How To Find Free On-Brand Photos To Use On Your Blog
How do you find photos for your blog and social posts? Do you get all confused when looking for photos that are the right style for you?
I can give you a list with links to popular websites for free photos and tell you to look for the ones that “match your style” or “feel right for your message or brand.”
But what does that even mean?
No, I won’t do that. Today, I’ll give you a map for creating a collection of free photos that are perfect for you. Moreover, I’ll tell you how to ignore all the rest of the pretty pictures that are screaming for your attention but do nothing for your brand.
how many ways are there to find good photos?
There are only four ways to get your hands on photos for your business:
Download free photos - These are free photos that don’t require you to credit the author or link back to the download source. The most popular website for free photos is unsplash.com
Buy premium photos - These are single photos or bundles of stock photos you can buy on digital goods place, such as creativemarket.com
Shoot them yourself - If photography is one of your hobbies, you can take some or all of your photos yourself. This is what I choose to do.
Hire a pro - If you have the budget and know what you want, this is a great option for you.
How to find free on-brand photos to use on your blog
I shoot the photos for my website myself, but for my products I use free photos from unsplash.com. We’ll use this platform as an example for our photo finding map:
1. Know your brand style
This is the first and most important thing you should do when designing your brand and here’s why: How to Find Your Brand Style And Why You Should Do It Before You Design Your Logo.
Go ahead and make a list of keywords about the look and feel of your brand, the feelings you want to create in the souls of your customers, how you want your brand to look, etc.
2. Create a moodboard
When you have a list of keywords, create a moodboard by picking nine photos that are EXACTLY what you want. It doesn’t matter where the photos are from, they will be just for inspiration and you won’t use them anywhere public.
3. CREATE A COLLECTION
Open unsplash.com and start typing your keywords. Look for images that match your moodboard and add them to a new collection.
Look for similar composition, colors, objects, light, white space, mood, etc.
If you don’t use unsplash.com or use more than one website to look for photos, you can create a secret board on Pinterest and create your collection there.
I don’t recommend downloading the photos directly. It’s harder to look for similar photos on the same website if you’ve lost the link to the photo. Also, without the link there’s no way to to check what the license of the photo is at any given moment.
4. Prune your collection
Once you go through all your keywords, walk away from your computer for an hour, go have a coffee, a walk outside with your fur baby or prep the veggies for dinner. Then come back, open your collection and remove the photos that don’t match your moodboard and the rest of the photos. They’ll stick like a sore thumb. Some will be just a bit off - you can leave those if you think you can put a filter on them or crop them in Canva. If not, remove them too.
5. DOWNLOAD YOUR COLLECTION
Download all the images to a folder on your computer. Use templates in Canva and presets filters in VSCO or Lightroom to style them all the same.
And that’s it. You’ve created a collection of photos that go really well together and match your brand perfectly.
How many photos do you need?
Not many. 20 to 30 are enough to get you started and keep you going for a while. You can use one photo multiple times if you crop it or style it in different ways.
4 Bonus tips for unsplash.com users:
When you find a photo you like a lot, click on the author’s name and look through their other work. Bookmark the authors that match your style.
Make a habit of browsing through unsplash.com once a month and adding new photos to your collection.
Install the unsplash app on your phone and look for photos for your business instead of wasting your time watching videos of a cat nursing hedgehogs (nope, never happened!)
Prune you collection every now and then.
How to forget all the other photos in the world?
Once you’ve downloaded all photos and have them all styled the same, you have something I call a photo vault. You’ve done such a good job creating it, well done, you! Now, I want you to get up, stretch, make yourself a cup of tea and think about this:
What is the thing that you need to be doing right now to A) help people and B) make money?
As much as you love looking through gorgeous photos and testing pretty fonts (oh, me too, sister!), I bet this isn’t what matters in your business. Just as any other design task you’ve checked off your list (or schedule), finding suitable images for your website is just this - a task. Unless you are a designer, you’re done, you have your photos and now it’s time to do the real work and create real value.
Go do that!
How do you find your images?
The question I asked in the beginning was “Do you get all confused when looking for photos that are the right style?” Do you feel more confident after reading this article? Let me know if you have a different method of finding stock photos for your brand.