Build an Archive Arsenal

In Design Mattersby David Meyer

In the digital age (even the film age) I produced a lot of content in my photography, and in my busy lifestyle, I edited the highlights and sadly, did nothing with the rest. However, around 2009 I started purposely taking non-portfolio shots for the purpose of using them in my designs at the time when I was working for an outdoor company. I used those photographs in email graphics where a nice photo was needed but not the main focus. Now I have an archive (albeit it is always in need of better organizing) of a dozen or so terabytes.
Benefits of Building an Archive Arsenal

You don’t have to pay for stock photography, or use free sites like unsplash and lend your work to commonality. No joke, I’ve been on my Facebook feed and have seen two pages use the same photo for their content posts, and I knew exactly where they got it from.
This is also great because if you get in the habit of relying on stock photography, it can drain your budget. If you’re a freelancer, that can be money used for more important things. Also, if you are an in-house designer and they hire your own and you have an affinity for stock photography that their budget can’t quench, you may be unable to deliver the results of your portfolio and send you packing.

It’s created by you! Not an anonymous stock photographer. You are the only one with that photo. Granted, there are probably many more photos sitting on hard drives by other good intentions designers or photographers, but you took the initiative to use it. Remember, just because a photo is available of that place, doesn’t mean it reflects the way YOU saw it or how you captured it.


If you decide to, and your photos are good enough, you may amass such an archive you can start selling them on sites like or the big box stock photo sites and earn some passive income. You can do that if you don’t take any!

Today you can also do this with vectors. The Adobe Capture app can not only create shapes (vectors) but also brushes, patterns and color schemes. Whenever I’m out and not with my camera, try and look for vectors you could create. You’d be surprised at how handy they can come in. These are also great because it syncs directly with your Creative Cloud account.