Where to Find Professional Images for Your Website Without Paying Professional Prices

Last updated on November 1, 2016

Where-to-Find-Professional-Images-for-Your-Website-Without-Paying-Professional-PricesIf there is one thing you can change on your website that will instantly make your website look more credible and professional – and requires no technical skills, no design skills, and no or minimal cost, would you do it?

My answer will always be — Heck Yeah!

If you have been reading our Tool Tips Series and our Web Design Guides for Beginners, you will know we are big believers of inputting minimal effort to get maximum impact.

This article is another design hack that can quickly & easily upgrade the way your website looks!

 

Why are high-quality images so important to your website?

If you asked me how to make your website look more professional, the #1 thing I will always recommend is to use better images on your website.

Why? – Because it is the quickest way to upgrade the look and feel of your website with the least amount of work!

Just by swapping in the right images (which I’ll show you how to pick and where to find them), you can instantly

  1. Make your products more appealing and desirable;
  2. Make you look more professional and more put-together, so your website appears more credible and trustworthy; and
  3. Most importantly, it will make your website look more expensive! This is a key improvement since most people associate something is of better quality when it appears more expensive.

Here are some fun facts about how quality and relevant images can improve your audience’s experiences on your website:

why-your-website-need-good-images

Source: http://www.joomlashine.com/

 

This is why displaying high quality and relevant images on your website will not only make your website appear more professional, they will also increase your visitors’ engagement – so it’s win-win for everyone!

Why are you using ugly images on your website?

You might be wondering:

“If it’s really so easy and straight forward – just by using the right images, then why aren’t more people doing it?”

The most common reasons (and complaints) I get are:

  1. I don’t know how to pick appealing pictures for my website.
  2. I don’t know where to find nice pictures.
  3. I don’t want to pay a lot of money to buy professional images.

Does this sound like you?

If it does, keep reading.

I will show you how and where to find the right, eye-catching images for your website.

Pro Tip: In addition to picking the right images, picking the right template design can also make a huge difference to your website. 

 

Image Theory 101 – How to pick the right images for your website?

Picking the right images for your website can be a lot of fun once you know what to look for.

There are 4 criteria you can use when choosing your images.

#1 Use High-Quality Images

Don’t use any fuzzy or pixelated images!

A lot of times I see people use images that are way too small.  So when they expand the image to fit the space, the image is stretched and this ends up distorting the image and make it appear very fuzzy.

image-quality-matters

So make sure you don’t upload a small picture then stretch it to fit the space dedicated for the picture!

 

#2 Use Unique Images

Stock photos is a great resource if you use it correctly.

However, the worst pictures you can use on your website is the same cheesy photo of a blond hair, blue-eyed model holding a phone that almost every other business website seems to be using.

You don’t want another cookie cutter website, so stop picking cookie cutter images for your website:

Stock images that don't look genuine or real

These stock images are so fake – they don’t look genuine at all!

Use images that look more real and candid – they connect so much better with your website visitors:

Candid and unique photos of staff that appear more real

These pictures are more candid and real. They connect much better with people.

If you are having a hard time finding unique images, why not just take some yourself?

Simply whip out your iPhone and start snapping pictures. There are tons of free photo editing apps that you can use to touch up your pictures.

By the way, we’ll share with you some of the best places to find unique images below.

 

#3 Use Images that have Meaning

Don’t just pick any random picture because it looks nice.

You want the image to work to your advantage.

Consider using images that show people doing something, or interacting with one another.

These types of pictures give you another way to explain what your website is all about, and with the added benefit of capturing more attention.

For example, instead of just displaying an image of your product, you might want to have an image of someone using or interacting with the product.

image-with-a-purpose

For instance, showing a child using a product sends the message of “it is so easy to use, even a kid can use it.”

If you are a service provider, share images of you (or one of your team members) providing the service, or hosting a meeting in real life.

Images that display interactions give your visual content a lot more depth, and can connect very well with your audience.

 

#4 Use Images with Faces

Have you ever notice that marketers love to use people in their ads?

effective use of images in ads loreal

People are naturally drawn to faces and marketers know that.

When we see an ad with a model who looks straight at you, we will naturally pay extra attention to it.

You can use the same technique on your website if you have some important information you want your audience to pay extra attention to.

Choosing the right images for your website is not rocket science. You just need to remember your audience are just normal people like you. What appeals to you most likely will appeal to them as well.

Simply keep the 4 criteria above in mind when choosing your pictures, and everything will work out just fine.

Selecting pictures is a learned skill.  You’ll only get better at it with more practice!

 

Where you can find professional images

There are plenty of great resources where you can find awesome images for your website, so I’d like to share some of my favorite ones that I’ve used.

Keep in mind that some of these sources are free, and some are paid.

Paid vs Free Images

While the natural tendency is to only look for free images, I use both free and paid as they both serve different purposes.

The free images are referred to as “creative commons”. They’re free for you to download and use on your websites as long as you provide proper credit to the owner of the image (such as citing the source or the name of the person who took the picture).

  • Free images usually are less focused and are more creative. You can find more inspirational and artistic images in free resources rather than paid. They are great to use as backgrounds, header images, and mood pictures to help set the tone of your website.
  • Paid images usually have more commercial applications that are used in ads and in business websites. While they are not as interesting or inspiring to look at, they tend to serve / satisfy specific purposes. You will generally find more options for business applications. For example, if you are looking for a generic image of people shopping, paid images will give you more choices than free sources.

 

#1 – Unsplash.com

Free with creative commons – Best free image resource for inspirational, ambient image header, and background images.

unsplash-image-resource

Unsplash offers you really high-quality images taken by really talented photographers. This is by far my favorite free image resource.

I’m constantly amazed and happily impressed by the quality of free images Unsplash.com offers.

I personally feel that some of the free images here are on par with paid images.

Almost all the images on Unsplash.com are really on trend. You can be sure to find a really beautiful picture even with your eyes closed – it’s hard to go wrong.

Like most free image resources, the photographs are not created for commercial uses. So you will find a lot of landscapes, objects images and of pretty random stuff. These are great for page backgrounds, header images and in any web pages that don’t have specific commercial applications.

One thing I would like unsplash.com to improve on is the image sorting tool. They have a huge selection of amazing photos. So be prepared to scroll through tons of picture to find the one you need.

Honestly, I’m a horrible photographer. I know I will never be able to take the same high-quality photos that Unsplash.com offers.

So for me, I don’t mind scrolling through tens if not hundreds of photos – I’m just grateful to have this resource at my fingertips, thanks, unsplash.com!

Try Unsplash – Browse Images Now

 

#2 – 500px.com

Free & Paid – Best free image resource for variety & best paid resource for natural professional images.

500px-image-resource

This is my favorite place to find paid images that I can’t find in other paid stock photo resources.

500px.com has a larger selection of images than Unsplash.com, and the quality is just as good.

There is a large selection of free images, and you get way more choices if you check out paid section.

I find that the images available here are more artistic, and some of the “real life” shots are much more realistic when compared to the canned pictures from other sources.

Canned pictures look so unnatural and fake – so definitely stay away from them!

 

#3 – GettyImages.com

Paid – Best paid image resources for commercial applications in ads, business websites, brochures, etc.

gettyimage-image-resource

Getty Images is my go-to resource for paid commercial images.

Commercial images mean they work well for all kinds of business.

For example, if you have a pre-school website and you need a photo that shows a kid having fun learning, Getty Images will be the place to find this.

Amongst all the paid images provider, we like Getty the most.  They have one of the best selection of non-stock-like photos and graphics.

Some of their images are exclusive to Getty Images so you can’t find those in other stock image resources.

They also have a good search tool that allows you to quickly find the images you need.

Some of their images are exclusive to Getty Images so you can’t find those in other stock image resources.

Try Getty Images – Browse Images Now

 

#4 – Shutterstock.com & Bigstock.com

Paid – More affordable paid image resources for commercial applications in ads, business websites, brochures, etc

Shutterstock and Bigstock are two separate companies. The reason we’ve grouped them together is because they pretty much do the same job.

Both have very wide range of photos and graphics to choose from and neither are too expensive.

If you run a blog and need images on a regular basis, Bigstock has an affordable monthly plan that allows you to customize the number of images you can download each month.

bigstock-image-resource

If you occasionally need images a few times a year, Shutterstock doesn’t require you to sign up for a monthly plan. You can simply buy credits and use them toward whichever images you want.

shutterstock-image-resource-stock-photo

 

#5 – Rawpixel

Free (but need email to sign up) – Best free image resources for commercial applications in ads, business websites, brochures, etc

Rawpixel is an excellent place to find beautiful and free images that is very usable for any business websites.

When you are building a business website you want to use images with context. An image with context is an images that tells a story, which creates a much stronger connection with your visitors and also communicates subtly what your business is all about.

For example, if you have a website that sells hearing aids for seniors, this will be a great image to use:

Free images resource rawpixel

The happy seniors causally and effortlessly conversing with each other is a great home page image for selling hearing aids. It is simple, beautiful and communicates a very powerful message about what the hearing aid product can do – help people enjoy life a little bit more!

This type of contextual images is not easy to find in most free images resources because free image resources mostly focus on inspirational images. You will have a tough time finding a suitable home page image for a retirement home, travel agency, or a lot of other businesses.

This is why Rawpixel stands out for me as an excellent source of commercial images that have very practical application to various types of business websites.

Rawpixel is still pretty new at the time I’m writing this guide, so the selection may be limited as it ramps up its collection. You will need to subscribe before you can download any images. You just need to insert your email address and setup a password, which is very quick and easy.

Honestly, I just started using Rawpixel, but I can already see how useful it will be for any website designer or DIYer who is building his or her business website.

Try Rawpixel Free Images – Browse Images Now

 

Conclusion – Inject ‘life’ into your website!

Once you know where to look, picking images for your website can be really fun.

It’s hard to just go to one place to find all the images you need. Each resource we’ve listed above has its own strength and weakness. So don’t limit yourself to just one resource.

Check them out and see which one fits your personal style.

Happy [image] Hunting!

 

Image Resource Recap:

  1. Unsplash.com: Great inspirational images to use as backgrounds and headers.
  2. 500px.com: High quality and unique free & paid images to use for any purposes.
  3. Gettyimage.com: Best paid commercial images that don’t look like unnatural stock images.
  4. Shutterstock.com & Bigstock.com: Most affordable paid images.
  5. Rawpixel: Fantastic free commercial images that can be used in a variety of business websites.

Pro Tip: It is best practice to ALWAYS compress your images before uploading them to your website. Image file size is a major factor in how fast your website can load. Here are two free image compress we use:

Other Resources:

Found This Guide Helpful?

Question – Did this guide benefit you? Leave a comment below. 

Do you know anyone who can benefit from this guide? Send them this page or click on the share buttons on the left.

You’ll be helping us out by spreading the word about our website, and you’ll be helping them out!

 

Connie Wong

About Connie Wong

Designing and creating your website (especially your first one) is not a simple task. If you're a designer like me, then you're already way ahead of the game. But what if you're one of the 99% of business owners who are not technical or creative? I want to share my website design expertise with you to help you build a professional looking website to grow your business.

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Connie Wong

About Connie Wong

Designing and creating your website (especially your first one) is not a simple task. If you're a designer like me, then you're already way ahead of the game. But what if you're one of the 99% of business owners who are not technical or creative? I want to share my website design expertise with you to help you build a professional looking website to grow your business.

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21 Responses to Where to Find Professional Images for Your Website Without Paying Professional Prices

  1. #

    Really appreciate you time for that research

  2. #

    Great article & resources, thank you.

  3. #

    Very informative.
    It gave me an overview that I will now analyse further when I have more time.
    My goal is to develop a web site for our investnment club with the purpose of attracting more members.

    • Jeremy Wong
      #

      Thanks, David. Good to hear that you found this guide helpful!

      Jeremy

  4. #

    Super helpful…thanks! I had no idea that such a thing existed. I just assumed we were all doomed to using the same stock photos.

    Saving this article to my Evernote…

  5. #

    Well done! Thank you for the list of sources and your comments re: each. Each email from you folks has been of great help. All the best to you!

    • Jeremy Wong
      #

      Hi Brian,

      Glad you are finding our discussions helpful!

      Jeremy

  6. #

    hi. i’m planning to start an online shopping store on facebook, instagram, etc. i would like to create my own logo. how much would it cost me if i get your services? thx.

  7. #

    Hey, this is extremely useful and inspiring. But when you speak about fuzzy or pixelated – I think there are some measurements of a photo that one can use as a benchmark… (resolution?…). Would you or someone else be able to explain a bit about it and also tell us what are the minimum measurements to use on a webpage? Thanks!

    • Jeremy Wong
      #

      Hello Lini,

      Perhaps someone reading this can have some input, as well. But generally speaking, we don’t look at the level of pixels. It’s a careful balance between detail, and how it may impact our page’s loading speed.

      The trade off with having extremely high quality images is that it will slow down a webpage’s loading speed – which creates poor users experiences.

      The webpage will take longer to load (you also have to consider the visitors’ internet speed – which you won’t know), and if a visitor is viewing your site on a mobile phone, it might take a bit longer as well.

      So what we do is compress the images to a level where it is still detailed enough for our own standards, then test our webpage speed to see if the page still loads at a reasonable speed.

      Jeremy

  8. #

    Excellent information. Thanks heaps for sharing with the public!

    • Jeremy Wong
      #

      Thank you so much for your note, Sowmya. Glad you found our guide helpful!

      Please do share this guide by clicking on the social sharing buttons to the left side of this post. I’d really appreciate it!

      Jeremy

  9. #

    Awesome post, really useful!

    Have you heard about Rawpixel?

    You’ve probably seen our images all over the place. We’re the leading stock photo contributor in the world. We’ve just launched our website where we give away the best free design resources out there.

    We’d be stoked if you could add us to this list. Check us out on http://www.rawpixel.com

    Looking forward to you joining our community of creatives.

    BE INSPIRED. BE RAW.

    Nica

    • Jeremy Wong
      #

      Awesome! Thanks for sharing Nica!

      Jeremy

  10. #

    Epic post Connie.

    I have searched the internet high & low but so far…I haven’t encountered a blog / anyone who dishes out this kind of Intel like you guys.

    Your posts are not only only epic; but also informative.

    When I first stumbled on this site, it was via Google search & I thought it was juss my lucky day that I didn’t have to spend the whole day searching.
    I mean, you had answered all the questions I had, plus more I never even knew I needed to ask.

    The unbiased and no doubt thoroughly researched data makes this not my No. 1 stop-shop but my only site for valuable info.

    I was setting up my freelance writer site & all the tools I used (…still using ) came right from this site & everything exceeded my expectations.

    Big-up Connie & Jeremy!

    You guys rock.

    • Jeremy Wong
      #

      Hi Thembi,

      Thank you so much! So good to hear that you’re finding our discussions here helpful. And thank you for reading!

      Do share our articles by clicking on the social sharing buttons to the left side of this post. I’d really appreciate it!

      Best,

      Jeremy

  11. #

    Why not include Pixabay in this list? They’re free and awesome!

    • Jeremy Wong
      #

      Good suggestion! Thanks!

      Jeremy

  12. #

    It’s a lovely and neat sharing by you Connie! Have inspirations now for professional images to be put on my website. Thank you great job!

    • Connie Wong
      #

      You’re very welcome, Howberton! Finding the right images is one of the easiest and quickest way to transfer the design of a website. So good luck in your search!

      Connie.