With budgets shrinking everywhere, marketing and design teams are forced to be even more creative when it comes to sourcing low-cost photography. For conference marketing collateral, there are a number of great sources ranging from free to just a few dollars.
Convention and Visitor’s Bureaus — Most cities have a convention and visitor’s bureau and many, especially larger cities, have a fantastic media library with city themed images. Generally, the usage rights on these photos allow use by meeting planners and those hosting an event in the city. Some sites do require approval of registration and/or approval of the use of the photography, so make sure that is factored into your production timeline.
Microstock Sites — Unlike a traditional stock photography site, microstock sites source their photography online, and are willing to accept photography from amateurs or hobbyists. These sites, including www.dreamstime.com or www.istockphoto.com, sell images from between $1 (for a web-quality image) to up to $20 (for a large, high-resolution image).
Traditional Stock Photography Sites — In order to compete with the microstock sites, some traditional stock photography sources, including veer.com and punchstock.com, have opened up a microstock option on their sites. Like a traditional microstock site, the images range from $1 to $20. Unlike a traditional microstock site, however, these images are not necessarily from amateur photographers; often these images are from their traditional photographers, but are a slightly older shot, or a shot that is an alternative to a higher priced image.
Subscription Photography — If your organization uses a significant amount of images every year, a subscription plan may be the right choice for you. Subscriptions are usually available by the month, with lower pricing for full-year subscriptions. The images tend to be microstock, but cost the same whether you download a low- or high-resolution image, and regardless of the number of images downloaded. In addition to images, some of these sites have fonts and videos included in their subscription costs. Shutterstock.com and Photospin.com are both good options for subscription photography.
Flickr — Many photographers choose to make their photography available under a “Creative Commons” license, a customizable alternative to a copyright. Users choose the rights which they want to protect. For example, attribution means: others can copy, distribute, display, copyrighted work — and derivative works based upon it — but only if they give credit. Since there is no cost to use or download images from the site, these images are free. But, you should make sure you give credit appropriately, and honor the creative commons license.
Before using and printing any image downloaded from these sites you should read the licensing agreements, and consult your in-house counsel if you are unclear about the proper uses.