Choosing Stock Photos for Websites

We live in a visual culture, but when it comes to choosing stock photos for websites, image quality can vary dramatically. You don't want to pick photos that affect your site's popularity in a negative way, or photos that you don't have the right to use commercially, so how do you avoid those pitfalls? Below, we've outlined some practical tips for selecting stock photography, especially when employing it in a digital space.    

Learn About Your License

Stock photography can save a lot of money in the long run, so long as you're using it within your legal rights. Photo licensing can be complicated, but it's definitely worth doing your homework before placing a photo on a commercial website. Every agency has different rules for their stock photography; some require that you credit the creator whenever you use their image. Others will only let you use the image if it's for a personal, non-commercial project. To learn about your license, just do a quick search on the stock photo agency's website for their licensing agreement. For your reference, here's the Shutterstock agreement. 

Humor is a Double-Edged Sword

Most of us can appreciate a good celebrity or cat meme, but not everyone shares the same sense of humor. If you're too clever with your stock photography selections, there's always a chance that you put people off. When marketing a commercial site, you should stick to timeless photos that aren't bound by pop culture knowledge or Internet slang. Not only will those references look outdated in a few months, but you will alienate plenty of people who aren't "hip" enough to get the joke. 

People and Pets are Smart Choices

Consumers are always looking for something that they can connect to on an emotional level. Generally, stock photos of people and animals are much stronger than landscapes and objects. This is even more important when dealing with dry subject matter, such as banking or programming. People want to relate to your product, so try to choose stock photos that make that possible.   

Maintain a Color Theme

Finally, when choosing stock photos for websites, you should consider the colors and see if they match your site's existing theme. More importantly, the entire color scheme should reflect your product and mission statement. For example, if you're a spa retreat in the mountains, you should choose cooler colors that express relaxation. When your stock photos and website layout is color coordinated, the entire site will look much more professional.  


Need images for your project? Shutterstock’s impressive collection of more than 70 million images can help! See what our library has to offer.


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