Digital Web Magazine

The web professional's online magazine of choice.

Cooking With Stock : Comments

By Jason Beaird

September 9, 2008


Brian Artka

September 10, 2008 1:40 PM

Nice article Jason. I agree with the whole cliche idea on the stock photos. If you are going to use any stock photography, stay away from things that have been done before. Seriously consult a client who insists you use that conference room meeting shot with the smiley faces; its been done before.

Better yet, if one is up for it, shoot your own stock photography. I, by no means, consider myself a professional photographer, but I have taken some very nice personal stock photography shots to use in future projects. There is no reason one cant do that for a client, especially if that client wants to be unique (rather than buy some stock that anyone else can use).

After a quick look at the web community on flickr, I would say a good percentage of us have a decent DSLR camera and lens. How many out there have used their own custom stock photos for themselves, or a client?

Jason Beaird

September 11, 2008 7:00 AM

Thanks, Brian. While I was focusing on using stock for this article, I definitely encourage people to take pictures and create illustrations whenever the project timeline will allow. I’ve taken pictures to use in several client projects I’ve worked on. I think it’s also important to recognize the benefits of occasionally hiring a professional photographer or illustrator.

Stacey Robinson

September 11, 2008 10:43 AM

Great article. I had to laugh at your first reference to grocery shopping while hungry. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone looking for a specific image and found myself, hours later, looking at everything but! It’s easy to do.

Thanks for bringing this topic out of the closet! ;) Viva Stock Photos!!


September 12, 2008 10:48 AM

Good article… I think it’s important to stress following the licensing agreement on stock photos. Especially when using free photos which often only require a simple citation or link for the content creator. Many companies are getting burnt for using photos without consent from flickr and other sources, so it doesn’t hurt to double check the licensing agreements.

And personally, I think the happy customer service girl with headset is an abomination that even the average user should be sick of by now.

Kris Meister

September 16, 2008 7:50 AM

I wasn’t quit following whether you support using discount stock photo sites exclusivly. Why not list some of the larger(and better) stock photography sites at the end of the article.

I think you seriously missed a point that the photography is alway always better on the higher priced traditional stock photography sites. Its easier to find beautiful and more unique shots – and yes obviously you’re not getting the photo for a dollar try $50-$300 for most web sized photography. But that should be budgeted with the client.

I don’t mean to be bothersome, but there is the horrible trend with the internet nowadays that everything can be gotten cheap, and not much value is placed on quality.

With stock it needs to be the exact opposite, get the most expensive budget you can from the client for photography. It pays off in spades, in both your time and in the final product.

Also that example with Pfizer I’m sure was a photoshoot or traditional rights managed stock photography. Its exactly the type of extra personality, from the mold on the house to the unkept bushes that you would never find on the discount stock photography sites.

Jason Beaird

September 16, 2008 2:02 PM

I wouldn’t say I support discount stock exclusively, but I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve had to license a traditional stock image in the last 2 years. You get what you pay for, but it’s just too expensive for the majority of images needed in our day-to-day design work. There are plenty of quality photos to be found in micro stock and the sites I listed are the ones I use – primarily and

I knew I was leaving the traditional stock giants in the dark. That’s why I invited everyone to list their favorite stock resources in the comments. If I were to add a traditional stock category, which sites would you include: Getty, Veer, Masterfile?


September 17, 2008 11:45 AM

Re: Kris Meister’s suggestion to focus on higher-priced photos. My typical client budgets hundreds of dollars for the entire website. There’s no way they’ll consent to (or be able to afford) $300 for a custom photo shoot or a “traditional stock” photo. For those of us who work with small clients on even smaller budgets, services like iStockPhoto are simply indispensable.

With regard to avoiding the clichés, never forget the value of being able to composite multiple photos and illustrations to form something completely new and unique.

Robert Willliams

September 24, 2008 10:27 AM

By the time stock photography concepts and ideas becomes “stock photography”, most are already a cliche. The stock houses are putting together their offerings based on trends, styles, or other pop culture imagery that is already familiar and popular (i.e., marketable). I’m not a designer, but I’ve worked with too many who start playing with abstract stock photo ideas without considering what they are trying to communicate or what concept or idea they are trying to bring clarity too. If a cliched image works to your communications objective, then why not go with it?

Jason Beaird

September 30, 2008 9:14 AM

“If a cliched image works to your communications objective,
then why not go with it?”

Well, there are overused images within a field or discipline and then there’s the clichéd images of the hands holding the glass globe, the business handshake, the call center blonde with the microphone headset, and the generic rising finance chart image. My personal favorite is the diverse business team wearing suits in a fancy office placed on the website of a company of white 60-something males who all wear golf shirts and khakis to work.

Choosing popular stock images that highlight current trends and culture is never a bad idea, but there are a lot of images out there that are downright “cheesetastic”. The most important thing is to finding images that are visually appealing and represent the client well.

Long Beach Graphics

October 5, 2008 11:56 PM

This is really a great article. A lot of times, we don’t know when to use the right image for a project.

That is why I prefer to use my own photos, and not of people that I don’t even know on my designs.

Wendy Darlnig

October 6, 2008 9:45 AM

Nice article — I’ve passed along to my web / graphic design colleagues. BTW, also wanted to say, loved your talk at WJS ’08 — very inspiring. I’ve added your feed to my Newsgator so I can get updates.


October 22, 2008 8:03 AM


Another great way to use stock images is by finding an image that you can crop to your advantage. For example, that smiling blonde with the headset may not be the best choice, but zooming in/cropping the image to the right side of her face and headset may not be as easily recognized or nearly as cheesy, but can still provide the desired effect, without spending a ton on per-use images.

Sorry, comments are closed.

Media Temple

via Ad Packs