Yesterday, in the iStock forums, there was a post about a new article entitled “High Concept”.  During the discussion of the article, a designer mentioned that they like to use “no people” images when designing their work.

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It is critical that our work is gender and race neutral. The concept Andrew posted is a perfect example of fitting into my criteria. As much as I love the human factor of stock, I LOVE when a concept hits home without a person – without that empty “something’s missing” feeling.

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It’s a great point.  There are a lot of times when you want an image that can get your message across, or provide appropriate copyspace, without actually fully identifying a person as the main subject – ie., showing a face, or even showing any body part.  How do you find images that fit this critieria?

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One way is to use the “NOT” functionality of the iStock search engine.  For instance, in my own portfolio, doing a search on “medical NOT people” results in something like this:

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Let’s see if that results in something similar when searching on “medical nobody”:

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So, it appears that I am pretty consistent with my keywording, using “nobody” and not using “people” when appropriate.  That may not apply to the contributor base at large, so keep both methods in mind when searching.

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Another option, if you haven’t tried it, is the keyword “anonymous”.  This tends to apply when you can’t see a human face.  It could involve just an unrecognizable person, or a body part.  You could use it in conjunction with something like “hand” to get a close up of a said part.  Here’s a look at filtering my iStockphoto portfolio with the keyword “anonymous”:

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I think these types of shots really lend themselves well to news articles, since they lack that element that ties them to one person.  They also tend to have pretty nice copyspace, since the object in focus tends to follow the rule of thirds and be off center.  The discussion of the addition of a body part keyword (hand) bears out, as you can see below:

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Again, these results are from my portfolio of work, and may not prove as reliable across the entire iStockphoto collection, but it’s worth a shot if you need an image with impact that provides a non-specific background for your message.  Remember, “nobody” and “anonymous”.

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