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What's in Stock?

Ten to fifteen years ago when I saw an image while looking at a print ad in a magazine or passing a billboard on the street, I most likely recognized the image, and could tell you what Stock Photo CD that image was on. CDs from companies like Comstock and Photodisc were a familiar part of our design resource library.

Stock photo services have come a long way since I first started using them. Today, I start with an online search of some of my favorite stock photo services. There are so many places for both hobby and professional photographers to upload their photos, I often find what I'm looking for after a short search, a quick click of a download button, and without having to pay a thing! Plus, it feels good to find unique images and support artists of all experience levels.

That is, when I need to use stock photos. With digital cameras, so many clients have their own photos, or I can take photos to fit the project. Of course the quality of the photo needed will depend on the size and dpi of the end product, but often even your simple point-and-shoot (I'm not talking iphone cameras, that's a different quality image) produces nice photos for use on 72dpi websites to 300dpi magazine pages. I've even found that taking photos of interesting images (especially textures,) inspires me creatively and gives me ideas when designing for print, web or collage.

The future of the stock photo industry holds some concerns for me. Social media has taken photo sharing to a whole new level. While Instagram has some interesting, albeit overused filtering techniques, and Flickr, Picassa, Facebook and Twitter have flooded us with everyone's photos. Hopefully, the trend that every moment is a photo-journalistic opportunity, and that any mobile device with a shutter and an app can turn the average user into Annie Leibovitz will be relatively short-lived. Until then I'll be grabbing my own images for my library and visiting my trusted stock photo sites for quality images.

*Photograph: Hidden Cleveland
- Fleur-de-lis by Janet Pahlau


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