Jun 2, 2010

Where to find the right photo for your project

If you read my last article, Improve Your Website in 5 Steps: Photography, you’ll already know how using photography can make a big difference in your website and other promotional materials. Now the question is, where do you get these photos?

There are many different resources for using photography, including hiring a professional, purchasing stock photos, finding free resources online, and even taking photos yourself! Depending on your project, your deadline, and your budget, you can choose the option that works the best for you.

Hire a local photographer

Photo by photographer, Dan Higbie

Photo by Dan Higbie

The most ideal solution for photography is to hire a professional. Not only will this option give you the best results, but it will also give you the most control over the outcome of the photos. You can tell the photographer any requirements you need — for example, if you need a tightly-cropped, vertical image for a tri-fold brochure — and they will be able to give you a variety of high-quality photographs that fit exactly what you need.

Using a photographer also will give you the most unique photos. Since you are hiring them for your specific job, the photos will be unique to your business, and will have a better sense of realism than if you purchased generic photos online.

The main benefit for hiring a photographer is for their experience and knowledge. Anyone can purchase an expensive camera, but a professional will know how to properly use lighting, framing, depth of field, exposure, and other techniques that separate an average photograph from a professional photograph.

Purchase a stock photo

Stock photo from Thinkstock

Stock photo from Thinkstock

If you need a photo quickly or have a tight budget, purchasing a stock photo can be a good option. There are many stock photo websites — like iStockphoto.com or ThinkstockPhotos.com — that have high quality images for sale. Just search for your keyword, and browse hundreds of photos to find the one you like best!

One of the disadvantages of using stock photography is that you are limited by what photos are available. Stock photos are usually generic so they are useful for many different projects. If you are looking for a very specific shot, you may have trouble finding that photo on a stock photo website.

Another disadvantage is that because stock photos are created to be used by many different people, they often are. It’s likely that the photo you purchase is being used by other businesses to promote their products or services.

Photos with a Creative Commons license

"rollerblade 03" by

"rollerblade 03" © 2008 Andy Liang, used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Another option that’s often overlooked is using photographs with a Creative Commons license. A Creative Commons license allows you to use the photograph as long as the original photographer is credited properly, and it follows all the conditions that are specified. There are many different types of Creative Commons licenses, including some that can be used for commercial work, and some that are allowed to be modified.

Flickr.com is one website that allows you to search over 100 million photos based on the different types of Creative Commons licenses. Make sure to follow all of the conditions specified under the license. If you aren’t sure if you can use the photo, you can try contacting the photographer to ask for permission.

Please note: Just because a photo is on the internet, does not mean it is public domain. Google Images, Bing Images, and other search engines are not acceptable ways to find photos for your project. Unless you have permission from the photographer, it is copyright infringement!

Take your own photos!

If you own a digital camera and feel confident about your photography skills, why not take some photos yourself? Especially for blog posts and social media pages like Facebook, taking your own photos is sometimes the best option.

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