The art of finding great photographs
What's the best way to search for stock images that look natural
13 January 2016

Over the past ten years or so, we've seen a massive increase in the stock photography market.  The advent of cheaper stock photography sites such as Istock and Shutterstock has opened up the possibility for everyone to use great stock images, no matter what their budget.  

 

Don't get me wrong, stock imagery is great, and often provides designers with eye-catching images at a fraction of the cost of a photoshoot.  Thing is, stock images look a little, stocky.  You can kinda tell that the models in the shots are posing a little too much, their teeth too white and their children far too well behaved.

 

Search hard for images that really stand out from the crowd

So, as designers we've all started looking for natural looking stock images, where people looked, well, normal.  Images with motion blur, glare across the lens, and even out-of-focus tends to create images that just seem a little more believable.

 

So, how do we go about finding images that look natural in amongst a deluge of white-teethed perfect people shots.  Search for "happy family" on most stock sites and you'll see the issue.  Finding the candid, natural and 'un-posed' images can be tricky, but not impossible.  Here's a few tips on how to pick that perfect image for your project.

 

Choose feeling over content

Stop searching for 'people' or 'businessman' and start searching for 'carefree' or 'trustworthy'.  Use search terms that describe the feeling you're looking for, as opposed to the things you want in the image.  Quite often words like 'fun', 'safe', 'cheeky' are much better search terms to start with. 

 

Businessman

Businessman relaxed natural

 

The search for imperfection

As I've said, quite often it's the imperfection within an image that makes it seem more real.  The lens-flare, camera shake or motion blue is what gives an image a feeling on authenticity.  So, again, try adding a few of these search terms - `blur`, `flare`, `candid`

 

Child

Child candid flare

 

Think out of the box

Finally, don't be obvious.  It's easy to type 'happy workman' and grab the first image you find. Search hard for images that really stand out from the crowd.  We'll often spend hours looking for images that are just right for our projects.  I'd urge you to do the same. 

 

Much of our work uses stock images from Istock and Getty images - have a look at our portfolio.

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These caught our eye

We love Pinterest.  It's a superb way to share ideas, get some fresh inspiration, or if you feel like it, to just immerse yourself in the wonders of this world and in other people's creativity.  Here are some of our favourite photographs and designs that have inspired us recently.

 

To create a memorable design you need to start with a thought that’s worth remembering.
Thomas Manss