Finding the perfect stock photo

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Finding the perfect stock image can be a challenge. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words. Discovering a photo that says all the right words is difficult. Here are some tips from someone who has spent countless hours scouring the web for the right stock photo.

  1. Consider hiring a photographer.
    Before you spend what can be a significant amount of time digging around the web for photos, think about creating your own. There are tons of incredible stock photos out there and you may find one that hits the mark for your project. However, this is not always the case. If you already have something very specific in mind and might not be open to the idea of using something more generic, I would recommend you consider hiring a photographer to help you capture your idea. Stock photos, by their very nature, are made to appeal to as many buyers as possible. That means the less specific they are the better.
  2. Leverage your brand’s photography guidelines for search.
    It’s important to follow the standards already set by your brand guidelines so you can stay on track. Use the key words/phrases used to describe your brand’s photography for your searches (i.e.: bright, confident, dynamic angles, etc.). Most search tools on stock photography websites do an adequate job of incorporating more abstract ideas into searches. If the results end up being too generic, try adjusting the various filters to hone in on what you’re looking for. When you think you’ve found the right photo, always re-assess whether or not they fit with your guidelines.
  3. Consider how the photo will be used.
    If you forget that the photo has requirements for various applications (i.e.: leaving a lot of room for copy to the right, fitting well in a narrow frame, remaining high-resolution if enlarged and cropped) you run the risk of finding a photo you love that simply won’t work. Keep these requirements in mind as you search. Some websites like Getty even allow you to identify the orientation you are looking for as well as tagged attributes like “copy space”.
  4. Learn to identify a “bad” stock photo.
    This is something that just takes time. When you’ve viewed enough photography, you’ll notice there are a lot that are very generic, have models that are extremely posed, or where something just doesn’t feel right. These are usually a result of something being off with the overall composition of a photo. It can help to review the basic elements of design to determine what makes up a strong photo: Balance, Alignment, Hierarchy, Contrast, Repetition, Color, Space, and Proximity.

Give these tips a shot the next time you find yourself in need of a new stock photo and you’ll have an easier time finding the perfect one to fit your brand and design.

Author Sam Glubka

Sam Glubka is a designer/developer at dtrio.

More posts by Sam Glubka

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