3 Pro Tips For Finding the Perfect Image

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We Held a Webinar!

You may have heard that we have partnered up with Graphic Stock recently to bring your a chance to win $5,000. You may have also seen that last week we held a webinar with our very own Design & UX channel editor Alex Walker.

It was our first webinar, and we were pretty happy to see such a great turn out! Sure there may have been a couple of early hiccups which are now hilarious playbacks, regardless Alex did a brilliant job speaking to us all about stock images! In case you missed last week’s webinar, I’ve created a recap from part 2 of his presentation.

3 Tips for Finding the Perfect Image

Tip #1. Work on Good Copy First

Killer copy can make ordinary images great! Now let’s take a look at an example of this, the Volkswagen Print Ad in 1960.

Volkswagen (1960)

vw cliche example

At first glance, it’s clear that this layout uses a very stock-standard – even boring – car image with the plainest composition you could imagine. But it’s the single-word headline below that is so jarringly brilliant that it forces you to do a mental double-take. A single word: “Lemon”. After being drawn into reading the copy, you learn how a small blemish on the glove-box caused this car to fail VW’s quality testing.

Just to prove how clever they were, Volkswagen’s ad team re-used the same, fairly tedious car image in a different way not long after.

vw good example At a time when Time Magazine charged $6,000 for a full-page ad, Volkswagen was brave enough to leave most of their page empty, shrinking the car image and running with the simple headline ‘Think small’. In a world of big, glossy cars and big glossy car ads, a simple layout combined with sharp copywriting got amazing cut-through with readers. In both cases, VW decided to go against current advertising norms and had great success breaking into a very competitive US car market. They didn’t need expensive photo shoots in exotic locations – in fact, the image looks like it could well be from the Beetle drivers manual. The lesson from this example is that of clever copywriting (and some good layout) can make an ordinary image GREAT !

Tip #2. Identify the ClichéS – and Break Them

Once you have identified the cliché images for your project, then TWIST them…. Bend them… and then BREAK them! That’s right, be unique. Some of the clichés you may be looking for could be the subject matter, camera angles, typography, color or style.

Levi Jeans

Consider this thought. You may have grown up watching your parents wear Levi Jeans, and there’s a high chance you’ve had Levi’s at one stage, you may even be wearing them now. Levi Strauss has been operating for 160 years now which makes them an old, old company.

levi cliche example

So, how does an old company like Levi Jeans stay young and hip in the eyes of its customers? The standard approach has always been to ‘show young, hip people wearing their denim’. Unfortunately, almost all of their competitors will market denim with the same approach, making it hard to get cut through. So to change their game up little, Levi selected a photo of a flock of white sheep heading in one direction and photoshopped in a single black sheep heading in the opposite direction. This ‘stand out from the crowd’ message might have taken 30 minutes to create in Photoshop and a modest budget.

Levi Sheep ad

Pedigree Dog Food

pedigree cliche example

How does Pedigree dog food break the cliché to promote the idea of dog adoption. The obvious approach is to show a sad puppy and ask us to “Please save all the sad puppies” – or help us with our problem.

Pedigree took a less obvious approach by making the pitch all about you and your problems, showing how dog adoption can help your mental health and happiness. A 10-minute photoshop trick changes the meaning of the original image, and the tagline of ‘Take care of yourself and adopt a dog’ delivers the ‘payload’. Clever.

Two photos: Man alone - man with dog


How did WWF twist the cliché with their campaigns to protect the Arctic?

The obvious approach would be to say ”Nawww! Aren’t polar bears so cute? Save the arctic!” And readers will look at the picture of cute polar bears and agree – because they ARE cute – and turn the page. wwf cliche example

But to make their message really land and twist the obvious, WWF used Photoshop to deface those beautiful, pristine white bears with grungy, colored graffiti ‘tags’. Even though I know it’s been photoshopped, I still can’t help feeling a little sick looking at it. It’s a silly trick, but this image impacts you on a much more gut level which I think makes it harder for readers to just smile blithely at the cute bears and turn the page.

ww twist example

These are a few of the topics covered, but you can watch all the examples in the webinar below.

Tip #3?

To get tip 3, you’ll have to watch Alex’s video below.

Watch: 3 Pro Tips for Finding the Perfect Image

You can also find a copy of his slide deck here. Thanks Alex!

Frequently Asked Questions about Finding the Perfect Image

What are some tips for finding the perfect image for my project?

When looking for the perfect image, consider the purpose of your project. The image should align with the message you want to convey. Use high-quality images that are clear and sharp. Consider the composition of the image, including the arrangement of objects, the use of color, and the use of light. Also, consider the emotional impact of the image. It should evoke the right emotions in your audience. Lastly, ensure the image is legally available for use to avoid copyright issues.

How can I make my photos look professional?

To make your photos look professional, you need to understand the basics of photography. This includes understanding how to use light, how to compose your shots, and how to use your camera settings effectively. Post-processing is also a crucial part of professional photography. Learn how to use editing software to enhance your photos and give them a professional finish.

What tools can I use to create images for social media?

There are several tools available for creating images for social media. These include Canva, Adobe Spark, and Buffer’s Pablo. These tools offer a range of templates and design elements that can help you create eye-catching and engaging images for your social media posts.

How can I improve my photography skills?

Improving your photography skills requires practice and learning. Take time to learn about different photography techniques and principles. Practice regularly and experiment with different styles and techniques. Seek feedback from others and be open to critique. You can also consider taking photography classes or workshops to further improve your skills.

How can I take professional photos?

Taking professional photos requires a good understanding of photography principles and techniques. This includes understanding how to use light effectively, how to compose your shots, and how to use your camera settings to achieve the desired effect. Post-processing is also a crucial part of professional photography. Learn how to use editing software to enhance your photos and give them a professional finish.

What should I consider when choosing images for my website?

When choosing images for your website, consider the message you want to convey. The images should align with your brand and the content on your website. They should be high-quality and clear. Also, consider the size of the images. Large images can slow down your website, so it’s important to optimize your images for the web.

How can I find high-quality images for my projects?

There are several online platforms where you can find high-quality images for your projects. These include stock photo websites like Shutterstock, iStock, and Unsplash. These platforms offer a wide range of images in various categories. Always ensure to check the licensing terms before using an image.

How can I create engaging images for social media?

Creating engaging images for social media requires a good understanding of your audience and the platform you’re using. Use colors and design elements that align with your brand. Include text in your images to convey your message effectively. Also, consider the size and format of the images as different platforms have different requirements.

What are some common mistakes to avoid when choosing images?

Some common mistakes to avoid when choosing images include using low-quality images, using irrelevant images, not considering the message you want to convey, and not checking the licensing terms of the image. It’s also important to avoid using too many images as this can distract from your content.

How can I use images effectively in my content?

To use images effectively in your content, ensure they align with your message. Use high-quality images that are clear and sharp. Consider the placement of your images in your content. They should enhance your content and not distract from it. Also, ensure to use alt text for your images to improve accessibility and SEO.

Angela MolinaAngela Molina
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Angela has been fascinated by and trawling the web since dial-up was the only way to connect. Now she's helping you learn (even more) as the Production Manager at SitePoint Premium.

AlexWchoosing imagesclichéscopywritingimage selectionstock imagerystock photography
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