Sometimes, it’s hard to find that right image and the cost of a photoshoot doesn’t make sense. We once needed to buy a bay view of San Diego and the stock photo companies we use didn’t have the perfect image, so after more research, we located a photographer who exclusively shot San Diego. We called him and explained what we were looking for and he sent us a variety of fantastic shots which we negotiated to license.
Images draw us in. Photography captures, engages, intrigues and helps us to identify with the brand, message, offer or whatever you’re trying to convey. Whether you’re a Fortune 100 company or a small business, you’ve more than likely used an image or illustration that falls under “stock”.
The images you present also represent your brand, and a poorly
selected image can actually damage your brand.
— Jo-Anne Redwood, Principal
Ten Tips for Selecting Stock Images
- Find a stock company that offers variety and payment options and create an account.
- For unique images, search for individual photographers who have specialties.
- Create lightboxes at more that one stock company and share them with decision makers.
- The best photos don’t look overly staged. The pictures of people ‘fake’ smiling directly at the camera are too obviously stock.
- Good photographers care about good lighting. Does the photo have contrast, the right flesh-tone colors, low-, mid- and high-tones in the shadows?
- Pick images you haven’t seen before. There’s a particular image many companies use of a “operator on stand-by”. If everyone’s using it, it doesn’t help to differentiate you.
- Filter searches. If you are looking for a vacationing family shot, add to that to get fewer but better choices such as young, sand, smile, portrait etc. High end stock companies will give you even more filters in check boxes that allow you to pick vertical vs. landscape, color vs. B&W, number of people in the shot, the genders, ethnicity, and even the license type. Once you select and image for a lightbox, you should get other suggestions, and “similar to” or “the same photographer” which can be helpful if you’re looking for consistency.
- Think concept through metaphor. What image would help convey your message? Write down everything that comes to mind and use that in your search. (mind mapping will help you expand your image options)
- Combine images. Hire a professional who can combine two or images for you. The example above shows an image of a product we shot for Toshiba in a studio environment and married to a stock image. These were carefully Photoshopped together to tell a story.
- Download a comp version and add it to your layout. See if it works in context before you commit to the purchase. Then replace it when you go to print.
Have a project that needs stock imagery? Not sure where to start?We can help you.