What are the do's and don't s of image use? This has come up a lot recently in various discussions with some of our clients. Images are a huge part of our work and here is our advice on handling pictures and image rules.

Note that this is not a discussion on the legalities of copyright and ownership as that would need a thesis - these are just simple enough tips to help you come across more professionally. Here we discuss reputable image sources and the best way to handle your images.

Reputable sources of imagery

Contrary to what many people we talk to think, you can't just use any image you come across. Don't fall for using images off Google as these are someone's images. Reputable sources of imagery are:

  1. Contracting your own photographer. This may not be as expensive as you think especially with growing numbers of graduates wanting to make a name for themselves. Talk to your photographer about ownership and how you can use the images. This can be the best way of getting exactly the right imagery you need for your brand but only if you get the right photographer and set the right brief.
  2. Stock images like Istockphoto can be a useful and more economical source of images. Make sure you understand how you can use the images (see Istock's explanation here). Stock images offer a vast resource but be careful - they can look 'stock imagey' if not chosen carefully and popular images can be spotted in use again and again - something that may not be good for your brand.
  3. Flikr.com can be an excellent free image resource but tread carefully - not all images can be used and most will need to be credited. To understand the rules read about the Creative Commons Licence on Flickr.  You can search within a particular licence type from this page.

Handling your images

Once you have the images you need make sure you avoid amateurish mistakes and follow these tips to ensure a quality finish.

  1. If you need to change the size of your image make sure you keep it proportional.
  2. Don't make your images bigger than their original size so that they pixelate (blur).
  3. If you are going to print out your images make sure they are set 300 dpi (dots per inch) which will ensure a non blurry print out.
  4. If you are using the images for your website set them at 72 dpi and make them as small as possible without sacrificing quality - this helps your website not get too slow.
  5. Think about how you place your images - ugly white space around them are exactly that - ugly.

Getting the best out of your images may take a little time. Experiment with how you use images particularly in your blog. You may need some more detailed tutorials on the technical handling of images which I have only just touched on but there is no shortage of these around. With a little bit of effort you can make a positive impression by using images effectively.

AuthorSara Drawwater