4 basic rules for choosing the right website photo

Photos will instantly tell what the site is about and help with positioning: what you offer and for whom. Ideal if you have the time and money to hire a good photographer, and time and money are only sometimes available. The alternative is to buy photos from a photo stock. It saves time and doesn't cost too much.

In this article, we will talk about helpful search techniques and principles for working with visual content that will help you:

  • Quickly search for the desired image
  • Develop your style of visual content
  • Stand out from the information flow and attract your audience.

On the importance of visual content

If you add a picture to the text, the probability that it will be read will increase by 80% (according to a study by Xerox).

If the numbers don't convince you, look at these two cover photo options for How to Stop Eating Fast Food and think about which image you would click on?

The first image is the first photo found on the photo stock for the query "fast food" the second photo was selected in 4 minutes of a targeted search using the keywords "fast food, hamburger, unhealthy" and using search categories.

Where can I get pictures for the site?


The fastest way to find the desired image is on the image banks like Depositphotos. They have millions of files in libraries, efficient search algorithms with many filters, and specially selected collections. Usually, to download an image, you need to buy a monthly subscription for $50-$100, but there are affordable options with a price per image of $1. When buying files on photo banks, you can be calm about copyright issues - all images are sold there for a standard license, which gives you the right to use them for media, print, and promotional purposes.

Tip: Many photobanks send out free files from time to time. It is an excellent way to add to your image collection.

Free drains

The choice of free stocks will be much more modest, affecting the search time for the desired image. But the files there are free. Before using a file, ensure that the site, blog, or stock offering free files does not violate copyright. The files are often provided to be used under a Creative Commons license.

From photographers directly

It is the most time-consuming and resource-intensive option, but it has advantages. You can spend a lot of time searching for the author, making contacts, and producing the shoot, but the result is bespoke or unique images.

How to search for a photo?

Now let's talk about how to find exactly the image you need for your project. The main secret of effective search is to put the image concept into words and know how to use search categories on photobanks.


Whichever platform you choose, image search always starts with keywords that describe the idea behind your photo or vector. The most common image search mistake for a website is to use article or project keywords instead of thinking of a separate description for the image.

For example, if you're looking for a title illustration for a long read about how to transport pets properly, you'll likely use the keywords "dog, car, road." As a result, you will get a lot of similar photos in the issue:

They reflect exactly what you wanted - a dog in a car. But what if you need a picture for a website that is more original? Let's try to search for the keywords "dog, helmet, sitting," and we get the perfect illustration that emphasizes the essence of the article and evokes positive emotions:

Another good way to find keywords is to focus on associations with the main idea or object of the project. For example, to illustrate a post about the problem of multitasking and scattered attention, you can search for the words "smartphone, laptop, tablet, work" and get a photo of the typical behavior of working people:

Image search

If you're better at showing than telling or have an excellent example for reference, use the image search. Most large photo stocks can search by image built into the search bar.

Everything is effortless here: find anywhere an image that you like, and add it to the image search by URL or file. The search algorithm will find nearly identical and similar images ready to be used.

Search by author/series

Another search technique that will make your life easier is searching by photo series or content author. If you like a photo on stock but want images with a different angle or a different object but in the same style, look at the options in the "From the same series" section.

What should be the image for the site?

It's good when a clear theme needs to be illustrated. It is more difficult when the image can be anything, like a background for text, an interruption for content, or a photo for promotional material. How to choose a theme, style, or object?

Avoid cliches

Many stereotyped images in stock photography have been widely used for a long time and have become dull. Indeed you have seen such images in magazines and advertisements as a laughing woman with a salad, business people shaking hands, a happy family at a festive table, and lovers embracing.

Several criteria by which you can define a stock cliche: unnatural bright light, simulated emotions, and models that look at the camera. Try to avoid using such photos on the site - they are perceived as visual garbage and, at best, cannot attract the target audience's attention.

Be inspired by the example of others

And steal like an artist. There is nothing wrong with looking to the leaders in your industry and inheriting those who do quality and beauty. No need to borrow the whole thing - take the main idea of the illustration as a basis and add your touches. For example, the Racked magazine has an unusual illustration for such a trite topic as online shopping:

Set the mood

The object in the illustration can be anything - the main thing is that it helps to emphasize the main essence of the text, add the right atmosphere, or a little irony. If you try, you can find a metaphor image that will "play" with the title. For example, you can use a flyover photo similar to intersecting professional directions to post about essential career skills and specializations.

Follow the trends

Visual culture, photography, and design have trends that change yearly. For example, a couple of years ago, photos with smoke bombs, portraits from the back against the backdrop of landscapes, and urban geometry were very fashionable.

How to develop your visual style?

Suppose we discuss more than one illustration for one project but a series of articles, an SMM strategy, or a blog design. In that case, you should immediately consider the overall style of the images. It is vital for a brand's marketing strategy when images support the brand with color or style.


Now there are dozens of applications and programs of varying complexity for photo processing. Use them to apply film filters, add color effects, or the trendy Duotone two-tone print effect. The main thing is to be consistent with the choice of filters and avoid getting carried away with experiments with image processing.

Add text

Better than a photo that can only be a photo with text. People respond very well to a bunch of images + text. Firstly, this format is easily consumed when scrolling the news feed. Secondly, remember how popular memes are, just pictures and thematic text. Third, the brain loves illustrations: people follow text instructions 323% better if illustrations support them. In addition, the reader will help to comply with the initially chosen style.

Summing up

1 The fastest and easiest way to search for images is on large photobanks.

2 It is better to think over the concept of the image from the very beginning and search for it by 2-3 keywords or by associations with the main topic of the publication.

3 Choosing high-quality, original shots and following the visual style selected from the beginning is vital.