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June 27, 2004
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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.
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: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.
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:icon13-haru-13:
13-Haru-13 Featured By Owner Aug 27, 2010
umm... how do you find fitting stock photos?
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: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 =)
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: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 :(
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: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.
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: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!!! ><
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: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:
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: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
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: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 ..
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