“Good” stock photos aren’t designed to work for you. They’re only good because you use them. If you’re a “good” digital photographer, then you have the skills and know-how to craft a photograph that will work for you. (To learn more, go to the “How to Use Stock Photos” section of my website.)
Good photos are the results of hard work being turned into a work of art, and you can make some pretty interesting photos with good stock photos – if you do the work to make them.
What’s a good stock photo?
Before you start your stock photo, make sure you’re not looking at a snapshot taken 20 years ago – or at all. If a photo is on the Web, you need to know:
Who has permission to use it.
What was done with it.
What the image’s intended audience is (in general) and how long they’ve seen the original. You shouldn’t be taking photos for personal use if an image is already on a good quality website. (If you’re using a photo for commercial purposes, it’s fine to add a link to a company to the photo.)
What you’re trying to communicate through the photo (or the image itself).
Here are five basic questions that you’ll want to ask about the photographer you’re using (or if you’re simply buying “good” material):
1) Where is this photo taken?
An image that’s been taken somewhere but not on a known location is a photo of a photo – it comes ready-made from memory and no effort is made to make it unique.
2) What was done with the image?
This question lets you make a judgement as to if the image was “used.” If you like the image, you need to make a judgement on whether it actually was used and whether there’s anything new you can offer. If something new came from the photo, use it. Don’t just use it.
3) What is a suitable source for this image?
Your ideal stock photo is taken from a source that hasn’t changed much over the years (though a few images could be from a digital camera or the Internet). The “acceptable version of this photo” and the “rejected version of this picture” are two different things to know.
4) Where did this image originally appear?
It’s important to know where the photo initially appeared
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