Searching for stock photo

Your website is often the first impression that a potential customer has of your business. As such, it’s important to ensure that your website not only has a clean design and user-friendly interface, but also that the visuals used are of high-quality and relevant to your brand. This is where stock photos come in. Stock photos can be a cost-effective way to add professional quality images to your website without breaking the bank, but with so many options out there, it can be difficult to know where to start. I’ve seen some really bad choices over the years. So let’s go over how to find good options that won’t scare away your audience.

Know your brand and your audience

The first step in selecting stock photos for your website is to understand your brand and your target audience. Ask yourself: what message do I want to convey with my website? Who is my ideal customer? What are their interests, values, and demographics? The answers to these questions will help you choose images that are not only visually appealing but also resonate with your target audience and reflect your brand’s values.

For example, if your target audience is senior citizens, then you probably want photos that use seniors rather than younger folks. If your target audience is parents, then you may want to look for images that appeal to people with small kids. Knowing who you want to use your website is key to finding photos that resonate. And while your website may be perfectly wonderful site that is open to anyone and everyone, there’s probably a demographic that is the most likely to hire or buy from you, and that’s who you need to focus on.

Avoid generic or overused images

Stock photos can sometimes be associated with generic, overused, or cheesy images. Most stock photo sites are populated with user submitted photos, and sometimes those photos can be overused. I spend enough time looking at stock photos that I have come to recognize a lot of the faces I see, and when I am on a website, I’ll know exactly where the photo came from. Obviously, that is unique to me, but if someone is seeing the same photo over and over, it will become obvious.

It’s also a good idea to avoid using images that are too obvious or cliche. For example, if you’re a tech company, using a photo of a person with a headset may not be the best choice. Instead, consider using images that are more abstract or conceptual, such as a group of people working together on a project or a creative representation of your product.

Consider the context of the image carefully

Sometimes what seems like a good idea for a photo just isn’t, and can turn people away. I was on a stock photo website recently looking for a website for a pool company and I stumbled upon this photo.

Happy family - mother, baby son, daughter swim and dive in pool with fun - jump deep down underwater with splashes. Lifestyle, summer children water sports activity and swimming lessons with parents.

I just can’t stop looking at this photo. First of all, let’s talk about this mom who is swimming, totally underwater, with two children in her arms. How is she propelling herself with two children in her arms? And why does she have her eyes open and her mouth open while swimming under water? Is she drowning that baby? It’s just… weird. And yes, I did pay for this image so I could put it in this blog post.

Ok, let’s look at another example. I was working on a school nonprofit website, and I wanted a classroom photo. And I came across this photo.

Elementary classroom at work.

At first glance, this seems okay. You’ve got a diverse group of kids active in their classroom. But wait… why does everyone have an apple in the corner of their desk? That’s just… odd.

Okay, and one more example. I was helping a dentist with their website that another company had made when I found an image similar to this one on their website.

Woman wrapped in towel holding an apple

And I guess I get that they are trying to show off nice teeth, but why is she naked? Did she take a shower at the dentist? The best stock photos don’t look like stock photos.

Select images that fit your website’s design

When choosing stock photos for your website, it’s important to consider how the images will fit with your website’s overall design. The images should complement the design, rather than clash with it. For example, if your website has a modern, minimalist design, you may want to choose images that are clean and simple, with a limited color palette. If your website has a more traditional or vintage feel, you may want to select images that have a warmer, softer tone.

It’s also a good idea to choose images that match the color scheme of your website. This can help create a cohesive look and feel, and make your website look more polished and professional.

Pay attention to licensing and usage rights

When using stock photos on your website, it’s important to pay attention to the licensing and usage rights. Different stock photo sites have different licensing agreements, and some images may have restrictions on how they can be used. Make sure to read the terms and conditions carefully before downloading or using any images.

Some stock photo sites offer royalty-free images, which means that you can use the image multiple times without having to pay royalties or additional fees. However, these images may have some restrictions, such as limits on the number of times they can be used or where they can be used. Other images may be licensed for a specific period of time, or for a specific use, such as in a print advertisement or on social media.

It’s important to ensure that you have the appropriate license for each image you use on your website, and to comply with any usage restrictions. Failing to do so can result in legal issues and costly penalties. You cannot use images you find through Google search unless you have specific permission for it. I have seen it happen many times that people get dinged for having photos on their site that they used without permission. Whenever possible, use your own photos or properly license the photos you use.

If you get a site with us, you have access to the stock photo catalog we subscribe to, and we can access and download from thousands of photos for your website.

Here are some popular stock photo websites:

  1. Shutterstock –
  2. Getty Images –
  3. iStock –
  4. Adobe Stock –
  5. Pixabay –
  6. Unsplash –
  7. Pexels –
  8. Dreamstime –
  9. Stocksy –
  10. Depositphotos –

Please note that some of these websites may require a subscription or payment to access their full range of images.

Beware this stock photo scam

There’s also a stock photo scam that’s been making the rounds in the last few years I want to share with you, so you can be prepared. I mentioned above to pay attention to the licensure for your photos. The context is that you get an email or a message through your website from someone claiming to be either an attorney or a photographer and they are saying that you are using a photo on your website that they own the copyright to. Sometimes they outright ask for payment for the photo. Sometimes they threaten to sue you. I’ve had many emails from frightened clients regarding these messages. And it is scary!

Sometimes they include a link that you should NOT CLICK UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES. If you have a link in the email telling you to click it so you can see the photo that is copyrighted, that link will usually take you to a phishing site.

In fact, have even gotten these messages myself and I know I’ve purchased all the photos on this site!

How do you avoid this scam? Number one – always buy your stock photos. If you have a website and you know you have paid for every image on the website, then you can safely delete these messages and ignore. You can buy stock photos for as little as $1, and there are tons of places of even get free stock photos. Bottom line, if you have the proper license for all the photos you use, you can avoid being sucked into these scams. And if you work with us and we provided the photos, trust that we properly acquired them.

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Amy Masson, Web Developer

Amy Masson

Amy is the co-owner, developer, and website strategist for Sumy Designs. She's been making websites with WordPress since 2006 and is passionate about making sure websites are as functional as they are beautiful.

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