Selecting an Image
Before You Select Your Images
Answer these questions:
- What will be the purpose of the image?
- How will the image fit in with the content on the page?
- What will the image express or emphasize?
- What are the key words that describe what you want to convey?
Now that you know what you want the image to convey, you need to find a few images to select from
Look for Images that Fit the Message You Want to Convey
No, no, no, no, no, no, no!
Never, ever just grab an image off the web! Images are copyrighted and licensed. Not only can the university (and your department) get fined for using an image you don’t have a license for, it is just not the right thing to do. If you get an image from a “free” stock photo site, be sure to print out the license for your records.
Use images taken or created locally or through a stock photo service. The best images are those that reflect our university.
Here are some resources:
- Photos taken locally (on campus and on location)
This option makes your images unique to our university and gives the visitor a true description of who we are.
- Graphics created locally.
University Relations has a graphic designer that can create professional looking graphics.
- Photo shoots (with a professional photographer)
University Relations has a photographer that can assist with photo shoots. You can also hire a professional photographer from the outside, but they need to understand our branding and the types of photos we use on the web site. Explain to the photographer what you are trying to convey.
- University Relations (we have lots of images)
Our photographer is out shooting photos across our campuses. We can assist you with selecting photos we already have in stock.
- Stock photo sites (use sparingly)
Stock photo sites have great photos and there are some relatively inexpensive ones. Just be aware that, you might be selecting a photo that may show up on other websites as well.
Narrow Down Your Selection
Start with at least 3 or 4 images. Look at each one and ask these questions:
- Is the image high quality?
If it’s out-of-focus or grainy, don’t use it. It also needs to be large enough that it does not need sizing up.
- Does it convey the right feeling?
Note how the image makes you feel. Ask others to give you feedback as well. Is that the feeling you want your visitors to have?
- Does it add information?
Don’t slap an image on a page just because you want a pretty picture or to help break up text. There are many other elements that can be used to visually break up text and give it “breathing space.”
- Is it fairly unique?
An image that is seen on other websites does not have the same impact as one that is unique to you or your program. This is why stock imagery should not be your first choice in selecting images.
- Is there a clear focal point? (clarity)
A cluttered image is no image at all. Is the main subject in focus while the background is soft and out of focus? Or is there plenty of space around the subject to give it emphasis? Can the image be “fixed” with cropping while still maintaining a large enough size for your needs?
- Does the image talk to you? (impact)
Sometimes an image just does nothing for you. If this is the case, don’t use it.
- Does the image distract from the content or call-to-action?
Images can draw so much attention that they detract the visitor from the information you want to convey or the action you want them to take. Can you use the image to draw their attention to the content or call-to-action?
- Can the image be cropped and still be big enough to fit the space?
Sometimes cropping the image makes it too small for the purpose you have in mind. That’s why it is best to start with an image fresh from a camera before it has been resized and/or the resolution reduced.
Sometimes We Can Make a "So-So" Image Better
If you have an image that has great content but just needs a little tweaking and adjusting, it might be possible to make that image better via image editing software like Photoshop, etc. If this is the case, keep the following in mind when selecting images.
Sometimes cropping an image gives it more impact and clarity. Keep these things in mind when considering cropping an image.
- The smaller the image, the fewer details you want in it.
- Remove distractions in the background.
- Will cropping the image cause it to lose context or clarify your message?
Sharpening make crisper edges.
- Resized images almost always need a little sharpening (using unsharp mask) as they lose detail when sized down.
- If an image is slightly out of focus, sharpening might help, especially around the eyes of a person.
- Sharpening cannot help really fuzzy images and doesn't work well on small images.
Brightness and Contrast
Dark images, or ones that seem flat, can benefit from adjusting their brightness and contrast.
- Works best with the original image.
- Already overexposed images cannot recover any detail in blown out areas.
Someone forgot to use their flash! Outdoors is pretty simple, but indoors, we have all sorts of color for lighting. Tungsten light (regular lightbulbs) cast a warm yellow/brown light. Some fluorescent lights cast a green light. Sunlight has a bluish cast.
- Changing the color temperature of an image can help give a more natural look.
- Access to either the training web site or as a web editor to your site.
- Cascade: Basic I training
- High resolution images with no copyright issues