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Do's and Don'ts of Stock Photography In Web Content

Posted on September 13, 2021

Checklist of great tips when selecting the perfect stock photo for your website

choosing stock photography for websites
The importance of quality images is undeniable. Not only do they improve a website visitor's experience, but they also help tell your story in ways that words simply cannot

However, many times web designers have a tough time procuring original photographs. In this case, the best antidote is to head on over to reliable stock photography and find an image that best fits your brand. 

But, behold! Stock photos may be a popular choice for readily available assets, but they are labeled as cliche, overused, and staged. In fact, some pictures are so cheesy that viewers are immediately turned off by their sight. 

The good news is that there are many ways to help you find unique and compelling pictures for your brand. Moreover, you can 'un stock' the stock pictures to make them exclusive for your web design. 

Just follow the below do's and don'ts of using stock photography and you will be all set to dazzle the site visitors with perfect visuals. 

Do: Check the license

When you buy stock photographs, it is essential to understand the specified terms and conditions to ensure you will use them legally. The stock image license will list whether you can edit the selected pictures, use them commercially, and credits to the photographers are necessary. 

Generally, stock photograph licenses are divided into three categories:

  • Royalty-Free: With this license, you pay only once and can use the pictures for unlimited projects. 
  • ​Rights Managed: If you purchase the rights managed license, you can have specific usage rights to the photograph. This means that you can customize the license as per the targeted geographical location, time limit, and per-use rights.   
  • Extended License: The extended license gives you permission to use the stock picture in items that may be resold. For example, t-shirts, mugs, and calendars. 

Do note that the stock agency you select has the freedom to modify the licensing terms according to their preference. So, make sure you read the instructions of each stock photo website carefully to avoid trouble. 

Don't: Go for the first image you see

Stock photo websites are filled with millions of pictures. And many times, you would be tempted to go with the first image you find in the relevant category. 

However, the images that appear in the first few result pages tend to be common and used by many others before you. So, instead of picking the first picture, you see, dig around a little comprehensively. Most stock picture websites have search filters integrated into their interface. Make use of them and filter out pictures as per the required niche, size, style, and even color. 

By taking some time to find the perfect picture, you will avoid replicating something your competitor has already established. You will also have the opportunity to see all the hidden gems usually ignored because they are located in the subsequent pages. 

Do: Play around with the pictures

Most stock photo agencies allow the buyers to edit the pictures according to their liking. This means that you can edit, crop, change the background and add overlays or texts to the existing images. 

You can even snip out some part of the stock photograph and integrate it with a custom picture to make it resonate with the web design. 

However, editing rules differ in every stock photo website. This is why you must read the usage guide carefully before modifying any part of the picture. 

Don’t: Choose stereotypical stock images

Website Content stock photography

In all honesty, some stock pictures are a far cry from reality and immediately provoke a feeling of fakeness among the audience. They are also widespread in the web design circle, and the visitors have become numb to them. 

If you want to impact the audience, make sure to avoid cliche pictures that have models looking staged or scenarios that don't depict real life. I mean, when was the last time you saw an adult using a piggy bank or woman laughing and dancing with a bowl of salad. 

If the picture does not come close to something you would see in real life, I suggest keeping looking! 

It is also a good idea to think about the emotions you wish to portray for your brand. Go for candid pictures instead of posed ones. Avoid photos with abstract art and look for creative vectors. And by all means, ignore photographs with a headless man in a suit pointing at floating objects. 

Do: Check competitor's page

Plagiarism is often called out and reported as an unethical practice on digital platforms. And even if it's unintentional, having the same context on your website as others will negatively impact your credibility.  

The same goes for pictures. Even if your text is unique, uploading the images already on other websites will make your content seem less original. 

When searching inside the stock photograph repository, try to find something original and beneficial to your brand. Do a Google Reverse Image Search or use the TinEye tool to determine if the image you chose appears on other websites. 

Don't: Forget SEO

Image SEO is an integral part of web design!

When you add relevant information with each image, they are identified by search crawlers. This information is further used to enhance your site's ranking on the SERP, enabling interested people to find you easily. 

Optimizing pictures according to the SEO requirements will also help your website load quickly and positively impact the user's experience. 

Here are some image SEO best practices:

  • Rename the image files with descriptive terms/keywords. 

  • Add Alt Text to improve page accessibility. 

  • Resize pictures, so they load seamlessly.

  • Ensure the images load on both - desktop and mobile in a similar manner. 

  • Use high-quality and unpixelated pictures. 

  • Add images to the sitemap.

Find visual identity with these tips

Stock photographs are a lifesaver for many designers and marketers. But when using these pictures, you must comply with the best practices to prevent any negative impression. 

I am sure this would not be a problem you would have to face with the above tips.
Good luck!

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