Picture this: finding the right photos for your marketing

1024 683 Breathe Marketing

home-bgIn a recent post on choosing the right web designer, I mentioned that businesses are usually responsible for providing photos to designers during the website creation process.

Having just completed a website redesign of my own site, I fully understand the time and effort it takes to find just the right images to represent who you are, what you do and the message you want to send.

In fact, having a range of photos on hand – especially if you sell products online – is always valuable. Whether you’re putting together an email blast, a new brochure, a website or an ad, you can’t go wrong with high-quality photos.
But how do you choose the right photos? Where do you get them and how much will they cost?

First, remember that photos for any marketing purpose should fit with your culture, positioning and topic. Consider the message you’re sending and who’s going to receive it. What’s the goal? What do you want the recipient or viewer to feel or do when he or she sees it? A photo should reflect the purpose and intent of your overall message, so keep this in mind when choosing images.

Ideally, your business will create a photo library – probably a mix of shots taken by various team members, photos taken by marketing staff and some taken by professional photographers.

To add to your library, take your smartphone with you everywhere and shoot pictures of things that look interesting to use in your blogs and website.  Your own shots will be personal and you can make sure they fit with your culture and message.

Remember: Protect yourself. Always make sure you have the proper license (more on this below) or a signed release to use any photo, especially if it includes people. Create an in-house release form and get it signed by the subject(s) if the photo will be used anywhere in print or online.

Stock images

Sometimes an in-house photo just won’t do. A glossy brochure or smart website filled with amateur smartphone shots isn’t going to cut it with your customers.

You may need to buy stock images from an online site to give your material the ‘wow’ factor. There are many sites available, and the quality and pricing of photos varies a great deal depending on the photographer, subject, license and size.

Some popular sites for high-quality photos include iStock (by Getty Images), Shutterstock, Dreamstime and Depositphotos. All of these sites offer royalty-free photos, illustrations and video clips for sale (meaning you can purchase and use them in your marketing without having to pay royalties or license fees for each use or each sale).

A few things to keep in mind when purchasing stock photos:

  • Size and resolution – Make sure you buy the right size photo for your needs. For online use, a small, 72 dpi photo is usually fine, but if you need to make it larger or use it in print, you’ll need something bigger. Check with your designer to find out the dimensions you need before buying an image.
  • Cost/budget – Stock photos get expensive quickly. Depending on the number of photos you need, it may be cheaper to buy a subscription than to purchase individual images or credits (different sites have different purchase options, so check the rules and prices carefully). Start with your budget in mind and figure out what works best for you.Hint: Sometimes different photo sites have the same images available at different prices. If you find a shot you want that’s out of your price range, do a quick search on other sites or by using Google Image Search to see if you can find the same one somewhere else.
  • Licensing – Stock photo sites offer different licenses for different needs. Most of the time, a standard license will be fine. However, if you’re going to use a photo on a product that will be available for sale, or if you need to use the image in a print run of over 500,000 items, you’ll probably need an extended license, which is more expensive.
  • Subject and message — Avoid the tired, clichéd shots of business people looking thoughtfully out of the window. These have had their day. Pictures of people are great, but look for creative ways to share your message.

Still have questions about finding the right photos for your message and marketing? Contact Breathe Marketing today.


Anna Nixon-Smith

All stories by: Anna Nixon-Smith