You have a project. It may be an illustration, sermon intro, announcement slide, print piece or whatever.

You have a deadline. A menacing term which threatens death if the line is crossed. A bit dramatic, no? Like when my 6 year old claims she is starving after going 45 minutes without mac-n-cheese.

You have a plan, but the closer you come to the deadline the more willing you are to trade quality for just getting the job done.

This is a fight worth having.

If you want your project to move the people you are making it for: here a piece of advice.

A good story always trumps stock photography or video.

Let me be clear, using stock footage or images to help tell a story is one thing, but I’m talking about fighting the urge to right-click design (that’s control click for all you Mac users) because it’s easier than doing the work of telling a story.

Using stock photography of sad people isn’t the same as telling the story of someone in your church who was hurting. The context is what makes it powerful not the quality of the image or clip.

It may take more time to collect what you need to tell a story than stock, but isn’t it worth it? But aren’t you more concerned about telling a better story than saving time?

Weeks after the project goes to print and it crosses your desk again, you probably won’t be saying “I wish I finished that project faster.” You’ll likely be thinking about how it could have been more effective.

So next time you’re facing a blank page spend more time looking for a better story and less looking through iStockphoto’s library.