A common topic that occurs in nearly every one of our website projects is imagery. Why do I need images on my site, what kind of image should I use, no you can’t use images you just copied and pasted off of Google, we need bigger files sizes, you actually have too many images…the list can go on and on but you get the general idea. Images are a necessity. It doesn’t matter what kind of site you are building, whether you go in the direction of real life photos, illustrations, or graphics, imagery enhances a websites design and visual appeal. Before diving into buying photos, hiring a photographer, or searching through your own images you should come up with an appropriate game plan for what you need. Sit down with your website developer to determine where you need images, what kind of images should represent your product or services, and how to obtain the images that make sense. Once you do that, you’ll understand the direction you need to take when searching for imagery.
First, let’s discuss what not to do! YOU CAN’T just copy and paste images from Google and say “let’s use these”. You don’t know the original source of those images therefore, you don’t know if they required purchasing. Doing that you will, most likely, find yourself getting a letter in the mail with a bill attached for using their image. Even if you try to take it down you will still have to pay since you were using their image “illegally”. If you are siting another article you need to be cautious of using those images as well. Even if the author has given you permission. You don’t know, for sure, if they ever had permission to use the image in the first place. If you decide to take that risk, make sure you have a clear source link as to where you got the image. Another issue with copying and pasting images is you lose the quality and size of that file. You’ll find you have images that are too small and blurry. You are better off having no images than poor quality ones. You can read more on the what images you should use for the web here.
The most popular option is stock photography. Popular sites like, iStockPhoto.com, provide endless amounts of imagery to cover just about any topic you would need. It’s convenient and cost effective (most of the time). If you find yourself needing a lot of images, that can quickly add up so it’s best to discuss your options first. Using a stock imaging site, you can quickly search for what you are looking for and find hundreds of options to find exactly what you need to represent any given topic on your site. Once you purchase the image you have full rights to utilize it, eliminating any worry about getting slapped with a “illegal usage” fines. Using stock imagery provides you with the professional, clean and crisp, appropriate sizing photos to allow your website to shine.
Using your own images. This is always a great option for multiple reasons, it’s free, you don’t have to worry about licensing issues, it’s a true representation of your service or product, it’s a direct reflection of you or your business, etc. When we are building a website for a client, it’s usually best to get as many pictures from them as possible to create a gallery that is representative of what they have to offer. Consumers are visual, they need to see the product you are offering or the quality of work you can perform for them. If you don’t have your own images to share, you leave them guessing, and therefore doubting, the accreditation of your service. It can be (and we say that lightly) ok if your have less than optimal quality photos if you are sharing historical images, family photos, or referencing things from the past. The public can differentiate from when they expect to have a good quality image and when it’s acceptable to have a lesser quality image when referencing or sharing something of previous years. What you don’t want to do is have poorly taken images from your phone or a camera that could have been taken better. If you are sharing something of recent times you need to have a clear, crisp image. If you don’t then leave it out.
Hiring a professional. If you are building a new website, you’re likely taking a fresh start and in need of new photos of your business. If your site, or any print collateral, would benefit from having new pictures of your facility, team, products and/or services then it would make sense to hire a professional photographer and get new, quality updated photos. It’s important to discuss your needs with the photographer so they know what type of images you need to fit the site. Be clear with what you need and what you want. Don’t just let them go in blind and waste a paid session with unwanted results. While it’s standard to get the final, high resolution, edited images from a photographer you’ll also want to ask for the originals. This will allow your website developer to edit any as needed if it’s required.
There are numerous options when it comes to imagery for your site. Don’t “assume” what direction you should head in. Sit down, discuss the options and best routes with your developer. Take direction from the professional who’s goal is to build you a site that looks great. They want to be as proud of the end product as you are and having good images can be the make it or break it point.