Choosing Web Photos

Virginia Marketing Tips

Every website needs photos and many people cannot afford to hire a professional photographer. The alternative is purchasing or finding free royalty free photos. 

Royalty free mean you have the right to use the images without paying royalties.

There are many websites that sell royalty free images. I recommend Bigstock. They have a monthly subscription of $79, which entitles you to five downloads per day. That is up to 150 images if you are diligent. You should only need a one month subscription and then you can cancel. After you cancel, you still have the right to use the images you purchased.

Images for web are 72 dpi.
Images for print are 300 dpi.
.eps are vector files – editable and not limited to size
The alternative is purchasing images a-la-carte. The prices can start at about $1 for small web images and work their way up. If you are going to purchase a-la-carte, I recommend you get images that are distinguished for print use. That means the images are at least 300 dpi. You can always decrease the size of an image, but you can never increase. Getting the largest size available will give you flexibility in usage.

Suggestion for choosing web photos:

For subscribers, always pick the largest size. An eps or vector image is a graphic that contains points, line, curves, shapes, etc. You can extract elements from a vector. Vector images are also not limited to size, versus a jpeg. If you have the option for a jpg or vector, choose the vector. The downside is an eps files are limited to certain software that can open them. If you are working with a graphic designer or web designer, they can easily convert the eps to a jpg or png. (A png or portable network graphic is a raster graphic that allows for transparent background. Always get your logo in a png format!)

stressed-womanhappy-womanI recommend a good number of people photos. Think about your services and the emotions that go with it. Now, try to find images with people displaying those emotions. Also, before and after images are extremely evocative. For example, if you meditation, you could find someone who looks stressed. In another photo you can find someone who looks happy and healthy. The point of people shots is emitting emotion and getting your viewers to connect with the images.
Once you have picked a good number of people shots, I always recommend you get a few shots of your local service area. This is great to use in Contact Us and About pages.

Cathedral Rock Sedona Arizona

Then I recommend a variety backgrounds. Backgrounds can be used as filler, when there isn’t an image that fits the message. Think about your brand identity and color story when selecting background images. Also, consider your location. If you live in a desert, an image of the ocean is really not appropriate.

heart-background     lotus-background      zen-background

I am a big fan of header and slider images. They are typically full width, which can mean 900 – 1200 pixels wide. When you stretch a standard image to that dimension, it can take up the whole screen. When picking header images, look for images that can be cropped. What that means is that you can cut out some of the top or bottom to make it wider than it is tall. For people images, that can be challenging because many photographers like to get close to their models. Look for people who are sized half the width of the image to be safe.


Original Size


Cropped for Header or Slider






Stay away from clipart or images that look fake. It gives an unprofessional or amateur feel. I realize stock photography can look staged, but they are professional in look and feel. Stay away from cheesy photos or anything that look like a cartoon. I also discourage images with text. Text can easily be overlaid so you don’t need to limit your image to what is there.

photo with text      sun clipart

Bigstock stock Photos

Here are some of the many sites you can buy images:

You can download free royalty free photos, but they are primarily landscapes and seascapes. These are perfect for social media memes. Here are some of the many sites you can download free royalty free images:Free Stock Image

Understanding copyright compliance and public domain:


  • Attribution means: You are allowed to copy, distribute, display, and perform copyrighted work – and derivative works based upon it – but only if you give credit.
  • Noncommercial means: You are allowed to copy, distribute, display, and perform your work – and derivative works based upon it – but for noncommercial purposes only.
  • No Derivative Works means: You are allowed to copy, distribute, display, and perform only verbatim copies of work, not derivative works based upon it.
  • Share Alike means: You are allowed to distribute derivative works only under a license identical to the license that governs work.
  • Public Domain Dedication (CC0) means: The copyright holder, waives interest in work and place the work as completely as possible in the public domain so others may freely exploit and use the work without restriction under copyright or database law.
  • Public Domain Work means: Works, or aspects of copyrighted works, which copyright law does not protect. Typically, works become part of the public domain because their term of protection under copyright law expired, the owner failed to follow certain required formalities, or the works are not eligible for copyright protection.

Do not use photos that you do not have permission to use. There are a many ways photographers can track their photos back on the internet. It is not worth the risk.

Need more help choosing web photos? Contact us to learn about our image management services or for more tips!