Using Stock Imagery Like the Pros and Where to Find it!

jul16-nolan-stock-imagery-PXpert-article - 1Image from DeathToTheStockPhoto.com

Before the internet and e-commerce sites, the world of stock photography was an intimidating and wallet-draining world of printed catalogs and rights-managed images with few suppliers— Getty Images and Corbis being the two biggest. Royalty-free imagery that could be bought outright and used in most any situation was a significant advance, although initially, it was still quite costly.

These days, there are hundreds of sources for stock photography at all price levels—even for free—so, you have few excuses for using low resolution, cheesy or outright stolen imagery.

But Wait, Why Do I Have to Pay for Imagery in Presentation Anyway?

Okay, let’s get this issue out of the way. There are many who believe that when it comes to presentation, one has the right to use any image from any source without permission or payment. Well, if you’re a 12-year old making a slideshow to convince your parents that you really deserve a dog, and those slides will never leave the confines of the family room, then I’m going to go out on a limb and say that you’re probably okay using anything you can find online, much in the same way that that 12-year old could make a similar collage from cut up magazine photos. But when you start venturing out beyond the family room, things are a bit different.

The fact is that you simply do not have the automatic right to use an image just because you found it on the internet. Photography, like most artistic creations, is generally owned by someone. Yes, there are “Fair Use” cases such as parody, news reporting and educational instances where you might not need to pay to use a normally licensable image, but I’ll leave that determination to you, your lawyers and possibly the courts.

If you are engaged in business and have paid for the hardware and the software to help create a presentation slide, then you are in a position to also pay for stock imagery. And as we’ll see, it does not have to cost an arm and a leg.

Reverse Image Searches

If you find an image on a stock site, that image is for sale. But if you find an image through a Google search, things get murkier. Just because someone else has put up an image on their website, doesn’t mean they have done so legally. Just because an image has been used legally by a news site, doesn’t mean you can take it for your own different use. There are images that are truly free (such as public domain and Creative Commons imagery which we’ll discuss shortly), but most images on the web are owned by someone. The best thing to do is to research the original source or find out if the image is for sale on a stock site by using a reverse image search such as TinEye. A reverse image search will show you everywhere the image is used online, and very often, this will lead you to a place where you can legally license it.

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So, how much will it cost? I’m going to categorize sources for stock imagery into three categories: Expensive, Cheap and Free.

Expensive

“Expensive” is a relative term. It might seem pricey to purchase three images for $1,000, but if those images are used for a huge days-long employee conference costing well into the six figures and become a part of themed title slides, then $1,000 isn’t that much. Spending $2,400 for an annual subscription to Shutterstock may seem like a fortune until you consider that price entitles you to 750 downloads a month. $0.27/image all of a sudden seems quite the bargain.

Into this “Expensive” category, I put sites like Shutterstock, Thinkstock, and iStock. Sites such as these offer subscription plans or image packs (i.e. five downloads for $50) and some like CavanImages do offer a la carte downloads, although this model can get pricey at up to $500 per shot.

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Also in this category are sites for rights-managed imagery such as Getty and Offset, but in general, I would suggest staying clear of this for presentation. Unless you really know what you’re doing, it gets complicated and expensive and is best left to more commercial ventures like advertising.

Budget

The next category down is what I call “Budget” sites. These operate similarly to the “Expensive” sites some with subscriptions, image packs, and a la carte, but at far more discounted rates. At Dreamstime, 123RF and BigStock, you can purchase images for as little as $1 each. Images are $1 at Canva as well, but here you can actually create presentation slides along with banners, posters, and other items.

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What differentiates the above two categories? Mostly quality and choice of imagery. It is possible to find a beautiful professional image at one of the discount sites, but as with most things in life, you get what you pay for.

Free

Lastly, we have sources for completely free imagery. MorgueFile is one of the biggest, but you can also find free imagery at FreeImages and FreeRangeStock. EveryStockPhoto is a search engine that helps discover free imagery around the web.

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Some sites also operate on a “freemium” model, giving you access to certain content gratis, and asking payment for other. DeathToTheStockPhoto.com is one such site where you can subscribe and be sent packs of themed images a few times a month (about a dozen in each set), but access the entire historical archive costs $15/month. DeathToTheStockPhoto.com has beautiful, professional imagery that I’ve used, but the downside is that their library is very limited.

Also in the free category is public domain imagery such as the historical archives at The New York Public Library and Library of Congress. And then there is Creative Commons Imagery—content that creators have designated for public use generally with various caveats such as providing attribution. There are multiple levels of CC licenses, and it is still up to you to determine if you are allowed to use the image under the specific CC license. CC imagery can be found via an advanced search at Flickr, at Compfight and Wikimedia.

Stock Imagery Plug-ins for PowerPoint

Using stock imagery in presentation legally has become much easier in recent years. In fact, both Pickit and Shutterstock have created official add-ins for Microsoft Office that allow you to search and insert images all from within Office applications.

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To see the plug-in in action, take a look at the video below.

Read more about these options here.

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Where Can I Find a List of Stock Imagery Sources?

If you would like a more comprehensive list of sites and resources for stock imagery and other graphic assets, you can download a list from my site PresentYourStory.com after subscribing and getting access to the downloads page.

ABOUT NOLAN HAIMS:

nolan side shotWith more than 20 years’ experience in the field of visual communications, Nolan helps organizations and individuals show up differently and tell better stories with fewer words. Most recently as a Vice President and Director of Presentation for Edelman, he helped the world’s largest public relations firm consistently win multi-million dollar pitches by communicating more visually. As a designer and art director, he has created high-end presentations, keynote addresses, and pitches for Fortune 500 CEOs, leading financial institutions, top foundations, and all the major television networks. Nolan trains organizations to think visually and to create and give presentations that are more effective. He speaks at national conferences and writes extensively on visual storytelling. Microsoft has recognized him as one of only 11 PowerPoint MVPs in the U.S for his contributions to the presentation community. In a past life, Nolan was an award-winning magician and juggler and performed with the Moscow Circus and Vermont’s Circus Smirkus before turning to the theater. He directed and wrote professionally, creating stories on stages in New York and around the country.

 

Ten Presentation Trends to Watch Out For in 2016

While some of them may exist only for the sake of aesthetics, others have been adopted to suit the needs and preferences of modern-day consumers. For example, the use of flat design, many experts say, is more than just the latest craze; it responds to the fact that realist elements are very hard to incorporate into responsive systems designed for screens of all sizes.

To keep you up to date with the latest design techniques, we’ve compiled a list of presentation design techniques that will help you create a presentation that looks fresh and contemporary–just like the content you will hopefully deliver to your audiences.

1. Immersive photography

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Stunning, oversized images will continue to dominate presentation design in 2016, especially in line with the trend of cutting down on text and using images instead to drive home a message.

These large, beautiful background images and video not only serve to captivate your audience’s attention, but they also set the tone for your presentation and provide an immersive setting that transports viewers to a completely different scene.

2. Scrolling presentations

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Remember when you used to create a printed version of your slide deck to hand out to your audience? Well, those days are gone. While this was good practice in the sense that it gave listeners some key takeaways that they could review at their own pace to refresh the information relayed, using this as the only method of delivery is a bit outdated.

Nowadays, it is easier to simply provide audience members access to your slides in the form of a scrolling presentation that looks very much like a web page, as seen in the example above.

Instead of sending emails with large attachments, you can simply send a link to your website. If done right, your website should have a responsive design that allows content to be viewed across a wide range of platforms. Whether on a tablet, a laptop, a PC or a mobile device, your slides can be easily viewed from anywhere.

Another advantage is that in comparison with static PDF files, scrolling presentations allow you to add more interactive and immersive elements, such as videos, surveys, quizzes or forms.

Although some users prefer clicking to scrolling, the consensus leans toward long scrolling as a popular usability option that is used by content-heavy sites, such as digital newspapers and blogs.

3. Stock Photo alternatives

Eco-nomics, The hidden costs of consumption from Josh Beatty

Overused stock photos are just as bad–if not worse–as bullet points and text-heavy slides. In their stead, other forms of visual representation are being used to communicate ideas in a fresh and appealing way.

Take a look at the presentation above, for example. Here, playful graphics in combination with a small amount of text are used to send a powerful message.

4. Creative illustrations

How Google Works from Eric Schmidt

Another effective alternative to the ubiquitous stock photo is hand-drawn elements and custom illustrations. If done correctly, these unique design elements can draw attention to your slide deck like nothing else can.

For example, Eric Schmidt, Google’s ex-CEO, used this approach in the slide deck above. As you can see, it gives the presentation a very playful, personable and creative touch.

5. Graphics and Storytelling

Fix Your Really Bad PowerPoint from HighSpark

As we’ve said many times before, storytelling is one of the most powerful tools a communicator can possess. It not only gets your message across more effectively during your presentation, but it also makes it much more memorable so that concepts stick for months, even years after your ideas were first relayed.

If this weren’t enough, storytelling could be even more effective when combined with visuals. Take, for example, the presentation above. If you click through the entire slide deck, you’ll find an invisible thread that ties each of the different slides together, in such a way that you feel you’re being told a story. Every image perfectly complements–instead of repeats–each of the carefully chosen phrases and words.

6. Flat design

2015 Travel Trends from Creative Lodging Solutions

Whatever is trending in the graphic design world usually makes its way into the most modern-looking slide decks.

The presentation above, for example, incorporates flat design principles to create a clean and minimalist look.

7. Originality

The Search for Meaning in B2B Marketing from Velocity Partners

Another way to attract attention is to create something original; something with your own personal touch.

A perfect example of this is Doug Kessler’s presentation on finding meaning in B2B marketing, seen above. Here, we see that the same background image is used throughout, giving viewers the sense that the presenter is sharing intimate thoughts from his personal journal.

This is also a perfect example of how a clear storyline is combined with attractive visuals in the form of colorful doodles and big, bold text. This not only attracts the reader as they read or hear the presentation, but it also makes it much more memorable since it mimics an informal conversation or a riveting story told by an expert narrator.

8. Creative Use of Typography

Crap. The Content Marketing Deluge. From Velocity Partners

Another way to showcase your creative side is to play with typography to get your message across. In the simple presentation above, for example, the author only uses typography, spacing and symbols to send a very clear message that makes a lasting impression.

9. Effective Use of Colors

What Would Steve Do? from HubSpot

Not only does typography send a message all on its own; colors do as well.

Take the above presentation. If you look at slides 16 to 31, you’ll find that the use of bright, bold accent colors contrasts perfectly with the darker, subdued background color–which works in unison with the animation effects to create a perfectly weaved storyline that drives a crystal clear message home.

10. Creating Content for the Context

You Suck At PowerPoint! from Jesse Desjardins

Another trend–which will simply be a continuation of the present–is the creation of presentations designed specifically for their context.

The above slide deck, for example, was designed to be published online rather than to be delivered as a live presentation.

About the Author

Nayomi Chibana

Nayomi Chibana is a journalist and writer for Visme’s Visual Learning Center. She has an M.A. in Journalism and Media from the University of Hamburg in Germany and was an editor of a leading Latin American political investigative magazine for several years. She has a passion for researching trends in interactive long form media.  She can be reached via email at nayomi@hindsiteinc.com or on Twitter at @nchibana.

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