Hello, is it me you’re looking for…?//
The other day I saw the above pie chart on a blog entitled ‘14 Graphic Design Jokes That Only Designers Will Get’ (Wix).
As a graphic designer, I did indeed ‘get’ it… and it got me thinking – do people who don’t work in a creative industry or use stock imagery know anything about the torture that is image searching?! Because the pain is real people! Good imagery is everything. Without it even the best design will look mediocre and bad imagery can ruin a concept in a heartbeat.
Finding the perfect image can be like trying to find a polar bear in a snowstorm. It can take hours of trawling through stock image galleries, slowly losing the will to live, wishing you’d listened to your mother and become a plumber instead of a creative… and then suddenly there it is! The image you were looking for. Everything is right with the world once again and you can get on with the rest of your day, ignoring the panic that has set in because you’ve just spent the last 5 hours looking for images and only have 2 hours left to finish (and I mean start) the design you needed them for…
So, for those who don’t know what I’m talking about, when executing a design, rarely will there be a large budget for imagery therefore shooting your own bespoke images is out of the question. The design community then turns to stock image libraries – huge online vaults of professional (and sometimes not so professional) photographs that you can filter and search your way through. You search using words that best describe the image subject and style that you are looking for. It is possible to buy several images and comp them together to achieve your end goal, or if you’re lucky to find exactly what you’re looking for in one stock image, you simply purchase the rights to use it in your campaign and then you are able to download a high resolution copy.
Stock libraries are a hugely relied upon resource and some of the imagery you can purchase is superb. However, it’s finding the great amongst the ordinary, which is a real skill – not to mention, time consuming. There are so many blogs that could be written on the wonder of stock imagery. The fact that when you use stock shots all the time you begin to notice when the same image is used by different companies to sell different things or you recognise models from photos as if they’re your long-lost friends. I for one am glad that the curly haired guy who used to be in a well-known motorcycle brand’s adverts is currently advertising a bathroom range and also selling loans in the shop window down the road from me… he’s doing well! But I want to talk about ‘the search’ and the images you weren’t looking for in particular.
On your ‘search journey’ to finding the right image, you come across all sorts of interesting, amusing and sometimes terrifying images. No matter what you search for there will always be scantily clad ladies in the results (even with the ‘exclude nudity’ filter firmly on). There will always be a cat or dog who has been digitally altered – possible wearing novelty glasses or a shirt and tie – and for some reason, we went through a stage where the same lady using a skipping rope in her bedroom seemed to always come up (no matter what we searched for)! We still haven’t found a use for her image yet… I live in hope though.
Images like the above are little search gems. They are the images that catch your eye when you’re scrolling through page after page of vanilla images. The ones that make you laugh out loud because they are so NOT what you were looking for. The ones that are so deeply inappropriate that you can’t help but stop and stare at them, trying to fathom who is buying them or who created them in the first place? And then there are the ones that are just so cheesy that you can’t help but smile as your scroll past. In my opinion, it’s these images that make the search slightly more bearable!
The thought that not everyone has experienced image searching and that these little nuggets of gold are not being seen by everyone is a crying shame! So, to give you a small in-sight into the daily lives of our creative team, we’ve picked a few of our favourites that have appeared in recent searches to share with you – the funny, the inappropriate and the outright bizarre.
I feel I should add a small caveat that there IS a time and a place for the use of images that may appear cheesy or bizarre… I’m not sure that ALL of the images below fall under that rationale though!