We read information from a picture much quicker than we read through a paragraph of text that accompanies it. Also, commonly, when looking at a document whether it be printed or web based, the observer is often attracted to the pictures before the words.
As a designer, I find it very frustrating when I see the same type of stereotypical imagery repeated again and again on branding material for different companies. One of the very worst examples is a woman with a headset on smiling at you from a website contact page. This image is frighteningly over used and lacks a morsel of creativity or originality. Other such examples are business men in suits shaking hands, and a group of people with someone highlighted next to the phrase ‘stand out from the crowd’. These images portray a very cheap feel and make the websites or documents seem templated.
Selecting relevant imagery is part and parcel of graphic design, and is just as important as designing the original logo in a re-brand or selecting the colours for a web page. Whilst the stock sites that are used for acquiring these images are flooded with unoriginal options, if a little bit of effort is made it is easy to create interesting and unique visuals. Often abstract imagery provides a good solution, something where the viewer has to look carefully into the image to see what it contains. Imagery can be cropped in various ways to create dynamic graphics, avoid the obvious!
Incorporating brand colours in to photographs is an interesting way in which to liven up a stock image. Even if the client insists on not straying too far off the beaten track in terms of image content, these images can be brought to life in this way. Colour washes or overlays can be used, or certain key elements of the visual can be highlighted. With regards to presentation of the chosen images, try and think differently here too. Creating ‘image windows’ of different shapes using layer masks avoid the straight edge pictures that are often seen. Feathering one or two images together can work well, just make sure that the main focal point of each image isn’t lost or distorted in anyway if using this method.
Often less can be more. Think how you can relay the message you wish without stating the obvious. Remember more often than not the image won’t be standing alone, it will be accompanied by page titles and other text so it can be slightly cryptic.
People spend hundreds or sometimes thousands of pounds on photo shoots to get a professional set of quality images to showcase their products, these images will not look good when paired with sub-standard stock photos on their marketing material. Be imaginative when it comes to images!