For anyone working in the creative industries in 2016, the right imagery is so often the key to success.
It doesn't matter whether you're a marketing professional, graphic designer, web developer, animator, 3D artist, illustrator, art director, art buyer, CEO or (as is increasingly the case, these days) performing multiple roles. For your project to hit the right note, you're going to need the right photography or artwork to lift it above the norm.
Sometimes, of course, you'll have the time and budget to shoot, create or commission that imagery yourself. But in the real world, that's not always the case. So what do you do?
Choice of millions
Here's where iStock comes in. It offers you literally millions of royalty-free images to choose from, so you've got a superb chance of finding the right imagery for your needs.
Created by professional photographers, artists and illustrators, the quality of iStock's content is exceedingly high. But happily, the price certainly isn't. Depending on the number of images you license, they can cost as little as £1 each: yes, really!
In short, iStock’s combination of high-end imagery and low-end prices just can’t be beaten. So read on to find out how easy it is to use, both practically and for inspiration, You'll never look back…
01. Create a free account
To get started, you first need to set up an account. This is free and takes only seconds. Just enter your email and chose a password. That's it.
02. Pick your image
When you're looking for an image on a particular topic, the quickest and easiest way is usually use the search bar at the top of the site. Just type in the appropriate keywords, select the file type you're looking for, and search.
If too many search results come back, just add some extra keywords or additional filters using the refine panel to narrow things down.
For example, you can choose between portrait or landscape images; filter by colour; specify only images with or without people, and so on.
You might also want to choose whether to view only images from the Essentials Collection, or the Signature Collection. What's the difference? The Essentials Collection contains non-exclusive content so is cheaper; the Signature Collection contains more than eight million premium images that are exclusive to iStock, so you won't find them anywhere else.
Both collections, of course, still offer the kind of high quality, professionally shot imagery iStock is known for, so you can't go wrong whichever you choose.
Like the look of an image, but not sure if it will work in a particular design? iStock is happy for you to use watermarked content from its site for easy comping before you decide to license it.
Once you've found the image you wish to license, just click on it and then click 'Download this photo' to save it to your desktop. Although if you're a first-time user of iStock, you'll first need to buy some credits...
03. Get credits
Credits are like iStock's own currency and are sold in credit packs. Quite simply, the bigger the pack, the cheaper each credit costs.
So for example, a single credit on its own will cost you £7 – but buy 60 at once and you'll pay just over £5 per credit. You can view all the different credit plans here. Images start at only one credit each but will increase slightly dependent on the collection.
It's easy to buy credits. Just go to the Buy credits page, click on the credit pack that fits your needs and hit "Buy now".
Now you can use your credits to license any file on iStock – including photos, illustrations, video and audio files. And with the royalty-free content available from iStock, you can use each file in as many projects you like.
Plus here's more good news. If you're planning to buy a lot of images, you can potentially save even more money with iStock's subscription plans.
For instance, with a yearly subscription of just £49/month you can download up to 50 images per month from the Essentials Collection. That's less than £1 each – and if you don’t use all 50, you can even roll them over to the next month!
04. Save images for later
While you're doing a search, you might find a number of different images that fit the bill. You might also spot things along the way that aren't relevant to your particular project but which could be useful in future.
With millions of images on the site, it can be difficult to keep track of it all... Or at least it would be – but thankfully iStock has created a feature called Lightboxes to help you out.
A lightbox is a place to organise and save your favourite images for future reference. And it's super-easy to save an image to a lightbox. Just hover over the preview image and click the "Add to lightbox" button. You can also share lightboxes with others, such as collaborators or clients.
05. Start using your images!
And that's it, you’re done. You now have beautiful, professional images to use on your website, web ads, print publications, catalogues, brochures, posters, book cover, CD covers, marketing slidedecks, blog posts, social media content...
In short, wherever you need high quality, professional photography, illustrations or multimedia content, iStock offers a quick, easy and low-cost way to get it. So what are you waiting for? Get a free iStock account today.