Knowing When To Use Stock Photos – Design Genie Tips

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Knowing When To Use Stock Photos – Design Genie Tips

Most graphic designers will look at you with terror at the mention of using “Stock Photos”. Stock photography is like buying those new shoes that everyone is talking about. They are stylish and on-trend, but no matter how great they look, you won’t be the only person with them.

Stock imagery can be purchased online for a price that is cheaper than paying for a professional, unique photo-shoot solely for your brand. Because of this, stock photos are considered a “cheapskates way out”.

There are hundreds of sites offering images for a price, however from experience, I would recommend choosing from these sites below:

  • Shutter Stock– Search over 233,000,000 royalty-free images, video clips, and music tracks.
  • Picography– 10 free photos when you sign up
  • IStock Photo– Easy to search on
  • Negative Space– 1 Month Free Trial
  • Getty Images– A range of choice, from corporate to creative images, videos and music
  • Pixa Bay– Over 1 million+ high-quality stock images and videos shared within a community
  • Adobe Stock– a monthly subscription with access to a diverse collection of high resolution, royalty-free stock images, illustrations and videos


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When is it appropriate to use stock images?

These are some of the times when it may be appropriate for your business to utilise the benefits of stock imagery in your marketing.

  • When doing mock-ups and storyboarding for future campaigns or promotions.

As a designer or advertiser, mock-up designs are not a stranger to us. The final design that the public sees is just the tip of the iceberg. Behind the scenes, there is endless planning, meetings, and mock-up designs where we find out what works and what doesn’t, and quite frankly, what the client is looking for. It makes sense to use stock imagery throughout this process, because it is a quick and efficient way to show your design development, without having to outsource a photographer or video production company to produce a mock-up.

  • For brochures and smaller jobs with little media attention, stock can be okay.

A lot of businesses do use stock images for brochures, or smaller campaigns with lesser media coverage. If you are a start-up business with not a lot of funding, it can be a quick way to get your first brochures or ad out there. However, if you can use your own high-quality images, then I would highly recommend using them instead of stock photos if you can.

  • If you have a limited budget and no access to a decent camera, then exceptions can be made

I (speaking for all designers out there, or most anyway) understand that not everyone can afford to spend millions of pounds on design or advertising. Not everyone owns a top of the range camera, not everyone is trained to edit images on Adobe. Exceptions can be made if needed. Just be aware of using stock images that look “the same as the company next door.”


When Not To Use Stock Images

There are also times when using stock images is more like to do harm to your business than bring benefits. Discover some in the following section

  • Do not use stock images to tell your brand story.

The images are not yours, so how can they tell an honest story about your company? Say you’re browsing a website, you head to the “About Us” section, its full of happy, samey, stock-like images. Are you going to trust that this company is telling the truth? This really is a pet hate of mine, please, when describing your company story, USE YOUR OWN IMAGES. If you are to use them on your webpage at all, try and pimp them up with your logo or something related to your business. An easy-to-use software like Canva is perfect for this.

  • Do not use them without paying for them.

You would be surprised how many companies have been caught out doing this. And yes, they have been sued significant amounts due to their “crafty” bypass of the rules.

This year, in particular, photographers are using more online tools to find people or businesses “image stealing”. These tools are linked to software’s such as Google Penguin and can result in your website or blog being bypassed by search engines, all because you weren’t willing to pay a small amount?

  • Social Media day-to-day management.

Using stock photos will not produce a truthful day-to-day insight into what goes on in your business. They are not unique, lack originality, and can be bought by anyone. If you are using

  • Do not use them for any final Ad Campaigns about your products.

You need to show original images in the final campaigns. You wouldn’t steal another company’s logo to represent your company, so why would you “steal” images to stand at the forefront of your marketing?


Bringing it all together

Some may argue that stock images are excellent. But it really does depend on the situation at hand and the design you are creating. The moral of the story, however, is if you are planning to use stock images, make sure you pay for them and use them appropriately! Don’t hesitate to contact us for bespoke graphic designs for images to your website and advertising online and offline. We’d be happy to help.


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