How (and When) to Use Stock Photography
By Sarah Hillegas
Stock photos often get a bad rep due to their lack of personalization, but they don’t have to. Knowing how to use stock photography (and when) can add that special touch your business needs.
When you’re passionate about your business and what you do, you want it to look good. The problem we often notice with small businesses, more so start-ups are that they typically do not have the means to hire a professional photographer to always take new pictures for them. As much as companies (and their marketing departments) would love to continually have custom professional photos, it sometimes is just not financially feasible. But, stock photos can help create the look you wish to achieve in your marketing materials on a budget. That is, as long as you implement them strategically. Here are a few tips on how to do just that:
First, Know the Copyright Rules
Think About Your Design
One of our mottos here at Planful is to design with purpose. Before you click “download” on that stock photo, where do you see yourself using it? Do you have a quote in mind? Is it for a presentation? Think about the context first. Will the image(s) complement your efforts and make sense with your overall design?
Where to Use Stock Photos
Brochures, blog posts, direct mailers, and even some social media posts are all great examples of where you can use stock photos. While it is always the best to showcase images from your own business, sometimes you need great looking photos just to get a point across. Placing quotes on pictures continues to be popular for Facebook and Instagram. Below is an example of how we used one of our own stock photos in Canva to create a social media post:
Try to Avoid the Weird Ones
Ever go searching for stock photos and come across some really bizarre images? If you think they are odd, chances are your audience will as well. With that being said, you should also choose photos that you think your audience will respond to most. For example, if you work at a law firm, it is likely that your potential clients will not take you seriously if you use clip art in your marketing materials.
Don’t Go Overboard
At some point, you should include professional photography in your budget. Not every business will need new photos every year, but some, like us, should try to refresh its photo database at least once a year for quality and consistency to the brand. Try not to use stock photos for everything or all the time. After a while, people will only see you as generic.