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A Picture Worth The Words

A Picture Worth the Words

How to choose the right images or illustrations for your campaigns

My uncle is a photographer, and when it was his turn to host family holidays, he always made sure to schedule a time for us to gather for family photo sessions. We had to plan for these in advance, because it was understood that there was always a specific dress code or color palette we had to follow in order for the photos look coordinated. Once I wore a blouse that was apparently the wrong shade of navy, so I had to borrow a sweater from my younger brother.

I like to credit this incident to my obsession with “coordinating” photos in a campaign piece – even if they come from different photographers. I’ve been known to change the color of a piece of clothing or a background element just so that it matches ever so slightly better to the client’s branding or the rest of the piece – the image below is one example. The left image is the original, on the right is the piece included in a customer postcard, with a different colored top and a slightly blue filter so that it matched the customer’s existing branding and logo.

Fitness image

Stock photo from www.iStockphoto.com. Original is on the left, edited version on the right.

Of course, stock photography isn’t the only way to add color and imagery into a design. Illustrations and graphic elements can add color, dimension and vibrance to your marketing pieces without the restrictions or limitations of stock photography. They can replace photos as the primary visual elements, or can be used to add visual definition and clarity to complex data or cluttered layouts. If stock illustration isn’t providing what you’re looking for, you can always commission custom artwork to capture exactly the image that you need, but how do you know where to start?

So how do you decide what works best for your design piece?

Luckily for us, the folks over at iStockphoto have put together an extremely useful article on how to select the right imagery for your campaigns. They break the process down into five questions to ask yourself when you’re looking for illustrations:

  1. Does it work for your brand? Just like working with photography, you want to make sure any illustration used doesn’t conflict your brand aesthetic and message (unless it’s on purpose!).
  2. Does it work for your audience? Consider the expectations of your target audience, and what they want or need to see to engage with your message.
  3. What is the shelf life of your project? With both photography and illustration, it is important to think about current trends and the longevity of your campaign. Illustrations can often be more forgiving in terms of fashion or looking “dated”, though there are certainly trends that are constantly changing.
  4. What feeling are you trying to evoke? Photography and Illustration tend to give off different vibes. Photography is often warmer, more relatable, but illustrations allow for complex ideas to be conveyed with clarity.
  5. What is your budget? For most people, simple graphic elements are easy to create, and stock illustrations are as wide and varied as stock photography when it comes to looking for more detailed ideas. If you’re looking for specifics, you might be considering custom commissioned illustrations, which require a lot more time and cost for an experienced illustrator to create.

Imagery can sometimes be an afterthought when it comes to designing a campaign piece. It is easy to prioritize content – especially when it comes to designing a marketing or informational piece. If you’re looking for some great resources for illustrations, photos or graphics, let us help you find the perfect image worth a thousand words – or more!

Chat with our Designers on Facebook or email Stephanie at sringold@alphagraphics.com!

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