Quality of Low Cost Stock Photos

Can low cost stock photography be used successfully to create a quality advertising or marketing piece? The biggest concern of any designer or marketer is the quality of the image or brand they are building. Can the low cost approach to stock photos meet your quality concerns?

The short answer is – maybe.

It depends on the intended application of the stock photo.

Physical Quality (image resolution)

Low cost stock – that is, in the $1 to $5 range – is low resolution (72 dpi) and is intended for digital presentation only. Projects like web pages, banner ads, and blog images are perfect candidates for low cost stock.

If you intend to print your work, low cost is not the way to go. You need higher resolution images (150-300dpi) to achieve decent printed results.

Subject Quality

Another consideration is the quality of the subject matter. It can take a fair amount of your time browsing through pages and pages of photos before you find something close to your desired level of quality. In order for a stock photographer to earn a decent income, they have to generate a vast quantity of photos, and the quality of the models, props, and settings can vary dramatically.

The quality of low cost stock photography can vary dramatically. However, when used in the proper application it can be worth the extra time required to find that perfect piece.

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