• X Factor

Taking Stock of Your Photos

Updated: Feb 3, 2021

Stock photos can come in very handy for print or electronic marketing. They're easy to get a hold of and can help you avoid hiring a photographer. However, with the millions of available choices, it can be difficult to know what to look for in stock photos, when to use them unedited or edited, and when NOT to use them at all. The wrong use of stock photos can damage a brand and even cause legal troubles, so it's important to get this right.

What to Consider

If you’ve spent time on stock photo sites, you have probably noticed that many photos of people in offices or business settings simply look fake. If used on a professional web site, those broad smiles and pictures of “teambuilding activities” or “group hi-fives” will undoubtedly look staged and draw the user’s attention away from key content in a negative way. That is the exact opposite of the desired effect.

Yes, someone, somewhere, paid to have this photo taken

If you rely solely on unedited stock photos, users will likely recognize them from other websites. This can cause the user to feel that you’ve cut corners, that you haven’t worked hard enough to be original. Those conclusions can damage your brand strength. Simple edits – such as adding color overlays, inserting text within images or flipping, rotating, and cropping them – can set them apart from other sites that have used unedited stock photos.

A simple flip, color overlay, and text can turn this basic stock photo into a unique page header

If you’re going to use action shots of people (professionals at a meeting, workers on the job) it’s important to take some time to consider whether the image is a genuine representation of what activities they’re doing. If the photo is depicting a scene from your client’s industry, they will be extra critical about it and will be turned off if it appears fake or uninformed to them.

Where to Find Stock Photos

There are a number of online resources to get royalty-free stock photos from. That means they're free to use, edited or not, for commercial applications. However, when looking for stock photos, it’s essential to verify what kind of use license the photos fall under. Not abiding by the correct license can have legal implications. Here are some popular stock photo sites:


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All of these sites provide royalty-free photos for commercial use, so they're a great place to get images for business applications. Be sure to read their respective usage licenses to verify that you can use their images in the ways you want to without any legal headaches.

In Conclusion

Take some time to review your site and its photos. If your pictures could use some refreshing, we’d be happy to offer some creative ideas for transforming them into a unique representation of your business. Contact us today!