There are over 350 million images available on the stock photo market today. That’s a lot of ladies laughing with salads — but savvy creatives know not every stock photo library was created equal. When you’re looking for the right image to complete a wireframe, advertisement, website layout, or other creative project, you want something that is authentic and representative of your brand. Stock photos, by their nature, are often aiming to be all things to all users — general compositions aiming to appeal to the most people.
With CROOW Stock, our creative developers are aiming to break the mold while meeting the needs of users, elevating the stock photography experience, and integrating it into your overall creative process. “The idea behind it was originally centered around icons,” Aaron Lipkin, one of CROOW’s head developers, shared. “We wanted to make a suite of icons quickly accessible to users. Then we realized we should include other stuff — photos, and eventually videos as well. We wanted to set it apart by having it integrate directly with project management, so that from within a CROOW project, you can tag a stock photo or collection of photos for your designer to look at and use.”
This direct integration of CROOW Stock into the rest of the CROOW application means a speedier, easier workflow for you and your team as you collaborate in the tool. With everything in one place and under one account, you no longer have to juggle multiple folders, downloads, or passwords to complete a project. And it’s not just for your internal team.
“In an approval, the designer might have a placeholder image in the design, and someone from the client side can go to CROOW Stock, see a photo, and automatically tag it into the approval,” Aaron says. “You don’t have to go outside of the tool, send links, make a separate purchase — it all just integrates.”
In addition to this integration, the other unique aspect of CROOW Stock’s gallery comes down to the photos themselves. “The type of photo is much more artistic and stylistic,” Aaron says. “The photos were originally shot with a more avant-garde approach than typical stock photos, and the subject matter is also very different. We have shots of nature, architecture, and places around the world.”
From a designer’s perspective, good stock photography is all about inspiration. Janel Gancena, Sparxoo’s art director, says a great stock library can take you places you didn’t expect. “What I find enjoyable is being able to type in something specific, and getting a variety of results — things you may not expect,” she says. “When it comes to looking up stock images, it’s a lot of going down the rabbit hole. You click into a photo and then you get related photos that might have the same people in it, or are around the same topic or subject. I open these in a new tab and I end up finding lots of inspiration this way.”
For Janel, CROOW Stock has helped beyond the usual confines of stock photography, too. “When it comes to abstract textures or patterns that could be used in the background of a design, I think CROOW Stock is great,” she says. Incorporating beautiful images into various elements of your design can elevate it and make it unexpected and memorable.
There are pitfalls to avoid when you’re working with stock photography, of course. The first is a lack of diversity. “It’s tough when the client is looking for diverse photos, or inclusive photos, because for specific topics, sometimes that just doesn’t exist or there’s not a good selection of them,” Janel says. This is one reason why CROOW Stock incorporated an entire category of photos based on diversity, and why we’ll continue to build out this category in future updates.
Another pitfall, and one of the easiest to fall into, is selecting an image that is clearly staged. “Photos looking too ‘stock’y can feel forced and inauthentic,” Janel says. “And because of the nature of stock photography, you’re not always going to find exactly what you want. You might have to compromise your vision.”
So how does Janel combat these issues? When at first your search might fail, try your search again. “You might have to refine your search — be creative, use synonyms, and think about other ways people might phrase the keywords you’re looking for,” she says. She also recommends relying on your teammates for help. “If I can’t find something, I’ll usually go back to the client development person and ask how they recommend changing up the direction.”
Armed with these best practices, you can find success searching CROOW Stock. But there are even more features that Aaron and the CROOW team built into the library. “Collections are the part of it that is most robust,” Aaron says. “You can create a collection easily, and in addition to stock photos, you can upload your own photos into collections. Those photos are private, and won’t show up to other users unless you share them.” With three levels of privacy, managing permissions to any photos you upload is easy and secure.
“You can also manage watermarking of images that you upload,” Aaron says. “If a photographer you’re working with watermarks all their photos, you can go through and ‘like’ the images you want, and then the photographer can remove the watermark and you can download the photos straight from CROOW.”
As always, CROOW aims to take the essential functions that creatives need to design, collaborate, and share, and integrate them seamlessly into one tool. CROOW Stock is the next evolution — and it will continue to evolve over time, with more photos added to the library, and even more functions coming soon.