How to Choose the Stock Images That Don’t Look Like Stock Images

In 1935, Dr. Otto Ludwig Bettmann emigrated to the United States from Germany in pursuit of a better life. Bettmann brought with him thousands of pictures he had amassed over a period of several years and began selling them to various print media producers. Thus began one of the first commercial stock image archives.

Since the advent of the stock photography archive, the content of stock photographs themselves has undergone quite an evolution. The early 90’s brought us the cheesiest of cheesy images (click here for an example of typical cheesiness of the time). More stock image sites, like Corbis and GettyImages, began popping up and stock photos eventually developed the signature stock photo look, with which many of you might be familiar.

Elevate Your Stock Photo Game

Websites like DeviantArt and Adobe Stock that are more geared towards user-created content have made it easier than ever to get your hands on high-quality images that fit your needs, no matter the context. Image archives, however, are still fraught with cheesy, off-putting images that can really detract from your online content.

Here are some ways to up your image selection game.

  1. Consider the context. How and where your image is being displayed should be one the most important factors in your decision of what image to pick. For example, colors display differently in digital versus print media; the image you use for a print case study may be different from the image you use for a digital case study. One should also consider how the colors in the image look against the surrounding colors. A photograph of a neon green highlighter may not be a great choice if the header above it is navy blue. For this reason, I often like to use black and white images. This also allows the branding and content to do the talking and the image to take on more of a support role.
  2. Please no more cheesy pictures of smiling employees, especially if they are wearing a headset and/or Photoshopped onto a white background. These types of images are obscenely overused and, because of their extraordinarily contrived and comedic nature, are frequently the subjects of internet memes.
  3. Use people, animals, and objects to direct the reader’s eye. For example, if your image is going to sit to the right of the content, maybe have a picture of a person looking toward or pointing at the content. This is an extremely useful technique that can be used in many different situations.
  4. Think outside the box. Subtly goes a long way so don’t be afraid to play around with some images that may not be so directly related to your content. Going a little more abstract your ideas can be a really good exercise in creative thinking, for both the reader and creator.
  5. Experiment. There is nothing wrong with trying a few different images. For many people, the image that precedes a blog post may be something of an afterthought. The reality is that the right– or wrong– image can really make a big difference in how a reader reacts to your content, so taking the time to get it right is worth it.

You’re Not Alone

Choosing the right stock image can be a challenge. There is a lot of trial and error involved so even people used to working with stock photos spend a lot of time scrolling through pages and pages of images. Further, many of the best stock photo services require paid subscriptions, which, depending on your situation, might be unnecessary.

Our team has extensive experience working with stock photographs as has subscriptions that we share with our clients. If you are interested in working with us, and utilizing said subscriptions, contact us today!

Brett Myers

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Brett Myers

Brett is the new kid on the block at Marketing Refresh. When he isn't designing graphics, he is probably fixing his hair. He enjoys playing piano, fishing, and eating pizza pie. Mama Mia!

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