Anatomy 101: Using Stock Photos

Anatomy 101: Using Stock Photos

When it comes to your site, a picture is worth a thousand words, right? Many clients want to use imagery on the site to emphasize their point, but aren't sure what resources are available or how to pick the right photo, illustration, or artwork. Here are a few questions to keep in mind when choosing photos.

1. CAN I USE IT?

This should always be the first question you ask. Small businesses can't afford to be named in a copyright infringement suit, but many do a quick image search on Google and download photos they will use on their site. Strictly speaking, those images are copyrighted and aren't likely in the public domain (meaning, you're not licensed to use them). It's best to get stock images from a reputable site such as iStockPhoto or DepositPhotos.com (we prefer the former). You can easily purchase credits to use on the site and download any stock photos and illustrations you need for your site, presentations, and other marketing materials.

2. DOES IT ILLUSTRATE THE RIGHT POINT?

The images should relate to something on the page where it is placed. iStockPhoto has a great keyword search that allows you to type anything and find images related to the phrase. Sometimes, you need to be a little creative with your search terms, but you're sure to find the stock images you need after just a couple hours of browsing.

3. DOES IT DETRACT FROM THE IMPORTANT INFORMATION?

Once you find an image, you can often download a free comp as a placeholder before the site goes live. This gives you the opportunity to give the image a test run and see how it will look in context. This is very important because you don't want to place an image that distracts your visitor from the information that could actually be useful.

There are lots of options available for great stock imagery, including some free options that Entrepreneur magazine highlighted in an October 2014 blog "14 Amazingly Free Stock Photo Websites". Keep these questions in mind and you'll have your site running and looking great.

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