When searching for that iconic photo that embodies the essence of your business, remember to keep your target audience in mind. Try to ensure the people you are communicating with are represented in your images. Primarily, you have to illustrate the obvious- elderly people for a retirement home, or people hiking for an expedition group. But also try to see this as an opportunity to communicate the values of your company. Choose an image that clearly tells your story.

Cliché stock photos do nothing for the personality of a company- remember authenticity is key. If your chosen image is authentic, then your business appears considered and stable, which in turn is a positive reflection of your service.

Be wary of images that depict overly posed or fake situations. Go for more candid and natural images; images you actually like for their aesthetic quality, not just images that fit the generic requirements. People are drawn to situations and people they can relate to. If you want to sell a concept to your audience then don’t scare them away with overly enthusiastic models that can appear fictitious and lead to scepticism. Avoid images with models staring straight at the camera- we’re an easily intimidated species.

two young handsome businessmen using tablet

Although isolated backgrounds can clearly depict an item or scenario, they also come off as colder and decontextualized, with more often than not, stark lighting. Soft ambient lighting communicates a friendlier, warmer atmosphere.

Keep up! It’s also important you remain up to date and aware of current fashion and marketing trends. Avoid passé stock photos. This goes for lighting and colour schemes. Not only do these elements depict the era of an image, but also its atmosphere. Natural, ambient, soft lighting with subdued or one-accent-colour palettes are trending right now.

serious african man

Other Elements to be conscious of when searching for images are:

Depth of field; this component lends a sense of interest and quality, giving viewers a specific focal point.


Unique perspective; makes for less static images.

Young Couple in a cafe

Photoshop; a necessary tool, but shouldn’t be obvious.

Young kid having dental check up.

Form Follows Function; choose an image that crops well for its function. When searching for a header image, chances are that this space requires a landscape photo that will span the width your website, and is not very tall. In this case, it’s important to choose a photo that will crop well to this proportion.

Regarding this point, make sure additionally that there is enough negative space for text to be integrated into the image!

Young man in the office

Finally, keep searching! Don’t choose the first image that seems to suit your needs. You want an image that is unique to your brief, not one you came across on the first or second page of your search results or that everyone else is using. Originality is integral to set yourself aside from the masses. Try our Undiscovered search tool to find images that have not yet been purchased on Fotolia, as illustrated below:


Another useful tool is the find similar images tool, located below an image you have selected, in which you would like to see related content of.


Use appropriate or fewer search term words, and keep them creative; take a fresh approach to your subject. Some under-estimated keywords, and symbols to bear in mind to help your search-

AND Find images that contain both keywords

OR  Find images which contain either keyword 

NOT Find images that do not contain this keyword(s)  

()  Group keywords and apply a syntax element to their series

The Colour Palette search option is also a valuable tool. It is used alongside your keywords, and can help depict the atmosphere you’re after!

THE PURCHASE– Know what you are buying

-Zoom in on the image to see its quality before purchasing.

-Know the difference between megapixel  (one million pixels) and megabyte (a unit of computer memory or data storage capacity equal to 1,024 kilobytes).

-Try out the comp version. Fotolia offers free low-resolution comp images, to be used for mock-up purposes only. To download a comp image, simply click the “Download a Comp” link on the photo details page. Comp images may not be used in your final project.

-As you know images come in various sizes. If you are intending on printing your file be sure to ask your printing provider which DPI out-put they use to ensure the best result.

-When purchasing be aware of the difference between credits and subscriptions. Credits are Fotolia’s currency. All image download prices are indicated in credits. When purchased in quantity, credits cost as little as $0.74 each. Whereas a subscription plan allows members to download 25 – 250 images per day from the standard collection. The subscription plan does not require the purchase of credits. Alternatively, a monthly pack allows members to download 5-5000 files per month without a daily limit. If you don’t use all of your downloads within a month, these unused downloads roll over to the following month, as long as your subscription is active or renewed.

-When purchasing a vector ensure you buy a vector file as opposed to a jpeg version of the vector. Vectors are sold in one of three formats- .ai /.eps /.svg. It’s key to ensure your vector editing software is able to read the format you’re about to purchase.

Don’t forget, if you have a VAT number enter it into your profile before you buy your files.

Good luck, and remember the more time you dedicate to finding the right image, the higher the overall success rate of your project will be over the long term!