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27th Annual Stock Visual Survey

Will Stock Visuals Be An Important Designer Resource in the Future?

Select Comments:

Not only do I think stock visuals will increase in popularity, but I feel the quality and variety of images will improve. Custom photography is necessary for product, portraits and custom visuals. But stock is the “go-to” for images that can be customized by combining or manipulating images.

Stock agencies will be with us in the future and I see them improving the process. There are more and more vendors. I try to take photos myself whenever possible, but when time is an issue, there is nothing better than stock. I try to choose unique images because I don't want my clients to see “their” photo on a competitor's piece.

As long as there is a need for non-verbal communication, stock visuals will continue to be a viable resource. As time passes, the difference will be higher quality, more diverse subject matter from which to choose. We have continued to see that change and improve since the days when the big stock services produced their last print catalogs based on film images.

To remain culturally relevant, stock collections need to have less homogenization, even more diversity, especially regarding age and race.

Yes. The images seem to be more rich and don’t look so “stockish.”

Stock is necessary. Certain images you just can’t recreate. We use our own photography whenever possible, but unique concepts, locations and subjects most often cannot be recreated in an affordable manner.

Stock will never fall out of favor in the foreseeable future because of economic conditions, and its ease of use and accessibility. That being said, I believe this will lead to more photographers and illustrators throwing their hats in the ring. Managers of stock sites are going to have to become more discerning if they want to remain a quality resource. Designers will catch on quick if a site is not decent, and they won't stand for it.

The stock photo industry has been ahead of the curve on digital technology and all. I expect small refinements but no major changes; maybe easier searching on mobile devices.

Stock visuals will continue to be popular. However, the business model needs ensure to that it is profitable to the image creator to upload and offer their images for license. If it is not, the best and the brightest creators won't participate.

I hope there is tiered divide in the future. I would pay a bit more for photos that not just every person can pay a dollar for and use. The future of stock visuals looks to be strong. However, as is especially the case with microstock, there is an increasing concern with seeing the same visual used elsewhere. It’s always best to be prepared for that possibility by using the stock visual in a way that is not the sole focus or manipulating the visual to make it more your own whenever possible.

I do believe stock visuals will continue to be popular ‒ as long as the contributing photographers keep with the trends and styles of the photo industry. Due to style variation in designers and budget differences among publications, I have no concerns about the popularity of stock visuals. Setting photo shoots to capture a specific image can be time consuming and expensive, and chances are, I'll be able to find something just as nice in stock.

You get what you pay for. There will continue to be a need for custom, exclusive, professional imagery for high-end work, and there will continue to be a place in the market for lower-priced or quickly accessible stock images. What I would hate to see, however, is the proliferation of crowd-sourcing delivery-models that do not appropriately reimburse the image creators ‒ and thereby dilute the value of their work and their talent.

Stock visuals will grow in popularity because of pricing and the competition among stock providers to come up with stronger, more original images.

Absolutely. My concern is that there is so much work out there, available for free or next to nothing, that we end up devaluing it, and the photographers’ and illustrators’ skills. How do we continue offering affordable imagery (too often a necessity for many small firms with small clients) while properly compensating the artist? We’re painfully aware of this every time we use microstock. It’s an issue that touches all creatives.

Yes, stock will continue to be popular. But due to the rising demand and popularity, I think there will also be a rise in inauthentic, bland and generic looking images that will be “okay enough” quality but not “that’s the cover!” quality.

I believe stock will be important. Even with the convenience and capabilities of cameras and cell phones, I believe that using high-end stock photography and being able to check out various locations with the click of a mouse will remain popular.

Stock visuals will remain an important resource for designers. All in all, that is a good thing. I do sometimes worry that we lose a bit of a creative edge by depending on stock images too much; you have to guard against becoming too complacent or dependent.

More and more photographers and illustrators are seeing sales to stock providers as a new potential revenue stream for them, so the quality of stock imagery is going up, along with the quantity of visuals available to the designer. I don't see this trend going anywhere but up in the foreseeable future.

Yes, stock will continue to be popular. The drawbacks are that images are not unique. The same visual is used by a variety of enterprises for different reasons. And, with the plethora of stock images ‒ both high and low quality ‒ image providers are not regarded as visual artists or designers, and income streams are reduced.

Stock visuals will retain their popularity as long as there is new material on the sites. I think they will be used more by clients more to convey their concepts to designers. At times it's difficult to 'read a clients mind' ‒ so the stock shots serve as a tool to help convey a message. I even use stock shots to help set up lighting for a studio shot.

In the future, stock agencies need more diversity of models used. Still too many white people. I don’t know if it will ever change, as that is the nature of the beast, but it can be difficult to find specific images for niche markets.

The growing social media expansion could lead to a novel way to contract with photographers around the world who are willing to work more specifically with artists. Stock sites, however, offer a wide resource for both variety as well as inspiration especially if you’re not sure what you want.

Stock imagery will stay popular for quite some time. My fear is people will rely on Google searches more than paying for what the creators are asking. People are cheap and sometimes they suck.

Stock photography will continue to be popular as marketing budgets shrink. The only concern is that you sometimes find others using the exact same images as you in their marketing efforts.

Stock visuals will be increasingly available. The real concern is the impact this will have on the cost and availability of local talent and supporting staff, equipment and studio spaces for images that are otherwise unavailable from stock sources.

Yes, I do believe so. But just like every other industry that adapts itself to the changing market, if you don't put quality above everything else . . . you will end up a fad and eventually fade.

Yes I do. But I feel that the different stock providers need to provide different point of views to stand out from their competitors and to give their clients more options.


I see them as always popular and an outlet for starving photographers. My concern is that there will be too many amateur photos from people's smartphones.

Stock visuals will continue to be popular from a price perspective. What's concerning is the oversaturation of stock images and the dismay of using the same stock as your competitors to promote your product.

There is every reason to believe that stock will continue to dominate the creative realm. It is a concern that designers will automatically jump to stock before attempting to create on their own first.

Yes, the popularity will continue. My only concern is the lower quality subject matter will continue to flood the market, therefore, making our search for the good ones out of the bad ones a longer process.

Yes, they will continue to be popular. I was so relieved when microstock was developed as a source for affordable imagery.

Well, we’re being asked more and more to use realistic-, non-staged-looking stock photography. We've been doing more shoots lately than we ever have before for that reason.

Stock will remain popular. The only concern would be the limits I think it places on the creative nature of good photographers, and subsequently, their ability to have a career that rewards the creative process.

I actually believe personal photography will become a popular aspect of stock photography in the future, with everyone on cell phones, and tablets and any other device that snaps a picture. Especially web photography. The quality is already degraded at 72 DPI, why not use your cell phone!?!

Stock visuals will remain popular. There are times when it’s best to hire a photographer for specific purposes. In general, stock photography is a valuable tool and it's immediately available.

Stock photos will continue to be popular. My concern is that homogeneity will stifle creativity, where an effort to make a saleable image, we'll get stuck with a lot of vanilla images.

I do think that stock images will continue to be popular. But you have to be very selective in choosing your stock photography and you must have a creative mindset. Yes. Copyright issues are always huge so people will continue to use stock images to avoid legal problems.

The more stock is used, the more likely you are going to see it repeated somewhere. Nothing will compare to the originality and exclusivity you can get with your own photographer and retoucher.

My concern about the future is the overuse of the images. I used an image of a loving couple for a financial services company brochure. Around 6 months after the brochure was printed I found the same shot used on the front of a box of condoms.

Yes, it will always be a popular mode of finding communication elements. But I'm concerned that the world will be distilled down to these images and original thinking will not be necessary. It will bring down the value of original thinking and reduce imagery to a commodity, not an art.

Yes, it will stay popular. However, too many companies use “people” stock photos casually and loose individuality within their websites and print ads. They are all looking alike these days. I’ve seen too many bank promotions, CPA ads and business-to-business ads looking alike.

There will always be a place and projects for stock visuals and custom photography. We do very extensive searches of images to minimize “typical” images, our goal is to have the stock visuals represent a custom photo. Also use stock visuals to develop image directions when using a photographer to shoot a more customized version of the image.

Yes, stock photography will continue to be popular. There is some concern that smart phone users and social networking cheapens the industry by offering free images versus quality images.

Most professionals have a good eye and will choose the same handful of images in a category. It's getting harder and harder to find quality images that everyone else isn't using.

Stock visuals will continue to be popular. But this is a double-edged sword; more stock resources means affordable, quality images, but it pressures designers to use stock instead of hiring freelance photographers and illustrators.

Stock is the future of the design world. My only concern is I am seeing a lower quality of photography at times. This does not mean that I am willing to pay a high price for images though. I have to keep looking to get a more affordable image that fulfills the need I have.

Yes. I believe that designers and photographers will understand that their work is of value and they should stop giving it away for free download. In addition, marketing professionals understand that the quality and integrity of a of a photo is much higher when obtained through a service specializing in stock imagery (as opposed to ripping it off via Google).

Yes, I believe that high quality stock visuals will continue to be popular. For mid-quality, not as much; a dedicated creative pro with a semi-pro camera can capture that. Of course, sometimes you just need a stock visual to include a location into a project and its budget doesn't allow travel to that location.

I think it’s only going to expand even further, into logo design, packaging and web templates. I do fear that the same way photographers and illustrators have been effected by stock houses it will also start to effect graphic designers. Clients will continue to have budget cuts and before you know it they are getting everything stock/templates.

With your camera phone, you can actually take a pretty good shot of something on the street or on location or a group gathering and use it in your work. As the resolution and quality of the camera phones continue to improve at an incredible rate it will most certainly have an effect on the stock visual industry.

I would like to see more variety of ethnic groups ‒ African American and Hispanic, etc. ‒ along with intermingling of races, especially since companies are trying to appeal to a broad range of groups.

I think the popularity has hit its peak. Unless someone comes up with some sort of revolutionary new collection of stock photos, if you seen one, you’ve seen them all.

I think stock visuals will continue to prosper as long as the contributions to these libraries continue to improve and evolve. My concern would be stale, dated imagery which can pull down a brand's appeal. Maybe dated imagery could be pulled into a bargain basement section of the site.

Many clients are actually taking their own cell phone and digital camera images and insisting that we, as designers, must use them in their brochures and on their web pages. It's a tough battle to fight. There are times when the amateur look of a cell phone shot fits with the project, but for real classy and professional looking work, we have to stick to our guns and show the clients what quality marketing and advertising looks like. It's a harder sell these days.

I don't believe we can measure how long the popularity of stock visuals will remain. Everything has it's run, and changes continue to occur, and change is inevitable ... so perhaps years from now, we will have other ways.