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So . . . where do you find those free pix?
The preparation of branding materials involves a strong visual element — both your own carefully designed logo AND very often a context-specific supporting image. While customized artwork is almost always best (whether you are talking about a photo taken to mark an occasion or a specially designed illustration), such efforts typically involve so much time and effort that supporting “stock” pix and drawings are often the only practical alternative to satisfy time-and-financial constraints.
I remember my feelings of panic the first time I had to complete a project without the benefit of a corporate stock image subscription and had a deadline but no budget – and just a single question to be answered for myself:
WHAT DO I DO?!?
Ever Explore Wiki Commons?
Wiki can very often provide a great alternative place to find supporting A/V files – both audio and visual. As the illustration below suggests, these 50 million plus images are stored in well-catalogued and easy to find locations at various technical specifications.
What you need to know . . .
“Wikimedia Commons is a media file repository making available public domain and freely-licensed educational media content (images, sound and video clips) to everyone, in their own language. It acts as a common repository for the various projects of the Wikimedia Foundation, but you do not need to belong to one of those projects to use media hosted here. . . .
Launched on 7 September 2004, Wikimedia Commons hit the 1,000,000 uploaded media file milestone on 30 November 2006 and currently contains 58,541,226 files and 57,473,117 media collections. . . .
Unlike traditional media repositories, Wikimedia Commons is free. Everyone is allowed to copy, use and modify any files here freely as long as they follow the terms specified by the author; this often means crediting the source and author(s) appropriately and releasing copies/improvements under the same freedom to others. The license conditions of each individual media file can be found on their description page. The Wikimedia Commons database itself and the texts in it are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License. More information on re-use can be found at Commons: Reusing content outside Wikimedia and Commons: First steps/Reuse.”
While much free content is available, you need (as mentioned above) to familiarize yourself with copyright or attribution issues that could be relevant to a specific image. Often, the creator will allow usage at no charge but will very reasonably want to be given credit for authorship. To be safe and in full compliance, study the licensing information made available at the Wiki site.
Other Places to Look
Frankly, the Internet provides access to an unbelievable wealth of image resources. For example, I recently searched for the term: “Best Free Images of 2019.” The following list was produced:
As you can see, a combination of “stock” photos, illustrations, videos, and sound files are available, and the resource can be more than adequate in addressing your needs. (You can also find that some paid stock sites offer some very reasonable terms, especially for single images that might be the most suitable for a specific situation.)
While I have not had a chance yet to explore all of these sites at great depth, the very first resource I (gratefully!!) stumbled upon was “Unsplash,” which I highly recommend and found to be quite extensive and well organized with a good search function. While free, optional attribution is appreciated but not required. The images themselves are of an excellent quality and professionally prepared to meet most technical specifications you’d encounter. As I go through others on the list, I expect to find many of them capable of meeting and/or exceeding your typical requirements.
When using these images, I presume most of you have an application that can handle (and manipulate) these files. If not, note the vector-based page-layout program Carole recommended in her article on logos – “Design Your Own Logo” (https://brandbuildingforsmallbusiness.com/2019/09/08/brand-basics-part-2-design-your-own-logo/). Almost all computers now come with a package for manipulating photos (for example: Microsoft’s Paint program).
A Picture Is (Sometimes) Worth a Thousand Words
A visual element is always an extremely useful tool in almost any activity involving branding. Images contain content that reinforce your message to your target audience . . . while artistic aspects of the image offer a message of their own about your style, expertise, and sensibility.
Note: The criteria you use for selecting images is sufficiently important to your brand to become part of your “Style Guide.” That portion of the document should spell out image do’s and don’ts to be sure pictures reinforce the brand message you are working to create.
That said, never overlook the opportunity to incorporate custom artwork by taking photos (your phone likely has a great camera always available for that purpose) or even building an illustration of your own!!