Name: Kate Moore
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Job title: Graphic Designer + Front End Web Developer, Business Owner
Company name: Kate Moore Graphic + Web Design
How do you use photos in your job? (in print publications? Online? all?)
I use photos in pretty much all facets of my job. When there is a gap in my clients’ visuals, I turn to stock photography. Lately, that’s meant more and more images for web but in my past job, I was digging up stock images for print, almost exclusively.
What goes into choosing the right photos? In your opinion what makes for a good stock photo?
Usually my client has a pretty clear idea of what they want the photos to say. When I’m working on a website I’m looking for one pivotal image for the front page of their website. It usually has to convey many ideas about their brand, without looking like a stock image. That can be a hard balance to find!
When I’m working on books, stock images are usually more to fill a void in the client’s imagery. For example, I worked on a 100 year history for a golf and country club, at my former job as a designer/prepress technician at Echo Memoirs. The club had two or three fires over their 100 year history, which meant that a lot of their images and documents were completely destroyed. We turned to the city and library archives, but also to stock photography to fill those gaps. I was really surprised that the amount of images I could find of vintage golf equipment! Those stock photos helped us tell the story of the club, even if they weren’t from the club itself.
I think that what makes a good stock photo has really evolved lately. In the past, I felt like I was sifting through a million very generic images that were obviously stock images. Now, there seems to be a lot more images that are more specific to the subject, if that makes sense. They feature very “real” looking people, actually doing things that real people would do. For example, the collection that Getty Images did with Lean In, of which I’m a huge fan, features realistic women doing things other than laughing alone and eating salad (as the cliche goes). I think that they’ve really demonstrated how stock photography can make a giant impact on how we perceive women in our society through images. I would say that a good stock photo is one that doesn’t show the subject matter in a stereotypical way and isn’t trying to be so generic and appeal to all, that it ends up not appealing to anyone.
Tell us some of your best tips and tricks for making stock photos more 'on brand.’
Photoshop?! I usually look for a stock photo that I don’t have to do much to. Since those can be hard to find, I usually look for images that I can crop a section of, if there is a piece of the image that works better for the overall feel we’re going for. Often it’s the details in the image that make the image seem more on brand. I will also look for images that I can easily overlay text on, especially for online stock images. A little typography that is within the client’s brand, goes a long way.
Show us your least-favorite, more cheesy and over the top stock photo.
Pretty much any image you get when you search for “business person.” It’s always a group of people against a white background, wearing soothing light colours and pointing at a white board. Unfortunately, I seem to always be looking for an image of a business person or group of business people for websites and I have yet to find one that doesn’t look completely contrived.