Nowadays, everyone has a device with a high quality lens. Everywhere you turn someone is snapping away. It makes sense why intensive photo/video platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Snapchat keeps users continuously engaged. Also, why content with great imagery results in more views.
For a designer, selecting the proper imagery is not necessarily about page views, but transforming the creative. Imagery can complement or elevate a creative piece to enrich its story. As a designer you cannot add some half-ass nonthought-out imagery to your work. That poor choice will become a distraction and it will make you seem as though you lack creative judgment. A transformative image leads to more engagement and a higher chance of virality.
So what are the attributes of a transformative image?
Complementing the Content
Here is a clear example. If I was creating a brochure for the little blue pill, called Viagra. Common sense should tell me that placing a church choir as the cover image, doesn’t make much sense. Sure, some may say “Hallelujah!” for their newly found standing ovation. But others my find the connection between the two be a bit limp. The images should be related to your subject matter. They should be unique, strong and beautiful.
This relates to how the subject matter within you pictures are framed. A well framed image with great subject matter can tell a story without you adding words. A poorly framed image with unwanted objects or people for that matter (my uncle Ray-Ray), can lead the viewer down winding roads that can muddy the overall story.
Color, Contrast & Clarity
Okay, pet peeve alert! I myself have done this a couple times during the beginning stages of my career. Purchasing a small resolution photo and scaling it up to fit a certain size. At the time I wasn’t aware of resolution importance and the ability to only scale down not up. My prints were coming out blurry. So, despite what you heard size does matter. Larger photos give the flexibility to scale down to medium or small for clarity. Also it gives “real estate” to size and the ability to crop images properly. Color and contrast adds to the overall appeal creating another dimension to the overall creative work. Dull lifeless color-stricken imagery brings any creative to a complete stand still.
So, ask yourself this before selecting imagery.
Does it meet the 5 C’s.
1. Complementing the Content (most important)
2. Composition (most important)
3. Clarity (very important)
4. Color (just as important)
5. Contrast (just as important)
Hint: They are all important!
Here are the top three stock imagery sites I have used heavily in the past.
1. Thinkstock Photography
The beauty of Thinkstock is that it’s like 22 (could be more) sites in one. It pulls images from other partner sites so you have the best of 22 some odd sites from around the world in one. For $166 bucks a month which includes a 100 downloads/month. That is not too shabby! The one con, not every image can be pulled from partner sites.
2. iStock Photography
This was my guilty pleasure before I stumbled upon Thinkstock. Top notch premium imagery but more importantly, a very large library of vectors that I constantly sunk my teeth into. My only con is that you need to purchase credit packs which are bit more expensive. They use to provide the choice to buy credits seperately (credits were cheaper back then, circa 2010) or the option to pay, let’s say, $21.95 for a large image.
3. sxc.hu (FreeImages)
Hey, maybe you don’t want to pay for stock photography, because you just bought the new Yeezy’s (Yes, I am throwing judgement your way). SXC.HU now named FreeImages.com has vast assortment of images. The con, all the images are generic and basic but every once in a while, you definitely find a diamond in the rough.
4. Yuri Jai’s FREE Stock Library
Oh I know… you guys must be saying, Yuri how could you plug you own stock imagery library. (readers chant in unison) SHAME…. SHAME…. SHAME….SHAME…. Well, all I can say is GUILTY AS CHARGED, SHAMEFUL PLUG IT IS! My stock imagery is bar none better than Thinkstock and iStock. The Gods on Mt. Olympus couldn’t have crafted a better library. The con, being as meticulous as I am, I only add the finest of imagery to the library. I am to imagery as Perdue is to chicken. How was that for a promotion. Was it over the top? 🙂
Let me know what stock imagery sites you find to be useful and how you decide which images best suite your content? Or are you the type that likes to take your own pictures?