Many years ago, I wrote a Christmas story, inspired by Linus' speech in Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown and another, less well known Christmas special called The Christmas Messenger, starring Richard Chamberlain, featuring some wonderful animation sequences to tell the main story.
To this day, my story, A Midnight Clear, remains one of the favorites I've written. It has a timeless quality to it, in my opinion. I have shared it as a text-based web story and PDF over the years during the holiday season and it's been well received by those who read it.
But...I always felt it was missing one key element - illustrations. I do not have the wherewithal or skill to create actual illustrations, and while I have a large photographic collection, I had no hope of using my work to properly visualize this story.
Enter stock photography and illustrations, specifically Adobe Stock (no one should be surprised by this - lol). As both a creative professional and contributor to Adobe Stock, I saw an opportunity to do the story justice with proper, professional imagery and to truly showcase how stock assets can enhance and support the written word.
Properly licensing stock art instead of using "free" photo sites also eliminates any ambiguity around usage rights. This is critical if you plan to take your work beyond the confines of personal viewing or classroom exercises.
Note: While I am using my specific project as the example, I believe the ideas and tips I share here can be applied to most any form of writing, fiction or nonfiction, long or short stories.
Stock images don't have to work "straight out of the can" but in speaking with customers - primarily non-designer customers - I would get the impression that altering imagery was often not a consideration - beyond perhaps cropping the image. This can be a very limiting perspective. If you've spent time looking for an image with specific criteria like "night, snowshoeing" for example, you may not find exactly what you are looking for. But if you are a little less prescriptive in your search - "showshoeing" - you could find just the perfect composition, merely needing a little bit of color balance and brightness tweaking. These are relatively simple enough processes to complete in a variety of software applications, including Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, Photoshop Express, even Spark Post. Below is one example of converting a daytime image to a moonlit night.