Commenting on a previous edition of
Quick Tips about scanning (see
Issue 22), a reader suggested an option I had missed:
Kodak Photo CD's. The reader noted that professional photographers
shooting 35mm images for larger-format reproduction often
have the transparencies scanned and burned to CD in various
sizes by professional photo-finishers using high-quality
scanners. This option maintains the highest level of detail
and tonal qualities. Often exceeding $200,000, these scanners
produce the equivalent quality of most 4"x5" work
scanned on traditional drum scanners a decade ago. These
scans are by no means the same as the Photo CDs provided
in grocery stores and pharmacies (essentially lower quality
snapshots saved to CD for easy access).
This is also akin to JPEG images you
can download from royalty-free stock image vendors such
as Super Stock. Most of these firms offer images on websites
as well as through printed directories. After logging into
such a site, you browse for the subject matter you seek
using search engines that you program with key words and
phrases. For instance, you might ask for all images of a
"satellite dish," or you might search technology
databases for images with a "high-tech" feel.
Once you have selected a number of
images on-line, you might download low-resolution JPEGS
for free to incorporate into mock-ups for your design client.
Then, once your visuals have been approved, you can download
the size file you need based on the final printed image
size. A 35MB file might work for a full-page image, while
a much smaller file would be fine for a 2" x 3"
printed size. Or for uploading to a website, you could download
an even smaller-format file, since you would only need a
final 72dpi image.
Usually these stock image houses provide
a number of different sizes of each image expressed in pixels.
You pay based on the number and quality of images you need
(the lower the resolution, the lower the cost) and only
download the sizes you need, thus shortening download times.
Once you have acquired these images, you can manipulate
them, change their color space, and save the final photos
as TIFF's for inclusion in your page-layout file.
Some vendors will even provide your
final choices on CD, if you choose. This will avoid downloading
altogether but will take longer, since you will need to
wait for a FedEx delivery. You will also pay the stock agency
more for this custom service.
A similar option involves CDs
with large numbers of related images--say 100 images of
medical technology subjects. These may cost quite a bit
compared to single images you can download, but if you will
use many images from such a Photo CD, the cost may be reasonable
In all cases, whether you have the
photo-finisher scan and burn your images to Photo CD using
ultra-high quality equipment, or if you use royalty-free
images from a website or a Photo CD, you start with an image
that has superior detail and a broad, even tonal range.
Basically, you are paying someone else to acquire a high-end
scanner and do the scanning for you.
Keep in mind that with stock images,
you may be paying for the same image your competitor is
using in a similar publication. It is up to you to take
the raw image and do something creative with it. To help
you with this, some vendors have even provided alpha channels
or clipping paths within the image file so you can isolate
a portion of the image and transfer it into a photo montage.
Rights Managed Vs. Royalty Free Images
You can buy a CD containing hundreds
of images of wildlife (for
instance) and use any of these images however you want.
You can crop them, place portions of the images in different
montages, or change them from color to black and white.
The amount you paid for this Photo CD covers unlimited use
of the contents (although you cannot sell the images to
other users). This approach to stock imagery is called "royalty-free"
stock imagery. You can buy these disks from stock image
houses or even from computer stores.
"Rights-managed" images are
different. These images also come from stock image houses
but you must tell the agency how you will use the images.
For instance, you may purchase rights to three four-color
images to be used on a 6" x 9" paperback textbook
cover with a press run of 60,000 copies. These cover images
will be repeated as divider pages in the text (black and
white), and they will also be used on a cover-overrun postcard
to sell the textbook to teachers. All of this information
will be taken into account by the stock image house in determining
the rate you will pay for the right to use these images.
Unlike "royalty-free images," you can use "rights-managed"
images only once (unless of course you negotiate multiple
uses into your contract with the stock photo agency).
Why would anyone choose rights-managed
images over royalty-free images? One reason is that royalty-free
images are generic, rather than specific, in nature. If
you need an image of a computer, a royalty-free CD from
the local computer dealer will suffice. If, on the other
hand, you are writing a story about human rights abuses
is Bosnia, you would probably approach a rights-managed
stock image agency for a particular image of Bosnia.
[Steven Waxman is a printing consultant. He teaches corporations how to save money buying printing, brokers printing services, and teaches prepress techniques. Steven has been in the printing industry for thirty-three years working as a writer, editor, print buyer, photographer, graphic designer, art director, and production manager.]