simple tips for choosing better website images

If you’re struggling to choose stock photos
for your website, you’re not the only one. It’s one of the most difficult
things to get right – and one of the most common mistakes I see with clients. But
it’s crucial because it directly reflects your brand story, and a bad image can
destroy your authenticity in a single moment.

How to
pick better stock photos

I’ve seen too many business owners make the
terrible decisions when it comes website images. You know the ones, those cheesy,
staged photos that make you cringe. And the worst part is it’s completely
unavoidable. But the good news is, by keeping a few basic photography rules in
mind, you can avoid picking cringeworthy photos and even boost your brand at
the same time.

are my top tips

1. Use
more candid photos

Stay away from staged looking photos. Especially
shots with people looking directly at the camera or who seem to be aware of the
camera. Also watch out for scenes with fake props where everything looks too
clean and sterilized.

Instead, use candid photography with people in
a natural pose in realistic environments, going about their daily business.
Also make sure they’re wearing appropriate clothing, for example, avoid any
with fake looking uniforms or work attire.

The more natural the people look in a photo,
the better. A good candid photo should be is as if the camera wasn’t even there
when the shot was taken.

Candid photo example
2. Use
natural lighting

Lighting can make or break a photo. And poor studio
lighting is common in bad stock photography. If it looks like it was shot in a
studio setting with a white blown out background, then the artificial light
could make the photo unrealistic.

By comparison, a photo with a good natural
light from nearby windows or a sunrise or sunset in the background, can enhance
the mood of a photo and create more authenticity.

As a
rule, photos that use good natural lighting tend to be more realistic and
engaging online.
Natural lighting example
‍Natural lighting can enhance the mood and tell more of a story.
3. Over
the top gestures or expressions

Photos that show over the top expressions are another
common photo killer. You might be tempted to choose them because you want to
show a particular message or emotion. But it doesn’t work. Your audience won’t
relate to them, and dumbing down your message will only make your brand clichéd
and cringeworthy.

We’ve all experienced different feelings and
emotions or been around others who are unhappy, excited or scared. We know what
natural emotions look like.

You must
respect your audience. Stick to choosing natural, subtle expressions and stay
away from unrealistic over the top photos.
Use natural expressions example
Avoid over the top expressions.
4. Use
the right balance of ethnicities for your audience

It’s important to be aware of who is included
in your photography choices. If your target audience is multicultural and includes
people from all walks of life, images with only white males can unconsciously make
it hard for your audience to engage with your brand message.

the ethnicity of all your subjects or focus on the background of your intended
Multicultural stock photo
5. Don’t
use dated illustrations

Keep your branding consistent. Do those cute
little illustrations really represent your brand identity? Those 3D icons with a
totally different colour pallet to your logo – do they really go? If you’re not
sure something will work with your website, banner or advertising artwork,
listen to that instinct.

check out other companies that inspire you. Do they use similar illustrations? If
not then just keep it clean and simple, or consult a designer.
Modern illustration design
‍Try using more modern flat style illustrations that follow your brand guidelines.
6. Use high
resolution images

(This is for the people who like to take
images from Google - which you shouldn’t do for legal reasons). Whenever you
source images make sure they’re high resolution and not small, blurry or
pixelated. It does nothing for your branding other than make you look
unprofessional, amateur and not creative. Another common rookie mistake. Your
brand deserves better!

Just some of the many sites you can source and buy licensed stock photography:

Pixelated image example
‍Avoid small low resolution images.

no luck?

Sometimes no matter how hard you look you just
can’t find the right one. In this case don’t be afraid to get out the phone or
camera and get a bit creative. A bad photo that’s real is more authentic to
your brand than a fake polished one, and this will actually increase engagement
with your customers.

your customers want to engage with real people and know your brand story.

I hope these six tips help you avoid the
common mistakes when it comes to stock photographs. It may take a little more
time, but you’d be amazed at what an engaging, high quality, natural photo will
do for your brand. Rather than appearing cliché, dated and lacking imagination,
you’ll come across as modern, cutting edge and relevant. That’s an instant
brand boost.

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