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Jessica Murray

Jessica Murray

Akendi Alumnus

How To Find The Perfect Stock Image

Searching for the right image can be tough. Here’s a few strategies to help…

Images are a very important part of visual design but sometimes you don’t have the luxury of planning and executing a custom photo shoot.

Don’t worry there is always stock photography… or is there?

Searching for the perfect stock image can take anywhere from 10 minutes to two days depending on what you are looking for.

These searches are hugely time consuming and often frustrating. You have to have a good sense of humour when sifting through the massive amount of quirky, laugh-worthy images on stock image sites.

Why would anyone use these images? Who did they have in mind when they did these photoshoots?

Ironically, I’ve had to purchase the images below to demonstrate the absurd nature of some of stock images for sale on sites like istock and Shutterstock. Here are just a few of the most ridiculous stock photos the Akendi Visual Design team has come across:

stockimage1Aggressive Businessman With a Pitch Fork

stockimage2Puppy and Kitty’s­­­ Big Adventure

stockimage3Cupid Strikes Again

stockimage4Science is H­­ard

Stock photo searching is a grueling task, but don’t worry, you can find the perfect image, it is out there. Here are a couple of tricks to get the image you need:

  1. Most sites have the ability to filter the images to show those with just people in them. This can cut out a lot of the junk you’d never buy.
  2. You have to get crafty with the word combinations you use when searching. Using one descriptive word or a few short words normally gives you more options than a complete sentence would.
  3. Look at multiple sites if you don’t find what you are looking for on the first try.
  4. Something that might be helpful over a longer period of time is creating a general lightbox where you save good images as you find them.
  5. Not all sites are created equal; istock and Shutterstock typically have cheaper images, but this means they have way more to look through. Sites like Masterfile and 500px are considerably more expensive but offer much higher quality images.
  6. Finally, if you have exhausted all options you can call the stock company and request a custom lightbox where they will attempt to find what you are looking for.

What are your experiences searching for stock photos? Feel free to share with us by posting in the comments below…


Jessica Murray

Jessica Murray

Akendi Alumnus


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About Akendi

Akendi is a human experience design firm, leveraging equal parts experience research and creative design excellence. We provide strategic insights and analysis about customer and user behaviour and combine this knowledge with inspired design. The results enable organizations to improve effectiveness, engage users and provide remarkable customer experiences to their audiences.