6 Tips to Find Better Images for Your Writing Content
If you’re like me, then you’re doing a lot of content sharing on social platforms, as well as sites like Medium and LinkedIn. All of that writing needs great images to capture the reader’s attention and hook them in. There are great sites like Pixabay and Unsplash that offer free pictures. But a lot of the free images are…well, there’s a reason they’re free.
So how can you get something a little better?
1. Skip the first page of images.
Most of the images that come up on the first page or so or results have been used a million times. That’s mainly because most people don’t have the patience to click through to later results. Save yourself the pain of using images people have seen in dozens of places. Skip to the middle or end of the relevant search results. Remember this rule even when working within editing tools that have their own image libraries.
2. Consider video.
If you can find a free video clip, then you can use free software to take that clip and capture a single image. The benefit here is that there’s very little chance that someone else has grabbed the exact video frame as you. It’s also easy to create GIF images that would be more impactful than a static frame. Credit the videographer, just as you would a photographer.
3. Crop your images.
Sometimes a picture would work if it just weren’t for…that thing. So get comfortable cropping free images you find. By removing sections, zooming in or out, or changing the aspect ratio, you can give the photo an entirely new feel. Some tools now are using AI and other technologies to provide supplemental options, such as removing backgrounds or erasing/substituting elements within the image.
4. Reach out.
You know how many really great photographers there are online? A LOT. There are also tons of people posting pretty impressive photos on places like Instagram. Reach out and ask if they’d consider taking a shot for you or selling one they’ve already taken. Paying for a photo can be worth it if the photographer gives you exclusive rights. Additionally, some people don’t care about getting paid so long as you provide a credit or backlink.
5. Rethink your keywords.
A lot of search engines within photo sites are hit or miss because of the way photos are tagged. So think about what’s related to or associated with what you want to find. How else would someone look for that thing? For example, when I did a trial of Visme and searched “tree”, I got a lot of photos of birds. Why? Guess what. Birds live in trees. In the same way, you might find a better picture of a goat searching for “farm animals” than you would if you actually searched for “goat.”
6. Consider artificial intelligence.
I always will prefer working with real artists when it’s possible. I value what they get back out of the creative process. But artificial intelligence queries can produce some incredible, hyper-realistic images even for abstract concepts. If multiple artists don’t seem to be grasping what you have in mind or it would be unsafe for them to try to produce it, try a few queries and see what the AI tool generates. The key is to always identify which of your images are AI-sourced and which ones are not. Do your homework on how the developers have trained the AI and avoid any tools that generate without proper permissions.
One final thing to keep in mind is that, with services like Visme and Canva on the market and offering free levels, it’s easy to change photos with all kinds of filters, shapes and effects, text, rotations/flips, and overlays. So think creatively and don’t assume that the photo has to stay as it is. Imagine the final effect and see if you can manifest parts into a workable whole.