The beauty of Photoshop is that you can create magnificent compositions and designs from literally nothing. However, most of time, a digital artist will have raw material to begin with in the form of photographs or some kind of imagery. Enter the world of stock photography where the options are just as vast as the world of actual stocks. Whenever obtaining photos online, it’s ALWAYS necessary to secure the proper rights to them. Do not cut corners when it comes to this.
Paid for Stock Photos
If you’re looking for good photographs to use, you should know there are many excellent resources out there. From very cost-effective images in the single digit range to exclusive collections that in some cases can cost the price of what it takes to build a website, the stock photography landscape has something for everyone. In life, you general get what you pay for. This applies all the same to the world of stock photography with one notable addition. Any mediocre image can transformed into a work of art via Photoshop. It’s not an uncommon practice for digital artists to take fairly low-cost stock photos and turn them into masterpieces that look like they belongs in Getty Image’s platinum collection. After all, that’s the reason Photoshop has its reputation for being the industry standard tool for digital manipulation. We’ll cover examples of doing this very thing in some upcoming tutorials.
Stock photo plans vary from one company to the next. Some offer subscription-based payment plans where as others are based in individual credits. Below are a few places that have an established reputation for providing high-quality stock photo images.
Visual Branding once you have the Stock Photo
Once you’ve selected the right stock photo for your project, the real fun begins. We have a general rule in our studio that keeps our design customization standards high. If a client’s competitors can simply copy and paste one of your client’s images and use them in their sites, then the work has not been customized to acceptable levels. Stock images are purchasable by anyone and that includes the competition of your client. It’s vital that an image be visually tailored in accordance with this benchmark so that it’s unique and exclusive to your client’s brand. As a designer or branding consultant, that’s what a client is ultimately paying you for.
Free Stock Photos
For those who are just entering the field and are looking to start an archive of stock photos for free, there are a number of stock photo sites that offer free weekly files. Of course, you’ll have to create an account with them to gain access, but once you do, you can download the featured files at no cost. IstockPhoto.com offers free images, illustrations, video, and audio. Additionally, Fotolia offers free photos.
In addition to paid for stock photo sites, there are a number of free resources out there that serve up high-quality imagery. However, I’d like to share a strong word of caution before using them. The nature of these sites are such where they’re basically a repository of free imagery submitted by different users each of whom have potentially set different usage rights. Due to the ever changing nature of such sites, you should make sure you’re 100% certain about the terms of usage before using the photos. Many photos on free stock photos sites can only be used for non-commercial use or require attribution. At the same time, there are sites that tout completely unrestricted licenses that allow the user to use the images in any setting with no attribution. Either way, this is one of many examples in life where you absolutely need to read the fine print. From a professional level, our studio uses paid for stock photos to alleviate any risk. However, for someone just starting out, these are a helpful starting point. As a helpful hint, any time you use a free image, it’s good practice to screenshot the agreement as it’s pertains to the photo. It can serve as a receipt of sorts that proves the specific usage terms of the photo at the time of downloading. Please note that ThreeCell’s blog does not take responsibility for the claims of each site.
If any of our readers has additional resources they’d like to add to our list, please feel free to let us know!