When you’re looking for images on our database, the first page might not show you the images you had in mind. It goes without saying that you shouldn’t settle for the first images you see because they’re easily accessible. Those images are there, they’re easy to use and lets face it – they didn’t require much effort to find.

It’s when you dig a little deeper, that you will find more relevant and original content. When you decide to look further, you will find that below the surface lies a very versatile library full of really great shots and that are much more conceptual and artistic.

In truth, your projects can’t wait. You need your images and you need them now. In light of this, we’ve put together quick tips that will ensure that you are getting the most out of our database. It’s all possible, with just a few tricks and maybe a secret or two.

Finding your target keywords

Like every great quest, your search for stock photography should start with a brainstorming session. The reason for this is that you already know what you’re looking for, and you have one or two very specific keywords in mind. Brainstorming reveals much more conceptual keywords that can be very useful to you in this process.

Jot down things that are associated with your theme. Dig deeper to find specific symbols, descriptive words and concepts. The time you invest into finding the right combination of words is what will ultimately give you a more narrow and refined search.

A more detailed search of ‘summer + laughter + pool party’ gives us a more atmospheric shot such as this one:

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Symbols and emotions

To continue with the brainstorming, think of the very specific symbols that fall under your search. What emotions would you like to convey with your images? Keeping the final result in mind can help you further narrow down your search.

If you’re looking for photographs of the beach, you’re going to get some very generic searches. Try thinking of what specific things you associate with the beach, what imagery will help set a mood instead of be a decorative item.

Here is one of the images that comes up for ‘sunshine + confetti’, instead of simply ‘summer’.

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Storytelling tip

Images are impactful. They help enhance the message of your article, ad or campaign. For this reason, you can’t ignore storytelling. Storytelling is more relevant than ever. This also means avoiding common cliches like a meeting to represent business. What is the atmosphere at the meeting? You have to combine your keywords with important concepts that are going to help you find images that aren’t literal.

The keywords ‘entrepreneurship + work’ produce a series of shots that could represent a working man:

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Using photography vocab

Photographers upload their images with you in mind. They don’t know your projects as well as you do, and they use their own vocabulary. Try to place yourself in the shoes of the photographer. More often than not, photographers describe very specifically what is in the picture. Along with the basic description are words such as ‘low-light’, ‘bokeh’, ‘streaks’ and so on. If you familiarize yourself with some basic vocabulary, you’ll be more equipped to find the perfect images.

One of the searches for ‘bokeh light + city’:

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Refining search by filters

Now we get to the little things you can do on our website to get more specific search results. Whereas many know of the search filters, not many use them to their advantage. Once you have your very concrete keywords and concepts, you can refine your search by categories, exclude specific keywords, the image orientation, editorial images, the number of people and the main color.

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Search by image

When working on your projects, you probably gather images for your drafts. You may not be able to use them, but you can upload them to ‘Search by image’ and find images similar to what you’re looking for. This specific search looks for similar compositions, color hues and subjects in a photograph. It’s a reliable tool when you’re in a rush.

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Search by author, series

When you find an image that is close to what you’re looking for, you can click on the image and find similar images under ‘series’. You can also click on the author to view their portfolio. It’s likely that you will be needing more images in the future. Finding contributors that work in the style that you like can also save you time during your search. You can find out more about our top contributors in their interviews for our blog.

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Featured collections

We know, finding the right images is hard. Sifting through the library can also get repetitive and a little tiring when you have so many images to go through. For this reason, we create hand-picked featured collections every week on different themes. Our team puts together these collections to eliminate the need to go through hundreds of pages. See all our featured collections and if you have new ideas you’d like us to explore, leave your comments in the comments section below.

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