Just like color, photos can have a psychological effect on your readers. The right photo will send a strong message on your behalf. It can tell your readers about you: that you’re safe, playful, cheerful, elegant, grounded, solid, experienced, energetic, thoughtful, kind, etc.
One of the best places on your website to use photos is as a background. Background images are great for adding texture and color to your website. Finding the right image can be difficult. Many sites now use full background images and parallax scrolling. Developers place them behind posts, within sliders, behind individual sections, and within pages. The key is context. If not used in the right context they could have the opposite effect of what you’re looking for and send your readers running.
I searched the ‘net for free high quality images for use on your WordPress website. I looked for interesting lighting, colors, and textures. Selected images need to look great but not take over and become the center of attention. Some colors work better in certain seasons and some patterns are better suited for some uses than others. Nature and architecture are interesting. I also like patterns, reflections, and objects.
The ideal image size is 1920 pixels wide x 1080 pixels high. If you have the option then I recommend downloading a larger image and resizing it. It’s easier to reduce the size and keep a high quality image than it is to increase the size.
35 Free Background Images to Use on Your WordPress Website
In some cases, the photos I found didn’t have names. In these cases I’ve given it a name based on its description. I’ve also given a short description of why I like the photo and the types of moods I think it can portray. I’ve included simple and complex images. Some are generic and work for virtually any situation. Others are more specialized.
Now that you’ve heard plenty of talk from me about my selection process, on to the images!
Wood has a natural texture that goes with a lot of colors and designs. It can be used with many topics and niches. This pack includes various shades that can help with virtually any mood or setting.
The main elements in this image are slightly tilted, with the floor and walls being circular, giving the image a feeling of movement. The multiple areas of light are interesting, with two windows for light sources and one of them throwing light against two different walls, the other in shadow. The dark shadow around the corner inspires mystery.
This one doesn’t have a lot of color, but the colors it does have shine through and highlight the clouds and water. The dock and the trees in shadow give it a dark grounding. The clouds and water give it texture. The stillness can inspire calm.
Light against architecture, statues, and rock give this one an interesting tone. The shadows make the statues stand out. I like how the water is barely noticeable here. This one gives a sense of creativity.
This one feels playful while maintaining a touch of nature. The colors work well for texture. Its simplicity shows craftiness and innocence.
The soft reflection gives this image just enough contrast to create a color pattern of dark to light. The sunken boat adds a touch of mystery. The stillness of the water inspires a soothing and relaxing calm.
The natural color of wood, grass, and shadow on this small bridge is something that almost everyone reading this has seen before. They’ll know they’ve walked across a path like this, but they’ll still wonder where it leads.
The reflection of the tree’s shadow and the light in the water create an interesting pattern across the greenery in the water. It creates an interesting texture with natural color.
The typical fall colors in this image show a reflection against the rippled water that creates a distorted mirrored effect. The people and the bridge give your eye something to latch onto. I like that the bridge is slightly off-center. I find the color and textures interesting here.
The light reflecting on the water almost looks more like a pattern than a photo. There’s just enough color variation to perceive circular shapes. This image should do well to inspire calm for a spa or health-related website.
I like the hard contrast of gold against the shadow. I also like the texture that’s created by the close-up focal point. It creates a hot spot that leads the eye.
Sunsets are always pretty. I especially love a sunset on the beach. This photo has the right blend of bright and dark colors. The waves in the ocean give it some texture while the orange to blue sky give it a nice gradient.
This image has some interesting contrast within the circular pattern. The colors and light feel natural while giving it a good texture. I like the way light and dark highlights were used to add contrast. It has a loose pattern that’s not too distracting.
The contrast in this one is interesting. It’s all various shades of orangey-brown but the emphasis is on highlights that make it stand out and give it greater depth. This is a good choice for a loose pattern to give your background some visual texture.
The fuschia in this one creates some interesting swirls. The blue and black create a blotchy texture. I admit it could be too loud for a lot of uses and it’s not for everyone, but it would make a nice background for a parallax scroll where just enough color peaks through to catch your reader’s eye.
I see this one being used in the same way as the one above, but just a little bolder with its statement. The colors could strike the right chord if it’s placed strategically around other elements to create contrast.
This one has a solid shade of color with just enough ripples in the water to give it texture. The orange and white boat in the corner offer the right amount of contrast against the blue/green of the water. The dark colors and openness give lots of places to add text.
I love the textures and colors in this image. It looks exactly like something you would expect to see in an Elegant Themes demo. The way the colors blend and change capture my eye. The blend of straight and angled lines that cross each other at just the right place seem to add a sense of architectural wonder. Every shadow tells a story. Simply elegant.
The blend of mist in the trees with the darker orange that changes to red and green almost makes the white highlights invisible. Once you see them they stand out but not in too much contrast to the beautiful color around them. I would take a long walk down this road. I’m sure readers will enjoy the view.
Props are a great way to make the reader feel included. They can relate. They have either been here or they want to be. The tones and shades on the brick look elegant. The natural browns of the wood on the table and chair can make the reader feel at home. The person relaxing with a magazine sets a comfortable mood. Or, you know, maybe I just want coffee.
There’s something about this photo that inspires relaxation and energy at the same time. It has an interesting balance of color and focus. The colors blend in a way that provide excitement in an unexpected place.
Mountains are beautiful, especially when the sunlight hits them just right. In this case the sunlight comes through the dark clouds and provides bursts of color through the shadows. The dark clouds are ominous but just over the horizon there’s hope. I feel a sense of adventure. It makes me wonder what’s on the other side of the mountain.
Long exposures that show starlight as the earth spins on its axis have always intrigued me. Usually the stars are against the dark backdrop of space with nothing else in the image. This time we have a blue sky as we sit on the rocks and watch the world spin.
The beauty of this architecture creates some monochrome drama as light highlights the carved patterns on the walls of the arch. Add to that the round columns, the writing on the flat surfaces, the decorative bands, and interesting angle and you have a photo that’s sure the capture your reader’s attention.
I confess I don’t know a lot about flowers. I also confess that I love the drama that’s created with these colors. The yellow gives just enough contrast to stand apart and creates a warm spot that demands my attention. The texture and color of the petals catch my eye and draw me in. I want to touch and smell them. I want to give them to someone special. I want them on my website!
Space has always given me a sense of awe and wonder. When it looks like this I could look at it and study it for hours. This photo contains lots of interesting color that’s sure to inspire a sense of wonder in your site visitors.
I find the soft lighting, color, and textures in this photo to be soothing. If feels peaceful and sets a mood of elegance. There’s just enough shadow in the right places to lead your eye to the foreground. The hand-written pages with the flowered pen make me wonder if someone is writing in a diary or maybe their memoir. Either way, the story isn’t over.
The content within photos can help portray and demonstrate your message. A photo of a lifeguard can make your readers think of safety. A lifeguard helps when someone’s in danger. It says to your readers or customers “I’ve got your back”, “We’re here for you”, and “You’re safe with us.” This photo does that will elegant and warms tones that are inviting.
This is another photo that could be used to provide interesting textures. The sun shining over the trees brightens the image and even includes some nice lens flares with a rainbow effect. With the focus on the wooden texture of the stump the background blends and creates nice patterns. It feels warms and inviting.
Wood-textured walls create that natural color tone of browns and oranges that blend well with any setting. The wall says “We are solid. You can trust us.” The color is warm and inviting while at the same time doesn’t try to take over.
This one has a good range of colors that don’t try to compete for your attention. The green, yellow, and red play well together. I love the way the light shines to highlight the barn in the distance while leaving the trees in shadow.
This photo has a lot of natural earth-tones. The reflection in the water shows the trees and you can almost make out a brick building that could be a school. The stillness of the water is relaxing. I think of tranquility when I look at this photo.
I don’t see any lions or tigers but there’s no doubt in my mind that this leopard sees me. I want to go down that road and it’s looking back to see if I’m brave enough to follow. This cat demands my attention. Big cats have always made me think of big adventure. The greens and browns highlight the leopard’s spots beautifully.
This photo is filled with color but the tones have been darkened or filtered to make the ship stand out while still feeling grounded. Orange, green, yellow, blue, red, white, brown, and black are all here but none of them compete for your attention over the others. They work together nicely to create a peaceful and relaxing setting.
Brick walls are solid. They tell your visitors that you are strong. The color tones of brick and mortar create an interesting pattern that works well and gives the sense of security. It says “we have a strong foundation and we’re not going anywhere. You’re safe with us.”
Background images can make your site stand out from the crowd. If chosen correctly, they can help lead and guide your readers and set the mood that you want for your brand. There are lots of high-quality photos available that make great free background images and this article covers just a few of the amazing ones currently available for download.
What kind of images do you find yourself needing most often in your designs? Let us know in the comments.
Article thumbnail image by PhotoAmpRetouch / shutterstock.com