Photography in Web Design. Where to find photos | WebReference

Photography in Web Design. Where to find photos

  Where to find photos

The last question to discuss here is, where can one find photo imagery for spicing up web pages?  There are lots of convenient sources, and overall the process of getting a photo for your page is likely to prove easier than you might think.

First and foremost, you can take the pictures you need yourself.  You don't need to be a professional photographer for this (just as you don't need to be a design graduate to make great web pages).  Moreover, you have some serious advantages over any photographer because, when taking a picture, you may already have an idea of its future use on a web page.  The very fact that you got inspired with the idea of using photography in design guarantees that your shots will be suitable for your pages.

Of course you must have at least some photography experience.  But the requirements you have to satisfy to produce a web-usable photo are really very liberal.  First of all, for on-screen use you don't need high resolution---the biggest image you can display on the Web is some 500 pixels wide anyway.  This means you won't need an expensive camera, a fine low-grain film, or a high resolution scanner. Low-end or amateur equipment will do for most cases.

Also, you don't need to hit the mark very precisely.  Photoshop, as well as its more affordable analogs, will gladly let you correct some over- or under-exposition, color balance, as well as to cut out exactly the part of the photo you need.  All you need to do is to take a lot of pictures under various conditions until one of them satisfies you.

However, the most common source of photography for design needs is various stock photo agencies, i.e. companies that collect and resell the production of professional photographers.  Now nearly all of these agencies are selling scanned digital images (not prints or transparencies), most often on CDs or online.

Digital stock photos have lots of advantages: they're very high resolution (a single image may take up to tens of Mb), professionally scanned, retouched and color corrected, they're royalty free and have model releases (i.e. the persons pictured have signed a statement that they won't mind your using their portraits). Most importantly, they're professionally done, which means you'll get not only a material to work on but also a powerful inspiration for your design.

The only disadvantage is that these photos aren't your creation.  On the other hand, the diversity of imagery offered by big agencies is really beyond imagination, so the chances of finding exactly what you need are pretty good.  Even simply browsing a catalog or online collection of stock photos may prove an exciting experience giving lots of ideas and inspiration.  Stock Photo Network is a good starting point for your research into the field.

Quoting one of the finest stock photo suppliers, Photodisc:

"As little as seven or eight years ago, stock photography meant one thing: full-color images of people and places---people centered in the frame, smiling, laughing, walking on the beach, sitting behind a computer... typical representations of families, technology, and business.  But today, anything goes---concept photographs, alternative processes, black and white images, you name it."


Created: Aug. 23, 1997
Revised: Aug. 25, 1997