In our increasingly visual, online world, it should be no surprise that stunning visuals are part of it. If you have a website, it is vital that your imagery reflect the quality of your brand online.
While the best option, by far, is to hire talented photographers, not all of us are going to invest in this expense, especially if you are just getting started, or even if you’ve had a website up for a while, but still want to produce new content.
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Sourcing images can be one of those things that stall a project, but it doesn’t have to be.
Whether you are building out your blog, creating some new landing pages, or just want to strengthen your visual brand online, we’ve got you covered.
Here are 3 ways to find images for your website:
Hire a professional photographer.
This is the best option. It is also the most expensive, but if you really want to invest in your online presence, eventually you are going to have to hire a professional.
While not all brands need to hire a professional photographer from the start, many companies should. It should go without saying that if you have a product, you need to hire a pro. If you want to show off your unique company culture, you should hire a pro. If you have a team you want to highlight, you should hire a pro.
Professional, high-resolution images should really showcase your brand online. All photographers are not the same. When hiring a professional, there are some hard and fast rules that you have to abide:
- Always ask to see a portfolio first.
- Ask to see photos in your related area. Don’t hire a wedding photographer to shoot your product pages.
- Get the scope of the job in writing first.
- Make sure you have the full rights to any images you plan on using.
- Make sure your photographer uses the right equipment.
- Ask questions. If in doubt, don’t hire. There are a lot of photographers out there. You need to find the one that fits your brand and business.
Get some photos from Unsplash.
This is my favorite image site. The great thing about these images — they are all free. You do get an option to thank the photographer, which is always a good thing.
The choices are endless and the images are high-resolution. It’s creative commons, so you can use each image freely, of course, they would prefer you say thank you and provide an easy to use a pop-up to do just that.
Unsplash is the mack daddy of all free image sites. Hands down. The images are clear, artistic, and high resolution. The only drawback is that you will usually have to resize and optimize the images if you are using them for a site because as we learned in the ever popular, How to Speed Up Your Website post, large images can really slow your site down.
Here are some examples of (resized) images from Unsplash:
Need a hip photo to elevate your brand?
Getting down to business? Whether that be casual or corporate, Unsplash has you covered for that too.
Use these free photo resources.
I cannot claim that I invented this list. Yes, it the list sourced directly from Thrive Global for their contributors. You can see that Unsplash is also on this list. I pulled that out as a stand-alone suggestion because I love it so much.
Gone are the days when you have to pay for expensive, poorly stocked images. If you want to spend some money on images for your website, I would prefer you spend your money on commissioning your own photography. That is, and always will be the best option for any brand.
- Jay Mantri
- Death to the Stock Photo
- New Old Stock
- Women of Color in Tech Flickr stream
- Public Domain Archive
- Superfamous (requires attribution)
- The Pattern Library
- IM Free (requires attribution)
- ISO Republic
- The New York Public Library’s public domain collection
- NASA’s image portal
- CDC’s Public Health Image Library (public domain)
- Design for Health’s Flickr photostream
- National Library of Medicine’s image library
- National Institutes of Health’s image library
- Barn Images’ health and food photos
- Stocksnap’s health and wellness images
While I cannot give you a glowing review of all of these free image sites, I can say this is a good resource to start. If you are looking for brand-specific images, it really is better to hire someone to get you your own images.
Some Final Thoughts on Choosing Images and Optimizing
Before I leave you with this amazing list, I just wanted to give you a few tips on how to select an image for your site.
Have a clearly defined visual brand before you start selecting images.
Many brands don’t take the time to define their visual brand, even if they’ve spent money creating a logo, colour scheme, even brand guide. They get to their website (which they’ve outsourced) and have no clear guidance on the type of images they should be choosing, or how they can communicate their wishes to the company or individual picking imagery for their site. When you are creating a brand online, you need to take the time to think about how you want to be visually represented. Are you a hip, young, urban brand? Or are you high-end and luxury? Make sure your visual story is your story.
Always go high-resolution.
Nobody wants to see blurry, out-of-focus images on your site. Choose quality every time.
Don’t overload a page with images, unless it’s intentional.
While I cannot begin to tell you what visually should or should not be on your website, I do want you to be aware that images can quickly become cluttery and unnecessary. Take a good look at your site. Clean is always best. Think of the user — what do you want to them to do. Sometimes images can get in the way of a conversion on your site if you are not careful.
When in doubt, edit it out.
Today’s websites have to work on mobile first. Mobile really does favour clean, uncluttered design. If you feel that you are too ‘image heavy’ then you are probably right. Stick to the basic design principles and when in doubt, edit it out.