When a Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

As I reflect on my web editing work this year, I note that some clients are asking for pictures to go with the written content I provide.

While I think of myself as more of a “words” person, I want to be responsive to my clients. So I’m asking you, my fellow web editors:

Do you usually provide pictures with your written content, or does that responsibility lie with someone else? If you DO, then in your experience:

  • What are the best sources of photos online? 
  • What’s the simplest way to wrangle them into the text? If I have to copy, save, crop, resize, etc.is there one particular tool for that or several? Are my Microsoft Office tools sufficient for that, or should I really consider using another tool?
  • What are the “gotchas” of working with pictures? Are there technical constraints to consider? Are there permissions to worry about? Are some file formats (.jpeg, .png, etc.) better than others for the web?
  • What is the best source of information about using pictures on the web? It may be a book, webinar, YouTube series or something else.

In the spirit of reciprocity and collaboration, what is your biggest web editing question or challenge from 2012? What areas would you like to explore with the help of this group? Thanks in advance for your input, and if there’s a web editing topic I can help you with, I am more than happy to share.

It’s been a treat writing these posts this year. I hope you have found something of value. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and I look forward to continuing the conversation in 2013!

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5 thoughts on “When a Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

  1. Great article, Alison. This is a topic that probably alludes a lot of editors, and I hope a lot of editors will comment on their experiences.

    I personally believe that images and graphics will often improve a posting, but I also believe that an experienced photo editor or designer will do a better job of picking something and working with the material than I will. I am simply not a designer. I have done it and can and will if necessary, but my forte is words and the editorial process, not images, graphics, and design. So, ask me if you want something, clients, but beware the results.

    When I do work with images, I edit with PhotoShop Elements – it’s very versatile and simple enough for an editor that the bells and whistles won’t overwhelm me like a more sophisticated version of PhotoShop or other photo editing suite might.

    I Google “free images” and the topic to find images. If the client is willing to pay, I look through Corbis (www.corbis.com), which has a great selection of quality images and what I think are great prices. Be careful when you find “free” images, because sometimes it’s the download that’s free but they charge for other things, like licensing or use fees. And Some free sites involve someone combing the Web for “free” images – as far as they know.

    Another good and possible clearer source as far as licensing is Flickr (www.flickr.com), which states whether the copyright owner retains all rights or uses the common license. Flickr has a fairly vigorous search feature for finding images, too.

    You should always give photo credit somewhere on the page. Most sites require it.

    I’d like to see us use more images on our Web Editors Blog, but it probably requires some experience and some resources to set it up right and consistently. If it’s worth doing, it’s just as important to do it right.

  2. Great post, Alison! An image can add a lot to a post, but something I have noticed is that a lot of editors are inexperienced with how big an image should be. I try to size it by determining how much content it is adding, or is it merely illustrative? I use Photoshop and Fireworks to edit or compose images. I find good images at istockphotos.com, but you have to pay for them. We also have our own stock photos that we take at the organization I work for, which I raid regularly.

  3. Hi Alison,
    Just saw this post now. I’m responsible for sourcing and editing photos in an addition to online content.
    For photos: i find a few sites with good variety, read their rules and regulations carefully and then stick to those sites. That way, I’m not forced to read a bunch of legalese every time I need a picture. For paid photos, I like istockphoto.com and bigstock. For freebies, I also use Flickr on occasion (copyright status is clearly listed), sxc.hu, morguefile.
    To edit, I use Microsoft Picture Manager. I find it pretty easy to use without getting high-tech like Photoshop.

  4. When we talk about images, I think we should pay attention to price, authorized use and attribution. There are lots of free images banks, but many does not allow a commercial use. You should give a look to the bank terms of use. Furthermore, many banks allows commercial use but request for attribution (image credits) to be published along with the image.

    I recommend to try Morgue File (www.morguefile.com), a free image bank that allows commercial use and does not require attribution. For me is the best option and has quality images.

    When it comes to edit, there are several online editors right now. It has been a while since I tried any of this. I think the best option right now for a quick image retouch is PhotoScape. It is very simple, intuitive and has the basic options plus some awesome filters and effects. Unfortunately, it is not available for Linux.

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