Writing Hacks: Stock Photos

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Stock photos and video: Where to find it and how you can use it.

woman-3190829_1920The internet is a sea of images. Retail sites and social media are flooded with billions of thumbnails and banners and ads. Being an author means it’s your job to stand out, to have your product seen.

Whether you’re designing cover art, social media banners, or just trying to catch a reader’s eye, you’ll likely find the need for a variety of images. Stock photography allows you to purchase a license for (or offer free use of) these photos for commercial purposes. Below is a list of stock sites, as well as some ideas for how to use them. But first, a note:

Now that you’re in the business of selling your words, the idea of someone stealing them is probably horrifying to you. Please remember that using others’ illustrations, photography, writing, etc. without permission is also stealing. Each image will have license information listed, and even free images sometimes require attribution.

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Stock Photos and Video: Where to find them

  • Shutterstock boasts “over 200 million royalty-free images, stock video clips, and music tracks.” It’s one of the more commonly used sites, so you may see many of the free images used elsewhere, but it’s a good resource to have. (Video is more costly here than some other sites). Paid images can be purchased on a monthly plan or per image rate starting at 2 for $29.
  • Dreamstime offers image credits, and sliding rates for larger/more expensive stock. They claim “over 76 million images including free and public domain images.”
  • 123RF has free and paid stock, and can be used as and Add-on in Photoshop or Google Docs.
  • Fotolia is now Adobe Stock, which can be used inside your Creative Cloud projects for content starting at $30 a month.
  • Getty Stock is at the higher end, starting at $175 per download. iStock by Getty is more in line with the pricing plans previously listed.
  • DepositPhotos has similar pricing plans.
  • Unsplash offers free stock.
  • Stocksy
  • CanStockPhoto
  • and the list goes on…

A quick Google search can get you more specific sites, such as images you can purchase exclusive rights to. DeviantArt is also a great place to find custom stock, but be sure the artist actually owns the rights, and always get permission for the project you intend to use it for.

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Stock Photos and Video: How to use them

  • Cover art
  • Social media banners
  • Mood boards
  • Character profiles
  • Book trailers
  • Ads

Below are some images and promos made with stock photography by the We Write Fantasy authors.

Check out more ways to use stock photography in Writing Hacks: Promo & Design


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