3 Things to Avoid When Using Stock Photography

3 Things to Avoid When Using Stock Photography

Stock photography and stock video don’t have the best name in the creative industries. If used poorly they can look cheap, clichéd, and unprofessional, and that’s the last thing you want for your marketing efforts. This doesn’t mean you should write stock photos off completely – they are great when you need to use an effective image or video quickly on a tight budget. To make the most out of stock imagery, follow these tips to help you avoid the most common pitfalls.

Skimping on Quality

As mentioned previously, stock photographs are great when you’re on a budget. However, it’s important to remember that the cheapest image isn’t always the best. With stock photography and footage, you pay for quality. You’ve already saved by not commissioning a custom image, paying a little more for a high resolution photograph will get you more bang for your buck, and ensure you have stock videos as well. Think outside the box and try to come up a unique idea that portrays your business well.

Poor Editing

There is really great photo editing software available today, but don’t overdo it. The worst offences committed by overeager editors include poor or unnatural cropping, bad clipping (removing an image from its original background), cloning images to extend them, and worst of all, pasting products into photos. Be careful with your editing and get someone to cast an eye over your efforts before you let them loose on the public.

Using Stock Imagery When You Could Take a Photo Yourself

Finally don’t over use stock photographs. If you’re taking the trouble to design a website or market your business, and you have the capability to capture the perfect image, do it. The right photograph is a means of communicating in an instant what your brand is all about, and sometimes a custom image is the best way to do this. A stock photograph is only ever going to be a close approximation of your original idea, and it’s important to remember that it can be bought, and used by anyone.

About the Author: Rob Toledo is a designer/marketer residing in Seattle. He loves all things CSS3, hates IE7, and can be reached on Twitter @stentontoledo

Comments for this post

  • October 15, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    I agree that stock photos are handy and I definitely have their place in our society.

    As a photographer however I am very grateful that many corporations are starting to veer away from generic stock photography. Of course this is a very slow process and not nearly fast enough for me but it is what it is as they say.

    Anyway thank you for sharing the post and have yourself a happy day,


  • October 22, 2012 at 4:07 pm

    Stock photography has its pluses and makes sense to use for typical projects, but when it comes to prime stories or original content it is best to shoot original photos – I think news sites offer the best example of this.

  • October 23, 2012 at 5:43 pm

    Absolutely good points. If you are taking photos of items you intend to sell, or of yourself and/or employees for your site or blog it is best to get a professional photographer if you can. Professional images just lend a whole different feel than stock images or amateur photos do. Not that anything is wrong with using either of those, but if you want to look truly professional in your business you can’t beat the work of a good photographer.

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