How To Get Your Therapy Website’s Images To Match

Unless you have the budget for a photographer to shoot your ideal photos for your marketing materials, you’re likely going to be stuck with stock images.

Either free or premium, you’ll be faced with the same challenge: how can I get the photos I choose to

  • match with my solution
  • match with the journey my best fit clients are on
  • match each other visually in terms of look-and-feel

It’s not easy to find photos that work well together on these multiple levels. From validating feelings to demonstrating the destination, from color to contrast, there is a lot going on in every photograph.

But there is an approach that can help…

Story Is What Will Help You Get Images To Match

Storytelling is an important part of your marketing. Through story, your best fit clients will feel less alone and see themselves as they would like to be.

When most of us think of storytelling, we think of the written word but everything you do, every interaction you have, every moment of connection you make with others is telling a story.

You are already telling stories with how you are putting yourself out there – whether or not it’s intentional.

For photos that you use on your website and beyond, creating a cohesive story can visually walk a website visitor through their transformation with a singular voice: yours.

Photos can be the visual equivalent of your words. With that photo-based voice, you can validate where your best fit client is now, what they might find on the journey of healing, and give them hope that they can heal through showing up in the therapy room with you.

How To Tell A Cohesive Story With Your Photos

Step 1: Write Out Your Client’s Story

The most successful photo story is going to speak to the truths found in the stories of your real clients.

So before even looking at one image, grab a journal or open a fresh document in your favorite software and write out your client’s story, from darkness to healing.

For some ideas of what to uncover, try these questions:

  • What are they struggling with that makes them want to reach out to you?
  • What do they really want to achieve with your help?
  • What types of places would they find healing? Cities? Nature?
  • Where do they hang out?

You can go as deep as digging into a client avatar or a fully developed empathy map too. Get as detailed as you wish.

Step 2: Start With One

Start with finding one picture that captures the benefits of your services. It’s good if it includes a person but does not necessarily have to.

To awaken your felt sense on what this image needs to be, you may wish to visit that place in the story when your best fit client is first reaching out to you and why you specifically are a good fit for helping them.

Knowing more about what they desire most in life and the outcomes they are hoping for will help guide your one image.

If you think of the client’s journey in it’s totality, this one image would be the destination of the story, the “happily ever after” place.

Tip: If you already have done visual identity work, this is a good time to make sure your one image matches your existing visual identity and branding assets.

Step 3: Explore The Look-And-Feel Of The One Image

Once you find that one image, take detailed notes on visual traits of the image. Of course you will want to take note of the subject of the image: is it a photo of a tree? Is it a photo of a person? Etc.

But deeper than that, there are multiple levels of communication to pay attention to. Here are some visual traits to take note of:

How would you describe the colors in this image? What about the location?

Light. What is the quality of the light? Soft or contrasty? Also take note of the light source. Is it warm light from a sunset or cool, indirect natural light between skyscrapers on a city street?

Color. If you squint your eyes and stand 2 meters back from your computer screen, what colors are very present in this image? Are there a lot of bright, yellow tones? Are there a lot of dark tones? If you had to describe the image as one color, what would that color be? Or maybe there are many colors.

Contrast. High contrast images have a wide range of values from dark to light and these values are far apart. Low contrast reads as more tones of gray values. Is your one image high contrast or low constrast?

Negative Space. Negative space is the space around and between the subject of your image. The amount of negative space can be a defining characteristic so does your one image have a lot of negative space?

Location. Where was this image taken. In an office, in nature, in a city, at a home, at a cafe. The environment of an image also adds to what’s being communicated visually and is good to take note of.

Step 4: Find More Images Consistent With The Look-And-Feel of Your One Image

Grab a bunch of stuff that *might* work and edit them down later.

Now that you have an image that speaks to your best fit client’s needs and you have a detailed list of the visual qualities of that image, next you’ll want to find images that both fit into the story of your client’s journey and share some of the same distinctive visual characteristics.

Keeping in alignment with both will help create your cohesive look-and-feel: your photos will look like they are coming from the same voice.

In this phase, it helps to collect images together that you can see them all together at the same time. You can use a secret pinterest board, save images to your computer, or if you’re finding premium stock, you may be able to use the stock website’s collection features (sometimes also called “creating a lightbox”).

This phase isn’t the one to start editing and deliberating, the point is to find as many images that could work and then do the editing later.

Step 5: Edit Down To One Story

These photos all share multiple visual similarities and speak from the same voice.

Now once you have a huge bucket full of all of the images that have a congruent look-and-feel around your message, you can edit the images down.

For most websites, you’ll want to have at least one image on every page. You’ll also want to use images that are relevant to the topic of the page.

One great way to edit then is to think of each page of your website and choose an image from the bucket for that page. Looking at all of your choices together, do the images come from the same voice? Do they share enough visual qualities?

Step 6: Test Them Out and Publish

Put your photos together on the screen and see how they feel is a good way to get a sort-of-idea but nothing can really beat seeing the images in your website.

If you’re working with a designer, at this point, you may be able to borrow the watermarked stock images in a non-public website demo or mockup to preview that it will look like. If you’re using free images, you’ll be able to use them straight away, full size and without the watermarks.

Seeing images in the context of your site is what really matters because a website isn’t only communicating with those photos alone. Other visual elements, the copy on the page, and more can impact how things work together.

After enough testing, you’ll come to a place where you’ll be ready to purchase, prepare, and publish!

Matching Your Images Goes Beyond Just Being Pretty: Telling Their Story Helps Website Visitors Feel Seen, Heard, And Hopeful

How do you choose images for your therapy website that add to the communication instead of just being something a visitor doesn’t notice? Creating a story in your photos will help your website visitors feel seen, heard, and hopeful.

Taking the time to sit with their story and match imagery to where they want to go in life with your help can help guide this important visual communication for your website and brand.

Have you taken the time to dip into the story and create a story? Would love to know what you think about this process and if you try it out, did it help? Reach out anytime as we love hearing from you.

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About Kat Love

Hi, I'm Kat! I'm the founder and lead designer here at Empathysites. Therapists helped me heal from childhood sexual abuse so now I help therapists with creating their websites. I write on topics like website design, strategy, and turning website visitors into clients. Reach out anytime if you'd like to say hi. PS. my pronouns are they/them/their. Thanks.