need .htaccess to accomplish caching in the web browser.
PS: A forum is for free advice. If you want to pay somebody, you need to go to freelancer.com (or something similar ;-) )
The reason why I think I need to do this is because when I run a Google Page Speed test, it tells me that the high priority issue is to leverage browser caching. Everything else it suggests is low priority. Most of the main pages in my site get a score in the mid 80s to upper 80s (out of 100). This probably isn't a terrible score, but I'd like to fix whatever issue I can to make it higher and it seems that this speed test is telling me the issue is leveraging browser caching. I believe it is pretty well-known that google does take into account the speed of your site as a factor for seo. I already do compress the images before I add them to the site, so I don't think that is a big problem.