Anyone who has ever written anything online is familiar with stock imagery. It’s thanks to sites like Shutterstock, Pixabay, and Pexels that writers can source pictures for their articles without having to part with a lot of money.
Given that it’s mostly free, the vast range of photographs and illustrations is quite impressive.
It’s also not bad business. In fact, Business Insider recently profiled a stock photographer who makes £6,000 from a single image.
However, even with the resources available, some stories are tricky to illustrate. For those of us who write about science and technology, the concepts we describe can sometimes be a bit abstract. For example, if you’re looking for a photo to illustrate a psychological disorder or virtual currency like Bitcoin.
In these cases, it helps when some photographers and designers are inventive and create abstract photos from their imagination, or take ideas from popular culture.
Business Insider spoke to two stock image contributors Andrew Ostrovsky and Sam Whitton, who have portfolios on Shutterstock, to find out what inspires their creations and where their work often ends up being used for.
Ostrovsky makes illustrations rather than photos, and he is a self-taught graphic designer and photographer. “In many of my images the final idea emerges in the creative process rather than in the beginning of it,” he said.
Ostrovsky has a fairly scientific background. Both his parents were scientists — a mathematician and a chemist, but his own education was in medical diagnostics equipment. In this image he merged spheres with lights and sparkles to produce an effect he calls “digital jewels.”
For this image, Ostrovsky was inspired by the theory that our reality is a computer simulation. He said his ideas come up quite spontaneously, and he gets inspiration from recent books, articles in science magazines, and lectures on philosophy, but he doesn’t have the time to fully explore them all.