NewsThe Blitz Interview

Social media platforms as a source of the best microstock photography ideas

Lele Gestoso Saa is an art director in London, UK. She is convinced that we should look for the most emphatic and natural images on social media networks! This week, we speak with Lele about some things she’s noticed were missing in microstock images and some of the changes we can expect to see in web design styles for 2015. 

lele-gestoso-saa-interview-slider-re_engLele Gestoso Saa.

Hello Lele! Tell us a little bit about yourself. When and how did you begin your career as an art director?

Hi! My real name is Elena, but people called me Lele as in ukulele. I’m from a seaside coast in northwestern Spain called Vigo. I moved to Madrid at the age of 18 to study advertising and public relations.

After graduating in 2004, I did an internship at DDB in Madrid where I eventually became an art director. I have worked for agencies such as DDB, Shackleton, McCann Erickson and TBWA and for clients like Sony PlayStation, McDonalds, Coca Cola or Movistar.

- McDonalds ‘1955’

- PSP ‘PlayEnglish’

In 2012, I moved to London. Since then, I have been working for Apple at TBWA\Media Arts Lab.

Today, you can find just about any photo on the Internet. The variety of styles abd colors is unlimited! But still, as an experienced art director and a creative woman with a keen sense of style, can you tell us at least 3 characteristics that were missing in some images that you’ve used?

I shouldn’t say this, but I tend to avoid staged, stereotypical or commonplace  photos– unfortunately, most stock images. If the client has a tight budget, I prefer to brief the photographer and take a brand new picture.

lele-gestoso-saa-interview-2 RENFE «Pop-up».

What type of pictures does your photographer usually take? People or no people? Which should we expect to see more of in microstock images in 2015?

People or no people… It depends on what your image needs. Sometimes you need a kid, sometimes maybe a dog. However, I prefer to use picture with no people in them. Basically this is because there’s no acting and there’s less room for cliches.


If “peopleless” images are easier to find and they elict empathy from a focus group, can suitable infographics become a web design style of the future?

Infographics can be very impressive. I think they are already an extensive category of design themselves. It will grow more. What’s more, there’s been a rise in resources for creating great infographics, like websites specializing in icons.

Most of the time, I miss naturality in stock photos. 

Your professional do`s and don’ts for microstock photographers? Where to find real empathy from focus groups?

I would suggest they look at social media platforms like Pinterest, Flickr, Instagram… and see what  people post. There are loads of good pictures there. They might not have great photographic quality, but they do have a lot of humanity and emotion. Most of the time, I miss naturality in stock photos.

Looking back at your work, did themes and styles of microstock images change over the years? What is outdated now? Please give us a couple examples.

I think technology themes are the easiest topics to become outdated. Anything with a device or a gadget that was innovative last year can be obsolete today.

Speaking of obsolete methods and technologies, do you think that a web designer must know how to draw today?

Not necessarily, I have met many art directors and designers that were unnable to draw. Even though they were very good at art directing and making layouts.

Rather than to be very skilled in drawing, I think you must have a trained eye and be able to pull out some good references while your are sketching an idea.

Where do you find inspiration?

Inspiration can be found anywhere. For example, in an art exhibition, in a music festival, in a restaurant, in a trip to the countryside...

It is very tempting to download images for free instead of buying them. Does it somehow affect a web site`s appearance and reputation on the Internet?

Of course, all designers and clients must avoid these practices; they do not go anywhere good. Another thing would be to use an image as reference for mocking up and idea but never in a final work. Every image has value, and if someone is using a picture for his or her own benefit without giving  any credit to the photographer, that’s just plain wrong.

Since people mostly view web sites on their mobile devices, Internet pages are becoming less detailed, less shiny and have more static designs. Do you think minimalism will replace all main trends in the web design world?

I think minimalism is already a main trend, isn’t it?


Lele Gestoso Saa's portfolio on Behance.
Author: Rogneda Elagina-Apperson. You can follow her on Google.