I have to admit that images can make or break a website. Good images can carry a website all by themselves. Poor images can destroy your credibility. So where’s the best place to find images for your website?
The Best Source for Photos
Undoubtedly, the best place to find images is to hire a professional photographer to take custom shots that match the design aesthetic of your site. A photographer should be able to capture the message, the mood, the colors, and even tailor the shot for a specific spot on your site (such as fitting certain dimensions or having people look a certain direction). While custom photography is perhaps the most expensive option it can also be the most impactful. It’s often times the best money you’ll spend on your site.
If you decide to hire a photographer make sure to have them communicate with your web designer or developer. They’ll speak a common language that you most likely won’t understand or think to consider. They’ll be able to make sure you get the best results in the end. Plus they may each have suggestions for each other that would not have been thought of otherwise. I’m trying to avoid using the word synergy here, but it really can happen in this situation.
Using Internet Photos
Stop right there. No, you can’t just lift photos off of any old web page just because they strike your fancy. Regardless of how “perfect” they are you still must abide by copyright restrictions. (If they’re that perfect, hire that photographer I mentioned to create a similar scene.)
There are ways to find good photos on the internet though. Here are a couple of my favorite resources:
- Flickr — If you use the Advanced Search on Flickr and look for those images with Creative Commons licenses. As long as you abide by the terms of the license, and many simply require that you give attribution to the creator, you’re free to use it on your site.
- Public Domain Images — There are several websites that specialize in public domain images, and you’ll see the same images showing up on various sites. That’s what happens when they’re public domain. My two favorite sites for these types of images though are Unsplash and Gratisography. Some amazing, fun, and quirky image can be found.
What About Stock Photos
Kind of my last resort for photos, but often good for other sorts of graphics, are stock photo sites. Places like iStockPhoto and 123rf.com have a wide variety of images that often cater to the types of messages and topics that are frequently found on websites. They’re excellent in quality and come in some great formats for use on websites. The biggest downside of them is that they are often, I dunno, tacky looking and you have to pay for them.
Deciding what types of images you want on your website can be time consuming. Finding a reliable source and settling on a thematic look to your images can help give your site a professional feel. If you’ll be blogging on your site, you’ll also want to consider if you want to use images with each blog post. You may want to consider gathering a few images that reflect major categories that you’re likely to cover before you even begin. It’s always good to have some go-to images that can be reused from time to time.
If you have any questions about images, and I’ve barely scratched the surface here, please don’t hesitate to ask. Images can be tricky but they can also make a big difference to your site.