Be a Stock Photography Model!

We’ve written a lot about the importance of choosing the right images for your e-Learning projects and suggested some sources for economically priced stock photography. But what if you don’t want to spend hours searching for the perfect stock photo, or you just can’t find one that demonstrates your industry? Or maybe your learners are tired of seeing the same impersonal stock photo used over and over. Then it’s time to start taking your OWN stock photos! Armed with a digital camera—or even your iPhone—and a few willing coworkers, you can create personal, engaging stock photos for your e-Learning!

Here are a few tips on what to do—and especially, what NOT to do!

Go Big (Resolution) or Go Home

First things first. Whether you’re using your iPhone or a Digital SLR camera—or something in between—make sure you set your camera to shoot at the highest resolution possible. This will give you the greatest flexibility for editing later.

Use the Rule of Thirds

The way you frame your photo is very important. Resist the temptation to center your photos—this is BORING! Try the “rule of thirds” technique. As you are framing your picture, visualize lines or rulers dividing the scene in front of you into thirds both horizontally and vertically (see below). Where those lines intersect are four great options for the best placement of your object–or person–of interest. The option you select depends upon the subject and how you would like to present that subject.


Don’t forget—the nice thing about digital photography is that you can always edit it later! You just need some photo editing software like Photoshop CS or the easy-to-use Snagit®, included with Lectora® Inspire e-Learning authoring software.

Illuminate Your Subject

Good lighting goes a long way to making a photo more appealing. If your office is dark, bring in a few floor lamps or desk lamps and position them out of the photo frame, but close enough to illuminate your subject. The more light you have, the better your photo will look. Take a look at these two examples—which one would you rather see in an e-Learning course?




Enlist Real Employees

This is a great way to increase engagement in your courses. If your learners see people they know, they will automatically be more interested. In addition, your models will act as promoters for your course, telling their coworkers about the photo shoot and to look for them in the next training course. Be sure to get signed releases from all your models prior to the photo shoot. This will make sure you are covered if models get cold feet or end up leaving the company. You may also want to give your employees a head’s up to tidy up their workspaces a bit if you will be photographing them at their desks. Personal touches are good, remnants of yesterday’s lunch and five empty coffee mugs, not so good.

Avoid Cliché Poses

The internet is full of articles mocking ridiculous stock photos, like women laughing alone with salad and doctors with crossed arms. Don’t let your e-Learning be overshadowed by ridiculous poses that distract from the content. You’re not trying to teach your learners how to point at a computer screen or happily drink coffee, so why feature photos that depict those actions? Here are a few more poses to avoid:

  • Looking really happy while talking on the phone—seriously, who ever looks this happy while on a sales or customer service call?

  • Staring intently at a computer screen—anyone can look at a computer screen, but does this mean anything to your learners?

  • Cheesy handshake poses—why, yes, we ARE extremely delighted to welcome this person to the team!


Get Action Shots

Get shots of coworkers demonstrating actual job tasks, such as fixing equipment or overseeing a project. Try to keep your models from looking at the camera—the photos will look less posed.



More Is More

Take multiple shots from different angles. You never know which one will work the best for your current project and what might come in handy later. Plus, you don’t want all your photos to look the same. Shoot from the hip, get up high, take an extreme close-up or a wide angle shot—the options are endless!


Now that you know what to do—and what not to do—you’re ready to go out there and shoot your own stock photos. Tweet your best ones to @Lectora, we’d love to see what you come up with!

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