Stock photography can be a great asset to your business when it’s used effectively. But are you using the right images? There are so many options out there it can be totally overwhelming. And you definitely don’t want to find yourself stuck with the cliched ‘businessmen shaking hands’ photo – yuk!
As a designer I source a heck of a lot of stock imagery, both for my own business and for my clients. I know that the right images can make or break a project. So today I’d like to share some tips to help you choose stock photography for your brand.
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What’s your budget?
Firstly, what’s your budget? There are loads of stock photography sites out there, ranging from free to rather pricey. And there are also differences in quality and license terms – that is, how you can use the image.
- If your budget is zero, a good place to start is with sites like Unsplash.com, where the images are good quality and free.
- If you have a small budget, sites like CreativeMarket.com* or independent stock photo libraries are worth a look.
- The big, established sites like iStockPhoto.com have vast libraries, and prices range from very affordable, to a bit ‘ouch’, but if you need a lot of photos, their subscription options can be good value.
- Or if you have a decent budget, why not work with a photographer to create a set of stock photos just for your business. This can be a great way to stand out and create a distinctive, unique aesthetic for your brand.
You might also like: Where to find the perfect picture for your blog post
Who’s your audience?
Different images will appeal to different types of people. So your audience, or target market if you prefer, has a huge impact on the images you choose.
For example, if your audience is made up of women aged 18-30, then the images you choose will likely have a rather feminine and young feel. Images of people aged 60+ just won’t resonate in the same way as pictures of people their own age.
Or, if your audience is primarily male, then overly feminine images would feel out of place.
Think too, about the kind of things that make them happy, the activities they’d be doing and other details, like how they’d dress (are they smart or casual?), even things like what their favourite tipple is (are they caffeine addicts, partial to a pint, or is a green smoothie their fave?). Things like that will tell you the kind of images that will appeal to them.
How about your brand’s personality?
The personality of your brand is really important too. Things like, is your business formal or casual? Is it techy or strictly jargon-free? Modern or vintage? Big corporation or small family business?
Choose a few keywords to define your brand’s personality and that will help you rule out photos that don’t fit with that vibe.
What about colour & style?
If you can find images that match or complement your brand colours, that’s a great way to go. By using a set colour palette over and over you build up a clearly defined and easily recognisable style. Note that you don’t have to use the same colours in your images all the time, but if you use them a lot or most of the time people will start to associate them with your business and brand.
The style of images you choose will help build up that recognition too. For example, flat lays may be your thing so most of the images you choose would fit that style. Or maybe you go more for images of people, so that’s what you should be searching for. And should you stick to photography or are you better going with illustrations?
You might also like: Simple ways to create colour schemes
How will the image be used?
When you’re searching for an image, consider how it’ll be used.
For example, if you’re searching for something that’ll be used in a vertical Pinterest graphic, start by looking for a vertical image. If you can’t find a suitable one, then look at the landscape/wide images – is there one with the point of interest in a suitable place to let you crop it down to create a vertical image?
If it’s an image for a website, look for wide images. Websites are landscape format and if you’re looking for an image that’ll stretch right across a computer screen a tall/portrait image will give you issues.
If the subject of the image needs to be cut out and placed on another background before you use it, look for an image that has a plain background as that’ll make editing it to remove the background much easier.
And if the image will have text placed over it, look for a picture with plenty of white space so you actually have room to add text without blocking part of the subject. It’ll make your text easier to read too, if it’s not placed over something too busy.
How much flexibility do you need?
The best images offer you flexibility in how you can use them. For example, if a photo can be cropped in multiple ways to give you a wide image for your website, a tall image for Pinterest, a square image for Instagram, and so on.
And if you need an image that’ll work both on screen and in print projects, like using it on your website and in the shiny new brochure you’re creating, the image will need to be quite high resolution. That means you’ll be able to use it at the 300dpi needed for print work, and you can shrink it down to the 72dpi used by screens, without affecting the quality.
You might also like: How to prepare images for your website
Using the right stock photography can make a huge difference to your brand and how well your target market relates to it. If you’re excited to start sourcing the perfect images, check out this post where I’m sharing my favourite places to find stock photos.
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