How to Pick the Right Stock Images for Your Business

January 19, 2023

Finding the right stock images for your business can be difficult. With so many stock image websites to choose from, it makes narrowing down the options even more challenging! But as you may already know, including high-quality imagery that aligns with your brand can help build trust and convince buyers faster that you're a company they should work with.

While the best images will be from professional photography sessions that feature images of your team and working spaces, that isn't always possible option due to the lack of resources or high cost. Now more than ever, savvy business owners know that stock imagery can be a good albeit short term solution for their business. That begs the question: "What are some ideas to make photos look more natural?"

Unless you're trying to be deliberately cringey, here are some of the best ways to find great stock imagery that connects with your audience and reflects your brand style and values effectively:

Understand Your Context

When choosing imagery, make sure to fully understand the content you’re working on before looking for images.

Image sites will only display images that are the most common and popular in relation to your chosen topic. That means that nearly every other business in your niche will be using similar content-producing strategies and you'll likely see these same images on their websites and blogs. This is one thing you'll have to take note of.

Including images in your content is essential for making the information more accessible and relatable. Images help readers understand what you’re trying to say by breaking up your text into smaller, easier-to-read chunks.

As you begin to compose your content, ask yourself what emotions it is designed to evoke. What scenarios or images can symbolize those feelings? Once again, read the text several times and take note of specific words that describe key concepts.

Take some time to consider the main message you want to communicate and how imagery will support that goal. Be creative in using stock photos, but don't be bound by literal interpretation.

Think about the main message you want to communicate. This can be influenced by what you have read and seen, so get creative with keywords and search for images that support your argument. Keep in mind how well the visual elements work together to create a strong impact on viewers.

Does your audience have to see the image in order to understand what you are trying to say? If so, it may be difficult for them if they are not familiar with the content or imagery. It's important that your readers can relate what they just read about to the visualized information presented. The two should work together harmoniously.

Authenticity Sells

Above all else, people hate cheesy photos. You know those unrealistic scenes with superhero capes or fake smiles and high fives. The most natural looking stock imagery are the ones that look candid. These are natural poses that don't have people posed in a certain way or looking straight into the camera. Humans are really adept at identifying false smiles and forced emotions. When deciding on a stock image, think about how the person looks and whether that scene is realistic. The more realistic it is, the better.

Stay On-Brand

While picking stock imagery, refer to your brand guidelines to ensure that all of your business' marketing materials have a similar look and feel. That's how big brands like Apple or Microsoft does it. Even though thousands of designers across the world are producing materials for the brand, their look and feel stays consistent. Brand guidelines aren't limited to typography and colors; you'll want to set guidelines for photography, too. Simple directions in your brand guidelines can make a huge difference in helping you narrow down your choices.

Do you have a specific target demographic for your brand? Are you looking for casual photos or polished corporate images? Having all this in mind and clearly structure makes your brand guidelines into a design system that you can follow with ease.

Where to Get Stock Images

While there are many paid and free stock image websites around the web, these are our favorites:




We have also included a number of these websites on our Free Resources page.

To Sum It Up

Finding the right stock images can be challenging but don’t be discouraged. Take a positive attitude when viewing images. Can't find the perfect one? Maybe all that almost-right image needs is a little touch of Photoshop.

You can adjust colors, remove unattractive elements, or repeat backgrounds to create a design that works for your needs. If the composition and basic idea are present, all you need is some Photoshop magic!

Taking time to browse through stock photography can be daunting, but following these tips will help you get around the site as quickly and efficiently as possible. By doing this, you'll be able to find what you're looking for with ease! Need help upgrading those average stock images into something that’s perfect for your brand? Get in touch with your best design partner Mad Creative Beanstalk and we’ll help you elevate those “okay enough” pictures into pixel-perfect additions to your brand.

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