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How to choose the perfect stock image for your content

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Pictures are worth a thousand words and choosing the right stock photo to fit your project can be one of the most challenging tasks.

choosing the right stock photo

When it comes to the topic of stock images, most people won’t think beyond Google and it amazing power to penetrate web. Of course that this is not ideal, even thought you will get results quickly, chances are that you will be sifting through endless pages of images that just don’t cut it: too small, too pixelated, not exactly what I need- It can truly get demoralising, specially when a project is on the line and time is running short.

Today we have collected some of our favorite websites and communities where choosing the right stock photos you need for your creative projects doesn’t have to be mundane. So lets explore the list from the start, and like most things web, the beginning is always Google.

Choosing The Right Stock Photo – Google images

choosing the right stock photo

Though we might have established that sometimes it gets really frustrating to find that perfect picture in Google images, it still happens to be a very useful service that provides many tools and filters to help you narrow your search.

Google offers the option of filtering the images you search so that you find great royalty free images that are free to use on your website. And lets be honest, it works great! The only problem is that every other person with similar content to you, is provably using the same images on their website. But hey! It’s the risk we have to take for free content right?
Other great search criteria Google gives you to try and find the picture you need includes Size of the picture, whether is color or black and white, the type of the picture (which allows you to choose form facial pictures, line art, photographs, etc) if you want you can even search by licenses! Very useful indeed:

choosing the right stock photo
Look at all those search options!

This means  you could very easily filter your original search to show you only pictures that can be used without license, you can tell Google to only give you big pictures in black and white that have been posted in the past week!

Choosing The Right Stock Photo – Free stock images

choosing the right stock photo

Another option is to use free stock image sites. These sites allow choosing the right stock photo for free with no hidden costs. The most obvious downside is that you can only access the pictures they choose to give you, but trust me on this one; some of the sites constantly provide truly amazing hi-res images that make them worthwhile and extremely useful.

A common way in which these free sites operate is that they will upload a certain number of images per day/week/month. This means you are most likely not going to find the specific type of image you are looking for, however, you will come across amazing pictures which you never thought about using, but all of the sudden they might seem like a great idea, so these sites do help quite a lot with inspiration as well… and they are free! Did we mention this already?

Check out our list of free photography sites:


These websites usually work as a way for photographers to show off their images and try “make a name” for themselves without getting paid for it. So you can rest assured the quality of the pictures you will find are actually professional (unlike many of the pictures a Google image search will show you).

This type of system is beneficial for both the photographer and the user of the picture, so there you go! Use freely and with a clean conscience because you will be helping the author as well.
So! Now we know that if our Google search didn’t give us any good results we can always go to the sites just mentioned and see if we can find something that might fit our needs.

That said, what happens when we need a very specific or creative image? As you well noticed, the list above will give you a lot of professional looking pictures, what if you want a photo of an elephant driving a small blue car through a desert? (For our post about shipping services worldwide, Duhhh!).

choosing the right stock photo

Well now we need to meet our new best friend of creative pictures: www.gettyimages.com

Choosing The Right Stock Photo – Getty Images free embed service

choosing the right stock photo

Already being one of the world’s premiere sources of stock photography, Getty has now started making its photo’s ‘embeddable’ for free. So what does this mean for us? Well, free photos and more beautiful websites of course!

Before we get too excited lets please remember this is a free service, so here is the catch: Although Getty is giving away millions of photos for free, the images can’t be used for commercial purposes and Getty can run its own ads on the images (you gotta make that money!).

So although you may have that beautiful picture you wanted on your blog, it might also have some advertising on top of it. Although Getty images are still implementing this idea, all in all, it is a small price to pay for the quality of images you can get free of charge.

These are great news for the “non-commercial” user, specially now that you can embed beautiful stock photography into wordpress using their new embed feature. Its super easy and there are around 35 million images to pick from. There are some great tutorials online to help you embed your images just the way you want in your web content. One of these being: embed-getty-images-into-wordpress

Choosing The Right Stock Photo – Paid services

choosing the right stock photo

So why exactly is it worthwhile paying for my pictures?

Firstly, it saves you time. Good stock photo services will allow you to find the images you are looking for quickly, and if you are a business owner, this means you have saved yourself a lot of costs and wasted time.

Paid services also give you more choice in the images you get. This means if you know you want a picture of a monkey making a funny face, you can probably find one with your favorite hairstyle as well, just to add some extra comic relief. You can also find photos based on a concept, emotion or theme. So you don’t quite know exactly what you want, you can find something based on the theme you are using on your website.
You are also not usually limited to photos with a paid service; you can also find vector illustrations, which can be used in a much more diverse way than just pictures (lets not forget vectors are not limited by their resolution and can be made larger and smaller without loss of quality… Niiice!) Oh! and don’t forget you get video content as-well!

So (and trust me, we have all wondered this) can you get the same images from the free services as easily? No you cannot.

Here’s a list of the pay services we use the most at Webcourses Bangkok for our creative needs:

Choosing The Right Stock Photo – Take you own photos!

choosing the right stock photo

That’s right! Go out, see the world, find what you need and make it!! I mean, what better way to create content than actually do it yourself, right? (and yes, thats me on the right laying on-top of the pretty flowers)

Of course this option is not exactly appropriate when times are limited (and yes, time is very limited…always!). That said, managing to plan ahead and make the time to go out and take your own pictures will ensure you get the best photos you can, well assuming you are half decent with your camera of course. But the idea here is to have absolute power over the composition and theme of the pictures, we know what we want and how we want it so we don’t have to worry whether is there or not, we’ll go and make it happen!

In Conclusion:

Luckily we are a bit spoiled with choices here. If we get tired of not finding what we want in Google, we can just head to the free sites and see what they have to offer this week, if that doesn’t provide the necessary graphics we want, we then go to our professional stock-photography sites and see if they can help us out. What is that you say? Couldn’t find anything there either? Well then I guess its time to get your camera out and start creating your own!

There you have it, what I have just described to you happens to be the process I go through everyday I need to create some new content, whether an article or a tutorial, I will go through the exact same steps (and most of the times you manage to get away with either Google images or your free sites). So don’t take my word for it, go and try it out!

By the way, if you need a little help with taking your photos why don’t you come join us for out photography essentials course or you could come along for a fun day of photography with our one day photography course.

Either way, there are enough resources out there to make sure you have a great looking website with choosing the right stock photo you want. Good luck!

Ryan Byrne

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