From: Heather Quick on
If you're thinking of creating your own header for your Web site, you
can really benefit from knowing how a Web designer thinks when
choosing photos.
Stock photos are available from a variety of Web sites and services.
The price and quality vary considerably, but for most of us,
inexpensive stock photos are all we'll ever need. Two typical stock
photo sites are and, but there are
many more.
By the way, recently I was browsing a well-known, glossy magazine and
recognized a stock photo I'd seen the day before on
So, you don't have to be concerned about the quality of inexpensive
stock photos; even the big magazines use them!
So let's see how a I would approach finding suitable photos for my
client's header...
First, I'll ask my client about their business: their typical
audience, and their market's gender and age group. I'll also want to
know about the mood or feeling my client wants for the Web site. With
the answers to these questions I can choose photos with the
appropriate colours and ambience.
For instance, a spa will want tranquil colours, usually light blues
and pale greens, and photos of blissed-out people (typically women)
getting a massage or facial. They may use smooth stones, a leaf or a
flower to convey a Zen atmosphere.
A children's daycare on the other hand, will want primary colours
(red, yellow, blue) and photos of energetic, happy kids. They may use
clipart balloons, crayons or building blocks in the header or for the
Note: Clipart objects, people, backgrounds, buttons, badges, icons,
cartoons and other images are also available on stock photo sites.
Now I will visit two or three stock photo sites and select photos
based on my client's criteria and my own requirements for the header.
(The Web designer's requirements are just as important as the client's
To find appropriate photos, I'll enter keywords into the search box.
This is almost an art in itself. For a spa site, I might start with
the most general term "spa," and end up with phrases like "happy woman
massage," "massage stones," "tranquility, "wellness," "candles," "spa
products," etc.
When I'm choosing photos, I'm automatically running them through my
internal filter:
1. Does this photo have the right colours? Or will I have to modify
them in Photoshop?
While colours can be changed in Photoshop, I will first try to find
photos with the right colours. However, if I find the perfect photo,
but the colours are wrong, I will definitely consider changing the
colours in Photoshop.
If the colours for the Web site haven't yet been determined, I may
base the colours for the header (and the site) on the photo. Designers
often do this, especially if they are using only one photo in the
header. Pulling the colours from the photo will almost always
guarantee that the Web site will look pulled together.
2. Are the people in this photo facing the direction I want them to
face in the header? People (and objects with a "front" like a car or
even a teapot) should face toward the middle of the header or straight
ahead. Note: Flipping over a photo can result in an odd looking image
because of the play of light and shadow.
3. Can I crop this photo to focus it better on the subject? Many
photos have more potential when they are cropped in tight to the
subject, sometimes even a portion of the subject: a woman's eyes, the
stitching on a baseball, half a golf club on a tee, the bow of a
canoe, brightly coloured rain slickers hanging on hooks, a country
mailbox. Look at art magazines or book covers for ideas.
4. Is this photo portrait or landscape style? Portrait style is tall,
rather than wide. Landscape style is the opposite. In a shallow
header, landscape-style photos will fit better. A portrait-style photo
will have to be reduced considerably in size to fit a shallow header
and may not work at all. But it might work if cropped in close to the
subject (see #3 above).
5. Can I use this photo as the entire header? To use a photo for the
entire header, you will need to be able to take a slice of the image
that tells a story: a lone tree in a field, a mountain climber with
arms upraised on a mountain vista, a runner on a stretch of deserted
6. Will I need to find several photos to tell the story? If I use
multiple photos will they look good together? Will the photos blend
well into a montage or will they look better as a row of individual
photos? Either way, I'll be looking for photos that complement one
another and have fairly neutral colours (unless I'm planning to
deliberately emphasize some element in the photos).
Finally, if I find a photo close to what I want, but not quite right,
I'll do a couple of things. I'll locate the photographer's portfolio
and check to see if he or she has taken similar photos, maybe using
the same model or scene. Often this will open up a whole realm of
photos that I might have overlooked.
I'll also use the "similar photos" tool that brings up a batch of
photos with similar keywords to the one chosen. Not the keywords I
typed in to find the photo originally, but keywords the photographer
gave when they uploaded the photograph to the site. This can open up
yet another realm of photos. Sometimes these paths lead nowhere, but
they're always worth a try when the photo is close to, but not quite,
I still won't buy any photos at this point. I'll simply add the photos
I've chosen to a lightbox and email it to my client to give them a
chance to comment on the photos and veto ones that don't fit their
vision for the header. After my client has finished evaluating the
photos, hopefully I'll still have some really good ones to use for the
I still won't buy any photos. Instead I'll use the "comp" versions of
the photos to create the header. These versions are big enough to use
in the header, but they have a watermark on them. If I plan to slice
or crop the photo I can still see what that will look like on the
comp. If I plan to use the whole photo as the header, I will use the
comp to create a miniature header, so I can see how it will look.
I will buy the photos once I'm satisfied I have the best photo or the
right combination of photos for the header.
Now you know some of the thought processes a Web designer like me goes
through while choosing photos. Hopefully, you can use these ideas to
choose good photos for your own header.

Learn Photoshop Elements On Your Own...:
From: alo on
On Tue, 4 May 2010 09:45:11 -0700 (PDT), Heather Quick
<ocwhjuuubrhy(a)> wrote:

>If you're thinking of creating your own header for your Web site, you
>can really benefit from knowing how a Web designer thinks when
>choosing photos.

................(SNIP ONE HUGE BLOCK OF TEXT)

I am sure you have some good ideas in there, but it would make it a
lot easier on the eye and a lot easier to read if you formatted your
text with some line spaces, paragraphs etc.