Article from The Photo Collective

Using a Picture Researcher to curate an image collection by Sophie Basilevitch/ The Photo Collective

What is Image Curation? Why are images so important in today’s world? With the expertise of a professional Picture Researcher, it’s possible to find and use images that have impact, fit the message of your brand or website and even tell powerful stories.

Who could believe that 3.2 billion images are shared online every day the world over? Or that this year in 2021 an estimated 1.4 trillion photos will be taken of almost everything from vast mountain ranges to tiny plates of sushi. It’s no wonder that we can’t get enough of images – as a way to express ourselves they are perhaps the most instant way to record and share our experiences and thoughts. Not only that but we are visual by nature – 90% of the information transmitted to the brain is visual and we have developed the ability to process images 60,000 times faster than text. With immediate impact, photographs are a powerful form of content which can tell a story, establish your brand, and change the mood of the viewer in an instant.

Of course, not all of these images are available for licensing and out of the 350 million+ photographs  that are available on just some of the stock photo sites how do you allow time to find the ones you want to use? Whether it’s for advertising, social media, websites, or publishing, how do you find not just one image that you like, but a collection of licensable images that make your brand or website even stronger? A collection that can be added to as fashions change but still fit your company’s core style.

Through Image Curation a Picture Researcher can help find the right images for your project, starting with a detailed brief around either your style guidelines or how you want your website, product, brand, book, or magazine to look. This brief can include specifics about age, gender, representation, mood or emotional tone of the subjects, and style of shot e.g., with/without depth of field, a colour palette to fit with design, landscape, or portrait format. Sometimes the brief can involve similar subjects all in the same photographic style, for example images of authentic healthcare workers and practices in different scenarios. Other times the brief can involve highly conceptual ideas that incorporate a range of subjects, but all taken with the same photographic style. Using a variety of sources this doesn’t necessarily mean that the photographs all come from the same photographer.

From visiting photo library websites and using lightboxes a Picture Researcher, who has a knowledge of the most up-to-date image trends,  uses keywords and other search terms to efficiently assess  results in order to handpick the very best content and curate a visual board of images and ideas that fit with your specific brief. Designers may be too busy to take on this task, but with time a Picture Researcher can create a carefully selected library of images that fit your marketing or publishing content in line with your style guidelines, as well as taking on the task of negotiating fees with the suppliers. Once selected, these images can be downloaded for use as and when your company creates new content throughout the year. For example, you may be a publisher seeking to print a series of travel books, which are marketed to a younger audience and requires photographs of the destinations to feel energetic and full of life, with an abundance of authentic cultural experiences on offer. Or you may be an insurance company that needs a carefully selected library of images for your website or marketing materials that elicit a feeling of trust and security through photos of home possessions and family life in a specific style of photos. A Picture Researcher can also be used to help Picture Agencies find the right images for their clients giving the agency the chance to furnish the client with a greater selection of suitable images from within their own archive.

With the ease of sharing on social media today, it’s becoming more common place to see content used without the permission of the photographer in media campaigns, and a rise in copyright infringements. The additional benefit of using a Picture Researcher to curate an image collection is that they also have a professional knowledge of copyright law, including when a model or property release is needed or when third-party copyright needs to be cleared, so you can feel reassured that the curated content being used is allowed. A Picture Researcher will always advise you on whether you can use an image or not based on your intended use.

The style, tone or mood of an image is instantly readable, and consistent imagery builds trust with the consumer, no matter how small your business – so whether it’s for your publication, advert, website, brand, or a new visual strategy for your company, let a Picture Researcher find the best images for your project.

You can find out the other benefits of using a Picture Researcher here.

By Sophie Basilevitch/ The Photo Collective. For help with image curation or your project please contact

Disclaimer [not all of the statistics provided are current, but used to illustrate the significance of the number of images available on the internet and available to licence]

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