Frontier Label

Choosing Photos for Your Label Design

by Cara Harris

Often when designing a product label or sticker you need a gorgeous photo to communicate what your product is about. If you don’t have a photo on hand there are several websites where you can search for and download great photos to use in your label design. Here I will share a few guidelines for finding a photo online and suggest stock photography sites to help get your search started.

It is important that you have permission to print any photos that appear in your label design. This can be achieved by:
?Using a photo you shot yourself
?Hiring a photographer to shoot custom images
?Downloading a photo from a free stock photography website
?Purchasing and downloading a photo from a paid stock photography website

If you are downloading a photo from a stock photo site make sure the photo is high enough resolution to provide a quality print. If images are below 300 dpi at full size, the image will be pixelated when printed. Follow these easy steps to ensure your downloaded photo is high quality.

?Know the size of your finished label.
?If you are purchasing a photo, choose the size that is large enough in dimension to fill the required space on your label.
?If you are downloading a free image, size options may not be available. Use photo-editing software (such as Photoshop) to investigate the current size of the free image. Make sure the image resolution is set to 300 dpi before you look at its dimensions. If your label is 3×5 inches but your stock image is only 1×2 inches at 300 dpi it may not be big enough. However a 5×7 inch image at 300 dpi should work well for a 3×5 inch label.

Before using the image in your label design, convert the color mode to CMYK. CMYK is the color mode used for printing (RGB is used for digital formats). By switching to CMYK now you will have a much more accurate idea of the colors in your design.

freeimages example stock photo

Once you create an account with you can access their database of free, downloadable photos for use in your label design. Be very careful to read the photo requirements and restrictions to see if the photo is usable in commercial settings or if the photographer requests a credit line be included in your design.

shutterstock example of stock photography

ShutterStock offers thousands of high quality photos and illustrations for a reasonable price. You can buy a package of credits starting at $30. The more credits you buy at once, the better price-per-image you will get.

stocksy example of stock photography

Stocksy is just one of many stock sites that curate their collection to offer beautiful, stylish photos. Browse the collection to see if their style communicates your brand message. With photos starting at $10 you could find just the thing for your budget and design.