I’ve been thinking for a while to start a weekly article with some of the resources I found over the years in certain design fields. Both free and paid resources, articles, tutorials and websites ment to help designers, coders, photographers, and graphic artists. So here it is. The first issue. As I’ve been searching recently for stock photos for a new design social media website I’m starting called zaBox, I’ll be talking today about Stock Photography.
Stock photography consists of existing photos that can be licensed for specific uses. Book publishers, specialty publishers, magazines, advertising agencies, filmmakers, web designers, graphic artists, interior decor firms, corporate creative groups, and others use stock photography to fulfill the needs of their creative assignments.
Free Stock Photography Resources
Stock.XCHNG is a community of over 25000 photographers sharing their photos for free. The website contains a large number of photos (at this time over 335.000) , organized by categories. The site navigation is not all that intuitive in the sense that the categories are located above the main menu in a drop down list. Most of the photos offered are high resolution, and the download process is very easy. Although the main navigation is a bit difficult, navigating through photos is very user-friendly.
The community also has a forum which is mostly oriented on general talk. The website also organizes from time to time contests with lots of prizes. Overall a great resource with tons of free photos, organized in a large number of categories, but the site navigation requires a little getting used to it.
DreamsTime is a both free and paid stock photography website. We’ll be focusing on the free section of the website. The website itself has a huge number of photographs (over 1.8 million at this point) and a good number of those are offered for free. To get to the photos you will need to register quite a few details about yourself, which is not all that great for a free stock photography section. The photos offered are very high quality / high resolution and the navigation is quite good. The number of categories is pretty low, but you have the ability to navigate using tags.They also have a message board with a pretty large member base.
An interesting feature offered by this website it’s the ability to create your own photography blog and browse other blogs. Overall a good website with a large community ready to answer to your every question, but a bit money oriented.
AboutPixel is a German stock photography portal. The downside is that it’s in german and doesn’t have an english section. The good side is that it’s pretty intuitive and we managed to navigate the website without any problem. Even the registration process went without Google Dictionary searches because only the user name, email address and password are required. Yes, you have to register in order to download any photos. What impressed us at this website was that even though the only language available was german, we managed to navigate it and download photos fairly easy, and this demonstrates it does what it was ment to do : offering an easy way to download stock photos.
About the photos … this website has only about 30000 photos but all of them are very high quality / high resolution. Overall a good stock photography resource with high-end photos, the only downside being it’s not available in english.
Paid Stock Photography Resources
ShutterStock is probably the largest and best known stock photography website in the world, containing over 2.5 million stock photos, with about 30000 new photos added every week. What makes ShitterStock special is that it’s subscription based. What this means is that you subscribe for one month, three months, six months, or one year – and download up to 25 images per day (750 per month). The prices range from 200$ for one month to about 2000$ for one year. Seems a lot but when you do the math it doesn’t seem all that expensive : 200$ for 750 photos makes it about 0.26$ / photo.
ShutterStock opted for a website design orientated towards ease- of-use, so the website navigation is very good. The photos are organized in 30 well-thought categories and available in a number of resolutions. The image searching capabilities are pretty extended. There’s even a search by color function which works like a charm. An interesting feature is that the website is available in available in 8 other languages : chinese, dutch, french, german, italian, japanese, portuguese and spanish.
Another interesting fact is that designers to can actually make good money by submitting for free their illustrations and vector files.
New to the website is ShutterStock Footage which is basically the same thing, only with high-quality videos. Overall ShutterStock, in our opinion is the best stock photography website, although paying 200$ at once isn’t quite encouraging, but for someone who uses stock photos intensely it’s the best resource out there.
iStockPhoto is another huge website in this domain, available in 10 languages : english, french, spanish, german, portuguese, Brasil portuguese, japanese, italian, polish, and russian. Judging by Alexa it’s gets more traffic than both ShutterStock and Fotolia, being in the first 400 websites in the world.
It holds over 2.2 million stock photographs. At a first look what we liked was the flash animation on the first page displaying 9 changing photos at once, all of them “clickable” and didn’t like about the website was it didn’t display the categories on the main page. Actually to browse to categories you have to go through another page (besides the main page) but once you are there, the browsing options are amazing. The number of categories and sub-categories is huge. What really impressed us was the Search with CopySpace™. Basically this works like this : there’s a 3×3 squares grid representing the photo you are searching for and each square has 3 configuring options : green (un-occupied space in the photo), red (means this part of the image should be occupied by the object or part of the object in the photo) and grey (meaning you have no preference for that area). This is a great solution for a problem faced with anyone searching for a specific photo layout in these giant websites with millions of photos.
As ShutterStock it too has a video section. The prices are a bit high compared with Fotolia, ranging from 1$ / photo (300×400 px) to 15$ / photo (3300x4900px). Overall a great resource with tons of stock photos, superb searching capabilities, but all at a slightly high price.
Fotolia is probably the most reasonable-priced giants of stock photography, containing over 2.5 million photos. It’s available in 8 localized versions : english (US and UK), french, german, italian, portuguese, Brasil portuguese and spanish. On the main page we have also a flash animation, displaying only 1 image at a time. As iStockPhoto, a minus is that it doesn’t display the categories on the main page, though it offers navigation by tags. The categories and sub-categories offered are plenty. The searching capabilities are good but not quite enough to compete with the other two websites.
A big plus is that they offer about 10 different photos free of charge every day. Where this website really shines is at pricing The prices range from 1$ (for 0.5 MP) to 5$ (16MP+). Compared with the others in the en-detail sale field Fotolia is unbeatable, but easily over-stepped by ShutterStock when it comes to mass photography purchase. One thing we didn’t like about Fotolia is that it forces you to purchase a minimum of 10 credits (1 credit = 1$) and that this credit has an expiration date.
Overall the best stock photography resource for en-detail purchase, but pretty basic navigation and search options for this level.
That’s about it with this issue of the Sunday Design Resource. Waiting to hear your input. Next week Web Design Tutorials.