The right photo when you need it
If you read our story about the broadsheet fold brochure for the Children's Museum, you learned of just some of the challenges and solutions inherent in publication design. But here's another problem we didn't realize until we were well into the design.
The Children's museum had lots of great pictures of happy kids in happy situations, doing happy things at the museum. And, as you might expect, you really need to show such imagery when developing a fund raising publication. Fine! Except that also presents a bit of a problem. To raise awareness and tell the full story on why we really need a place for the kids and families -- we also have to show the societal problems in today's world. So what I really needed were some pictures of kids in not-so-happy situations. Where to turn? Stock photography, of course, was my only option.
The stock photography black hole
There are dozens of stock houses out there. They all have excellent photography, and they all have a range of pricing to fit every budget, but what a mess when it comes to finding that proverbial needle in a haystack. One of the benchmarks of stock photography houses is quantity. They all want to out-do the others with the most photos. Millions; maybe billions, of photos. And search functions! Man, if I've seen one, I've seen a hundred photo search facilities that just plain suck. Some don't suck as bad as others, but for the most part they all suck. You search for "children" and you get 7,000 pages with 60 half-inch thumbnails on each page. You get photos of cars, photos of houses and photos of iguana lizards. The keywords are so remotely stacked you can actually turn up dozens of topics that don't even come close to relating. In one search on a well-known photo site the keyword "children" even turned up cheesecake photos of scantily clad lingerie models neighboring on prono. Nope, that's not what I'm looking for, thank you. Maybe later!
As you can imagine, I also happen to receive dozens and dozens of pitches and press releases from stock photo houses wanting me to write about or expose in the Design Center. What a perfect audience for stock photography! I usually read them, check the site, and toss them. When I find a good one, I encourage them to buy a button -- and have actually had a couple of pretty good ones in these pages. So, about this time, I had gotten one such press release about an all-new, fantastic, wondrous photo house with a search engine that would end all search engines. Sure. I gave it a peek. And this is the rest of the story...
Dynamic Mosaic interface
The press release opened with : BrightQube, the award-winning online stock photography destination, is now offering image buyers the most efficient way to find royalty-free stock photos from its collection of more than three million images with new and enhanced features to its revolutionary Web site.
Of course, why was I not surprised. Aside from the fact that I had never even heard of "BrightQube" -- and seeing that the domain was only registered two years ago, I had to wonder about the pitch. But hey ... this is actually pretty cool...
Arriving at the site, I keyed in "children" and was instantly presented with the Dynamic Mosaic interface, which they have actually trademarked. Yes, it was indeed innovative -- BrightQube's unique patent-pending Dynamic Mosaic technology quickly delivered hundreds of images in one interactive, photo landscape. And, guess what -- they were ALL of children! Now, we're cooking.
Even more cool was the navigation device -- very familiar to Google's Map navigator, I could zoom in and see less tiles larger, or zoom out and see more, but smaller. I could even drag the little screen rectangle around to look at different sections of the mosaic. I see a few I might be interested in.
Zooming in, I find it's really not quite what I'm looking for, so I added a second keyword. Being an old hand at search engines I thought I'd take the chance of just using the "plus" key to add the word rather than opening the advanced search. (Which they do have, and it's a killer!)
Bingo! I added the word "sad" and there they were. Good job -- and I was only minutes into my search. Once again, moving the navigator rectangle around, I could quickly cover hundreds of shots of sad kids. Each one I found to my liking, I clicked to add to my light box. The interface and guides are all quite clear and I didn't have to read any documentation or hints to work my way around the screen.
When I had the ones I thought would be right, I went to view the lightbox which then gave more specific detail, and blow-up capabilities. Now I could look at these, and capture thumbnails to put into the layout and show the client. I even found a great birthday party image -- that we were badly needing.
Outcome of the story -- they liked all of the images, so we decided to use them all to tell the story about today's disconnected, playless kids. A few needed some color correction to harmonize them into the montage grid -- and some constructive cropping, helped me focus on their sad little faces. But the resolution was surely sufficient to do deep cropping as in the middle shot, that it was all a breeze. The results makes a sparkling opening for the Children's Museum story, and presented a real contrast to the happy kids later in the broadsheet. Success.
BrightQube provides image buyers with the most straightforward and inspirational venue to review and compare thousands of stock images all at once, both easily and intuitively. This is the first time I've really zoomed in on solutions so quickly -- and had a great time doing it. The Dynamic Mosaic ensures appropriate images will appear on a single page of search results, in the online digital equivalent of a light table -- it's a great gizmo, and a great service. This high-rez images worked like a charm! Next time I need an image, you can bet where I'll go first -- directly to www.brightqube.com
Also see the full story about the broadsheet fold brochure produced for the Children's Museum.
... and thanks for reading!
Photoshop 911 Call ReportsHere comes this month's batch of reports from the Photoshop 911 call line. The most interesting is how one user solves the problem of removing the background from multiple shots of a rotating product for a 3D video... there are seven others, and you'll want to read them all:
In the Photoshop 911 FAQ department
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