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Stock Photo Services

Professionals find it is often necessary to purchase images to complete their projects. Whether it’s a shot of broccoli for a magazine layout, or the New York skyline for the cover of a DVD, stock photo services can help. But finding the right stock photo service is a balancing act. You must consider several factors when making a choice.

  • Cost: There is a lot of competition out there, and photos are priced accordingly. Some services offer annual subscriptions, others charge per image. Be sure to keep your budget in mind when searching for needed photos.

  • Resolution: Sites often charge more for higher-resolution images. Be sure to know how you’ll use the image; Web site designers will pay less for an image than someone designing an annual report. That’s because a Web image is lower resolution, while the report will be professionally printed and require higher-resolution images.

  • Exclusivity: Does the image need to be yours and yours alone? Or is it OK that you might see the photo in someone else’s project? Images that have their usage rights-managed cost more. A rights-managed image has restrictions placed on who can use the image for a certain time period. In contrast, a royalty-free image is purchased once and can be used as many times as the designer wishes.

  • Quality: Expensive doesn’t guarantee “better,” but it does increase your chances. More expensive sites often have a better selection and image choices (the best photographers charge more, go figure). If you are on a budget, prepare to spend more time searching. There’s a line often used in the professional creative community: “Good, Fast, Cheap... pick two.” Seems appropriate here as well.

Finding Stock Photos with Adobe Bridge

Starting with Photoshop CS2, a stock photo browser is built into Photoshop (via Bridge, the file browser). Please note: These images are targeted at professionals, and are often expensive.

  1. Choose File > Browse to access Bridge.
  2. Click the Adobe Stock Photo link under Favorites.
  3. In the search field, type a keyword to search. Press return.
  4. The corresponding images will load. You can then choose to Get Price & Keywords, download a Comp Image (low-quality preview) to show your client, or Add to Cart to purchase.

Finding Stock Photos Online

Another way to find stock images is to turn to the power of the Internet. There are several sites available to choose from. Here are some that offer high-quality images. Be sure to compare prices and usage rights to ensure they work for your project.

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