Face it: we live in a visual culture. Even if you're the hottest new writer in the blogosphere, you're at a disadvantage if you don't use photos to complement your prose. However, that doesn't mean you need to invest in a new camera, take photography classes, and learn the complexities of Photoshop. Stock photo services like Shutterstock are a great resource for bloggers, and they provide an affordable platform for licensing professional images. Below, we've outlined a few practical tips when selecting stock photos for blogs.
Choose Attractive Images
Unless your blog is about strange physical deformities, you should select photos with attractive subjects. This may include charming people, gorgeous natural landscapes, and enticing objects. There's a reason why the advertising industry relies so heavily on supermodels, pro nature photographers, and food stylists to ensure that the final product looks spectacular. You don't need to "sell sex", though; just use photos that are appealing and inspiring.
Maintain a Style Guide
Next, we recommend narrowing your blog's focus so that you can develop a distinct visual style. For example, you should try to stay within a certain color palette, choosing stock photos that reflect the blog's tone. If you're running a friendly food blog with a brightly colored layout, you should try to select similarly vibrant photos. Likewise, if your blog covers fictional and fantastical topics, you may want to use stock illustrations instead of photos.
Make Sure There's Space for Text
Smart graphic designers always think a few steps ahead, and as a blogger, you should do the same when curating stock photos. If you plan on incorporating text in your images, make sure to select photos with empty space to the left or right of the subject. This always looks better than simply overlaying text on top of your subject, because the two will end up clashing, and it will be harder for readers to decipher the information. Luckily with Shutterstock, you can refine your search to only display horizontal or vertical-oriented photos.
Finally, take a closer look at the objects, clothing, haircuts, and other details that comprise each potential stock photo. For most blogs, you'll want to select images that reflect contemporary life. However, if your photo shows a woman with an afro playing a gigantic boombox, or a man talking on a cellphone the size of a walkie talkie, it will obviously look dated. Stock photos for blogs should always be consistent with the subject matter and time period.
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