While we’re fond of words, too many can be overwhelming — “TL;DR” is a thing for a reason. Any kind of content is more appealing when combined with clear, attractive images that draw people in and convey your message in a new way. But where can you find those images?
We called on our network of marketers to find out how other agencies and pro marketers source great images.
When it comes to stock images, many marketers use multiple sources. At Rep Cap, we’ve experimented with a lot of stock image sources. We’ll probably always depend on the big stock sites like Thinkstock and iStock, but we also love smaller — and usually more affordable — sites with newer imagery that you don’t see around the web so much. Our favorite is Stocksy. Other good sites on my list: Adobe Stock, Life of Pix, New Old Stock and Stock Snap.
“iStock is usually our go-to and includes illustrations and videos as well as photography,” says Kimber Dulin, digital marketing specialist at Tower Marketing, about where she sources images for the company’s blog, website designs, prints and infographics. “While iStock is a pay-to-play platform, there are many sites with free images we also utilize; our personal favorites being UnSplash, Picography and Death to Stock Photography,” she says. In addition, this list of free startup tools (including free stock photo sites) is a favorite among her team. “All of us involved with content curation have this page bookmarked,” she says.
Make Stock Images Better
Once you find a site that has images you like, consider how you could make them even more original. When you’re searching, use a couple of modifiers to find unusual and striking images, says Angela Ficorelli, art director at Moncur. “Some of my favorite keywords are top-down view, wide-angle lens, narrow focus and short depth of field,” she says. “All of these will give you results that have interesting angles, focus and content.”
You can also find a way to customize stock images to make them your own, like adding text or a filter.
Andrew Choco, vice president of marketing at Directive Consulting, says his company avoids boring stock images on their blog by using Undullify, a subscription-based graphic design service. He’ll use a free tool like Canva to make a rough mockup of what he’s looking for, and email it off to the designer.
Take Your Own Photos (or Have Someone Else Take Them)
Dulin says her company has also done more photography in-house to create a personalized experience and seamless branding. “We can often edit these photos quickly using Canva, which also has its own stock photography, illustrations and icons list.”
If you decide to shoot your own, lighting is everything, Ficorelli says. Try to capture early morning or evening light, which is flattering no matter the subject. Bounce light off white walls or ceilings or large white poster boards to get the right glow. “If you don’t do your homework with the lighting, your images will never turn out how you want,” she says.
If you decide to hire a professional, set them up for success. Consider creating a quick creative brief, says Cielo de la Paz, a photographer, UX design director and founder of The Storyographist, which provides photography advice. “At the most basic level, show the photographer a set of photos from the web that are as close as possible to the photos you’d like to get,” she says. Describe the mood and ambience you want to get the best results.
Know the Rules
As tempting as it might be, pulling the perfect image off a Google Image search is not the path to take. Using copyrighted images without permission puts you at risk of embarrassment, fines and even having your website taken down.
If you use photos you find online, be sure to read the rules carefully about how many times you can use the photo, whether you can edit it, or whether you should credit it, Dulin says. “More often than not, you must credit the original owner of the photo. Be sure you are using the correct photo credit formatting.”