Image via Flickr user Drab Makyo.
Have you ever arrived at a party and noticed immediately that someone else was wearing the exact same thing as you! Yes, that other person also found it quite simple to walk into the nearest department store, and grab the first thing they saw on display. I guess you both should have put more thought into your clothing purchase. The widespread availability of free and paid stock images online introduces this same problem into the graphic design world. If you look around at other people's postcards
and websites, you tend to see very safe, banal choices of imagery that don't add much to the promotion. When selecting a photograph or illustration, it's important to think like an art director and get creative about choosing the most unique, effective stock imagery for the project. A great photograph or illustration can anchor an entire marketing campaign or promotion. Sometimes the artwork can even be a source of inspiration for the piece's copy and design or format. As a guide toward finding more interesting and effective image selections, consider the three questions below: What do I search for?
Many stock image sites
operate with a search engine. To get the most out of your search, you must go beyond the first few obvious search phrases that pop into your head. For instance, if you are looking for an image for a financial consultant's postcard
, avoid searching phrases such as "money," "profit" and "investing." Instead, think about the biggest benefits or goals of the consultant's service. If he or she aims to make customers feel safe and secure in their wealth management, then you may want to try searching for "happy family," "house" and "home," which are images that illustrate the benefits or results of the consultant's services. How do I find a unique image?
If you've found your concept first and are looking for an image that evokes the concept, stay away from the obvious choices. To show "partnership" images with handshakes or two people with arms interlocked are two examples of boring ideas that have been done before. Think about unique instances where two things work together, such as a nature shot showing a symbiotic relationship like that of a plover bird cleaning a crocodile's teeth. Or you can take a more symbolic graphic design approach to showing "partnership" by finding an image of an interlocking chain or puzzle pieces that you can use as design elements, repeated throughout the promotion, to represent the idea. What if the image isn't perfect?
Sometimes you download an image that really resonates with the theme or concept of your promotion, but when you place it on the promotion, it looks flat or like it's missing something. That's where photo software comes in. With many of the free and paid stock image sites out there, you have permission to manipulate the image however you want. Switching it from color to black and white or sepia tone is one trick for instantly changing the way your image looks. Don't settle for an image as-is, when you can retouch, recontextualize and revamp an image using Photoshop
and similar software.