Your website visuals matter more than you think. Using high-resolution, professional imagery that is consistent with your brand can elevate your website and reinforce your message, giving that instant credibility you need to book your ideal clients.
Perhaps you haven’t had a chance to invest in professional photography yet, or the nature of your work is hard to photograph especially if you spend a lot of time working with clients via video call.
Selecting the perfect stock photography can be a daunting task and often results in an amateurish look if not chosen correctly (and we know you want better than that!) so I'm here to help make choosing photos easier than ever before.
As a brand & web designer, I love supporting my clients in curating the best photography for their website. My absolute priority is to source visuals that reflect their brand, convey their message and vision - even if the imagery isn’t theirs to start with.
Today, I am excited to share with you several tips on how to select photography that will perfectly complement your business and enhance the credibility of your website. Let's dive right in.
1. Define an imagery style for your business
Before starting your stock photography research, it's important to have a clear understanding of the message you want to convey. By defining an 'editorial line' for your business photography, you'll be able to achieve a more cohesive and professional look for your brand.
A well-defined brand strategy is essential, as it will determine the imagery that best represents your brand. Knowing how you want your audience to feel when they land on your website can help you establish criteria.
Let me share an example. One of my signature website design clients needed stock photography to elevate the visuals on her new website. During our initial strategy session, we discussed her brand, messaging and vision. As a Career & Leadership Coach helping people navigate change, it was crucial for her website to exude a welcoming and confident vibe that would inspire trust in her audience. With this in mind, I curated a selection of stock photography to reflect those exact feelings - calming scenes, people walking confidently on a path and candid imagery.
2. Tread lightly with free stock images websites
Free stock image websites are wonderful to get started and they have a great selection. But let’s be honest, some shots are quite overused on the web, making it challenging to stand out when you're using the same images as your competitors.
I’m not saying you need to stop using free stock image sites. I have found some amazing imagery on there and even use them on my own website. But don't just stop at the first few pages of search results. Dig deeper and explore so that you can discover a plethora of untapped images waiting to be used.
If there’s one photo in particular that you like but think it may be overused, you can also use the ‘similar images’ feature which can bring up less popular options. If you like the style of a particular photo, you can also have a look at the rest of the photographer’s portfolio - I have personally found gems just by doing this.
Some of my favourite free stock image websites include:
- Burst by Shopify
3. Look into paid stock image subscriptions
With so many free options, you might be wondering what’s the point in using a paid stock photo site. But they come with a number of advantages.
First - paid stock websites have more choice. It can be time-consuming to find the right picture on Unsplash, and on occasion it simply can’t provide you with the exact vibe you’re after. Paid stock websites have millions of photos to choose from - it’s their business after all!
Second - they’re fabulous if you’re looking for something specific. Pictures are properly tagged with keywords and the search function is more effective, so the results tend to be more accurate.
Last but not least - paid stock photo sites have a clear licensing agreement. On free websites, the licensing can be fuzzy. Some photos are for non-commercial use only, others require you to credit the photographer.
I personally love using iStock since they have such a huge selection, but other options include Pixabay, Shutterstock, Stocksy or Death to the stock if you’re after more artistic and indie images.
4. Learn to identify what makes a stock photo ‘cheesy’
If you’ve seen it a hundred times on the internet, chances are you’ve encountered a typical cheesy stock photo. You instinctively know what it looks like, but when it comes to choosing images to illustrate your work or blog posts, it can be hard to find something that works. Want imagery that looks professional and like it belongs to your business? Here’s what to avoid:
- Photos that are too literal: street signs, scrabble pieces or word clouds to represent a particular concept that’s hard to depict visually.
- Photos using commonplace metaphors, such as a game of chess to represent strategy, a plant seedling to symbolise growth, or a lightbulb for ideas and creativity
- Photos that are vague: fingers typing on a keyboard, a person smiling whilst talking on the phone.
5. Get creative
Experimentation is your friend. It’s totally possible to be creative about how to represent abstract concepts. Often, I like to focus on how an image feels, rather than what it actually shows. Don't be afraid to think outside the box. If you come across a striking image that may not be directly related to the topic at hand, don't hesitate to use it. Remember, the goal is to trigger your audience's attention.
Ultimately, having a professional photoshoot is the best way to ensure imagery that’s unique, memorable and aligned with your brand. Planning a photoshoot is something I love helping clients with so they know exactly what types of images are needed to make their website more impactful and resonate more deeply with their ideal clients.
The bottom line
Stock photography has a bad reputation but with so many options available and a bit of research, you can curate a selection of imagery that aligns perfectly with your brand and elevate your website to professional level, so you can grow your business.
That’s something I love supporting my clients with as part of my Signature Bespoke Website Design package, and even through my Website Conversion Intensive where I curate tailored stock image recommendations as part of your action plan.
Need extra help choosing photography that adds credibility to your website?
Then I’d love for you to join me on a complimentary website consultation.
During this free 30-minute call we’ll:
- Review your website and identify areas for improvement, so you can understand where your website is holding you back and opportunities to shift it to make it even more effective in landing clients.
- Talk about the most common mistakes people make on their website and the 3 easy ways you can improve yours to increase engagement
- Leave the call with 3 personalised action items so you can increase your conversions, land more aligned clients and ultimately grow your business.
After this call, you'll have everything you need to feel confident that your website will connect with your ideal clients.