The New Age of Picture Research

Finding that perfect image for your blog post, magazine article, newsletter can be a pain. It’s not as easy as ‘just taking it off the internet’. A photograph is owned, it is someone’s intellectual property and in some cases it is their living. So images are not really free to use. For years, the likes of Getty and Corbis have been the go-to image bank for good, current editorial and creative images but the cost can be prohibitive. DeathtoStock_Medium7

In response to the growth in web content, more and more image banks have emerged with massive stocks of imagery – Shutterstock the largest has over 15 million pictures. Downloading images instantly in the size you want was not particularly new, but the range and immediacy and the idea of buying photos with a subscription or with credits was. It is possible to pay around €1 for a web image. And you can get higher resolution images for printing for a few euros more.

Forever trying to offer something different, always in search of a USP, some image banks will give away an image a week. To entice new subscribers, some, like BigStock, gave five downloads a day for five days before being charged for the month ahead. 50 images with no commitment (you can cancel any time during those five days) is pretty good.

A recent giveaway came from an unexpected source. A new film called ‘Unfinished Business’ released by Twentieth Century Fox in March 2015 starring Vince Vaughn, teamed up with Getty Images to create a set of spoof stock images that poked fun of the kind cheesy pictures that editors and researchers far and wide have grown tired of. In fact these celebrity stock shots are genuine stock images with the actors Photoshopped onto them. Check out the images before and after here. These are available for download over the month of March 2015 and are limited to just editorial use. iStock_000059218570Large

If you’re short of budget for your project, Flickr.com is a great place to start. Once you have your search results page there is an option to look for creative commons images under the ‘license’ drop down menu. Creative Commons means that the material is available for use. Check the license, photographers will ask for credit, some will ask you not to modify the image, but generally, you can use the image. Common courtesy would be, of course, to let them know that the image is being used. Flickr Creative Commons

Also interesting for bloggers and small businesses are the new breed of photo banks, which give away their images to use however you want and at no cost. www.deathtothestockphoto.com is one service doing just that. In response to a “less-than-awesome industry pattern: too many extraordinary brands, bloggers, and creatives struggled to find images that fit their vibe + tribe”, the two-man team started to share their own photos that were “just gathering dust”. More and more people signed up to receive their monthly emails with the stylish photos and the project has grown exponentially. There are plenty of others too; www.pexels.com, www.unsplash.com, www.jaymantri.com, www.lifeofpix.com, and www.stocksnap.io. The latter say this about their service, “We’re very grateful for all the photographers who are nice enough to share their work for free. To pay our respects, we identify the author of each photograph and link back to their profile. Our long-term vision is to create an amazing community of photographers that want to share their work with the world.”

Picture research is not what it was, budgets are small and quality is not just in demand but expected as well. No surprise then that Getty announced last year that it was making its images available to embed on websites and social media pages. Indeed, this is a good time for communicating with imagery.