When to Use Stock Photos and Video in Your Next Project

Business man discussing project on laptop with colleagues.

A stock photo manipulated to add the cast of “Unfinished Business”.

Stock images have a place in video projects, but they need to be used judiciously. They often work just fine, especially when you’re telling a story about objects, places and concrete ideas. I’ve used stills, illustrations and videos in many projects.

I’ve also been on the hunt for stock imagery for days only to find one that still needs extensive digital manipulation to work and even then would be better left on the metaphorical cutting room floor. That’s when I choose to lose the image, rewrite the script to work around the issue or re-cut the video using a little more creative juice rather than lower the quality of the project by using a less than optimal image.

If the above doesn’t seem to work I have one other trick I often use for my clients. When I’m on a shoot at one of their locations I often grab as much extra footage as I can. Which is a given in video production, but I also get footage that will never make it into the current project. I get images of signage, the grounds, random filler images from their industry that will make any interview more visually interesting. Sure, the footage may not illustrate a point perfectly, but it’s inclusion won’t draw the viewer away from what is being said like poorly-chosen stock imagery can do. See above.

Over time, I’ve created client specific stock libraries that can be used in multiple projects. The libraries need to be refreshed often. However with careful shooting and curating the imagery can be a valuable addition to several video projects.

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