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Old 01-27-2010, 10:26 AM   # 1
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Default Elearning Resources - Stock Photos and Graphics


Hard to imagine what we'd do without stock photo and graphics libraries. I know there are dozens of resources available but I'd like to find out what your favorite resources are and "why" they're your favorite:-)

As much as possible, can you answer one or more:

- favorite stock photo sites
- why it's your favorite
- how do you use stock images (full image, parts of image, backgrounds, characters,etc)
- how do you manage your libraries (asset management, shared folder)
- strategies for organizing (how do you separate, classify and organize images)
- what kinds of images you use most AND least (people, metaphors, abstract, objects)
- do you take your own shots?

So have at it, what's in your graphics library?

David


Last edited by DavidAnderson : 01-27-2010 at 10:57 AM.
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Old 01-27-2010, 10:48 AM   # 2
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Default Re: Elearning Resources - Stock Photos and Graphics


We use iStock for any of our stock material. They have a very extensive library, reasonable costs and a nice interface for their site.

As far as usage of the images it really runs the full gambit. I do a lot of video work so I use both stills and motion backs. For stills sometimes I will use partials by cropping or masking or even doing slow pans for a motion video feel.

For managing it's all about Adobe Bridge. I maintain a shared central repository where everything is keyword tagged. I've trained everyone in our organization on searching and tagging in bridge. I try to keep a logical file structure so everything isn't just in a central dump (business men, business women, architecture, technology, nature, etc.) We try to follow a similar format for keyword tagging making searching a much easier prospect.

The two items we use most are people and abstracts. We are a tech company so we are always looking for cool looking technology type of background and images. I've got a ton of shots related to digital security (pad locked laptops, 1's and 0's, that sort of thing) and people working at a call center (people with headsets on sitting at desks and so on).

We have a lot of proprietary equipment so I do spend a lot time shooting both stills and video of our own which of course also goes into our library.
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Old 01-27-2010, 10:52 AM   # 3
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Default Re: Elearning Resources - Stock Photos and Graphics


Here's my favorite free stock photo site:

stock.xchng - the leading free stock photography site

I like it because it's free and I've got several of my own images available for use:

stock.xchng - beeneeb's stock photo gallery
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Old 01-27-2010, 11:05 AM   # 4
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Default Re: Elearning Resources - Stock Photos and Graphics


David,

Thanks for starting this discussion. I'll try to respond to all of your points:

eLearningArt.com is my favorite stock image site for e-Learning: of course (please note that I'm from elearningart)
Favorite site for non-e-Learning: istockphoto, dreamstime

Why: About a year ago when I was developing an e-Learning course for a client, I wasted about 10 hours searching for images that I ended up not being happy with. Here were the problems I faced: not enough shots of models in multiple poses, so if I found a character or scenario I liked, that might be the only one of that model or combo of models; most of the models were facing the camera, not interacting with each other; too many were in business formal, not business casual for an office setting; and, most importantly, the backgrounds weren't removed, so if I wanted to isolate a character, I had to cut each out by hand to place in a new scene, etc.

The old stock image sites are great for marketing shots where you need just a single picture (and I'll never compete with their millions of photos), but are lacking for building e-Learning scenarios. I went and shot models in hundreds of poses, facing both forward and the side, standing and sitting, etc. And I removed all of the backgrounds, so you can just insert any character into any scene. If you want to learn more, I suggest you download the FREE DEMO PACK to check it out.

How do I use it: When I build scenarios, I break the characters from the backgrounds. I start with several different assets: backgrounds + characters = scene you want. I think about the area they'd be talking (e.g. cube, conference room, etc), the characters (age, race, etc), and pose (talking, yelling, thinking, etc). Then I piece them all together. I like to use a combination of full body and close ups of torso up. This creates more of a cinematic feel.

How do I manage libraries: I use dropbox and yousend it for internal use.

Organizing: When I develop, I have my library set up by character (one folder per character). I've then labeled each character by angle and pose in the filename. For backgrounds, I separate them by office, warehouse, etc. This allows me to find the images I'm looking for quickly. An example of a character filename might be: EL.F.Wt.Allison.1.angry.SD.A45.1.png. That tells me that the image is of an Entry Level, female, white, her name, in outfit 1, in an angry pose, standing, at a 45 degree angle. Ok, I'm a little anal, but that's how I name the files (they're already labeled if you buy them from my site).

Use most: Characters and backgrounds. My main focus is on character based simulations, but I'm really interested to hear what other stuff people want to see. If you let me know, I'll build it for you.

Take my own shots: Kind of. I hired a studio, models, and photographer.

I'm so happy that we're having this conversation. I hope this gets a lot of posts. I really want eLearningArt to be the stock image resource for the e-Learning community.
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Old 01-27-2010, 11:37 AM   # 5
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Default Re: Elearning Resources - Stock Photos and Graphics


David, thanks for this thread! It's so important to developers. Contextual images, visuals that support the course content and enhance learning outcomes, are extremely important.

And, it's fun to explain this to clients. Contextual images (Drs. Ruth Clark and Richard Mayer) make e-learning memorable and engaging (Michael Allen). However, finding great contextual images often can take hours of searching, selecting, and purchasing.

Other developers have told me the same thing. We agree that finding the right images can "eat up" quite a bit of time in the Development phase of ADDIE. Recently, a client assigned their intern to help me find images. She was amazed at how time consuming the image search was.

That said, I don't have a "favorite" stock images site as I usually find contextual images on more than one site. So, for your viewing pleasure, here's a link to my bookmarks on Delicious:

[b]Delicious.com - Ridge View Media's Stock Image Sites
http://delicious.com/ridgeview/Images_Stock?sort=alpha&order=asc


If you don't see your favorite site, please add a post to this thread and share the URL.

How I Use Images
First, I collaborate with the client. The client's ideas are also important to me as an instructional designer and developer. Second, I usually manipulate the images by editing them in either Fireworks, Photoshop, or SnagIt. I'd say 85% of the time, I edit the images.

How I Manage & Organize Image Assets
I use a simple directory (files/folders) structure. I keep clip art images and photo images in separate directories (folders). I also have a separate one for silhouette images. Those are my suggestions to you, dear reader. As for how to organize your images, I think it's personal preference how and where to save the images you download. Use a directory structure that's easy for you to remember. When you're in a huge rush to find "an angry man screaming on the phone dressed in business casual and not a suit" image, you need to organize your image library in a way that works for you.

Note: Back up your image library often. I have a huge external drive that I use (terabyte size). It's heart breaking to pay for and download all those gorgeous images, then lose them in a system crash. (No, hasn't happened to me; learned from others' experiences.)

The Kinds of Images I Use
David asks: People, metaphors, abstracts, objects?
Jenise replies: All of the above! It depends on the course and the onscreen content. I use images that support the content and encourage learning. The majority of the time, I use high-quality photos.


Taking My Own Shots

I'm beginning to do this since DH got me a new digital camera for Christmas. I'm going to take a look at Brian's photos to see if I'm just a lame amateur surrounded by awesome professionals!

I'm looking forward to reading more posts in this thread!

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Old 01-27-2010, 12:05 PM   # 6
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Default Re: Elearning Resources - Stock Photos and Graphics


Great thread, David! (Wonder how you got the inspiration? )

I use iClipArt.com and their one-year Subscription Plus plan.

Looking forward, though, to investigsting all the new options that get listed here.

Thanks!
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Old 01-27-2010, 01:24 PM   # 7
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Default Re: Elearning Resources - Stock Photos and Graphics


As everyone else here has said, it DEFINITELY can be time consuming to be searching for the right images. I recently was sent elearningart's site and I think that is a VERY useful concept. Especially because I, too, create scenario based elearning often and usually need models in a variety of poses. That makes things SOOOOO much easier. OK, now to actually answer David's questions.

- favorite stock photo sites - Don't have a favorite. I use whatever is in the budget and provides the best image at the time. That said, I find istockphoto.com great for some images (can be expensive), love the videos (can be overwhelming with the options though, and some of the little flash elements are great. I also have a subscription to Clipart.com. That is great for all of the quick creations and shots that I need. It also has the photo objects option so I don't have to go through the process of background extraction. Don't always like all their models though. I also use crestock.com. I really like them but they only have photos. They do make it easy to search and I like their models. I use a lot of other sites but those listed above are the top 3.
- why it's your favorite - again, don't have a favorite. But, finances aside, I would have to say that istockphoto gives me the most options to work with.

- how do you use stock images (full image, parts of image, backgrounds, characters,etc) - I use a mixture of images. Sometimes I will buy a full image but buy it large enough so that I can cut it up into 3/4, half, and head and shoulders shots. It provides a variety of looks for one character throughout a module.

- how do you manage your libraries (asset management, shared folder) - by hook or by crook

- strategies for organizing (how do you separate, classify and organize images) - Now here is where I have some trouble. I sometimes call a folder by a name like 'male businessman' but I then you get so many male businessmen after a while and you are still looking through the stock sites that it gets crazy. So, I have begun these days to organize my images by project. I have my main image folder. But usually its easier for me to remember which project I used a specific image on than which folder it might be classified in.

- what kinds of images you use most AND least (people, metaphors, abstract, objects) - I use people and backgrounds mostly. I use animated/cartoon characters sometimes. There is a cool site called cartoonsolutions.com that allows you to buy a character pack and edit it into different poses. You can even place different heads on specific bodies to create your own characters. They have people, backgrounds, objects. I don't think I have ever used animals in my courses, oh yeah, except for that veterinary course I did. But that was really animal insides and not so much the outside. Now that I think about it, ewwwww.

- do you take your own shots? - No, but I think I would like to. I actually got a couple of pocket video cams the other day, a Flip Ultra HD and a Kodak zi8 to begin incorporating a bit more video.




I think I answered them all. This is great. I will check out Brian's stock.xchng in a bit.
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Old 01-27-2010, 03:37 PM   # 8
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Default Re: Elearning Resources - Stock Photos and Graphics


Hey Robert!

Thanks for the URLs to other stock image sites. I'll bookmark them to my Delicious account so it can continue to be a resource for people.

And, I really like your idea on how you organize your images... by project. That will work for me, too. As it is, when I archive a completed project (on my terabyte external drive), the images are already organized by project! LOL

I do recall images I used in projects.

If this helps others, I also create a "library" in a PPT file for a project.... a la Adobe Flash libraries. See my blog post on that topic:

PowerPoint Library of Edited Images and Slides for Articulate! Jenise Cook

Good intel, Robert!

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Old 01-27-2010, 03:44 PM   # 9
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Default Re: Elearning Resources - Stock Photos and Graphics


Quote:
Originally Posted by @robkennedy3 View Post
- do you take your own shots? - No, but I think I would like to. I actually got a couple of pocket video cams the other day, a Flip Ultra HD and a Kodak zi8 to begin incorporating a bit more video.
Minor hijack:

I do a lot of video work and I'm fortunate enough to have access to equipment. Regardless of what you are shooting do your best to get good audio of you are going to be using the audio from your video. You can patch up questionable video with creative editing but there is nothing you can do about poor quality audio. It's a worth while investment.
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Old 01-27-2010, 03:55 PM   # 10
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Default Re: Elearning Resources - Stock Photos and Graphics


Absolutely on that. Let me be clear, the pocket cams are in no way used for major video portions or for the full audio. That being said, one reason I did buy the Kodak zi8 was because of the ability to hook up a lapel mic or other wireless mic to it. So yes, agreed, I will say it in caps, MAKE SURE YOUR AUDIO IS GOOD AUDIO QUALITY AUDIO.

Thanks for that point, rjohnstun.
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