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How to Choose a Photo for an Advertisement

Nine useful tips to help you create a really effective advertisement.

To attract customers’ attention and influence their choice, advertisers usually use a method of image-visual pressing. Photos frequently serve as a visual bait. No wonder, in this case paradigmatic truth works out — a photo is a document, it implies the highest degree of trust, and importantly, via a photo a person can express more than writing a dozen of pages.

Unfortunately, some advertisers make sad mistakes choosing inappropriate images or overdo with creativity. As a result you see bleak, absurd or even spooky advertisement.




In order not to create such a dubious masterpiece, it is essential to know several simple rules of an appropriate image choice for advertisement. There are plenty of peculiarities, and each advertising medium has its certain specifications. Hereafter we have listed the keystones useful anyway.

1. To buy or to make?

Depending on a project, photos may be purchased in a photo stock or a special photographer may be hired for individual shooting. Both variants have their own benefits and drawbacks. Dealing with a photographer might be expensive and takes time. On the other hand, you receive realistic shots which show your goods or services to full advantage, making them appealing for your target customers. Hire a photographer if your goods are unique and need some special presentation (hotel, shop, restaurant, etc.).

If your budget is limited and the demonstration of the real product is unnecessary, go to a photo stock. It is faster and cheaper. In fact you’d better monitor your competitors’ advertising beforehand since photo stocks are available for any company and the same picture might have already been used by another organization.

2. Comply with the law.

Never use photos from internet search engines in your own advertisement! It may easily lead to a lawsuit and huge losses. Hire a photographer or buy a license picture in a photo stock. Read the license terms attentively before purchasing. They vary considerably in conditions and price. Besides, there are authors uploading their photos with Creative Commons license to the internet. For example on, such photos may be used in advertising.

3. Know your audience!

A photo must grab its viewers. Ideally, it must make a person draw a parallel between himself and the image. Before choosing a picture you should clearly understand who it is for and what message it has.

4. Don’t forget about peculiarities of perception.

Perception of images changes with age. Young people can embrace the whole picture at once, distinguish and analyze a great deal of details. However this pungency decreases with aging, that’s why elderly people conceive complicated images with an effort. Don’t forget about this fact while choosing a photo.

5. A photo must be up-to-date.

This concerns both content and image processing. If a photo depicts some people, make sure their clothes and image appropriate to the epoch except for stylization. Modern trends change each other quickly and it is essential to keep such details in mind.

6. Two heads are better than one.

Selecting the right photo is a very important process, therefore let several independent people choose it. If they select the same photo among other offered then the choice can be considered impersonal.

7. What is more important: an image or a text?

Decide what is more significant in your advertisement: the text or the picture? If you choose a bright, showy picture, the text will stay unnoticed. If the image is too simple and faint, the whole advertisement will be ignored. One of the simplest ways to make customers see the text is to choose a picture that emphasizes the text. For example, a model on the photo may look at the slogan or point at it with her hand. Moreover, you can use various graphic means and solid plates to highlight the text.

8. The photo must correspond to the text.

It is evident, but advertisers often forget about it.

9. The color of the photo.

Pay attention to the color scheme of the photo. Don’t forget about an advertising medium. Any kind of image is suitable for the internet. But in case of billboards a bright image will be perceived better especially at night Moreover, the backlighting may cause some glare on a dark picture and make it almost illegible.

We hope these tips will help you create a bright and effective advertisement. If you do not agree with anything or you know other tricks or rules — feel free to express your opinion about photography in advertising and share any interesting situations from your practice in comments. Good luck in advertising!