Photos are extremely expressive and can evoke pleasant emotions. Is this why we’re seeing landscape visual imagery being used in web designs?

Here’s an example of landscape visual imagery on What You Are — a rotating set of high-resolution photos of landscapes are used as a background:

What You Are

I’ll show you more examples at the end of this post.

Why Use Landscape Visual Imagery?

Why are web designers using landscape visual imagery in their work? Here are my theories.

Situational Context

A photo can provide its viewers a glimpse of the subject’s environment.

For example, Let’s Travel Somewhere, a site that publishes articles written by travelers, uses landscape visual imagery to help tell the story about the place being discussed:

Let's Travel Somewhere

Here’s the website of Serve Seattle, a volunteer outreach program for the city of Seattle:

Serve Seattle

If you’ve never been to, or have never even heard of, Seattle before, the landscape photo on the site gives you information about the environment in which you’d be doing your community service in.

The message wouldn’t be the same without landscape photos in the two websites above.

Identity Anchor

A good landscape photo can also give us a way to derive insights about the people behind the website.

Below you’ll see Mahédine Yahia’s portfolio site:

Mahedine Yahia

The photo of the designer overlooking a landscape is a powerful image that gives us an idea of where he’s from. The landscape visual imagery being used on his site gives people a frame of reference about the cultural and situational atmosphere of where he creates and develops his work.

You can see the same concept on the website of Shane Prendergast:

Shane Prendergast

Illustrative Tool

Landscape photos can be used functionally.

For instance, Powerhouse Company, an architecture firm, uses their work as the background of their home page and portfolio pages:

Powerhouse Company

Powerhouse Company 2

The same concept can be seen on Room 11:

Room 11

Using landscape photos in the examples above doubly serves to showcase the website owners’ projects.

Aesthetics

Photos are useful tools for adding visual complexity on sites that need it.

Here’s the home page of Lifetramp:

Lifetramp

Imagine if Lifetramp’s home page had no landscape photo:

The web page would be visually uninteresting and easily forgettable if it didn’t have a meaningful landscape photo. In addition, the landscape photo Lifetramp uses helps develop the message of what it’s trying to accomplish for its users.

More Examples

Mariusz Cieśla

Mariusz Cieśla

Oyyo

Oyyo

wrightfeldhusen

wrightfeldhusen

Sojourn Network

Sojourn Network

SHADOW

SHADOW

Heathlife

Heathlife

Tinké

Tinké

Ende

Ende

Thankful Registry

Thankful Registry

Plain

Plain

Hangar Creative Agency

Hangar Creative Agency

Bienville Capital Management

Bienville Capital Management

VISIONS

VISIONS

Kyle Thacker

Kyle Thacker

The Brooklyn Soap Company

The Brooklyn Soap Company

Rabbit Hole

Rabbit Hole

Blobfolio

Blobfolio

Nucoco Chocolate

Nucoco Chocolate

Author:

Jacob Gube is the co-founder and a managing editor of Design Instruct. He's a web developer, and also the owner of Six Revisions. Follow Jacob on Twitter: @sixrevisions