Stock photography is made up of pictures that are licensed for specific uses, and can come in handy when you don’t want to hire a professional photographer for your latest project. Today, many stock photography agencies have large databases online so you can easily search for pictures using keywords and categories.
While stock photography is convenient for companies looking to add color to a brochure, point-of-purchase display or other advertising materials, there are a few things to ask before selecting stock photos:
Have I seen this photo before? It’s not uncommon for a specific stock photo show up in dozens of different places for dozens of different companies. The same smiling, happy family sitting on the beach making sandcastles can appeal to someone designing a bank brochure as well as to an interior designer redecorating a travel agency. If you suspect you’ve seen the picture before, opt for something else – there’s plenty out there.
Does this photo reflect my brand and audience? Not to pick on these nice folks, but let’s go back to the sandcastle-making family. There’s usually nothing wrong with beautiful people set amongst beautiful scenery – but there is if it doesn’t reflect who you are and who you’re speaking to. First consider the models – everything from their ethnicity to their clothes and body language. Next, do a quick sweep of the setting – is that house in the background clearly “out of place” because of its size or architecture? In addition, many stock photos can be cliché, so if your brand image is more tongue-in-cheek than traditional, consider the overall style and consistency of your selected pictures.
On a related note, make sure your photos reflect any specific content accurately. If your copywriter submits a newsletter article on “Top Vacation Destinations,” read the whole thing before selecting the family on the beach, because there may not even be a beach destination on the list (hard to believe, I know).
Do I need to pay to for this? It’s so easy to copy and paste, but beware of any royalty stipulations. The safest bet is to get a subscription to an online stock photography database, which will typically provide you with a massive amount of pictures; some websites offer different kinds of packages depending on how many photos you need and how frequently you will need more in the future.
Stock photography is a great resource for a variety of businesses. But like any picture, a stock photo is worth a thousand words – so choose wisely.