Choosing the Right Stock Photos

The world of stock photography can be confusing at best. So many options from so many sites can mean that finding the right stock photos for you project can be confusing and expensive.

Before you start looking for photos, you need to understand how the process works. Some sites offer credit packages for you to make multiple purchases over time while others sell each photo or video by the piece. If you plan on making multiple purchases, then investing in a credit pack might be worth it, but most credits expire within the year, so keep your purchase frequency in mind before buying. You also need to understand licensing. For most projects, standard licensing works, but there are exceptions. Make sure you understand what your image comes with before purchasing.

A few sites to keep in mind for quality stock are Getty, Shutterstock and Adobe Stock. If you’re looking for royalty free photos, try Unsplash– your choices are more limited but images are high quality and free! Creative Market is fairly inexpensive and they offer free downloads every Monday, so being patient can really pay off.

You've seen me before!
You’ve seen me before!

Looking for exactly the right photo can also be an ordeal. So many images on a million different subjects can be overwhelming at first, but be patient and keep looking until you find one that works for your project. Steer clear of models you may have seen before or cliched subjects that might fit the content but don’t add any interest for the reader.

I have a few rules for choosing stock photos:

  1. Pets and children should look directly at the viewer, adult humans should be looking away.
  2. Stay away from images with text. If there is an issue with resizing, the text can become distorted.
  3. Choose human models that look like regular people, only better. Also stay away from common models- start paying attention to stock photos to prevent this from happening.
  4. Crop the image to maximum effect. Don’t just throw in an image- make sure there’s adequate room for copy and double check orientation.
  5. Reduce the size for web. Most images are sold at high resolution for print. If you’re posting online, the image should be less than 100KB to keep loading time fast.

Don’t just grab any old image. Make sure you pick a photo that you would want to see yourself- remember, a picture is worth a thousand words!

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