Expert Tips to Enhance Your Stock Photography Search

Anyone who has researched stock photography knows that it can be really time-consuming—not to mention, mind-numbing. Here are a few expert tips to make the search go smoother and faster.

Know the different licensing types

Make sure you specify if the type of image license you are looking for before you find that perfect image. You don’t want to end up outside of your budget and disappointed.

  • Royalty-free (RF): You pay once for unlimited usage (subject to the stock house’s agreement). Royalty-free images are more commonly used in marketing and communications.
  • Rights-managed (RM): You pay based on specific usage rights (timeframe, usage types, number of pieces printed). Rights-managed images are a good choice if an original or exclusive image is needed.

Be specific in your search

Instead of using vague terms like “family,” search for specific family members such as “mother and daughter” or “group of young children.”

Photo from Depositphotos

Specify a wide age range

I’ve found that age specifications can vary based on the photographer or stock website. Use a somewhat wide range (and if you are past a certain age, be prepared to be shocked by what is considered “elderly.”)

Pair them up 

When searching for photos of people, pair them with an activity (i.e. biking, reading, canoeing) or place (park, lake, mountains) to narrow down the choices.

Go with what’s popular 

Checking the “Most Popular” box can often get you the best images first.

Download thumbnails

Most stock photo websites allow you to download watermarked thumbnail images to test out in your layout.

Photo from istockphoto

Verify the size and resolution

Before you purchase the final image, confirm the file format and size. Stock photos are indicated in pixels, inches and dpi, depending on if you are using for print or digital. if you plan to use for print, it’s alwayes best to buy the largest size so you have flexilbity to use for large-format output.

Step away from the computer 

When you start to feel stock photo overload, stop and clear your head. Or close the search window and start from scratch.

Does your nonprofit need stock photo resources? See my list of Diverse & Inclusive Stock Photography Resources that I update regularly.

If you’re still strugglig to gind the perfect image, I’m happy to help—send me an email.

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