A beautifully designed website needs beautiful images to match. Check out our edit of the best stock photos for websites, full of high-quality images to use across a variety of sites.
Whether you’re designing a website for a big corporation, a quirky start-up, a hobby blog, or an online shop, you’re sure to find image inspiration in our roundup of the best stock photos for websites. We’ll show you the top categories of images that offer versatile and adaptable styles and subject matter, so that anyone can use them on any site. Plus, we’ll point out how to apply these stock photos to your website, making sure they blend into your brand seamlessly.
Stock Photos for Websites
Short of actually being a professional photographer or designer (or being close to someone who is), stock photos are the most convenient solution to website design that you’ll come across. Why? Because they’re versatile. Stock photos are made to be used in all types of settings, by all types of people, with all types of goals. You can easily find a stock photo, or even a series of stock photos, to support your unique website vision. Even better, you won’t have to sink money into expensive photoshoots or professional graphic design.
True, stock photos won’t replace every image on your website. They aren’t interchangeable with actual product shots, headshots, and other context-specific imagery. But they’re great for everything else! Use stock photos and illustrations as website backgrounds, hero and banner images, blog images, and more.
Read on to discover the categories of stock photos that effortlessly enhance website designs, from abstract and surrealist backgrounds to epic landscapes.
Portraits of People
Best for: Websites for service companies, fashion, beauty, lifestyle, not-for-profit and people-centric organizations. Discover our stock photos of people.
Portraits of people can help to make your site feel warmer, friendlier, and more immersive. Try an ultra-stylish fashion portrait to up the cool factor or opt for natural shots of smiling, happy individuals. These images work for a broad range of service-based and people-centric companies, from PR companies to charities.
For an extra dose of style, try a black-and-white portrait, teaming with bright or neon text for an instant aesthetic boost.
Look to photographer Madeleine Dalla’s online portfolio for portrait inspiration. Teamed with timeless serif typography and an otherwise simple and graphic black and white palette, the result is immersive, cool and sophisticated. No wonder then that the site won the community-elected Awwwards Site of the Month in March 2020.
Portraits of Animals
Best for: Business websites that want to appear friendly and personable, such as budget travel companies, internet providers, and agencies. Discover our stock photos of animals and wildlife.
Animal photography doesn’t have to be limited to veterinary practices and dog-walking services. Pet portraits can inject humor and joy into website designs, making them a great fit for any website that wants to appear more friendly and open.
Quirky shots of canine companions set against bright backdrops are a great way of tying in a brand’s color scheme to the site design. Humorous shots of expressive animals or pets in motion also add dynamism and movement, all while allowing you to draw attention to call-to-action buttons.
Best for: Websites for start-ups, design agencies, digital agencies, tech companies, science and research organizations, and music businesses.
Abstract backgrounds are a wonderful way of making website layouts instantly feel more futuristic, dynamic, and contemporary. Look for powder explosions, geometric 3D shapes, and glitch textures in dramatic colorways to enhance business websites with a design, tech, or music focus.
Intellectual and entrepreneurial businesses will find that abstract images communicate a sense of forward-thinking and innovation. These types of images are a great fit for tech businesses, as well as engineers, scientific researchers, and universities.
Web design agency Creative Mints often use abstract backgrounds in their designs, using them to give web layouts a futuristic aesthetic.
Floral and Botanical Backgrounds
Best for: Websites for businesses in the wedding and events sectors, as well as blogs themed on lifestyle, travel, beauty, or fashion. Discover our stock photos of nature.
Your website might be digital, but you can make a design feel more physical and immersive by using the right sort of imagery across your site. Botanical and floral backgrounds not only look beautiful, but also help make your website into a more sensory experience for users. Rich, opulent backdrops filled with flowers and leaves can transport a user into a summer garden or lush rainforest in an instant.
These in-your-face florals are actually one of the trending styles of 2020. Learn more in our Creative Trends report.
Although botanical images are an obvious fit for websites with a focus on weddings and, indeed, florists, they also work beautifully for a broader range of businesses, from lifestyle, beauty and fashion to travel, blogs, and events. Floral imagery is also a versatile theme for websites themed on artistic pursuits, such as music, crafting and poetry.
Dark, moody botanicals in Rococo style add instant drama. Or, seek out surrealist interpretations of traditional florals for a quirky and contemporary twist. Look for dramatic, isolated images of flowers, such as in this Secret Garden site design by Nhatminh Phan, or try illustrated botanicals for a different take on the theme, like in this portfolio website by Anastasia K.
Surreal 3D Concepts
Best for: Websites with content that is otherwise difficult to visualize effectively, such as sites for law firms, financial institutions, journalism, education, and general interest blogs. Discover our surreal 3D stock photos.
Surrealist scenes using 3D objects in eye-catching pastel or neon color palettes might not seem the obvious choice for beautiful website designs. However, these trending images are surprisingly versatile and can be very effective for both keeping users engaged and demonstrating a business concept or service.
Funked-up interpretations of Grecian statues in unusual colors and collage layouts add off-beat quirk to websites that want to stand out from the crowd. Surreal images adapt to corporate websites as easily as they work for independent businesses, too. Particularly effective for transforming websites that would otherwise be text-heavy and corporate, such as financial and legal services, surreal scenes allow businesses to communicate dry or complex concepts to their customers more effectively.
Take inspiration from the Bundle News site, designed by dwarfplanet. This news site uses 3D-rendered models and objects in a consistent red-and-white color scheme to make business, financial, and sports news feel more immersive and branded.
Epic Landscapes and Cityscapes
Best for: Websites aimed at the travel, lifestyle, hospitality, and wellness sectors, as well as businesses based in particular locations. Discover our parks and outdoor landscape stock photos.
The more immersive you can make your website feel, the more likely users will be to stay and engage with the site’s content for longer. Images of landscapes give sites a quality of vastness and are particularly effective for full-width layouts, making your website design feel more expansive and engrossing.
Images of epic natural landscapes, such as forests, rivers, mountains, and oceans, have a calming effect on the user. They offer welcome respite from sites that are often filled to the brim with sharp neon colors and bright animations. The popularity of outdoor photography makes it one of the trending styles of 2020, described in our Creative Trends report.
Images of nature are obviously an ideal fit thematically for websites focused on the environment and travel. However, they also have enough versatility for a broad range of businesses who want to convey environmental conscientiousness, a sense of adventure, or simply imbue their sites with a feeling of calm and serenity.
Websites for wellness, health, and psychology all benefit from the tranquility of landscape images. Natural landscape images also fit perfectly on sites aimed at the adventure, hospitality, lifestyle, and real estate markets.
Cityscapes can also bring a unique aspect to a website design. Images of a particular city can be useful for demonstrating the location(s) of a business. Overhead aerial shots of cities and landscapes look particularly stylish set as the backdrop of landing pages, and provide a uniform pattern for placing type and buttons over the top.
The Awwward-winning website for Bear Grylls Adventure, designed by Outpost, is a fantastic example. Landscape images make the site extend beyond the edges of the screen and create an immersive experience for users.
This post was first posted at Shutterstock Blog.