Most marketers will agree that stock photography is an important part of their marketing strategy. After all, the high-quality collection of images is readily available in a limitless niche. It is also helpful in saving tons of time and resources that potentially go into taking custom photographs.

However, the success of your stock photograph depends solely on your selection. If you use the wrong images on your website, you can run into several problems such as:

  • Seeing the same image on other websites
  • Having pictures that don’t resonate with your branding
  • Getting into legal trouble because you were not aware of the copyright laws
  • Spending money on unusable pictures

And trust me, no marketer wants to deal with a failed project, especially if they are just venturing into the business world.

Luckily, there are many ways to filter out good stock photographs from the cliche and generic ones. You should also know how to use them correctly to fit well with your brand and business.

In this guide, let’s take a look at some tried and tested tips that will help you successfully use stock images.

1.Choose The Right Photos

When you acquire stock photos, make sure to choose the ones that fit well with your brand’s image, targeted audience, and style.

Many marketers make the mistake of selecting images that are only aesthetically pleasing – without giving much thought to the context. However, that is a wrong move and may give out a negative notion about your brand in the eyes of customers.

Designs also work better when they are able to evoke the thoughts of the viewer and engage them better. For this, you will have to get into the shoes of your targeted audience and then tailor your image accordingly.

To find the right images, be sure to filter your search with terms that suit your product, service, and brand. Use lots of verbs and synonyms to find the perfect picture. Above all, don’t settle for the first picture you see. Instead, search comprehensively to select the image that makes your brand appear unique.

2.Learn The Difference Between Posed and Candid

In the stock photography world, you will come across two types of photos:

The first is the posed pictures. Similar to something like the one illustrated below, these pictures are pre-arranged for the camera:

And the other is candid shots where the main subject seems to be unaware that someone is taking their photographs.

While both styles of photography are commonly used, you may want to stay away from posed pictures when selecting from a stock image library. This is because candid shots look more natural and are successful in conveying the right emotion. Whereas posed photos look staged, fake, and often unrealistic.

3.Check The Legal Guidelines

Each stock photo library that you visit will have its own unique guidelines in place for usage. Ensure you familiarize yourself with the details before using any picture from the website to prevent legal troubles. If you are looking to use images from free stock photo sites, ensure you have read the licensing details of the website.

You will also need to know the types of edits you can make to the image you choose. For example, cropping, adding filters, and changing or removing items from the picture are only applicable on permission.

The same goes for giving attribution/credit to the author of the picture.

Failure to abide by the suggested laws and rules can lead to lawsuits, penalties, and the ‘taking down’ of your website.

4.Customize Your Pictures

Stock photography has a bad rep for being common, overused, and generic. However, you can make them unique by cropping, adding text, and including overlays. Just make sure you are following the rules stated by the stock photography agency you are using. Otherwise, they can sue you for wrongful usage.

Some ways to edit your photos:

  • Add text or logo to make your stock photo brand with your product/service.
  • Add an overlay or change background according to your brand color palette.
  • Crop snippets of the image and use only a certain element.
  • Retouch to clear up skin blemishes.
  • Include pictures of your own products.

What you cannot do with stock photos:

  • Represent it as your own creation.
  • Edit an image that is labeled as ‘editorial use only.’
  • Use in political ads.
  • Use in pornography.
  • Edit and use the images to resell products like t-shirts and mugs.

5.Aim For The SEO Factor

Just like the text of your website, your images should also be prepared to help people find your business online. In fact, 60% of consumers are more likely to consider a business when their images appear in local search results.

When you download a stock photo, you will notice that they have file names that go something like ‘cat4280.” Make sure to change such names in descriptive forms so they can be indexed easily by the search engines.

Another thing you may want to consider for SEO is the addition of Alt text. The Alt text illustrates your picture in the text if it is unable to load for some reason. It also helps visually impaired users by conveying exactly what the image is about through audio software.

The basic limit for Alt text is 100 characters, so make them specific with the help of keywords. There is no need to start your Alt text with content like “Image of…” or “Picture of…” as it may be disruptive for the users who are reading through screen readers.

You should also avoid repeating information in the Alt text that is already present on your website. For example, if you have a picture of Tom Cruise and the caption directly below it reads the actor’s name as well – there is no need to add that to Alt text as Google will comprehend the caption effectively.

6.Optimize Images

Stock photographs are often very heavy and take a long time to load on a visitor’s device. However, the latest waiting threshold for internet users is 2 seconds. Suppose a website fails to load within the given timeframe. In that case, the majority of the users will abandon and head on over to competitors.

To avoid this issue, use an image resizing tool to reduce the size of your picture without tampering with the quality. You can also go to Microsoft Paint and resize the pixels to make the image less heavy.

The images that you use need to be optimized for any device as well. Since around 90% of the global internet population uses mobile devices to go online, make sure it’s possible to view your images on them.

Final Words

These were just some tips to get you started on the use of stock photos. We all know the importance of visuals in a content marketing strategy. With the help of stock imagery, access to high-quality and affordable visuals is now accessible to everyone. The key is to choose wisely and find a picture that beautifully represents your online presence.

Marco de Groen

Marco de Groen

A flying Dutchman who is Graphic Designer  Multimedia Designer | Webdesigner | Blogger | Illustrator | Infographics | Social Media | Brand Manager | Branding | Owner/Founder Asian Customs and The Daily Roar and Blackstone Design

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