In our previous posts about using stock images in ELT materials, we discussed how to make the most of picture research, giving away some of our (not-so-secret) secrets.

Here at emc, we’re lucky to have a dedicated, in-house Creative Content team who work closely with our designers to ensure that the research we do not only fits the brief, but also fits the overall design and the feel of the project.

In this post and the next, we’ll take a look at some of the benefits of this arrangement from both the picture researcher’s side of things and the designer’s.

Obviously, none of this is to say that you shouldn’t have a great working relationship with freelance picture researchers, because you can and we do! A good picture researcher will consider themselves an extension of the design team (whether or not they are in-house) but there are some definite advantages to having our team in the studio.

Communication is easier

Being in the studio gives us, the Creative Content team, a unique perspective on the briefs. If they have a particular idea for a page, the designers can guide us on the kinds of images they want for certain briefs and provide special insight into how much impact specific pieces will have on the page, even before layouts are completed.

If there is a question about a brief or a space on the page, we can have a quick chat with the designer in front of their computer and discuss the issue at hand, collaborating to see if some clever cropping, minor editing or a different orientation would make an almost-perfect image perfect for the page.

These conversations help us make the most of the images we research, and being in-house means that we’re able to quickly know a) whether a solution is possible and b) what more needs to be done to resolve it, even before involving the client.

It’s more efficient

Having our Creative Content team in-house has given our designers a vested interest in the image selection process, from research to licensing – their designs depend on the quality of the images chosen, after all! This gives the whole studio a better view of what’s necessary at each stage and allows us to work more efficiently.

If a schedule is exceptionally tight or a brief quite long, we can top up our efforts by involving the designers. They can help with the research itself and ensure we use our time most effectively by identifying the briefs that may need special attention, like unit openers or high-impact realia pages.

Their direct involvement also means that before a photo selection meeting with our clients, we are able to discuss the researched image options with the designers and suggest the ‘designer’s pick’, saving time in the meeting and honing the imagery to ultimately benefit the whole project.

We can make the most of our budgets

Having these services under one roof gives us more flexibility to make the most of the budgets we’re given, because we can have a more balanced view of what solutions make most financial sense for our clients.

If the designer notices that there’s space and scope on a page for an additional image, they can check the budget and see if we can add one. Similarly, if there’s a particularly complex and time-consuming brief for a piece of realia, the designers can find out if it would make more sense (and use less time and money) to find a good photo. Or vice versa, they can let us know if it would be more cost-effective for a designer to quickly create a bespoke graphic to go along with the text instead of researching a new image.

What it means for our studio

At the end of the day, designers and picture researchers have to work together to create beautiful material, regardless of their physical location. We need each other! Here at emc, having it all in-house just makes sense as a natural extension of our design services and it works well for our Creative Content team too! In the next post, we’ll see what our design team thinks about this relationship and what benefits it has from a design perspective.

What do you think?

If you’re a freelance picture researcher, how did you find your relationship with the design teams you’ve worked with? Do you consider what the designers might be able to do to help your research go further? Do you think about how you can work together more effectively?

Let us know in the comments below!