How To Pick The Right Stock Photo Every Time


It takes awhile to find out how to pick the right stock photo for your website.

Some authors never get it right.They slap the first photo that catches their eye up on their website, not bothering to resize, crop, or edit it. Some of them go to a stock photo site, find one that they like, and then download the water-marked image.

Doing that is easy. But it also alienates your readers and identifies you as lazy, tech unsavvy and a pirate in training. Don’t be that author. (Find out what other mistakes authors make.)

Finding the right stock photo for your content is not has hard as it sounds.

There are a few things that you need to remember while you are searching for the right photo. These tips will never fail you and will keep you out of quite a bit of trouble.

1. Keep it legal

Doing a quick Google search will help you find images but they aren’t going to be legal. The lazy author is the one that often ends up in trouble. Using a watermarked image (without permission) is illegal. So quit ripping off stock photo sites. Your work is worth using legal images. Put the effort in to keep it legal. You owe it to yourself.

2. Make it match

Many authors make the mistake of finding an image that matches the title of the blog post. The photo needs to match the content. Bait and switch tactics are hated for a reason. Don’t insult your readers. If your blog post is about knitting, don’t put a picture of Justin Bieber next to the title.

3. Commit to a Photo

There are thousands of photos out there and you only need one of them to complete your page. Remember that because it can be overwhelming to scroll through pages of photos. Your picture is important but it shouldn’t take you hours to find the one that matches your content. If you run out of time or are looking for one for your homepage, ask us. We can help find the perfect one. The same goes for your author portrait.

4. Stay Relevant

Make sure that your photo is tasteful. You really don’t want to offend people. Don’t choose sexually charged photos or things that are generally considered taboo. Stay respectful of men, women, children, and people groups. You also want to make sure that your photo is timely. Unless you are aiming for irony, don’t choose photos that are dated. And please, no LOLCats.

Check out the nine premium stock photo sites we recommend.

5. Size it Up

Make sure that your photo is the correct size. That means you’ll have to open up your photo editing software to crop, shrink, or resize your photo. It’s important for you to know the dimensions you are working with on your website. Remember, you can always shrink a photo but you can’t always expand it. Buy big.

Which sites do you use to get legal pictures for your website? 

Are you ready for a website change? Let’s start building your new website.

10 Responses to How To Pick The Right Stock Photo Every Time

  1. Kristen March 26, 2012 at 2:19 pm #

    I like stock.xchng (, which is owned by Getty Images. The images seem to be mostly by amateurs or semi-pros. Images there are free. Not all are high-quality, but there are some gems there. When I use one of these, I include the artist’s name and website in the caption.

    • Caitlin Muir March 29, 2012 at 9:41 am #

      Thanks for letting us know!

  2. Julie H. Ferguson March 26, 2012 at 6:07 pm #

    I use Flickr and if the image is copyrighted, I ask if I can use it fully attributed. Mostly though my travel markets prefer to use my own images.

    • Caitlin Muir March 29, 2012 at 9:48 am #

      It’s always good to check. Great tip!

  3. Michael March 27, 2012 at 9:28 am #

    If I have a little while before I am posting, I’ll browse Flickr and ask the photographer. One benefit to this is that it is sending a new person to my site with a favorable impression before they get there.

    • Caitlin Muir March 29, 2012 at 9:49 am #

      Sneaky, Michael. :)

  4. Sheila Seiler Lagrand March 28, 2012 at 12:16 pm #

    I take my own photos. It’s a lot of fun and I can get exactly what I want.

    • Caitlin Muir March 29, 2012 at 9:50 am #

      That’s a great way to save money and get the image that you want. Not everyone is blessed to be a talented photographer. Happy shooting!

  5. Laurie Winslow Sargent March 28, 2012 at 12:35 pm #

    I love You can choose to use pictures for free, if you link them to the creator, or pay for them if you don’t want to give attribution. I’ve found a lot of terrific ones there lately for our Finding God Daily blog. But I always check the portfolio I’m linking the picture to, to be sure the creator has all tasteful photos.

    When you click to download, the size is usually just right for a blog post. However, in the WordPress photo upload area I can also select the size I want the photo to be.

    Instead of attribution below the photo, I title the photo in the WordPress Upload area with the attribution info, so when you hover your mouse over the photo you see that, plus I add the link.

    Another source is After I pick a photo, I choose Crop and Post and slide the control bar to make the photo width 250.Then I right-click the cropped photo and save it to my computer as a jpg.

  6. Amy Praskac July 10, 2014 at 8:04 am #

    I like You can buy single photos or join and buy credits–good prices either way. You can download immediately or request the image be emailed to you or both. They provide the html code to caption & link the photo. Lots of choices and easy to use.