If you're looking for stock on the Web, where to start? Here's a guide to some of the best sites out there.
PhotoDisc's super-easy search engine puts 60,000 royalty-free images at your disposal without first asking you to tell them your life story during registration. By keeping search words simple, I was able to pull up what I wanted within 10 minutes. I found the search engine didn't take kindly to a lot of elaborate detail while searching, so forget all the creative adjectives. Also be advised that it doesn't like coffee breaks: It will automatically freeze your search after seven minutes of inactivity. When it comes time to make a purchase or download a comp, a new user will have to go through a fairly painless registration that PhotoDisc warns may take a few minutes to process (it is really only a matter of seconds). If you need help at any time, you can call 800-979-4413.
This is an umbrella site. Getty Images is the parent company of six photo stock houses: Tony Stone Images, Hulton Getty, PhotoDisc, Allsport, Gamma Liaison and Energy Film Library. So with Getty serving as the gateway, your possibilities are sextupled. Both Tony Stone Images and PhotoDisc carry a full range of photo types, while Hulton Getty focuses on archival photography; Gamma Liaison is a North American news and photojournalism site; Energy Film Library has stock film footage and Allsport focuses on -- did you guess? -- sports photography.
The Image Bank
Save yourself some time and call a local Image Bank office for a password and user ID first. The Image Bank has 70 offices in 35 countries; call 800-TIB-IMAGE to find out which one is nearest to you. Once inside, you have access to the Image Bank's complete library. If you have any trouble getting what you need, you can call the same toll-free number for help, or have an agent at the company do all the dirty work and run a search for you.
The Stock Market
You can search the tens of thousands of images here by country, and if you're nostalgic for stock book categories, there are 25 subheadings ranging from "holidays" to "sensitive issues." Look at thumbnail-size images to your heart's content, but if you want to see a larger version or download a comp, you must complete a simple registration form. Access, alas, is not instantaneous -- you have to wait until a Stock Market representative contacts you with an ID number. If you can't wait, call 800-999-0800 and ask for Web Registration. One little perk: for every purchase you make from the Stock Market, you earn points towards a gift certificate to . . . I won't ruin the surprise.
Two things: Each aforementioned site employs some kind of virtual light box. The user can put the images that are up for consideration into the light box and look at them simultaneously with a client across the globe. All would like to claim that it was the first to come up with the light box concept, but who cares -- it's cool. Also, it might be a good idea to register with a few of your favorite sites before you're facing a deadline and get desperate because you can't gain access quickly enough. Registration is free and you'll be happy you did.
Other Sites to Check Out:
www.fpg.com (coming in fall '98)