"Stock photography" is no longer about stiff, posed pictures that often fall flat when conveying your message. We love using stock photos, and we think other small businesses can also benefit from what they have to offer!
Why You Should Use Stock Photos
You might have a negative picture in your head when you think of stock photos- people awkwardly posed in uncomfortable-looking situations, which makes everything feel forced and artificial… Luckily, that’s no longer the case! There are tons of resources for attractive stock photos and just as many ways to use them.
Free High-Quality Imagery
The best perk to using stock photography is that so much of it is available for free! Although not every site offers free imagery, there are many sites that do. Between these sites, you are guaranteed to find imagery that works for your brand.
Here are a few free sites we recommend:
- Pexels (one of our favorites)
- Unsplash (another favorite)
- FoodiesFeed (food imagery, great for blogs or websites!)
Given the vast number of sources, there are ample resources for new content. You don’t have to worry about reusing the same photos constantly; between paid and free images, there are bound to be photos that you can use for any aspect of your business.
Imagery is an important aspect of your brand, but taking your own photos can be time-consuming. Although taking your own high-quality images isn’t too difficult (find out more here), using stock photos can save you time. When you know you have stock images that work with your brand and messaging, you can focus more on other important factors like writing and editing, SEO, and networking that is done through your content; while you focus on that, you can rest assured knowing you have the tools to make the content look good.
How to Use Stock Photography
Now that you’ve seen how useful stock photos can be, how exactly can you utilize them?
One of our favorite places to use stock photos is on our blog. With each post, we include a relevant stock photo that helps visually convey the topic of our blog. Our website is then formatted to use that image as both a thumbnail from our blog index pages as well as the header of the post. Each time, the image is simply emphasizing the main point of the blog; the content of the image doesn’t even have to be directly related, just something visual that can connect the audience with the main takeaways of the post.
Social Media posts
Like blogs, social media posts are a great place to add some imagery to your content. Many platforms, particularly Instagram, are heavily image-based. While some brands may have ample original visual content to share, others do not. Stock photos allow you to connect with social media users and emphasize the identity of your brand. Using high-quality, engaging images will draw in your viewers and make them more interested in hearing what you have to say.
Most stock photos are licensed to allow editing, meaning you can add text and other visual elements to a photo to tailor it to your needs. Try adding large text to a simple, bold image for an eye-catching website homepage, or simply add the title of your blog to the image to be used as a header. Something as simple as quoting a testimonial over an attractive image makes for a much more engaging social media post. We’ve used stock images on our Instagram, blog, even when making CTA’s for our website! Stock photos give you room to be creative and have fun with your brand.
Alt-text for SEO
Images don’t just have to look pretty, they should be functional too! Adding alt-text to an image is an important step in SEO; when an image is properly tagged, search engines can “read” the image, which will assist your indexing and can improve your ranking. Follow standard SEO best practices with images as you would with any other content- avoid using large images that will slow down your site speed, remember to include your keywords, and keep the tag concise.
Be Wary of...
There are a few downsides to using stock photography, unfortunately; however, we love using stock photos. We believe although there can be a few drawbacks, stock photos are an opportunity to expand and enhance your brand for little-to-no cost.
These beautiful images are taken by professionals who want credit for their hard work, so be aware of the licensing of certain photos and agencies. There are two types of licenses you’re likely to find with stock photos.
Royalty Free: the buyer can use the photo repeatedly for uses defined in the agreement, such as advertising and promotional projects.
Rights Managed: the buyer has temporary use of the photo, and prices are determined on per-use basis as well as image size, placement, potential viewers, and duration of use.
Stock photos are popular because they are so useful, but this also means that you are not the only one using these images. Because the images are available to anyone online, other brands may be using the same photos. While this won’t necessarily hurt your business, it will make the imagery less personal and specific to your brand. This can be remedied by using a variety of imagery, editing stock photos, and even including a few original photographs.
Stock photos are an important aspect to our graphic design and marketing plans. Given the number of resources available, there are photos out there now that are perfect for your brand. With some creativity and originality, you can engage your viewers and establish your brand identity with a little help from stock photos.