Images help sell your product or service for the simple reason that most of us are visual creatures. We’d rather look at images and scan a website than read content. Of course we all know that search engines can’t read images, so written content is critical, but images do help your visitors once they get to your website. If you are a vendor for manufacturer’s products, they may give you permission to use their photos, but then you run into the problem that your images look just like everyone else who is selling that product. Most of us aren’t professional photographers or graphic artists, so how do you get images to put on your website?

Young female model being photographed by male photographer.

If you are just looking for a general photo to convey a feeling, rather than to portray a specific product, the answer is often stock photos. The image above is an example of a photo purchased at iStockPhoto (now owned by Getty Images). Stock photos can be purchased on the Internet from a number of different websites including:

  • iStockPhoto.com
  • Deviantart.coom
  • ShutterStock.com
  • 123RF.com
  • BigStockPhoto.com
  • CanStockPhoto.com
  • DepositPhotos.com
  • DreamsTime.com

and many others. In addition to photos, these sites often sell digital graphics, videos and sometimes music. These can be very useful, such as if you need to get footage of seniors doing a specific activity for creating your own videos. This is also how I obtained the photos for the cover of my books.

The way these sites work is that independent photographers upload their photos, you go to the site and select a photo you want to use, then purchase “credits” which allow you to download and use the photo on your website. The photographer then gets a percentage of each sale that is made. While it is possible that if you download a really popular photo, you will run into the issue of your site looking like a copycat site, the likelihood is small and you get great images that can really make your site look professional for a reasonable cost. Your web designer may be able to use these images in creative ways to make then truly unique to you.

In an interesting move, Getty Images, the largest photo service, just made it’s pictures free to use. Well, sort of. They made it possible to embed one of their photos on your website using iframe technology, just like you would do with a YouTube video.¬† You must register for an account with them (so they have your contact information), then you must agree to their terms of use, giving them credit for the photo. Getty charges a premium for their images compared to other stock photo sites, and finding embeddable images on their site is not yet easy. For example, let’s say you want to use an image of two goldfish in a bowl. You search for that image on GettyImages.com and roll your mouse over the image as shown below:


If you see the embed icon, you can click on this to get the iframe code. This allows you to insert the image into your website or blog post by copying the code and pasting it into HTML source (not the visual editor) of your page:


While Getty claims that “Getty Images is dropping the watermark for the bulk of its collection, in exchange for an open-embed program…“, I found that there are not yet a lot of images that provide the embed option so you will have to do a lot of searching. This may change as the program becomes more popular. Once you do embed the code into your page or post, it will look like this:

Per Getty, not all Getty Images Content will be available for embedded use, and availability may change without notice. More details can be found at: http://www.theverge.com/2014/3/5/5475202/getty-images-made-its-pictures-free-to-use. Since the images are embedded into the page, you can’t alter them in any way such as combining them with text or changing the size.For example, with a downloaded stock image like the one at the beginning of this post, we could change it to look something like this:


You can’t do that with an embedded image. Still, its an interesting way to add free content to your website. I’d love to hear your comments about using this embed technology from Getty, as well as any other thoughts you have about how to obtain legal images for use on your website – feel free to comment.

Images continue to play an important role in your website’s appearance and may even impact your search engine placement results. Next month, our MeetUp topic is going to be about digital images and how you can optimize¬† images on your website.