Finding the Right Images for Your Website…without Brain Damage

We all want our websites for be interesting and engaging, and set a certain ‘tone’ for our businesses.


A Palestinian man touches the Mandela statue during the inauguration of Nelson Mandela Square in the West Bank city of Ramallah April 26, 2016. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman

While it’s possible to make an interesting site without a single photograph or graphic, I think that’s the exception rather than the rule.  So if you write blog posts, put things on social media, or just want to keep your site fresh, seeking out the right images is something we’ll almost all need to do from time to time.

But where do you get them?  Where do you go to look, and how do you find something good once you get there? Here are some thoughts to get you started:

Start with things you may already have:

You may want to consider looking through your computer’s files for graphics such as:

–Photos of your product(s), OR, if you are a service business,
–Your own art or photographs
–Photo(s) of the SPACE where you do your work, especially an inviting studio or office space
–Photos of you engaging with other clients, speaking or working or helping them do something

Try your hand at taking your own photos

You may think you have to be a professional photographer, but with the advent of modern camera/phones, you’d be amazed at the quality of imagery you can capture if all you need are impromptu “action shots” or atmospheric landscapes.  There are lots of web pages that give you good tips, and even online classes.

Talk to local photographers

We’re a small town here (about 25,000) but there are a ton of photographers.  Check them out, see if their work resonates with you, and research what a short session might cost. Personally, it put me into contact with Katy Moses, who does super-amazing storytelling photography for small businesspeople at a very reasonable cost. You may have a similar treasure in your community.

Explore Google (with caution)

You can use Google to search for photos, but be very cautious to check every image’s copyright status, whether you’re permitted to use it, and the correct attribution to use if so.  One way to find images that you ARE permitted to use is to do a search limiting the usage rights to “Labeled for reuse” (which means commercial entities can use it). Type your search terms into Google, click “Images” to just show image results, and then use the Tools button to choose the usage rights (see below).


Explore online stock photography

These are great places to find things like

–Atmosphere shots, such as natural scenes, happy or intriguing people, interesting shapes and close-ups.
–Stock photos that simply capture the feeling you want to give, or interest the people you are trying to talk to.

Here are a few sources for photos online that you may wish to explore if you don’t have a ready supply of your own, from free to pricey:   (for that one spectacular photo you’re willing to shell out some $$ for)

And a specialty one I like:

For beautiful wide-screen photos (such as for a slideshow):

They all have a “Search” box into which you can put search terms appropriate to your site.  Think of your keywords and keyphrases, for example, or images you know you’d like to have.  Examples: Journal writing, yoga, business coaching, sports medicine, tarot, florist, brewpub.  Try them in the search box.  Sift through the results and jot down the image numbers, or the links to the images you’d like to have, OR save a shortlist of possibilities.

These sites require you to have a free account in order to store images you find in your explorations – usually called a Lightbox or Likebox. But it’s a great way to save them all in one place, and share them with others (like your web designer!) without purchasing until you’ve decided on your final choices.

In the video below, I talk about how to do a search, and once you’ve found some, how to purchase them (this is from our 90 Minute Website program)

Be sure to credit the photos in whatever way is specified by the stock photography house.  And have fun with this!

Sorting and purchasing stock photography

Many of my clients have asked how they go about purchasing images from stock photography sources online. This quick video gives you an example of how that process goes.

Most of the stock photography sources have a common system:

  1. you set up an account – usually free – with that particular stock source, such as BigStockPhoto, 123RF, iStockPhoto, or others
  2. you purchase credits or a monthly plan, creating a sort of “bank” that you can use to buy images
  3. you search for the images you want, and use your account’s credits to buy them

It’s easier than it sounds….take a look: