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Stock photos that don't suck. by g-0 Stock photos that don't suck. by g-0
EDIT: This was recently said to be in the wrong category because it is "not a tutorial about how to use DeviantART" even though it is a tutorial on how to create good stock photos for DeviantART. I hate stupid people.

Guide to Making Good Human Stock Photos
by g-0

As I look through the stock photo galleries, I've noticed a lot of photos that really shouldn't be in there for one reason or another. I use stock photos for manipulation often enough that I'm frustrated by either having to sift through lots of bad photos to find a few good ones or by finding what I think is a great one by the thumbnail, only to open it up and find that it sucks. Hopefully this will help people make better stock photos.


So here is my advice on what not to do. Avoiding these will make your stock much more useful.


1. Small size. Look at the top photomanipulations. They are usually at least 500x500, usually more. A 400x400 stock photo is not going to help anyone. Especially when the subject only occupies half that space. Get a good digital camera, or scan in pictures at a higher resolution, and spend the extra minute or ten to upload the bigger versions. If all stock photos were at least 1024x768 (preferably 1280x1024) I would be overjoyed.

2. Cluttered backgrounds. The best model in the world could pose for a picture, and if it's going to take an hour of work just to separate them from the background it's not going to get used. Please don't take a stock photo with piles of stuffed animals and posters in the background. One color if possible, just stand against a wall. And please, use contrasting colors if at all possible. If you have brown hair, don't stand next to a brown wall.

3. Don't manipulate your stock photos. I see "stock" photos that have the contrast blown out to overexpose it and I just want to scream. Do not over/under expose the photo. Do not desaturate (unless you took it on b/w film and scanned it) or sepia tone it. Both of these destroy color data in the image. Don't add a freaking blur! If you add a blur to your stock photo (or it just comes out blurry) it's only going to be useful to people that need a blurred photo. If you DON'T blur it, then it'll be useful to everyone, because blur can be added by the manipulator. Color correction is alright, as long as it's not taken too far, but anything beyond basic color correction should be left to the artists that will be using your photo.

4. Cropping. I know you've seen shots with creative cropping to make it look cool. For art photos, a good crop can enhance a photo infinitely. For stock photos, please don't crop half of your face out. Sure, The stock photo might look a bit cooler, but it's usefulness is going to be greatly reduced. If you want to crop it and submit it as an art photo, then by all means go ahead. But stock photos aren't SUPPOSED to be your artwork... they're supposed to be there for OTHER people to work with. Seriously, unless there's something you don't want other people to see in the photo, leave everything in.

5. Repetitive poses. Please don't post 5 photos of your face turned an inch farther to the left each time. Different expressions and poses are great, but I've seen way too many galleries that look like frames of animation.


That's all I can think of off the top of my head. Obviously if someone makes a request for a specific pose, background, etc then this doesn't matter. This is just a guide for getting your stock photos to be used more in general.

If you have any suggestions, comments, or criticism, please tell me.
Add a Comment:
 
:iconchaoticperfectixn:
ChaoticPerfectixn Featured By Owner Jan 6, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
With colours, is it better to have a slightly desaturated photo or one with more vivid colours? Which would be easier to work with?
Reply
:iconeishiya:
eishiya Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Whichever is the version that comes out of your camera, go with that. The less work is done on an image, the less data is lost, the more an artist can do with it. If you desaturate an image, you're losing colour data. If you brighten up the colours, you're likely to lose some detail in some range of values or hues no matter what you do, and that detail can't be restored. Desaturating and making colours brighter according to the artist's needs are both easy to do as long as the image hasn't been heavily processed, so just leave it to the artist.
Reply
:iconrareblackangel:
RareBlackAngel Featured By Owner May 28, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
I whole-heartedly agree with all your rules except 1 - sometimes that turn of the head just a couple inches makes all the difference when I have the option to choose between them.
Reply
:icon13-haru-13:
13-Haru-13 Featured By Owner Aug 27, 2010
umm... how do you find fitting stock photos?
Reply
:iconllawlietz:
Llawlietz Featured By Owner Jun 17, 2010
One more - Don't chop bits of your head, or limbs off when you take the photo! Cropping is bad enough but being too lazy to check if the whole subject is in the photo is just... GRR. I'm so sick of hunting for photos that have ALL the body parts I need!

Nice tutorial, anyway =)
Reply
:iconreno-fan-girl:
reno-fan-girl Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2008
uh god im with you on the bad stock im stuck on a photomanip and i've only used to stock pics and i need one but theres nothing decedent and usually when this happens i tkae my own bloody photos but my camera broke so theres not help for but to go thought stock :(
Reply
:iconvideogamessw:
VideoGamesSW Featured By Owner Dec 1, 2008  Hobbyist General Artist
One of my peeves is flowing or too tight clothing. I need to see the active muscles in your body, wearing a gown that hides your legs bugs me. Tight leotards can squish your skin and add weird humps and bumps in your sides.
Reply
:iconfalling-pixie:
Falling-Pixie Featured By Owner Nov 2, 2008  Student Photographer
OMG THANK YOU!!! >< i try and stick to these (tho sometimes dont) but ive always tryed to do these. and when i go looking for stock photos... >< GAHH i feel your frustration!!! it gets anoying!

may i raint please?
i have a friend who thinks she is REALLY good at stock photo's and she like to take pictures (more as a hobby tho not a passion). hers are ALWAYS blury (she has a bad camera) and cropped her way when she takes it and always has a cluttery background. (i do too and SO need to get a background to work with! >< ) but the thing is, she thinks ALL the photos she takes are PERFECT for manipulating! wtf?! >< and b/c i am the one with the manipulating ';powers' she wants me to use them! ohhhh golly jee! ><
end of raint!

sorry to raint, but you are SO COMPLEATLY right and i wish everyone followed these!!! ><
Reply
:iconstock-tenchigirl15:
Stock-Tenchigirl15 Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2008
thank you very much for the tips :hug: i'll keep them in mind :aww:
Reply
:iconwant2bfree:
Want2BFree Featured By Owner Jan 5, 2008
this is all very good advice. i was thinking of taking some stock photos myself and i had no idea how to go about it. thank you again :D
Reply
:icon666-darkinside-666:
666-darkinside-666 Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2007
this is very helpful.. really, everyone with a stock should do this..
i started a little time ago working with stock images.. and sometimes, people takes pictures in nature backgrounds .. and some colors confuse you when you want to crop it ..
i think that is really important.. when people takes human stock pictures, i think that the best is to take it with a white background behind them ..
Reply
:iconamusement:
amusement Featured By Owner Dec 4, 2007
good job, i agree with every single thing said lol.
Reply
:icondarkcreations:
DarkCreations Featured By Owner Aug 26, 2007  Hobbyist General Artist
i definately have to agree with this...especially the cluttered background and the same poses....lets hope this tut helps a few idiots.....hopefully.
Reply
:icon2000yearsago:
2000yearsago Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2007  Hobbyist General Artist
I JUST got into using stock images and you're so very correct! I wanted to scream last night because I kept finding promising photos only to find that they sucked upon closer examination...and don't even get me started on the backgrounds.. _._
Reply
:icontynne:
Tynne Featured By Owner Apr 27, 2007
XD Apologies for posting three comments on your deviation! And four, I think, counting this one...
Reply
:icontynne:
Tynne Featured By Owner Apr 27, 2007
:#1: Every stocker should read this.
Reply
:icontynne:
Tynne Featured By Owner Apr 27, 2007
:#1: Everyone stocker should read this.
Reply
:iconbloodied-roses:
Bloodied-Roses Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2007
I agree entirely. People really need to understand these things about stock photos. =3
Reply
:iconsweet-blood:
sweet-blood Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2007
I totally agree....I found a really good human stock art site, that I totally love their stuff...its really good. If you want, private message me and I will send you their link. =]
Reply
:iconspookywormy:
SpookyWormy Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2006
The file doesn't exist !!!! why? = ( =(
Reply
:iconiv4n4stock:
Iv4n4stock Featured By Owner Nov 29, 2006
I can download it.. The file doesn't exist :'(
Reply
:iconavalonfaayre:
Avalonfaayre Featured By Owner Jun 23, 2006
This is really good advice. Thanks for the post.
Reply
:iconcoffeekarena:
CoffeeKarena Featured By Owner May 16, 2006  Student Traditional Artist
Wow I never knew there was so much to stock photos. I was thinking of giving it a try but I probably will not. Though I was wondering what a stock photo actually was....and by chance I came across this writing. Well this answer allot of my questions...hmm even though I'm not to sure what all that photo talk is about. I really do not know much about photography or doing any sort of art on the computer in truth. So this piece that you have written is much appreciated!

Oh yeah I have one more question that I would like to ask you please. I was just wondering if doing a backbend and someone taking the picture of you while you’re doing it considered a good stock photo?
Reply
:icong-0:
g-0 Featured By Owner May 17, 2006   Photographer
Yes, anything with variety is good.

Don't be intimidated; just try some stock photos and ask for advice and as long as you're willing to take advice you'll get better fast.
Reply
:iconcoffeekarena:
CoffeeKarena Featured By Owner May 18, 2006  Student Traditional Artist
Well what you just told me is good advice already. I think you are right...I should give it a try. Thank you very much. Oh yeah which reminds me...does body parts count too?
Reply
:icong-0:
g-0 Featured By Owner May 20, 2006   Photographer
Anything can be good stock!
Reply
:iconcoffeekarena:
CoffeeKarena Featured By Owner May 21, 2006  Student Traditional Artist
Hmmmm.....Uh.....okay I think. Can you please explain to me what you mean by the size and resolution stuff? I really don't know what that means actually, and I want to help others with my work if I can. So if you could please explain to me what you meant....I would be most grateful......

I'm so sorry for bugging you so much. I just want to gain the knowledge to be helpful.
Reply
:iconalimari:
Alimari Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2006
yes. good guidelines, i usually just end up taking pictures of myself to use for stock, since something so simple as, say, a full face shot at high resolution, sharp, is pretty difficult to come by.
Reply
:icongabytron:
Gabytron Featured By Owner Sep 21, 2005  Hobbyist Digital Artist
this needs to be seriously read by all stock artists before even submitting human stock.
Reply
:iconillistrauthor:
Illistrauthor Featured By Owner Jun 30, 2005
:-) Very nice. Do you have any suggestions for lighting?
I think I'll fav this... I have a stock account myself, mostly because I'm tired of seeing tiny stock pics etc etc uhm... I may use this for guidelines =D yay Thanks

:salute:
Reply
:icong-0:
g-0 Featured By Owner Jul 2, 2005   Photographer
As long as it's not washed out or too dark, any lighting is fine. Artists can dodge/burn to get the lighting effect they want.
Reply
:icongirlfromhicville:
girlfromhicville Featured By Owner Mar 6, 2005
I don't like working with 500x500 pictures either. That's to small for me. ^^; Then some scanned photo's come out really grainy too. As for repetitive poses, I think there are too many galleries with head shots. Different poses are nice and eyes are almost a cliche.

Nice tutorial, now only if everyone would read it. :D
Reply
:iconillicitfingers:
illicitfingers Featured By Owner Dec 15, 2004
Hell for me will be having to wade through the DA stock galleries to find a good picture, but all I see is one girl's head... chin up an inch, chin down an inch, chin down two inches, chin up an inch and slightly to the right, chin up an inch an slightly to the right while looking at the left, forehead, that one pose they make looking off to the side as if to say "I don't give a fuck." The worst part about this hell, however, is the fact that they're all taken by a webcam... in their room...
Reply
:iconangelinrunes:
angelinrunes Featured By Owner Dec 6, 2004
Sweet jesus, if only everyone would follow those rules. <3

Found you via SA and am super impressed by your stuff. This is such a great set of rules. So much love.
Reply
:icong-0:
g-0 Featured By Owner Dec 6, 2004   Photographer
Thanks very much.
Reply
:iconbritt-bratt:
britt-bratt Featured By Owner Nov 14, 2004   Photographer
That is helpful. I started doing some stock with photos I didn't use during different shoots. If you see em and have any advice please tell me it's at ~ BrattStock

I would like to know what the photo manipulation community wants so I can be more selective :D
Reply
:iconnarcissism-stock:
Narcissism-stock Featured By Owner Jul 26, 2004
reply! i totally agree with i think all of those!
i tried to keep it that way with my photos....
Reply
:iconahtnamas06:
ahtnamas06 Featured By Owner Jul 23, 2004
HELL YES!

omg soo many people do not know this. wtf are u supposed to do with a tiny picture that looks all pixelated when you try to work with it. it looks grainy no matter what you do with it.

and the manipulating of stock photos is pointless. why make a stock photo thats already been messed with? its hard to work with black n white er overly bright/dark pictures.. its not a "im just trying to bitch" thing at all tho, just frustrating after a while. but yeah, you definetly got it all of right

im gonna :+fav: this for sure.
Reply
:iconnekokage-stock:
NekoKage-stock Featured By Owner Jul 23, 2004   Photographer
very nice tips! i shall take these into consideration when out taking photos tmrw. :thumbsup:
Reply
:iconduskblue:
duskblue Featured By Owner Jun 29, 2004
I remember the first (and last) time i tried to do a photo manip, it was a pain in the a** to find some good photos.
All that you say is good, if only everybody could follow this tutorial....

Oh, and i'd like to mention the "bleeding/melting" make-up that taint the whole cheeks of the model.... good photo-manipulators don't need this, (they can add makeup if they want i think), and it just make the photo ugly and useless.
Reply
:iconradiodrome:
Radiodrome Featured By Owner Jun 28, 2004
good job g-0
Reply
:iconfuseki:
fuseki Featured By Owner Jun 27, 2004   Traditional Artist
Oooh.. very nice guidelines. If I start doing some stock(which would be fun), I'll keep these in mind.
Reply
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