When designing your professional or personal website or blog, images will invariably enter the discussion. The first question is, do you want to use images on your website at all? For most, the answer will be “yes.” Using images can quickly and efficiently express your tone, brand ethos, philosophy, and company characteristics more effectively than relying solely on text.
Stock photography and free photography websites allow you to quickly and freely find creative resources to fit your website or blog. In both cases, you need to be able to look at photography critically, and to understand how an image functions so that you can use it to help impart your message, both thematically and aesthetically. Here are some top tips to ensure the most efficient search processes.
1. Know your audience
Try to ensure that the values of the people you are communicating with – and the values of your business – are represented in your chosen image. However, be aware of what your competitors are doing; using the same approach is fine, but keep your brand’s identity streamlined. There is no standardized recipe for success when it comes to choosing imagery. What works for some brands will not work for others. Some can afford to try a more artistic, unique aesthetic; whereas others, who rely more on traditional and conservative values, may choose to stay safe with their image choices in order to maintain the status quo.
2. Choose the right subject
What is the subject of the image? Is it abstract, or concrete? Does it represent a person? A product? Or maybe an idea or a feeling? To answer these questions, try to look deeper into the photo; not just the photographed object itself, but how the components of the photo interact with each other. Does the image tell a story? Some pictures are quite straightforward, while others can contain hidden meanings.
3. Naturalness is key
Try to steer clear of over-posed or synthetic imagery. Your visitors are probably more inclined towards natural models and situations. Avoid choosing unnatural set-ups, as well as over-processed images; they are more likely to hinder your branding.
4. Think about composition
Photographers use a wide variety of techniques when composing an appealing shot. When selecting an image, ask yourself: “What did the photographer do to create emotion or meaning in the photograph?” Pay attention to the framing, an object’s dominance, the balance between the background and foreground, and the alignment of the subject. Excellent composition can help a photo captivate viewers, while poor execution of these elements might only distract them.
5. Shun the cold
Isolated backgrounds, although useful for some creative purposes, tend to have a colder, more clinical aesthetic. Images with softer lighting usually create a warmer visual impression. Consider your industry and your subject. For example, those in the medical field will often choose an isolated background, as it creates an image of cleanliness and sterility associated with their profession.
6. The aesthetics of light
Photographs are made of light (literally). A photograph is a trace of light on paper or on screen, and you’ve got to pay attention to how the light is used in the imagery. The light can be soft, light, or hard. Pay attention to where the source of the light is, and how does the photographer use it to interpret aspects of the subject. The same subject can have absolutely different meaning in the different lightscapes.
7. The aesthetics of color
The color theory is a branch of study in itself. Does the image has the dominant color or a palette? Is there a color in this palette that first grabs your attention? Is the color selection bright, multicolored, or faded? Maybe the image is black and white. Think about all of these aspects and pay attention to how these elements combine to affect your feelings toward the imagery. Each variant has its own place in different kinds of designs, so selecting one specific style to use throughout your project is going to make a huge difference in how your final design will appear.
8. Image size-wise
It’s important to consider when choosing an image whether or not you’ll want to overlay text. If so, ensure there is enough room to do so on the image when searching. Also, find out the maximum width of the images displayed on your site. It’s your graphic theme that sets this data. If you download an image of a smaller size, its display will be pixelated and its visual potential will be decreased.
Free photography collections are great alternatives to traditional photography stock. They offer you a wide array of content, and you are guaranteed to find the perfect image for your design requirements.
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