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Crowd Sourced Images

December 2, 2013 by Eric and Steve

Whether anyone still reads at all may indeed be a mystery, but what’s certain is that visual content dominates the Internet.  Regardless of what product or service you’re offering with your website, high quality imagery is one of the most effective ways to reach an audience.  In addition to establishing an aesthetically pleasing layout and utilizing talent from graphic design, professional photographs are a key component of your website’s appearance.

As usual, there are a number of ways to get the job done.  Hiring a professional photographer is undoubtedly the most effective approach, but it is usually also the most expensive.  On the other end of the budgetary spectrum, stock photo websites like istockphoto.com or 123rf.com have worked for countless web proprietors for years; however, these sites offer little in terms of customization and require that you or someone else you’re paying spend time searching through near infinite archives to find just the right image.

So where’s the middle ground?  In just the last few years it’s come to be known as Crowd Sourced Imagery, and for anyone looking to strike a balance between budget and quality it is an excellent alternative.

In general, Crowdsourcing is the act of enlisting the service of multiple people by way of the Internet.  Crowdsourcing can take the form of teamwork or competition, and its beauty is that it works on a global scale, linking strangers and turning them into coworkers.  Amazon.com, for example, has utilized crowdsourcing practices for years.  Amazon’s “Mechanical Turk” is a system that pays real people to complete small tasks that computers can’t quite fathom, such as scanning digital imagery for inappropriate content or taking surveys.  In theory, just about any task that combines humans and computers can be crowdsourced, and there are now a number of websites that apply the practice to photography.

With Crowdsourced Photography sites, people who need professional photographs can submit creative briefs to a staff and system that will distribute the briefs to freelance photographers.  Using the website’s platform, the photographers can then compete for your project, submitting their best attempts and awaiting your selection.  When all is said and done, you get to pick your favorite photograph and pay your favorite photographer – a process that can simply be transactional or that can grow into something long term, depending on your needs.

One of the best Crowdsourced Photography sites that’s currently in operation is Imagebrief.com.  Imagebrief allows you to submit requests for projects and also archives its most impressive photographs for stock purchase.  What makes Imagebrief particularly attractive is that it is currently attracting talented photographers who are willing to work for reasonable rates.  Without a doubt, this ability to attract quality talent is the most important aspect of any type of crowdsourcing website.  Working with someone halfway across the world is pretty cool, but paying them only makes sense if they’re good at what they do.  

As Crowd Sourced Photography evolves, hotbeds of talent will inevitably shift, but as long as the Internet exists the general practice will most likely remain a very viable way to enhance your website’s appearance.   For other crowdsourced activities, such as freelance writing, graphic design, or even virtual secretarial assistance, you might also consider getting on Google and searching “crowdsourced + [what you need done].”  There are countless networks dedicated to connecting digital contractors with digital employers, and you’ll be surprised with what you can find.

Posted in From the Design Team, Help Me Understand

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