Photos Matter.

Good photos are essential for me as I blog. The best recommendation I have is to take good photos yourself. Using your own photos makes your site unique and personable.

But what if you're not a professional photographer and/or can't afford to hire one like me? There are some options of where to obtain good photos and I use these myself.

Where to Find Photos Online

  • Stock photo agencies. My first preference is to purchase a stock photo. There's tons of them online to choose from. This is a great way to avoid using a photo that could be copyrighted and avoiding possible lawsuits. Among the norm websites that offer royalty-free photos are: iStockphoto, Dreamstime, Shutterstock, and Getty's Images, but I really like and use Canstockphoto, I like their price structure the best.
  • Public Domain photos. These are defined as images for which the copyright has expired or never existed in the first place. But, do your homework. I'm NOT a copyright expert and sometimes pictures might show up in the public domain, but could still have some sort of copyright attached to them. In any case if there's someone to contact, ask permission to use their photo. I'd highly recommend doing that BEFORE you use the photo. To read more about public domain images, click here. Here's a few other resources of public domain sites: Wikimedia Commons, Flickr Commons, Public, PD Photo, and Public-Domain-Pictures.
  • Free Image Sites. The websites I've listed in this category are places that offer free images, however there may be restrictions attached to any pics used like for instance, attribution and linking back to the original photographer. You'll have to read through these restrictions before usage. Sites I've used in past are: FreeImages, MorgueFile, and Stock Vault. UPDATE! I've recently found a couple of websites that offers free images for commercial and personal use without requiring attribution at all. The site is called SplitShire. The owner of this site has been a photographer for many years and he updates his site daily. He has photos sorted into categories which makes it easy to find what you want. Some of the photos aren't suitable for my blog, but I have found a few that I've used. is the other one that I like a lot. They provide high quality and completely free stock photos licensed under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license. You can also search by color, a feature I use a lot.

Now, that I've talked about where to get photos, time to talk about how to take them. Now, these are just my suggestions. There's a lot of information online and video tutorials on how to take good still life photos. Below, I'm sharing some of my favorites and why.

Tips to Make Your Photos Stand Out

Using a mannequin is a great way to take pics of clothing and this one is a very plain photo against a white wall, but it brings great attention to the blue infinity scarf. The mannequin isn't wearing anything that would compete with the scarf. If you're selling items, you want to use props, but you don't want them to take the viewer's eye off the item you're selling. Your prop(s) should complement the item.

I'm a big fan of wood or rustic backgrounds for showing off a photo's point of interest as in this photo. The white shelves gives a nice contrast against the wall and in the photo below with the knitted piece.

Lighting is imperative for a good photo so outdoor light is preferable. Shooting indoors requires having equipment like umbrellas, studio lights, backdrops. An option if you can't get that outdoor lighting is to photograph items near a window to let as much natural light come in, typically on a bright cloudy day. I found a terrific article, "It's The Lighting, Not the Camera" that goes into product photography in great detail.

What If I Don't Have a Studio Set-up?

Not a problem! Get yourself a wooden table and place it next to a window or you purchase contact paper to cover your table. I bought white marble on Amazon and I love it! You'll find them in many different textures. Add a bouquet of flowers as an accent or other objects that again complement the item you're focusing on. For example, if you're taking a picture of an iPad Air, place a notepad and pen next to it to add interest.

One final point: remember having light on dark and dark on light gives off a nice, even-toned photograph. Even if you're not selling online, having clear, crisp photos will enhance your blog making it a very attractive experience for your visitors. And in the end, what you want are repeat visitors.