4 tips for selecting images when stock photography is your only option

Stock Imagery Selection Tips

Before we get into this article, we must firmly state, that when it comes time to implement photography into a website or printed collateral, we always recommend hiring an experienced photographer. Truly unique, professional shots immediately upgrade a brand’s credibility while increasing trust toward their business.

Unfortunately, there are several unhappy scenarios in which stock photography is the only option. Overextended budgets and underestimated timelines are just two reasons why a company must turn to this necessary ‘evil’.

Stock photography is a supply of photographs, which are licensed for specific uses.

Everybody, at one time or another, has encountered a typical skin-crawlingly American ‘stock photography’ shot. Caucasian lead characters with luminous teeth, wearing personality-neutral light blue or pastel shirts and grey suits, over-the-moon happy and positioned in a painfully manufactured stance.

Stock Photography Bad

Yep, that’s the one; the internet is littered with them.

Selecting ‘usable’ stock photography is an art form. To generate a coherent message throughout a brand, all visuals must have a healthy level of aesthetic consistency. Plus, the images must appear modern, well lit, on-brand, not too cheesy and, most importantly, authentic! If a brand fails to achieve these shots, well…

Stock Photography Bad

I think this man’s expression sums up the quality of these photos.

Stock Photography Bad Face

Here are 4 tips that will guide you through the volatile minefield that is a stock photography website.

Use search filters

It might sound obvious, but the image selection filters are there for a reason. This function is useful when searching for images with a landscape orientation for website headers, accurate brand colours and particular ethnicity, gender or age criteria for stock models. Be specific. Precise search filters help eliminate thousands of unsuitable images.

Alternate your keyword search

Sometimes even the most longwinded searches, through pages upon pages of stock images, can be fruitless. The trick can often be tweaking or updating your keywords. Instead of searching for ‘business meeting’, change the words to ‘office presentation’ or ‘corporate conference’. Substituting these keywords will generally produce a range of alternate options.

Search through contributor collections

One of the best ways to maintain a consistent flow through your imagery is to find a selection of images from an image contributor (or artist). These collections typically have a constant style and steady lighting, and often use the same models throughout their portfolio. First, find a shot that you love, then locate the contributor, then rummage through their wares; you’ll often find a treasure trove of consistent brand-related images.

Search by specific models

Similarly, you can often browse specific models. If you are lucky enough to locate your perfect brand ambassador (ideal ethnicity, gender and age) you can then search through shots of the same model and review their entire portfolio.

In Summary

The stock image search process can be frustrating if you don’t know what you’re looking for. We find that creating a basic plan, incorporating these tips, is the most efficient way to track down suitable images for your brand. But, if it all becomes too much, the team at Argon have had years of combing stock websites and are happy to come to your aid.

Like this article? Feel free to share it.

Let's start a conversation

Contact us today if you have any questions or would like to start the journey. Our friendly and experienced team are here to help!

Download our free guide

5 simple strategies to increase your website’s conversion rate

Ready to begin?

Start the Journey