A picture is not always worth a thousand words. While online communication is dominated by visuals these days, often the photographs, graphics or icons used don’t add much value. Just look at the photo below for example!
Nevertheless, it is usually a good idea to include some sort of eye candy, as long as you maintain a good balance between style and substance. Smart use of typography and layout can sometimes be enough, but you’ll probably find yourself hunting for photos sooner or later.
Unsplash and Pixabay
Paid stock photo services like iStock or Shutterstock can be very useful for photos and abstract graphics and are usually good value too. But there are some free alternatives worth exploring. My favourite is Unsplash, a searchable library of tens of thousands of high quality photos that are free to download and use for any purpose. To quote from the Unsplash license:
All photos published on Unsplash can be used for free. You can use them for commercial and noncommercial purposes. You do not need to ask permission from or provide credit to the photographer or Unsplash, although it is appreciated when possible.
I found most of the photos I used for this website on Unsplash and have used it for numerous other projects. If I can’t find what I’m looking for there, my next port of call is usually Pixabay. It has a much bigger library, although that means you have to wade through a lot more material. Their images are available for free under a Creative Commons license, although you’ll also find Shutterstock images offered through the site, which need to be paid for.
I believe artists shoud be paid for their work – if you’re running an event, it’s a great idea to hire a professional photographer to build up your own in-house library – but sites like Unsplash and Pixabay are fully legal and valid sources of photos, contributed freely by the photographers. Using them also ensures you avoid any nasty surprises that might come from using photos without the appropriate permissions.