Five Things to Consider when Purchasing Stock Photography

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Why is it that, at times, the perfect design and layout can be created quite rapidly, yet decision-makers take months to arrive at any sort of consensus regarding conceptual images or royalty-free stock images?

Whether publishing a corporate website, developing a collection of marketing brochures or building a winning advertising campaign, you're putting your professional image out for public critique. As a result, the stock images you chose say a lot about your company's values and standards.

Let's look, then, at five essentials when purchasing stock photography:

1. History. Which - and how many - websites, brochures and ad campaigns have already used the same image you're interested in? A large and reputable corporation would not want to purchase the same stock photo already in use on 95 other sites - from make-a-million-from-home scams to maryanne's parenting blog. Yet microstock and royalty free files can disseminate at alarming rates, which may eventually impact the reputation of all users. So always use a reputable image bank that offers full country-based use history for each image and minimize the use of royalty free stock images to those with a limited past.

2. Crop. If you don't like the whole photo, consider a creative crop. Quality stock images should provide adequate room for editing, cropping or combinations of photos within imaginative collages. Ready-made clipping paths and high-quality handmade masks can also save hours of production time. Your image bank's stock photo subscription should minimally allow for unrestricted image editing and multiple image merge at no additional cost. No longer a luxury, pre-made paths and masks can also be found affordably if you use the right source.

3. Thumbnail. At times, conceptual images or clipped stock images look perfect onscreen only to render themselves indiscernible when reduced as a thumbnail. This also holds true when a PDF brochure is viewed on a small computer monitor, notepad or handheld device. If you need to reduce an image to thumbnail, make sure you retain the photo's true visual strength as a small crop or reduction.

4. Size. The larger your file size, the better your image comes across on both web and print campaigns. Large files also give you the freedom to use the same image on banners, displays or posters, while maintaining a consistent visual brand appeal. Most vendors price stock products by size, with larger files more costly than their smaller resolution counterparts. When purchasing photos, look for an image bank that offers full-size royalty free stock images under one blanket subscription.

5. Individuality. When a prestigious client or campaign lands on your desk, image exclusivity is essential. Otherwise you face the risk described earlier, and the same photo will pop-up on a competitor's ad or 99,999 other websites. When purchasing a stock images subscription, opt for an image bank that allows for exclusivity when required.

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