The latest desktop publishing and Web site creation systems make it easier than ever for a small business to create terrific looking marketing materials, presentations, newsletters, Web sites and other items. But finding great-looking but affordable photos and other graphics to work with has been a problem.
The best photos and graphics come from professional photographers and graphic designers who create exactly what you need. But hiring professionals to create custom work is prohibitively expensive for most small businesses.
Now there's a solution: Web-based stock photo services that offer millions of high quality, royalty-free stock images (photos and other graphics) that you can download to your heart's content for a modest subscription fee, or in some cases for free. High quality, royalty-free photos that can literally cost just pennies at online subscription services can be used for all kinds of purposes, including these:
- Web sites
- Multimedia presentations
- Trade show displays
- Billboards and banners
- Packaging and labels
- Broadcast video
- Business cards and letterhead
- Office, store or restaurant decoration
- Public areas
Find free photos on the WebThere are innumerable sites on the Internet that offer free photos for public use. Why free? Many sites try to attract customers with free images in the hope that they will purchase additional materials.
Download high quality, royalty-free photos and other graphics by subscriptionSimply sign up for a plan, pay one low fee and download hundreds of royalty-free stock photos per month.
Know the difference between "free" and "royalty-free."Free photos are just that — they cost nothing, but may be limited in what you're allowed to do with them (for instance, some are not free for commercial use). Read the fine print. Royalty-free photos, on the other hand, aren't free — they just don't generate fees every time you use them, as rights-managed photos do.
Find free clip art on the WebClip art is the term for stock graphic elements that you can use to jazz up the document you're designing. Whether it's an American flag or a bullfrog, you can probably find an illustration that suits your taste.
Consider licensing artwork for limited useIf you can't find what you need free, consider licensing what you need; you won't have to buy the work outright, as you're just paying to use it for a certain amount of time.
- Just because a photo doesn't have a copyright notice doesn't mean it's not copyrighted.
- Keep in mind the resolution of the photos you're considering. If you only plan to use a small piece of it, and you plan to blow it up larger, the photo may wind up being too grainy.
- Consider contacting local design schools to see if any photography or illustration students might be willing to work inexpensively for the experience — and a credit line.
- Royalty-free photos are generally yours for unlimited use; the price is determined by the size of the photo, not its usage. (Prices vary from very low — less than a dollar, depending upon the account you have with the vendor, the size of the image, etc. — to quite a bit.)
- If you're a heavy user, consider buying CDs of royalty-free photos, which can keep prices down.