Skip to main content

Picture perfect

I’m making a cover for my next book, A Wolf of Her Own, so I’ve spent quite a lot of time on various stock photo sites trying to find the perfect photos to use. Since I’m not a Photoshop expert – or GIMP, the free equivalent that I use – perfect means pictures that are both suitable for the cover and something I can work with relatively painlessly. It took some searching and studying the wares of more than one site, but I found what I needed. Come back next Monday to see what I made of them.


In the meanwhile, here’s a list of my favourite stock photo sites.

They all have a nice selection of quality photos for many different purposes. All photos are royalty free, meaning you don’t have to pay for their use. There may be some limits to their use though, such as how many copies you can make of a photo. It’s usually quite a huge number so you don’t have to worry about it. However, make sure to read the terms of use before buying.

They all let you buy pictures with credits – you can spend as little as $10/£10/€10 on them – so that you don’t have to commit to expensive subscriptions when you only need one picture. iStockphoto even lets you buy individual pictures without buying their credits.

All sites are relatively easy to use, but they have differences in their search functions. The more you can narrow a search, the more effective a site is finding accurate pictures. When it’s a difference between going through 10,000 pictures or 1000, you tend to value effectiveness. Fotolia has perhaps the best search functions, but since the photographers add the search words themselves, it’s not always optimal either. I tend to use loser parameters for that reason.

The credits cost approximately the same in each, but the photo sizes and how much they charge for the largest photos vary a lot. Fotolia is occasionally more expensive when you’re buying larger pictures, but not every time. And the fact is that when you find the perfect picture, you’re willing to pay a little extra.

All sites allow you to store your favourite images to light boxes for easier comparison. Dreamstime has made it easiest to sort the pictures to different files even as you save them.

All three sites offer some free photos too, but their range and quality aren’t great. However, there are a couple of sites that offer photos for free. The photos tend to be smaller and not suitable for book covers, but they’re great for illustrating your content on blogs or G+ for example. I’ve mostly used these three:
Of these three, I like morgueFile the best. They have beautiful photos for almost every possible purpose that work especially well as illustration. And unlike the first two that exist to drive traffic to paying sites – they only show a few free pictures and then suggest paying ones – they show their own stock first. Many pictures on this blog are from there. They’re large enough to work as book covers too, should you find something suitable. However, the paying sites are infinitely better for that purpose.

These six sites should get you started. If nothing else, you can spend hours on them, looking at beautiful photos. Sometimes that’s valuable too. Just don’t get lost.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Reading resolutions (and resolute reading)

It’s a new year and time for a new reading challenge. I’ve participated in the challenge on Goodreads for four years in a row now, and each year I’ve added to the number of books I’ve read. Last year I read sixty books, though I’d originally pledged to read fifty-five. To be on the safe side, I kept it to fifty-five this year too. I usually pick my reading based on how I feel, and it seems I’ve felt like reading quite a lot of urban fantasy and fantasy last year. You can check out here what I read last year.
This year, I decided to be more organised about my reading. So I made a list. I never make them, or if I do I don’t follow them, but a list of books to read has to be easy to stick to. Especially since I didn’t make any difficult promises, like reading classics in their original language.


My list has fifty-six books at the moment, so there’s some room for changes. And it seems I’ll be reading a lot of urban fantasy (27) and fantasy (22) this year too, and quite a lot of it from auth…

Temporality and passage of time in serial fiction

I’ve been binge watching Star Trek: Enterprise lately. I didn’t see it when it aired in 2001-2005, but thanks to the streaming services, I’ve been able to indulge. For those who aren’t familiar with the series, it’s set a hundred years before the adventures of the original series with Captain Kirk and his fellows, and follows the crew of the first starship Enterprise. I’ve always been a Star Trek fan and I’ve liked it in all its incarnations, but Enterprise might be my favourite. There are many reasons for my preference, but what sets it apart from other series is how it allows the passage of time to show.

Many episodic TV series, regardless of the genre, are curiously atemporal. Passage of time is only implied to, maybe with the compulsory Halloween, Christmas, and Valentine’s Day episodes, or if the series is set in the school world, with the start and end of the term; if it’s a long-running series, the students move from one grade to the next from season to season. Other than that, …

Reading recap: March

I had a good reading month last month. Everything I read was delightful and entertaining, on top of which they were good books too. Again, I didn’t quite stick to my reading list; two out of five books were outside it.
First up was A Gathering of Shadows by V. E. Schwab. It’s the second book in her Shades of Magic trilogy set in a world of parallel Londons that have different levels of magic and which can be travelled between by a special person with enough magic and right words. Grey London is in the Regency England of the ‘real’ world with little or no magic, Red London is abundant with magic, and White London is in permanent winter and constantly struggles to regain its magic by any means necessary. In the first book, Lila gets accidentally drawn from Grey to Red London by Kell who can travel between the worlds, and decides to stay. In this second book, she enters the stage as a pirate and ends up taking part in a tournament of magic. Most of the book is taken by the tournament, and…