Does your email newsletter need to be an elaborate design with pictures and ads? I don’t think so.
I think you need great content. And that’s it. If you have great content then everything else is just a distraction.
I have this great application on my iPad called Instatpaper. Instapaper lets me bookmark articles on my computer so I can read them later on your iPad. Later when I read the articles on my iPad all the pictures, color and especially ads are stripped out. I can focus totally on the words with no distractions. The words have so much more impact this way.
When you send out your newsletters you shouldn’t be trying to blow your customers away with design and photography. You want to capture them with your words. Pics and design will just put your email in a spam folder. If you have a picture you must show then put it in a blog post on your website and link to it.