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Finding photos for your web projects

Finding photos for your web projects

Adding photos and images to your web site undoubtedly improves your user’s experience and by consequence your site’s marketability and conversion rate. Photos can add some colour, some emotion and convey an idea. Everybody knows that “a picture is worth a thousand words” but how should you go about finding images for your web site?

Newcomers and first-time web site owners often have trouble finding quality images and are confused with the licensing terms that may apply to them. Let’s try and clear this up!

Take photos yourself

Using images that you have taken personally (or that a friend has done on your behalf) is often the optimum solution, firstly because as the photo’s author, you own 100% of the copyright and secondly because it’s an original piece of art that cannot be exactly reproduced by anybody else.

Your unique perspective and your involvement in your project means that you can take the photo that suits your needs more precisely than if you use a third party.

  • Pros : photos are unique, photos suit your project exactly, you own the copyright
  • Cons : time consuming, photos might not be of sufficiently professional quality (depending on your skills)

Comission an artist

If your budget allows, another great option is to commission images from a photographer, an illustrator or a graphic artist (fees will of course vary depending on who you use).

You get original, high-quality creative pieces that stand out from the competition and that have a true personality to them.

Copyright issues may be a bit complex as artists frequently make a distinction in licensing terms depending on the way a piece is used : it can be differerent if a photo appears on a web site, in print or on TV. You need to make sure that  you obtain the necessary copyrights for your intended purposes.

  • Pros : photos are original and artistic
  • Cons : can be expensive

Use free stock photos

As an alternative to using your own or comissioned photos, you can tap into the extraordinarily abundant wealth of resources that is the internet!

Many photo sharing web sites allow their photos to be used for commercial projects as long as a copyright notice or attribution is clearly displayed under the photo. Have a look at the following sites, but be sure to check the terms of use for each photo you intend to use :

FlickrCompfightStock.xchngStock VaultTurboPhoto

  • Pros : a large selection of photos is available, use of the photos is free,
  • Cons : displaying copyright attribution may seem unprofessional, photos vary in quality

Update 21 April 2009 : some more resources : DexhausKave wallFree Digital PhotosCepolina PhotosUnprofoundDeviantartEvery stock photoFree fotoPixel Perfect DigitalFree RangeAnimation FactoryWoophyTexture WarehouseDesign PackDiwie DesignCreating OnlineGeek PhilosopherFree Media Goo


Use premium stock images

Using premium stock photos is a great solution for those “hard-to-find” photos. Simply browse one of the many online stock photos galleries, pay for the photos you want and download them. Generally these photos have all been taken by professionals so the technical quality is unquestioned. However, since everyone can use these photos, you may find them on a competitor’s site, yuk! Opt, for the most creative images when looking at premium stock.

To find premium stock photos, look here :

iStockPhotoFotoliaDreamstime

  • Pros : a large selection of photos is available, photos are of professional quality
  • Cons : may be costly, photos are impersonal, photos may be used by other people