I will begin this article by first stating (what might be obvious to some but not all) – it’s okay to use Google images to search for ideas but do not save these images and use them on your site! Why you might ask? Well, literally you don’t have the “rights” to do so.
Photos (along with most digital media) are copyrights of their legal owner. Therefore, you cannot use their property (whether they are photos, illustrations, video, audio, etc.) without their consent. I am no lawyer or expert in this field so I won’t go further into the legal implications of unauthorized use of digital property, but instead I will offer some alternative resources for great imagery – stock imagery websites.
Stock image sites are a great resource to find great professional images for your website within a budget. In fact, we constantly use stock imagery in our website concepts to help convey a certain atmosphere, lifestyle or “feel” for the site overall. There are some cases where we do have the option of having a photographer do a shoot for us or a client but it is not as common as using stock images.
Basically, just like you would do a search on Google images, all you need to do is go to a stock image site and use the same type of search terms to find the right image. There are different types of images needed for websites and some types are more suited to stock imagery while others are more suited to hiring a professional photographer for a shoot.
In the case of “lifestyle” imagery (conceptual photos/images which can help convey a message, mood or overall feel) stock images seem to work best from both a creative and budget standpoint. When it comes to actual product images, your best bet is to either hire a photographer or take those photos on your own as you want product imagery to appear legitimate. There are types of products where stock imagery can be used but we’ll reserve that for another article.
I’ll conclude this article by providing links to several stock image websites we use. I prefer the first option on the list (istockphoto.com) because 1) they are a Canadian company and I like supporting that; 2) their pricing is quite reasonable; 3) they have a great variety of images for pretty much any application; 4) their website and search feature work quite well.
Happy image hunting!