Choosing the perfect images for your course can become a journey down the rabbit hole. Here's my 6 checklist to help me find the photos that suit the course topic on Shutterstock.

6 Tips in choosing photos for online courses on Shutterstock

Choosing the perfect images for your course can become a journey down the rabbit hole. Here's my 6 checklist to help me find the photos that suit the course topic on Shutterstock.

5
 Min read
 — 
March 2, 2023

1. Relevancy

Type in keywords on Shutterstock.

Use keywords that associate directly with the topic of your course to show relevant images. For example, type in a specific industry and profession, keywords: retail shop customer service.

2. Diversity

Example of showing diversity in photos.

Show photos that include diverse people and consider your organisation’s policy and guidelines. Use images representing people of different races, gender identities, ages, disabilities, and cultures.

3. Emotion

Looking at the learners.
Looking away from the screen.

Consider the emotion the image evokes and if it aligns with the tone of your course. Finding the right emotions is tricky, as you may need to pay attention to small gestures in the photos you select.

Do you want to imply a formal, direct, friendly, personal, or fun experience? For example, choosing people looking at the camera may be more personable. Selecting an image of someone dressed casually may demonstrate a very friendly and relaxing topic.

4. Lighting

To create a more polished and high-end-looking course, choose images with natural lighting and realistic background.

I would avoid the following styles:

  • Heavy-coloured of overlay filters
  • Stylising effect
Overlay color filter example.
Overlay color filter example.

And unless it’s part of the art direction, I will avoid the following type of photos too:

  • Empty white background
  • Studio photos
White background photo example.
Studio photo example.

I personally find that white background or studio photos would only look good if the whole course is consistently using the same style, but it doesn't look polish and feel too staged if you use them randomly.

5. Composition

It depends on where and how you want to use the image. Think about how the photo would be seen on screen and its relationship with text and the page.

For example, choose an image heavier on one side to allow empty background on the other. Or an image that provides high contrast background on one side to enable placing text on top.

Use tools such as AdobeXD to give you a vision of how that could look like. It doesn't have to be complicated, a simple and quick mock up is enough to give a sense of which direction you like best.

Mock up designs in AdobeXD.

6. Legal

Ensure the image is legally obtainable, either through royalty-free sources or by obtaining permission from the owner. Check the license or terms of use of the photos.

Watch the complete step by step in a video:

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