By Chaim Haas Tumblr is a perfect example of the importance of visual storytelling in PR. Or simply look at the proliferation of brands’ photos, GIFs and videos being shared across social media. Of course, the latter is a double-edged sword: the cost to generate the increasing volume of creative assets remains high. Traditional photo and video shoots can run in the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. Since typical stock photography libraries are full of boring staged photography, I’m going to discuss some emerging options for rich lifestyle imagery that can save agencies (and brands) time and money. [caption id="attachment_1916" align="alignright" width="150"]Chaim Haas Chaim Haas[/caption] Foap Foap lets anyone in the world sell their smartphone photos – simply by downloading this free mobile app, snapping a photo and uploading it to the Foap Market. When an agency buys the photo on behalf of a client’s brand from this marketplace for just $10, the photographer gets paid and the brand gets an unlimited photo license. The image can be used for online marketing, across its worldwide social media channels or even for offline marketing. Brands can also launch “Missions” to solicit specific types or themes of branded photos in order to build up their image library. Brands then reward the best “Mission” image. The featured image on this story  is a photo that one of my colleagues at Kaplow, shot uploaded and sold on Foap. [caption id="attachment_1918" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Sampling of Foap photos Sampling of Foap photos[/caption] FlashStock FlashStock provides customized on-demand visual content to brands and agencies in North America and the UK. Its global network of approved consumer photographers – or Flasharazzi – adds thousands of client-briefed photographs to its collection each week. The differences between FlashStock and Foap are that approved photographers shoot all content – not just anyone with a smartphone – and every captured image is guided by a brand’s creative brief. Screen Shot 2014-03-14 at 11.32.58 AM Zooppa Zooppa is a global social network for creative talent. It has partnered with hundreds of brands and agencies to launch user-generated advertising campaigns or crowdsourced creative. Agencies and brands get the copyrights to all the created content for a single one-time fee. And the agency or brand can define which creatives it wants to invite to work on their brief. Zooppa differs from the others in two ways. First, it facilitates the creation of both photos and videos, as well as audio and banners; Foap and FlashStock handle only still images. Second, the Zooppa community comprises vetted professionals who compete to "win" a project. As a result, brands get hundreds of pieces of usable content. [caption id="attachment_1920" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Zooppa creative challenges Zooppa creative challenges[/caption] Getty Images In probably the largest change to the stock photography industry, Getty Images, a leading creator and distributor of still imagery, video and multimedia products, just announced it will make its entire library available for embedding online -- for FREE. Now, agencies and brands will be able to leverage more than 100 years of photos from some of the world’s best photographers. All the brand needs to do is append a footer at the bottom of the picture with a credit and link to Getty Images’ licensing page. The result: high-quality stock imagery, for free. [caption id="attachment_1921" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Getty's editorial images Getty's editorial images[/caption] Bottom line: A critical decision for brand and agency content teams is whether they are willing to use photos/videos from those same consumers to whom they are looking to deliver a positive brand experience. If not, there is a range of new options that rely on professionals or semi-professionals to capture the imagery a brand seeks to use. These latter options certainly beat the cost of maintaining an in-house photographer or holding an expensive multi-day photo or video shoot. Chaim Haas (@chaimhaas) is chief innovation officer at Kaplow based in New York.