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How to Avoid Tacky Stock Photo Use

In some previous posts we detailed a few of the ways in which stock photos can be an effective way to flesh out a design project or website. In another previous post, we also detailed a few of the ways in which a stock photo can be just about the ugliest sore thumb we’ve ever seen on a website. However, we have yet to discuss how you can effectively use stock photos. So, no matter if you’re looking to implement a few into your next design, or even just manage the ones that you’ve already got, we’ve got the tools and tips you need to get the job done. Without further ado, jump on down below the break to see our full resources and thoughts on how to effectively use stock photos!

  1. Don’t Use Generic Photos: Obviously, this rule means that you should not in any way use a photo that you’ve seen at one other site, or potentially hundreds of other locations. This will look incredibly tacky, and if you’ve seen the image about, you can safely bet your users have too. However, this also means that you should avoid photos that have a generic look. Sure, that cute girl with an headset on her head and a smile on her face looks nice. But what does it say about the project or site you’re creating? In our eyes, it says absolutely nothing—and to the reader’s, too. Avoid being generic or cliché, and try to find photos that say something along the lines of your website.
  2. Make Sure it Fits: On that note, also ensure the photo fits with the theme, motif, or color scheme that you’r rocking within your site. One of the tackiest ways to use a stock photo is to simply lob it into the fray without giving a second thought to how it blends in. Like any other design element, the photo will need to be immaculate and transparent. Your readers should see it, but they should never spend too long analyzing or thinking about your stock photo. That’s just not good design. A good way to think about the image is this: If you’re painting your house, you may paint a single wall a different color. However, this accent wall is not a feature of the room, it is an accent. In much the same way, the photo you choose should behave identically.

Posted on May 17, 2012

Category: Designing

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