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Free Stock Photo Alternatives: How To Get Images For Your Website

Stock photo alternatives

You don’t need a fancy DSLR camera to take photos for your website. This photo was taken with an iPhone.

Websites are very visual. A web page with only text is not only extremely boring to look at, but it’s actually harder to read.

On the web, people are more scanners than actual readers.

This means shorter paragraphs, shorter sentences and even shorter distances of reading.

You Need Photos On Your Website

Adding a photo will make your page more visually appealing while also cutting the distance on the page that your visitor needs to read.

Fun Fact: Having a photo on your website alongside your copy actually makes the text more believable as well, even if the imagery is not related to the text. (A little psychology tip from Neuroscience Marketing)

When you’re putting photos together for your website, you are likely to be searching through some stock photography websites. While a stock photo site can be useful in a lot of situations, it may not always work for you.

Having photos on your website will also make it more visual when shared on social networks. People are more likely to click on a link if there is an image associated with it. When someone shares a page on Facebook or Pinterest, the image is automatically taken out of the web page to show as a preview.

Why Stock Photography May Not Be The Best Option For You

Stock photography costs money, sometimes its only a few dollars but it can add up if you have 50 pages on your website or are posting on your blog twice a day.

Copyrights are limited if you want to have a photo used on your website as well as in your brochure or at a booth at a trade show. Then the cost of the stock photos really goes up.

Depending on your industry, a lot of your competitors are probably using the exact same stock photographs that you would want to put on your website. How silly would it look if someone was researching your services and compared two different companies and they both had a picture of the same two businessmen shaking hands and smiling? Which brings me to another point, stock photography can be very unoriginal and bland itself.

Alternatives To Stock Photography

Photos make text more believable

People are more likely to believe what they read if there is a photo next to it. Even if the photo is unrelated to the content of the text.

If you fall into one of these categories where stock photography is not the right answer for your website’s visual needs, there are alternatives.

You can do something as simple as using a pull quote on your page to break up text into shorter widths. Taking a screen shot of a pull quote and adding it to your page as an image would also help with the social sharing of your links.

You can create simple graphics using PowerPoint. Or even create charts from Excel sheets to visually communicate numbers.

There is also a web tool called Wordle that creates word clouds out of text that you provide. You can take a screen shot of the Wordle cloud and crop it to become a fun looking graphic of the important topics your web page is talking about.

Taking Your Own Photos

Taking your own photos is another great option. Most smart phones today can take high quality photographs, especially for web use. A little trick if you want to take your own photographs for your website:

Quick Tip: Search a stock photo site for keywords that you are writing about, then try to match that photograph yourself

A few things to keep in mind when taking your own photographs:

  • Keep the full setting in mind. If you’re taking a photo of something in the foreground, don’t forget that the rest of your office may be in the background of your photograph.
  • Make sure the lighting is bright enough.
  • Focus on the subject. If you are taking a picture with your iPhone, you can tap the screen on the main subject and it will focus there.
  • Fill your photograph. If you are taking a photo of something rather small, don’t have a picture 75% of an empty table and 25% of what the main subject of the image should be.

*Both photos in this post were taken with an iPhone 4G and not edited other than blurring the brand name on the camera.

How Do You Get Photos For Your Website?

Do you shell out the money for stock photographs every time you need a new picture for your website? Have you taken your own pictures? Share your experiences and suggestions in the comments below!

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Leave a Comment:

Adam Aptaker says December 1, 2012

Hello Mr. Giannattasio,

I just wanted to say that your posts are nicely done and very helpful. I am just starting out in the World of Web design, and am currently working on getting a degree in digital media. I am good with Creating sites but not with SEO stuff. It is hard to find articles on SEO that are easy to follow. I was an artist first so sometimes the tech talk can be a little over whelming at times. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and I look forward to reading more


Adam Aptaker

    Todd Giannattasio says December 2, 2012

    Hey Adam – Thanks for the compliments! If there are any specific topics you’re interested in, let me know and I’ll try to answer them in a future post. Thanks for keeping up!

iPhone Photography Tips For Beginners Guide | Tresnic Media says December 13, 2012

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Chris says December 15, 2012

Great alternatives for stock photos. I had no idea about these. Keep sharing your ideas.

    Todd Giannattasio says December 15, 2012

    Thanks, Chris! Glad you found these useful.

Michael says October 20, 2013

Thanks for the resources Todd, here is another great alternative for free stock photos

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