You never really know what kinds of resources you’ll need when running a site, until you have one of your own. I guess it’s a bit like parenting or taking on a new job: so many details that nobody ever bothered to mention before! One thing that I realized I desperately needed very suddenly when I started running my own blog was photography. I had all these posts, big long posts, and nothing to break the monotony. It looked awful. It looked boring.
So, I took into my own hands to jazz up my site with some visuals. I have this digital camera that’s like, okaaay, and skills that are somewhat meh but I figured that I’d eventually be able to hack it. After taking about 50 photos of my cat (who had nothing to do with the post in question, but was a ready and available subject) I realized that my efforts were futile. Even after learning some basic skills on retouching photos I realized that my own photography was only going to take me so far.
Either stock photography has come a long way, or I never really knew what the heck it was, at least back in the day. I often had this impression that it was all highly-processed, ultra-contrived scenarios that had all the appeal of a late night infomercial. Know what I mean? Fish eye lens people holding various objects, pictures of happy coworkers merrily gossiping by the water cooler or that “super stressed out” guy.
Boy, was I wrong, but I didn’t know it. So I never even considered checking out stock photography sites. I kept shooting pictures of my cats, or of food, or my neighbourhood, and hoped that my clever captioning would allow me to save face.
My Adventures in Stock Photography
So about a year ago, when my website was about 6 months old, I decided that I wanted some models for my own website.
I knew that it would cost a small fortune to hire models and a professional photographer, and there was no way I was going to attempt to be on either side of the lens myself. That’s when my cousin (who happens to be a son of a photographer) told me to check out some stock photography sites.
Frankly, I was a little appalled. “You, of all people, should know better than to suggest I use THAT!”
That’s when he told me that even his dad sells some photography to stock sites, and that I should really check a few of them out.
“But I don’t need business-people jump shots,” I informed him. I got a look in return, so I started googling around.
I was shocked…not only was the photography not at all cheesy, but it was good. Real good.
I felt pretty giddy and excited knowing how much this was going to turn my blog around!
And it required SO little effort on my part! Yay!
Where to get the good stuff
At first I was using iStockphoto.com which was a decent site for my needs at the time. Although they do have a hefty selection, I was feeling a little dismayed when their prices began to creep up, so I started perusing different sites.
One that I found that I really like is photodune.com. They have better prices ($1 a photo for a typical 548×364 photo), a gigantic selection of great photos, both studio-style and more “natural” photos, and their website is really easy to navigate. Just use the search tool and voila, you’ll find more than you’ll ever need on any subject.
I also like that you don’t have to download their photos onto your computer (taking up precious memory space that I always need for more music).
Getting creative with “your” new photos
A cool trick that I came up with (ok, I probably didn’t actually come up with this, but whatever), is to use free retouching video tutorials in order to figure out how to manipulate the photos a little, either to recycle photos I’ve already bought or to get exactly what I want out of a photo. Once I just needed the background on a photo, so the horse came off, and there you go! Perfection, and I didn’t even get up from my chair.
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