Skip to main content


Choosing the right stock photo

By on April 13th, 2018 in Design

Imagery can create a huge impact on your website. It can either draw users in, or repel them. A simple image can convey the values, personality/attitude and culture of the person, business or organization behind the site. Ideally, custom photography will showcase exactly what you are trying to promote.  However, that can be cost-prohibitive. For the rest of us, there is stock photography.

But how do you choose the right stock photo? Fortunately, many of the mainstream stock photo sites such as Getty Images, iStock or Adobe Stock provide high quality images on a wide variety of topics. Armed with a few tips, choosing quality photos to enhance your site will be much less daunting.

The first step is to consider your target audience and develop a plan. Ask yourself who are you trying to communicate with? A new tech startup will have different needs than a financial institution. One may brand itself as fresh and exciting, while the other may focus on a sense of community and security. Are the images going to be the main focus of your website, or will they be in a supportive role to other content? Once you identify your audience and how you will use your images, you can tailor your search to match those needs.

Using images of people is a good way to connect with users. People don’t necessarily have to be in the photo either. A pair of sandals on the beach, or glasses left on a table, suggest that people are in the scene but out of view. This can help your audience relate to that image. If possible, try to avoid typical stock photo poses with unnatural smiles. People acting in a natural manner within the photo allows the user to see themselves as that person, building a sense of trust with your brand.

Once you’ve established a connection with your audience, your images can do more than provide a pleasant viewing experience. Images that invoke feelings and moods about your brand are powerful.  Subtle cues indicating security, compassion, or joy can help associate your brand with your audience’s everyday lives. The position of the person in the photo can also direct focus to certain areas on your site.  For example, an image of a person glancing to the right will draw your audience’s eye to the right, where highlighted content can be displayed.

Finally, consistency and professionalism are key. Choose images with colors and tones that correlate with your website and brand. Similar lighting and style across different images also work together to give your site a polished and cohesive look.  Remember to promote the values of your brand through your images. Your imagery is often the first impression your audience has of your brand. Making that impression a positive one is the goal.