Finding Stock Photography for Your Small Biz: Words to the Wise + What to Look For
Guest post by Jenna Redfield of Jenna Redfield Designs
Since the rise of social media sites like Pinterest and Instagram and their connection to blog posts, stock photos have become extremely important for many bloggers and businesses who may not have the time and resources to take their own photos.
Why you might need stock photos
While branded graphics are wonderful to have, it has become important for many websites and social media accounts to incorporate photography as well. Especially with the growth of Instagram over the past 5 years... high quality photos can make quite an impact!
The concept of styled stock photos specifically is really new, yet has become vital for many online businesses and bloggers. Many try to DIY it, but it truly takes a lot of time, money and skill to get the same quality as those who do it for a living. Unless you're planning on creating your own business selling stock photos, I encourage you to save yourself the stress and money. Purchasing your own photos is an investment but so worth it!
Here are some "words to the wise" and things to look for when you're doing your search.
3 WORDS TO THE WISE
DON'T BLEND IN WITH THE CROWD
Consistency and overall branding is so important in standing out in today’s world of creative entrepreneurs and small business owners. You need to have the tools behind you to really make an impact. Two million blog posts are written every day! How will you stand out from the crowd?
DON'T BUY STOCK PHOTOS UNLESS THEY ALIGN WITH YOUR BRAND.
Many people end up buying stock photos that don’t fit with their overall brand and colors. They often end up going to waste or conflict with the aesthetic of your brand.
A love note from Allison: Not sure what your design personality/aesthetic is? Take my quiz to find out!
DON'T BUY STOCK PHOTOS UNTIL YOU HAVE A BRAND AND STYLE GUIDE.
Before buying stock photos, be sure you have your brand guide set up. This includes your fonts, colors, logo and overall aesthetic. This is key to any successful visual brand and also key to finding the perfect stock photos.
After that, ask yourself what your stock photos will be used for and how many times you can repurpose. The nice thing about stock photos is they can usually be cropped to fit the most common social media picture sizes.
Another love note from Allison: If you’re looking for help with finally solidifying your colors, fonts, and overall vibe, AND professional guidance on how to design better marketing designs, check out my DIY course, Design Spirit!
6 THINGS TO LOOK FOR WHEN BUYING STOCK PHOTOS
The color of stock photos is very important if you have a brand guide and want to stick with that. Many photographers offer unique colors, so be sure to search for different hues within a given color to find exactly what you are looking for. (If you can’t find what you need in terms of color, read about custom stock photos below!)
Most stock photos come in 5x7, 4x6 or 4x4 size, which are all easy to crop in many ways. However, they don't crop as easily for larger banner sizes (i.e. FB, Twitter, Etsy, YouTube, Blog Sites). Look for the label “banner” when searching for stock photos to use for those types of images.
Stock photos vary in price. They range from free to up to several hundred dollars, depending on the type of stock photo, the brand creating it, and many other factors. Having a budget for stock photography is just as important as having a budget for design, copywriting and website development.
Having unique stock photos that you don't see everywhere is very important. We all have experienced seeing the same freebie stock photos on multiple sites or Instagram accounts, which makes that site or account less memorable. Look for unique stock photos that you haven’t seen anywhere or that you know will blend into your brand seamlessly after adding text, shapes and/or other unique elements to it.
YOUR SKILL LEVEL
Learn more about how to use the stock photos from the seller. Look for tutorials, videos and descriptions of ways to use them. Canva and Picmonkey are just as powerful as Photoshop and Illustrator in many cases, as they allow you to incorporate borders, crop and add text, all of which make the stock photos unique to your biz.
RIGHTS TO USE
WHEN TO INVEST IN CUSTOM BRAND PHOTOS
What if you can’t find any stock photos that fit the above criteria? It may be time to think about custom brand stock photos. You may need these if:
You can’t find any stock photos in your colors and the theme you're going for
You're at a point when you need to show off your website and be unique... and can afford it
You'd like custom product photos taken of items you'd like to showcase
Custom stock photos are a great investment -- they can truly become apart of your brand! Look for between 5-15 custom stock photos to reuse in different ways, from blog post images to Pinterest graphics and more. Let me know if you need some created... I'd love to work with you!
Jenna is a Twin Cities based Brand Photographer, specializing in pre-made and custom brand photos, and a video editor. She loves building beautiful images for both photo and video that makes your work stand out.