I don’t know about you, but for me, the world of stock photography does not always conjure warm and fuzzy feelings.
Maybe you have seen those (hilarious) posts showcasing some of the worst of stock photography.
Maybe you have spent too many hours searching for just the right image for your client.
Or most likely, your clients have told you they have no budget to buy images.
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I recently had the opportunity to work on an imagery strategy for my client’s new blog. The client also specified that they wanted to subscribe to a stock photography plan to source the images.
Here’s what I learned from diving into the stock photography pool:
1. You’ve got options—lots of options…or do you?
Look up “stock photos” and wow, there are thousands of links.
Adobe, iStock, Shutterstock, Stock Photo Secrets, and many more.
So it seems like you have a lot of places to find that image of your dreams.
Meanwhile, the truth is that there aren’t as many as it seems because a few large companies have gobbled up a bunch of the smaller ones.
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You may remember when Getty Images bought iStock. Well, they also bought Veer, Jupiter Images, and many more.
The old favorite Shutterstock bought BigStock.
Adobe is a new player in the market as of 2015 and came in with 40 million images from purchasing Fotolia.
If you try to visit the old sites, some of them simply redirect to the company that bought them while some still run as separate entities, but may have duplicate images.
In looking at a bunch of major sites and considering number of images, quality of images, and purchase options, my top picks were Adobe Stock and iStock (Getty).
Maybe it’s just because they have bought everyone else!
2. You have to run the numbers.
Most of the major sites offer some combination of these three ways to buy stock:
Various subscription setups, such as 25 images per month for $229 per month.
Various credit packs, such as 12 credits for $115, with credits per image determined based on size, usage, etc. Dollar amount per image, such as $9.99 per image.
Some things to consider are whether you’ll be using the images online (lower resolution) or for print (higher resolution and potentially larger size).
Will you need extended licensing for things like multiple users or products for resale?
Figure out your different variables and then crunch the numbers on your favorite sites to see what will work best for your particular situation.
In some cases, you may even want to consider rights-managed photography, which will definitely cost you, and will need to be renewed after a certain amount of time.
For our project, it made sense to pay for a subscription to one site since we knew we’d need a set amount of photos per month and wanted them to look similar.
We also made sure that this site had the types of photos we needed. How disappointing it would be if we signed up and then found that this site only had images of classic cars when we needed restaurant images!
3. Don’t forget about free—and legal.
Need a photo of a watermelon for your Photoshop comp? You can probably find that legally and free on one of the open source (Creative Commons license CC0) sites.
My favorite is pixabay.com.
Crowdsourcing can be your best friend. Just respect people’s creative ownership and use only things that you legally can.
You would want them to do the same for you.
One drawback of free stock photography is that I’m guessing a lot more people are using these same images.
So you may not want to make a free photo your centerpiece, but these sites can be a good resource for everyday graphics.
4. Last but not least.
Make sure the images from the stock photography site you choose will not end up on one of those worst stock photography lists—no matter how inexpensive they are!
What about you? Do you use stock photography? Do you have a favorite site that I missed?
Chime in below in the comments!
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