How to source images for your printed material

The saying goes that a picture speaks a thousand words and this is especially true with printed material.

Having a strong image can really decide the ROI for printed materials. You need an image that not only stands out but also keeps within the nature of the brand and communicates the correct message. Sourcing and choosing such an image is not an easy job.

There are endless places online to buy stock imagery. However, before you start searching through these websites it is well worth having a good idea in your head about the type of image you want to use.

Do you want a photo? A line drawing? A diagram? What are the main colours that you want to use? What shape should the image be? Do you want something generic or specific? Should it be abstract or direct? What should the mood of the image be? The more you look the more options you realise that you have.

If you are going for a stock image you need to be aware that your competition may also choose the same image. If you are in a niche area then certain keywords within your niche may only provide only few options on the well known imagery sites, therefore you will need to be careful about which images you choose and perhaps think outside the box.

However, stock image sites such as Shutterstock or iStock do provide a fantastic resource for sourcing all different types of image and at a great value.

If you can’t find what you are looking for or if you are finding that the stock images for your niche look a bit too ‘stocky’ then you may have to try elsewhere. You can try searching online for what you are looking for with a search engine such as Google Images. If you do find what you are looking for then it may involve tracking down the original photographer through looking at the copyright on the images.

If it is specifically a photo that you are looking for then you may want to try Flickr, or even a networking site such as Pinterest. However, you will have to fully check copyrighting and maybe contact the original photographer directly in order to purchase the use of the image.

Once you have exhausted internet searches and not found the perfect image then you will have to commission your own. Work with a photographer, designer or illustrator in order to create the perfect image for your printed material. Your printing company may be able to recommend someone. This may seem costly, however, if the image is good enough it will not only be completely unique to you but it will also deliver a high ROI once your printed materials are circulated.