A website with only words is a boring one. I wanted my website to read professional, be engaging, and have a certain aesthetic that wouldn’t turn people off. Therefore and hitherto, I knew I needed to include images with everything I wrote.
Unlike words, I can’t conjure images out of the deepest, darkest recesses of my brain. Otherwise this website would be wall-to-wall pictures of me and Ryan Gosling kicking back and hanging out. Maybe playing Wii. I don’t know. Imagination is a powerful thing.
(Un)Luckily for you, I can’t spontaneously make images such as those appear. I need to either find them somewhere, or go through the trouble of creating them myself. I have a hunch you’re in the same situation.
The easy answer, especially for a blog that’ll be lucky to get 100 total readers over its lifetime, is to just do a Google image search for the things I want, right-click, point to “save image as,” and go on my merry way. This is, that’s morally dubious and definitely illegal. As a struggling artist, I recognize that most artwork, photographs, or other media I might find from Google (or DuckDuckGo as is my case) would be stealing from another artist. I’m not about that life. Still, I’m not exactly in a position to be paying lots of money for a few images, either.
This left me (and maybe you) with two main options: 1) Generate images myself and 2) find free but legal images.
As you peruse this site (please peruse this site he says in his best Jeb Bush impersonation, which really isn’t very good) you’ll find a combination of both options. For example, all of the photos on the main pages of the site were taken by me or someone close to me (mostly my wife). All cat photos are taken by me, obvs. Where my imagination and skill set doesn’t limit me, images for the vignettes are also created by me. Like this one.
I don’t have any Photoshop or Illustrator skills. What I do have is a decent camera on my phone and some background with lighting from my time as a gaffer back in Buffalo (not a joke). For the photo linked to above, I used a simple three-point lighting scheme with a desk lamp and two candles. The desk lamp was too bright, so I bounced it off the white walls of our apartment. One candle was used to provide soft foreground lighting and the other was to add depth to the frame in the background. Voila, a halfway-decent photo I wasn’t embarrassed to put up as the front for a vignette.
Some stories don’t lend them easily to things I can do with my limited resources and skills. When I run into that issue, there are free resources on the web that you can pull images from. Places like the Creative Commons and Wikimedia Commons.
The important thing to remember with these places is proper attribution. Creative Commons makes it really easy to attribute work because they provide HTML that you can input into your website that does the work for you. Wikimedia is a bit tougher, but the extra legwork is important if you’re going to be borrowing from elsewhere. You don’t want to be that person.
“But Craig,” you say, stroking your chin as your brain slides in the last puzzle piece of your brilliant upcoming question. “Not all images are photos. Some are graphical elements. Surely you have some solution that doesn’t require Photoshop or Illustrator or an equivalent tool?”
It’s true. All of it. And I do have a solution.
Enter: Canva. Canva is a free website (with tiered services for those that can pay) that provides a ton of graphical templates to produce Facebook banners, business cards, tab icons, pretty much anything you might digitally need. It’s not the most powerful graphics generator in the world, but it’s easy and–again–it’s free to use on their basic level. Don’t be greedy.
This has been my approach to entertaining the masses with jaw-dropping images that complement my brain-exploding words. If you’ve got other recommendations or tactics, let the world know in the comments.