June craft of the month.
Can you run-down how you guys handle posting your stock photos for each site? I know you use Creative Commons most of the time, but what are your criteria for picking photos? Do you maintain a database of photos that you think might work with future articles, just to cut down on time, or do you search and hope for the best?

I’m super interested, just because your photos ALWAYS seem to match the article perfectly. Like the LinkedIn photo? Relevant AND offbeat, it’s like the photo was taken specifically for Offbeat Home. Which makes me want to read your articles even more, because I am seduced by a pretty picture EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. -Alyssa

First, thank you! My editors work pretty hard to get just the right images to go with our articles, so this is super gratifying to hear. While most of our Offbeat Bride submissions include photos, on Offbeat Families and Offbeat Home & Life, most submitted posts do not. Here’s how we find photos to go with any post Empire-wide that doesn’t have a photo submitted with it:

So before I dive in, I should re-emphasize that photo attribution is hugely important to us. Since we work so closely with so many photographers on Offbeat Bride, we want to make sure that they always feel respected in our posts.

So when finding photos to illustrate a guestpost, here are the steps we take:

  1. We search our own Flickr photo pools. Each of the websites has a Flickr photo pool where people can submit their photos. We’re very clear on each pool page that when photos are submitted to the pools, people are granting us permission to use the shots with attribution on our sites. Searching the pools is difficult, sadly, because most people don’t tag their photos and leave them with titles like IMG4772. If we can’t find a good photo from our pools then…
  2. We use a plugin called Flickr – Pick a Pic to find a Creative Commons photo. We have our search settings to be only show photos that are licensed for commercial use (because yes: ad-supported blogs are commercial), and we’re fastidious about attributing every CC photo we use.
  3. Very occasionally, we’ll contact someone out of the blue to ask for permission. If I stumble across an absolutely perfect image that’s not licensed for Creative Commons usage, I’ll contact the photographer directly to seek permission to use it.

[related-post align=”right”]For me personally, when I’m searching for images I generally try to…

  • Search less for thematic ideas (for instance, “job hunting”) and more for specific objects (“linkedin logo”). This can lead to some tenuous images, but searches for thematic ideas almost always come up empty on Flickr. “Infertility” is going to get you almost nothing, while “egg” or “petri dish” is going to be super awesome.
  • Find color, so a lot of my searches include the word “rainbow” (rainbow egg! rainbow coin! rainbow shoe!).
  • Aim for non-white people in the photos (because the internet’s default setting for everything is “white people”), unless the post has negative connotations… in which case I’ll often use one of my own photos. (Prime example.)

Each of the site’s editors has their own special search methods that they use to find images… maybe they’ll reveal them in the comments?

Comments on How we do stock photography

    • You don’t even have to tag photos — Flickr’s search will find words used in titles, captions, OR tags. The sad truth is just that most of the photos are like this:


      Which is to say AWESOME, but impossible to find via a search. We feature them as part of wedding porn posts and wedding profiles of course, but if I wanted to find a post about tentacles in a year or so…. that photo wouldn’t be easy for me to find.

      And yes: of course on the pool page, I tell people to:

      3. USE DESCRIPTIVE TITLES: Photos with names like IMG1298 get lost. Help us find your photos by using descriptive titles, captions, and tags!

      …but it’s hard enough just to get people to use Flickr at all, let alone actually engage with the site’s tools. 🙁

  1. Yes I shall also remember to tag Flickr photos.
    Infact I don’t think I even knew bout tagging on there!

    I’ve also seen Facebook requests from Stephanie when she wants a particular photo (such as pregnant women at shows/concerts)

  2. This has been something I’ve wondered about before, so thanks for sharing! Sadly, no one I know personally uses Flickr anymore, so I just use it mainly to check out Ariel’s photos on occasion. (Apologies if that sounds creepy!) Good reminder that there are Flickr pools for Offbeat Empire’s other sites. I’ll have to go and find them. I was just thinking this morning that I would like to get back in the habit of using Flickr since I haven’t used it really since I made a new username, so funny timing.

    Also I love the cross-stitch! Too true. I feel like my husband (also named Travis) would appreciate it.

  3. Thanks for the answer, Ariel! Maybe we need to add “tag and title your photos” to the list of things readers can do to support Offbeat Empire.

    Now I’m off to drown in Offbeat Home’s Flickr pool. I was only aware of OBB and OBF, mostly because I do not pay attention, so this is AWESOME. Not awesome for my productivity, but what are you gonna do?

  4. Ariel is definitely the reigning queen of finding the perfect Creative Commons photo! If I’m ever at a loss she like: “duh, search this super-obvious word that you totally should have thought of. You’re welcome for making you feel like an idiot.” 😉

    And yes, your photos are WAY more likely to pop up on our posts if you use either tags or descriptive sentences.

  5. ‘the internet’s default setting for everything is “white people”‘

    Hahaha! This is so true, and I love the way you’ve said it. I often do image searches that I’ll use to help illustrate the words and concepts that I’m teaching. If there’s anything with people in it, the majority of the images that come up are *always* of white people, or if there’s an image of a group, you just might get lucky and have a token person of color in there. 😉

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