Whether it’s for web design, marketing or a project, the emphasis should always be on originality and uniqueness. This is especially true for images, but limited budget, deadlines and lack of resources may force you to use stock photography. If you’re going to use them though, it’s imperative that you learn the whens and hows to make the most of stock photos.
Buy from Legitimate Sources
Do not use images you find in search engines because you or your client could end up getting sued for copyright infringement. While the Internet offers a ton of free images, there’s just no way to tell if those have a copyright or not. To avoid getting sued, just buy from stock photo websites, as you’ll be purchasing the license to alter and distribute the images. Even if you use images from stock photo sites, it’s still prudent to cite it as the source.
If you really want to use an image you got from Google, contact the website where you got the image or better yet the photographer and ask permission to use the image. However, this is best avoided since it takes a lot of time and tracing the original photographer can be very difficult.
Combine Stock Photos with Originals
Mix the stock photos with any originals you have so the site doesn’t end up with purely stock photo content. If you don’t have any original images, hire an artist to draw illustrations, or you can mix and match images from various sources just to keep things unique. In other words, there’s no reason to rely on just one stock photo site.
Know Your Audience
One of the keys to successfully using stock photos –or any photo for that matter- is to know what your target audience wants. If you’re selling products aimed at Baby Boomers and the elderly, it makes no sense to buy stock photos of young hip people in fancy clothes, and the reverse is true. This might seem like a small matter, but remember, you need to choose images that will work with your audience or client, not necessarily what you want.
How Will You Use the Photos?
When you’re shopping for stock photography, picture how they would appear when placed in your project or website. No matter what the image is, it must be considered in relation to how you’ll use in the layout. For instance, the image may look outstanding, but will it blend well with the surrounding text or images?
The bottom line is when it comes to stock photography, you must always consider its placement on the site page and how readers and viewers will see it. Sometimes an image is powerful enough to stand on its own, but in other cases you may need to add text or a caption to accentuate the point. This is something you’ll need to consider carefully.
Use Stock Photos for a Reason
The worst thing you can do is to fill your site with stock photos that have no bearing on your subject matter, so avoid this. It’s true that pictures speak a thousand words, but make sure that those words make sense and tell the viewer / reader what you want them to know. The reason why people use stock photography is to bring together a subject matter or act as facilitator. If the image doesn’t serve that purpose, there’s no point using it because it will be just a distraction. If you’re a webmaster, your objective is to have the viewer go through your site and explore the content, but poorly placed photos could distract or annoy them.
An image can be very helpful in many ways, such as reducing the amount of text you put in a page, but don’t get carried away with using stock photography or any image for that matter.
Know the Drawbacks with Stock Photos
The biggest drawback of stock photos isn’t the price as they’re very affordable, but the fact that they’re common. Stock photography is exactly that, so chances are other websites have used the photo you are going to buy.
To make the most of a stock photo, you can use it as an auxiliary so that it will draw attention to the page and the rest of the content. Generally speaking, a stock photo should not be used as the focal point since it is not original, so use it as a jumping off point to other information on the page.
Use Only When Necessary
As pointed out in the beginning of this article, stock photography should be your last option. If you have the time to take original photos or hire a photographer do it, and if you can create original artwork, do it. But if the time comes that you’ll need to use stock photography, then follow the tips above so you get the most of what you pay for.