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5 Ways to Choose The Right Stock Photos for Your Marketing Campaigns

Why stock images? 

High angle aerial view over Pokhara City, Nepal at evening. Blue mountain misty range and orange sunset cloudy sky in the background. Nature landscape. Travel, holidays, recreation concept

Sunset sky over Pokhara City, Nepal by Volodymyr Goinyk123RF.

The connotations that stock photography has to some people are, well, not always great. Many may shudder at the thought of using stock images for marketing campaigns – mostly because stock images tend to be generic, overused and lack the personal connections that marketers want to form with their audience.

However, what if we told you that stock images can actually outperform custom images in terms of engagement and reach? Not only that, when you know how to look for them, stock images are actually capable of giving you high-quality and aesthetically pleasing visuals. Another obvious selling point of stock image, is of course, that they are cost-effective – perfect for marketers who are tight on a budget. 

For effective tips in picking the right stock images for your campaigns, read more below.

1. Prioritize your images’ authenticity

Manhattan, NYC during the COVID-19 outbreak by travelwild123RF

In  your search for the perfect image, it is important to keep in mind that many marketers have scoured the same stock photography sites for more or less the same purpose as yours. Thus, be careful from selecting images that have been used frequently by other companies. This is to make sure that your brand can stand out from the rest and leave a lasting impression on your target audience. 

For instance, it is recommended to be as specific as you can in your keywords. Instead of putting vague and general words into the search engine, you can take it up a notch and add adjectives and verbs to get a wider variety of photos.

Lotus Gate, City Palace of Jaipur, Rajasthan by Marina Pissarova123RF

As for ensuring authenticity in the visuals; here are a few simple tricks:

i) Pay attention to the framing

In what angle did the photo was taken? Is it in the typical one-point perspective that most stock images have? If you want to keep your visuals fresh, be sure to look for more diverse angles to gain a more interesting narrative out of these images. 

ii) Observe the subject

Next, take a look at the types of people featured in the stock image. Do their poses look staged, or natural? If it is apparent within one glance that they are models, perhaps try looking for pictures that are more covert; capturing candid moments that your audience would likely be able to relate more to. 

iii) Look for natural lighting 

To maintain authenticity in your selected stock images, it is crucial to pay attention to the photos’ lighting. It is best to choose images that elude that it was taken under a natural light source. Not only would that make your images stand out, it would also add depth and originality to the visuals. Instead of the flat, fluorescent lighting that applies to most stock images, you would be able to obtain something entirely different.

2. Know your audience

A group of young women by ammentorp123RF

When it comes to your audience’s taste and preference, nobody knows it better than you. Utilize the knowledge you have regarding your target market and incorporate it into the types of stock images that you look for. It goes without saying that to guarantee the success rate of your marketing campaign,  you have to put your audience’s needs first. 

The stock images that you select should help your audience to form a strong visual connection with your brand; meaning that it has to be relatable and can contextualize the message you want to communicate well. Hence, it is advisable to pick stock images that are in line with your brand’s visual strategy, rather than simply inserting them to fill in the gaps.

3. Emphasize your content

Two white horses by maryart1123RF

Next, it is important to never lose sight of what the stock image’s intended purpose is for your marketing campaign. No matter how captivating this photo is, if it is not contextually relevant nor can emphasize the message you are trying to tell your audience, it would still be futile. 

Make sure that the image would fit nicely in the correct ratio that you have set. For instance, if it is for a web banner, then the stock image’s size must be able to follow suit and can stretch nicely while still displaying its main subjects.

Going for minimal photos or perhaps even flat lay arrangement can also be one of your considered approaches. To maximize the usage of these photos, it is also vital to pick ones that can convey relevant emotions to better capture the attention of your target audience. 


4. Be mindful of image licensing 

Sunset at Santorini, Greece by jojjik123RF

When it comes to using stock images, you may want to pay careful attention to the different types of licenses that they have. As each license is meant for the specific purposes that they are intended for, it is best to read the information regarding license agreements thoroughly. This is to avoid potential mishaps that can happen to your company or yourself.

For instance, the most commonly used license would be called “standard license,” in which it caters mainly to images used for advertisements, printing, social media and even for personal usage. Hence, it is imperative that you look into this tiny detail when choosing a specific stock photo. 

5. Keep up with the current trends

Prickly pear cactus against minimal orange background by raulmellado123RF

One last pro tip you may want to consider when choosing stock images is to ensure that they are not outdated and are in line with the current trends. Much like any other arts, photography has progressively evolved throughout the years, and each decade can be identified based on how the photo’s editing style, quality and palette. 

For instance, muted palettes have taken over the internet by storm in recent years. Hence, in order to stay relevant with your audience’s tastes, it is best to choose stock images that are less brightly colored (or perhaps, color correct these images to mute its colors). 

After reading these tips, stock images do not seem so bad, right? 

There are many other ways that you can use to avoid stumbling into cliché one. There’s no denying that there are lots of undiscovered and hidden gems among these stock images, all which you can utilize to ensure the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns.

If you’re looking to create a mood board or vision board with stock photos, you can read more about it here. To learn more about the benefits of stock photos, check this out. 

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