Illustration Vs. Photography: Which One To Use?

“A picture is worth a thousand words”, as the old saying goes, which is why they see a lot of use in visual design. They’re the go-to option for a lot of design, but illustrators like Rabinky Art argue that they’re not always the best.

That has some merit, as illustrations are great for bringing designs to life and provide some uniqueness and distinctiveness to your design, which can do much to communicate and engage with your audience. In the era of Instagram, where people see a ton of photos, illustrations can be all the more impactful.

So when is an illustration the best choice, and when is photography the best? Here are a few things to keep in mind.

When to use illustrations

Fantastical scenes

One of the best times for illustrations is when you need to show something that photographs simply can’t. Illustrations aren’t held back by real-life variables like gravity, or lighting, meaning that they’re best for fantastical scenes that can’t be photographed.

For standing out

An illustration is good for getting attention. In markets where a lot of similar products and services are available, then illustrations are really good for making sure that you’re standing out. There are only so many ways for a photographer to capture a topic, but an illustrator like Rabinky Art has so many ways to bring style to a topic.

For icons

Many usually just ignore it, but every icon on the sites that people see are illustrations made by someone, like the ever-famous “Like” button on Facebook. Vector illustrations are great, as they’re independent of resolution, so they can scale with no issues.

When to use photographs

For accuracy

Photographs work best when accuracy and trust are paramount to the design. Photographs are great for providing an accurate representation of a topic, which is why it’s good for advertising and the like. For example, when advertising food, photos are good because people believe that what they’ll get is close to the photo.


Photographs are better at providing an image (get it) of professionalism. Images that provide accuracy provide an air of seriousness and responsibility, which is something that’s important for a lot of companies, some moreso than others.


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