Tips on sourcing images for websites and social media

Good images have impact and help you tell your story, whether you are writing articles, selling products or engaging an audience via social media.

But when it comes to sourcing images, where do you start? Well, it can be a bit challenging at times to find just the right image, so I’ve compiled a simple guide to help you find out what source might be right for you.

Whatever route you decide to take, don’t get carried away with all the choices around, keep focused and make sure that the images you end up using actually support your message or branding.

The journey of image sourcing

take your own photos

  • Pros: They are free. Doesn’t that beat all other options hands down? The photos are then all yours to do with as you please, without copyright issues.
  • Bonus: Your photos will be unique. Nobody else will own the same photos, which will help you differentiate yourself from everybody else.
  • Cons: Are they good enough for what you are trying to achieve? Just because you think you are the next Rankin doesn’t necessarily mean you take great photos…

hire a professional photographer

  • Pros: Well, Rankin will probably be out of your price league. But hiring a professional photographer will ensure that you get great photos. The photos are then all yours to do with as you please, without copyright issues.
  • Bonus: Your photos will be unique. Nobody else will own the same photos, which will help you differentiate yourself from everybody else.
  • Cons: Price. A good photographer doesn’t come cheap. But, if you need to showcase a product, this is probably the road you ought to take. Nothing will sell your product better than the product itself. So show it from its best angle.

Alternatively, if you don’t really have a photogenic product/service…

use a designer or illustrator

  • Pros: Same really as the photographer. You get great images.
  • Bonus: Your illustration/infographics will be unique. Nobody else will own the same images, which will help you differentiate yourself from everybody else.
  • Cons: Price. A good illustrator or designer doesn’t come cheap. But, if you need to showcase a product or service that isn’t easily photographed, this might be the best route to take.

If all this is too fancy and pricey….

source free Creative Commons (CC) images

  • Pros: If your budget is tight, free sounds like a good option. CC is an alternative to traditional copyright that offers the use of creative works, such as photos. Note though that not all CC licenses allow for-profit businesses to freely use works, but many do, and you might be able to find excellent free photographs for your marketing comms. Best practice is to check with the CC holder if the image is OK to use. (They might be flattered by knowing who is using their images!).
  • Bonus: There are some great sites that offer CC images, or you can use Google for images. Some sites worth checking out are:

www.flickr.com
Wikimedia commons
www.publicdomainpictures.net

  • Cons: You may struggle to find exactly the right kind of image – or take a long time finding it. In which case you need to ask yourself how much your own time is worth.

It might clearly be a case of…

using a stock image library

  • Pros: Big selection of photos and illustrations, off the shelf, at the click of a few buttons.
  • Cons: If you have, for example, a solicitor’s website, you may end up using images that dozens of other solicitor websites are also using. In short: you are not unique. And in this age of comparison surfing, your potential clients will not be able to differentiate your business from your competitors. Besides that, a lot of stock photos do look a bit…. well, cheesy.

 

scrounge off someone

Maybe you could get hold of some from your suppliers or customers? For example, images of products they supply you with. Worth asking them perhaps.

  • Pros: They’re free and most likely professionally photographed. If you find an image on a site that you like then there is no harm in emailing or ringing to request permission to use it.  Ask for the marketing department as they will understand your request and if the image is linked to their site they are usually delighted to help.
  • Cons: Beggars can’t be choosers. You get what you asked for. But the photos are probably good enough to do the job. Then again, they’ll probably also be used by thousands of other suppliers too…

the final act of desperation: the grab and run

  • Pros: It is very easy to find and download images from the web… But….
  • Cons: But if you use them on your website you could infringe copyright and compensation for misuse of images could amount to several hundred pounds. Can you get found out? Oh yes, you can.  Test it for yourself. If you google “Sarah Naybour” and then click on Images you will see images that relate to Sarah. By just passing the cursor over the images, it can tell you what site they are being hosted on. And, being a small business, she will know if you have permission to use her images – or not. (Sarah Naybour does great garden designs, by the way).

the verdict

One of the above options is probably right for you (except for that last one). So consider your communication needs and ROI. At times it really does pay off to spend more on a good image, rather than scrape around with un-engaging stuff you got cheaply. Good luck hunting!

Do you recommend any sources of quality images? Let me know about them in the comments section!

 

Alberon is at the forefront of digital thinking. Do get in touch for a no-obligation consultation meeting using the contact form, by email hello@alberon.co.uk or calling 01865 794009.

about Alberon

We have been designing and building bespoke websites for organisations in Oxford for over 12 years. Our friendly, highly experienced team of web designers and developers are dedicated to helping our clients achieve the outcomes they want.


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