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Studies have shown that visitors decide very quickly whether or not to stay or leave a website.

A big factor in that decision is the visual aesthetic of your website. Does it look appealing? Is it professional? Does it convey the right message?

Stock photography can give your website the aesthetic boost it needs to pique a visitor's interest.

Thanks to the internet, site owners have no shortage of places to find free and reasonably-priced stock photography.

Free stock photography

The following websites provide free stock photographs. Be sure to read the fine print to ensure that your intended use of the photos is allowed.

Paid stock photography

The following websites charge for their photography but offer photos on a royalty-free basis.

Stock photography tips

Stock photos should be used appropriately. Here are some tips:

  • Don't go overboard. There's a fine line between using stock photos to add a professional touch and becoming "cheesy." When in doubt, err on the side of moderation.
  • Use relevant photos. Try to use photos that are directly relevant to the message you're trying to convey. Don't get too creative by choosing photos that are visually stimulating but that don't fit in with your core message.
  • Avoid overused photos. Although none of the services above guarantee that you'll be the only person using a specific photo, try to avoid stock photos that you've seen elsewhere. Some services display popularity rankings, which can be helpful in selecting a photo that is unlikely to be overused.

Published 13 June, 2008 by Patrick Oak

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