Q: What annoys you about photo libraries? How would you change them to work better for content agencies?

A: My pet peeve? They don’t update their image collections often enough. If you’re not updating with new images on a quarterly basis at least, images are snapped up by other brands and they get seen everywhere — that’s why the pool needs to be refreshed, so images don’t feel overused.


Q: What tips do you have for searching a photo library to get the most interesting images?
A: My three tips would be:

  1. Know each photo library’s strengths: Different photo libraries will be good at different things. Some I will go to because I know they are strong at portraits. Others I will hunt for travel images because I know that is what they do best.
  2. Master keywords: Play with as many search terms as possible. If we’re doing a story on Paris, just entering ‘Paris’ will get you the most clichéd photos you can imagine: baguettes and Eiffel Towers as far as the eye can see. So get specific: hunt for street names, neighbourhoods, French festivals and local dish names.
  3. Make filters your friend: You would be amazed at how insane some of our deadlines can be, so we have to work fast. If you filter in exactly what you’re looking for — gender, race, number of people in the shot, when the shot was taken — you can narrow your search from 200 pages to 10.



Q: Which stock libraries do you recommend?

A: It really depends on what you’re looking for. Getty still leads the way with excellent creative imagery but here’s a tip: some of their images can actually be found on iStock at a cheaper cost. Aurora Photos have great travel imagery and The Wider Image collection at Reuters boasts some excellent news images, as well as strange and quirky photo essays.   


Q: Why is it important to choose quality stock photography? How do bad visuals let a story down?

A: Content is getting increasingly visual. So your imagery is what your marketing strategy will be remembered by, good or bad. Here’s an infographic to explain why: http://codecondo.com/8-reasons-visual-content-important-text/



Q: How hard is it to find topics that relate specifically to Asia? Would you like to see more stock libraries addressing this cultural gap?

A: Definitely; this is an issue photo desk editors in the region are still grappling with. Many of Novus’ clients are huge, established Asian brands — yet finding Asian-related images is still tricky. If the visuals aren’t speaking to your target audience, there’s a good chance readers will say sayonara before they’ve even started reading.


Q: We’ll end on an incredibly vital, serious question. You're a cat person — would stock libraries be better if all the cheesy grinning models in the photo stock world were replaced by LOLCats?

A: Heck, the whole world would be a better place if everything were replaced with LOLCats.


Stock It Like It’s Hot: How to Make Stock Photography Work for You

BY Haryati Mahmood

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