Friday, October 10, 2008

How to start building a library of photos

Yesterday I had a question from someone who was reading the blog. They asked where they could find a library of good photos that their department could use in presentations. They wanted 500-1,000 photos to choose from that were professional and fit their business. Wouldn't it be great if this existed? But unfortunately it doesn't.

You will see stock photography collections available for purchase but most of them are too generic because they try to appeal to a broad range of possible uses. And in many cases they are expensive. The other source of great professional photos are stock photography sites like The challenge is that these sites have over 1 million photos to choose from. How do you create a library of the ones you find suitable for your business?

Here is what I suggested to the person who asked me the question. First, create a list of the specific types of photos you think will work best in your presentations. Some examples may be categories such as older business men in a meeting, professional women showing leadership, medical personnel in a lab setting or others. Then, each day, set aside 15 minutes to look for 5 photos in one of the specific categories. By limiting yourself to one specific category, you narrow the search on the stock photography site and sift through fewer potential photos. Buy the ones you will use and put them on to slides.

The investment of 15 minutes each day is a very small amount of time but you can be productive in that time because your searching is so focused. By the end of two months, you will have 200 great photo slides that you can use in your presentations. By breaking up the work, it won't seem overwhelming and you will see significant results relatively quickly.

To this library that you build from the stock photography sites, add photos that you take yourself. Of course you need to check out the legal aspects such as who owns the photo & the rights, releases from anyone who is identifiable in the photo and usage restrictions. But once those are understood, look for opportunities to add to your library of photos with ones you take at your company or in public. I've taken generic photos of construction sites, signs and scenes that I've used in presentations over the years.

Once you have a library of slides, as I explain in chapter eight of my book The Visual Slide Revolution, you can leverage the time you have invested in creating the original slides. Big firms who do a lot of presentations, like management consulting companies have used slide libraries to their competitive advantage for years. Take 30 minutes today to create your list of categories and 15 minutes each day for the next two months and you will have a great library of photos that will step your presentations up to the next level.


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