Whether you are designing an ad, re-designing a client website, creating an e-newsletter template, or laying out a new brochure, selecting the right stock photography can mean the difference between selling your product, or having people ignore it. People look and engage with picture first.
There are literally hundreds of stock photography sites available offering millions of photos. How can you narrow down your search and select the most unique image to get the most for your money?
Have a firm concept in mind first.
It’s not a good idea to start a stock photo search looking for inspiration. The creative process should start with a concept. Then move on to looking for that perfect image. Doing it the other way around will literally be like searching for a needle in a haystack and will not yield the most creative result.
Think out of the box.
Just because you do not see the perfect image doesn’t mean stock photography can’t suit your needs. Consider adapting the image or combining more than one image. Can the photograph be altered to look more like an illustration or digitally rendered image? Customize your image statement by utilizing image editing tools. However, carefully research whether you have the “alteration and/or derivative” rights to change the stock photos you are purchasing before doing this.
Select “Rights Managed” images.
A key component to an effective campaign is uniqueness. Having a competitor use the same stock image can really set you back and ruin your hard work. If your projects budget has the cash go for exclusive rights for the feature stock photo. Okay, that’s a dream, right? Buying “Rights Managed” is next best, as RM can guarantee another company in the same industry and geographic location cannot purchase it. RM costs a bit more, but it’s better than walking around with virtual pie in the face. “Royalty Free” images are available with much fewer restrictions on how and where you use the stock photos. RF stock photos typically reduce your brand value and unique messaging. If it’s a photo that customers in your market vertical have already seen the investment in the campaign is drastically reduced in value. It probably goes without saying, but be sure you never use stock photos without obtaining a license agreement. In addition to having to kill your campaign you will also be exposed to heavy copyright infringement fines.
Don’t buy more than you need.
With Rights Managed stock photos, it’s tempting to ask for worldwide unlimited rights to save time later. Do you really need all that use included in the license? Most stock photo agencies will work with you to get the licensing you need now, and scale as the campaign grows. The Royalty Free stock photography business model is a pricing structure based on how large an image is. The larger the stock image, the more expensive. Although, you always need a high resolution image for print publications and you should never buy smaller than you need, it is wasteful to purchase an 16X20 inch image for a quarter page ad. Additionally, keep in mind all electronic media can adequately display images at only 72 dpi, so you do not need to purchase a large, high resolution image if you are only using it on a Web site.
Consider Brand Demographic.
if you are selling automotive accessories targeted to family vehicles with 30-40 year old soccer moms then don’t select photos a Scion tC with young affluent single males. The same applies in the opposite scenario.