Now that we know what characteristics to look for in authentic photos, the next step is to actually find that perfect authentic photo to complement your content. Easy right? Not so much. Because the web is filled with terrible photography, it can take seemingly forever to sift through countless images to find the right one. Fortunately, there are a few tricks you can use to make this process less painful and quickly sift out the bad photos, leaving you with the cream of the crop to choose from.

photography terms

1. Use actual photography terms

Searching for photos by using real photography terms is a surefire way to weed out amateur imagery. Think about it. If someone is a seasoned photographer, they’ll likely tag or describe their photos with the techniques they’re using. These techniques may include:

  • Low angle
  • Defocused
  • Silhouette
  • Depth of field
  • Front view
  • Head and shoulders
  • Motion blur
  • Long exposure
  • Wide angle
  • Selective focus

On the other hand, if someone is an amateur photographer or shooting very stocky images, they’re very unlikely to be aware, let alone tag, their photo with those technique keywords.


2. Think of the emotion you’re trying to evoke

Another thing to consider when searching for imagery is the emotion you want someone to feel when they see it. Colors have a significant impact on our emotions and can attract or deter your audience with a quick glance. Below we can see how the following colors impact our emotions in significantly different ways:

RED: Red is the warmest and most intense of the colors. It is often associated with passion and love as well as anger and danger. It can increase a person’s heart rate and make them excited.

ORANGE: Orange enhances a feeling of vigor and happiness. Similarly to red, it grabs attention but is not as overpowering. It is aggressive but balanced — it portrays energy but at the same time can be inviting and friendly.

YELLOW:  Yellow is the most energetic of the warm colors. It is used to represent laughter and hope. It is best used to grab attention in an energetic and comforting way.

PURPLE: Purple is associated with creativity, royalty and wealth. Purple is often used to soothe or calm a viewer, which is why it is often used in beauty products. Incorporating purple can make something feel more luxurious and wealthy, while a lighter purple can be used to feel romance and mystery.

BLUE: Blue evokes feelings of calmness as well as security and trust. Seeing the color blue actually causes the body to create chemicals that are calming. Because of this, it is no surprise that it’s the most favored of the colors.

GREEN: Green symbolizes health, new beginnings and wealth. It is a great color to depict growth, security or inspire possibility.

Keeping these guideline in mind, let’s look at an example:

For the article titled, “7 Essential Roles for a Successful Content Marketing Strategy” we want to evoke a calm feeling. We want the reader to think, “If I read this article, I’ll have all the answers I need to form my content marketing team.” A typical stock photo choice for this article might look something like this:

Bad teamwork photo

You may think that a photo showing hands working together for something like a trust fall camp activity may be a great option to represent this article. “Look how great they’re working together!” In reality, however, no one works together like this and thus the hand web image comes off as inauthentic and staged… The stark white background also almost may make the reader fear for falling through the circle of trust into a blank abyss! Now let’s look at a better option:

7 Essential Roles for a Successful Content Marketing Strategy

This image is a better option for a few reasons. First, the blue water is calming. Second, the ripples and waves add depth to background, but aren’t too distracting from the photo’s subject. Finally, the rowers are a perfect representation of a team successfully working together in sync.

Be specific

3. Be specific

Finally being as specific as possible in your search is the best way to find exactly what you’re looking for. Images that are tagged with more descriptive words are likely highlighting detail and will return more specific results. For example, if you’re searching for food images, such as soup, simply searching for “soup” may return images like this:
bad soup image

Bland, mystery soup in your grandmother’s kichen bowl. On the other hand, if we search from something like “clam chowder sourdough,” our results will likely return something like this:

clam chowder sourdough

Creamy New England goodness. As we can see in this example, searching for non-descriptive and bland keywords will return non-descriptive and bland results. Simply including basic detailed descriptions, however, can return drastically different results.

These are just a few simple tricks to keep in mind the next time you’re searching for images to complement your content. If you’re really struggling to find the perfect photo that is authentic and also complements your article, air on the side of authenticity. An image that is beautiful but doesn’t completely represent your content will still keep your credibility and visual identity intact. Choosing a stock photo, however, will throw your visual branding off and appear inconsistent.


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