Stock Photos

Build Your Image with Stock Photos (Without Breaking the Bank)

A picture is worth a thousand words...but few are worth a hundred bucks.

It's no secret that good stock photos can make any newsletter, flyer, blog post, PowerPoint presentation or website look more interesting and professional, but aren't they expensive? Yes, they can be, but as tempting as it may be to just grab something off the Internet, you would be leaving yourself open to legal action if you don't use images you either own, have licensed, or are in the public domain.

To see what it would cost to have a picture of Delicate Arch—a famous sandstone formation in Arches National Park—included in a printed brochure, I looked at several different online sources. I found one on jupiterimages of the arch at sunset—a medium resolution image suitable for print going for $260. I conducted the same search on iStockphoto and found an even more dramatic image for only $105. That's still a fair amount of money for a scene that's probably been photographed tens of thousands of times, though, so I decided to see if I could find one for even less.


Next, I searched Wikipedia Commons, which features images offered under the Creative Commons license*. I found this one by Misha Stepanov that I could use for free so long as I credit the photographer with the work. In fact, all of the 10 million files on Wikipedia Commons can be used free of charge, although the licenses detailing how they can be used may vary a bit.

While you will probably not find nearly as broad a selection of photos on Wikipedia Commons as you might on the commercial paid stock photo sites, saving money on photos that are available will help offset the cost of other pieces you may need. It's also worth noting that the cost of stock photos varies dramatically depending on the resolution (size) of the image. If you just need a small photo for a blog post, it might only cost a couple dollars. Most of the images I use for websites fall in the price range of $2–$15.

Now that you're aware of the options, don't hesitate to spice up that "wall-o-text" with some photos!

*Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that "develops, supports, and stewards legal and technical infrastructure that maximizes digital creativity, sharing, and innovation" which offers artists, photographers, musicians and others to offer their work with "some rights reserved", thereby making it clear that the work can be reused or published without fear of copyright infringement so long as the user follows the guidelines outlined by the license.

This article was written by Mark Giambruno and originally published on the TCBRN website.

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