> Why doesn’t this image work for a forensic physician?

  • Blurry
  • Busy–assaults the senses
  • Colors clash
  • Meaning not immediately clear
  • Common, even trite, combination of Medical and Legal symbols: The Rod of Asclepius, Scales of Justice and a Courthouse
  • The sky and lawn just make it worse
  • The image takes too much time to figure out

> An image should immediately energize interest, maintaining simple visual contact.

> Photos, graphics and infographics belong on any visual medium (phone or desktop.)

> Words without end, unbroken visually, can have a negative impact. That’s why “TLDR” is a “thing” (“Too long, don’t read”). It’s tough in a business where you use a lot of words. I’m no exception. Here’s my fail The Long Gameplan. I hope I redeem myself, I hope, on my About Page.

It takes time, patience, and thought to break up concepts into a logical narrative that is illustrated! (Hire out what you can’t do yourself).

Use the contact form on this site and tell me which pages you like least and best.

Finding Images

graphics and stock photos

Stock Imagery

“Stock Photos” and illustrations are widely-available, for a subscription fee that provides you with copyright and licensing protections.

Adobe Stock Images alone has over 60 million images and videos.

You might also check out Shutterstock and iStock which, like Adobe, require an annual commitment paid at (about) $29.99/month for 10 images a month (that rollover if not used).

Take advantage of free trials.  During the trial period, images you download provide the same licensing protections as if you had signed up for the whole year.  Just don’t forget to cancel before the trial  period ends.  It’s a good time to find a header for your website and perhaps a graphic or two to punch up your content.

Care About Copyright Protections

When you obtain a stock image from a legitimate stock image service, you are paying for the license to use it in any manner you desire, and do not infringe on an artist’s copyright.

You may be tempted to bypass a stock photo service and copy something off the internet with a screenshot and pop it into your website. You are now using artwork without the artist’s permission and the artist goes unpaid for their work. You wouldn’t walk into a gallery, take a photo and put it on your wall. Don’t use image without authorization.

You wouldn’t want someone else to plagiarize your reports.

Taking artwork off the internet without permission is piracy and is illegal unless the artist clearly states it is “open-source.” Be sure there is no limitation against commercial use. You are using it to promote your business–it is commercial use. In such cases, you would have to approach the artist for authorization.

This isn’t to say people don’t sometimes just “take” what they like online. It is rarely challenged but if you receive a letter demanding recompense you will be in the wrong. Also, bear in mind you are a player in the legal system as an expert witness, and should consider the consequences before making your own decision.

How to Choose an Image that Describes What you Do: for the Eye

There are few images that immediately say “Medical” and/or “Law.” The more generic your message, the fewer will be your options. An attorney can look at only so many images of an intertwined stethoscope and gavel….so let’s get creative.


Dodging a cliche is easier than you might think.  For example, that stock image can be adapted in Photoshop to take on a different color, cast, or landscape/portrait orientation. Or one image can be paired with another. Also, videos are included in stock databases. They are short and conceptual, lending them to a website’s content.

I purchased a video from Adobe which was used on one client’s site: a rotating head and the gears inside. Using video editing software, I slowed down the speed and direction of the rotation, all within the parameters of the license. The result had an excellent impact on SEO (Google loves video) and website-user-retention (attorneys love a reason to keep reading), and the client’s bottom line.

Photoshop is Your Friend

However, a video can slow a site’s loading time. In a redesign of one site,  I Photoshopped the heck out of the really jazzy stock image, shifting the emphasis to forensic inquiry through design (www.forensicpsychiatrynow.com.)

After critiquing dozens of websites, here are a few red flagged for overuse.

If one truly speaks to you, make it unique in Photoshop (or hire someone to do it–ask me and I’ll explain.)


Don’t Do This

Ubiquitous images–seen repeatedly on the internet:

Scales of Justice
Blind Lady Justice (yes, that’s her name)
Court-like buildings (think Greek columns, marble, majesty: either a courthouse or the Federal Reserve)
Skylines. Is where you do business the most important thing about you? If so, go for it.
HUGE monitor-dominating images that force you to scroll to find out even your name.
Collages of any of the above.
And my personal least favorite: Business-suited professionals shaking hands and looking like models, because they are.

I did an image search on Google. Here are the images, among millions that come up under the search term “Expert Witness Physician.” They don’t wow me. 

What do you think?

This is possibly the most common image on the internet.

Does this photo "speak" to forensic medicine? Look online. You'll see it on plenty of sites.

What's your top priority to communicate? Geography or Expertise.


This image captures my imagination. How would you use it?

Imagine the title of the article with this image.

The stock image was everything but the words. I then added them convey forensic unravelling in a competency evaluation.

I have one client who would love this and others who would hate it.

The message is clearly investigation and assessment.

I overlaid the blurred images of 2 different Experts to render this image. It is editorial (taken as if from real life), but non-specific (no people are named.)

A Word About Logos

Have you been using a logo that doesn’t seem to fit your current practice? Perhaps you have a clinical practice logo that isn’t suitable to forensic work?

It’s never too late to change and it’s ok to use more than one logo. In forensic work, you are likely associated with fewer than a hundred attorneys in a given year. Changing your logo is ok. Your knowledge is your brand. A logo, if you use one, should be on target and stylistically consistent with your website–but it doesn’t have to be perfect and, frankly, need not exist at all.


business portraits that convey professional and knowledgeable experience

Do you prefer one of these over the other? Comment below.

The message is clearly investigation and assessment.

I overlaid the blurred images of 2 different Experts to render this image editorial but non-specific

business portraits that convey professional and knowledgeable experience

Do you like one of these more than the others:

Practice Development for Medical Expert Witnesses
Beryl Vaughan, Consultant

Email go@forensicexpertpro.com or Call (415) 302-9589