Finding Free Stock Images Photos for your Occupational Therapy Business

A featured image from Unsplash
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Introduction

Gone are the OT school days of using Google Image search, finding an image you like, saving it, and placing it on your presentations and posters. Stealing images is one thing, but even worse are when images that used without permission have a large watermark clearly visible.

Images, much like music, are subject to copyright. As an entrepreneur, you are creating and developing a new idea. One thing you may need to design is a brand logo. However, you do not need to design everything. There are many resources for even free images for your products, brochures, blog, and video content. You just need to know where to look for them. It’s simple, if you are using someone’s photo, ask for their mission.

Before we even get into where to source images from, you should know about some technologies and best practices. You may have been the unlucky one who had to figure out how to make your Capstone poster look good and have the images pop. If you were not one of those individuals, then you’ll have to learn about these things or outsource to a third party to do this for you to achieve professional results for your products and services.

Important Image Considerations

Important factors to consider are:

  • Resolution – find the highest quality image you can, especially if you are printing on large posters or brochures. It is better to start big and go small than be left with a small image size. Even most images you find on Google Image search are low resolution unless you search for “large” images. With Apple devices being popular that have retina displays, low-resolution images look blurry and sometimes text may not be legible.
  • File type, e.g. jpg vs. png vs. PSD – while less important, certain vendors only accept specific file types. There are many free online image converters out there now. Just do a google search for “X to Y image converter” where X is your first file format and Y is your desired one. Be aware that these websites may save and use your images according to their own policies. If you have images you do not want on the internet yet or being stolen, do not upload to these websites and use specific software instead. We like Photopea (Free online browser version of Photoshop) to convert between image file types. They support major file-formats including Photoshop PSD.
  • Transparency – transparent formats such as PNG are useful when you want to overlay them on a background. Formats such as JPG do not support transparency and are “what you see is what you get”. Images that don’t have transparency may need to have their backgrounds removed so that you can overlay them on other backgrounds. There are numerous tutorials on the Internet on how to do just this.

Enter the world of stock photography. Stock photos can be expensive. Usage rights may also differ. Some require you to credit the author, some may not allow you to modify them, etc. Your mileage will vary. You can either pay for 1 image, a set of images at a discount, or for a subscription-based stock photography website.

Free Stock Photos

OTDUDE currently uses free stock photos for all of our needs. We design everything else in-house. If you are just starting out, we recommend sourcing images from these websites unless you cannot find what you want. The benefit to paid stock photography websites is that they will usually have more specific types of photos that you are looking for and their quality may be better. Paid stock photo websites also have the benefit of having albums or set a theme or activity, e.g. child in a therapy session doing different things, compared to free websites that may have only 1 photo. Another downside to free stock photos is by nature of them being free, you will see them everywhere and they may be less exclusive. If you are trying to launch a unique product and use an image that may have been seen elsewhere with poor critic reception, it could put you at a disadvantage from the very beginning. In these cases, it may be more worthwhile to source from paid or even hire a photographer.

The 2 Best Free Stock Photo Sites

Our two favorites websites for free stock photos are:

Simply do a keyword search for what you are looking for, much like google.

The Process

After you have downloaded the image from either a paid or free source, you will likely have a large file size image. This is okay. When you upload to websites such as WordPress, these images may get compressed to decrease loading times. Many of these settings can be customized to your needs. For example, our Store images were being uploaded from full file size, but being converted down to only 800×800 resolution. We did not realize this for a while. This resulted in poor user experience as the product images were blurry when zoomed in. Ultimately, we had to increase the re-size resolution to a larger size and re-upload all of our product images once more – a very time-consuming process.

Test, Test, Test

Our best advice is to experiment and to test how things look on your screen, on tablets, mobile, and as many devices as you can. Yes, even TV if you are able. Many smart devices such as TV can now browse the Internet and access your content. You want your images to look the way you intended and the best on multiple platforms/devices. Keep in mind that the same image will look different on different devices due to how they are calibrated, the screen brightness, color settings, and the display itself. You may want to invest in a piece of hardware to calibrate your monitor to make it look accurate and representative of what the image is. OTDUDE has experience as a Wedding Videographer and we like the Spyder line of products.

Now you do not need to be a Photoshop guru to achieve excellent results. In fact, most images from stock photography websites come already edited. What you may need to do is just crop, resize, or rotate elements – and save. We recommend doing this on a desktop computer with a larger screen than say a smartphone. OTDUDE does all image editing on Photopea since it is free and easily accessible on our browser.

A/B Testing

The next challenge is finding the image you want. This all depends on the content you are creating. Keep in mind your audience when choosing images. If possible, have a business partner or friend take a look and get their opinion. Have a backup option or an A/B test to choose the best result. “A/B” or “split testing” is a method of comparing two things to see which one performs better. You can A/B test by using image A and seeing how it performs for a period of time. Then replace with image B and see how it performs (assuming you do not change external influences like advertising or making a social media post to drive traffic in between the change).

Hopefully now the graphic design will no longer be intimidating to you! Happy image hunting.

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