The only good thing that comes out of bad experiences is often a helpful blog post that serves as a warning to others.
Today’s post is the result of a client choosing an image from one of the many inexpensive “royalty-free“ websites that are so popular now. I’ve had good experiences with some sites, but was unfamiliar with the site they chose. Despite my objection to clients driving the direction of a design to that extent, I designed their project around the image they chose.
The problem occurs because the preview images on websites are of such low resolution that you cannot see imperfections. I once bought an image of a large building only to discover a corner had netting over it due to renovations- you just couldn’t see it on the thumbnail low res version.
Since I do not purchase an image until the design is approved, asking for a refund and finding another image would require redesigning the entire project. It’s apparent these sites don’t scrutinize submitted images for potential problems, but I believe they should either (a) not accept images that have imperfections, (b) require the photographer to correct problem areas, or (c) alert buyers to problem spots before they purchase, either by pointing them out or by severely discounting such images.
I can, and did, retouch the image myself and am awaiting a printed proof while I write this. But even though the image was not as expensive as one purchased on say, corbis.com, I object to the surprise of paying for the rights to an image that isn’t in usable condition as is. This is the difference between paying a premium to a highly regarded site and “getting a good deal.” You may save money on the image only to find out you have to pay to have it retouched, or have the project redesigned in the end.
All content ©2011Canzani Graphics