5 Tips for Using Stock Photos

photo by deepwarren

We’re sure that some of you have a photography budget so that you can pay someone to take just the pictures you need to make the images on your blog fit exactly the way you want them too. For the rest of us, we often resort to stock photos. But even this has some rules the need to be followed. Don’t worry, we’ll guide you through the process.

If there’s anything we miss, or if you have some great tips for using stock photos, please leave them in the comment section.

1. Remember Your Brand
This is the first rule because often we get excited about a new medium, a tip we learned, or an opportunity to try a new procedure. In doing so, we sometimes stray from our original brand. This is something that you should consider from the beginning. If you’re putting forth a serious face for your company, maybe cats in straw hats aren’t the best photos for your column. On the other hand, if you are a fun and upbeat company be sure that the photos you use represent that. Use fewer corporate executives in suits and more, well, cats in straw hats.

2. Use Photos Properly
You know you shouldn’t just grab a photo from a Google image and plop it into your blog, though a lot of people do just that! You want to use photos that have a Creative Commons License. What that means is that, as a photographer, you want to allow people to use your photos but you don’t want companies to be able to sell them. What the photographer does want is credit.

You can find photos with a creative commons license using many different sources. We use Flickr and choose the advanced search options to look for photos with the creative commons license. Then, we just link the photos back to their source.

3. Common License Photos Don’t Have to Be Common
If you need a photo of a monkey, don’t choose the first one you find. Or even the first 10 you find. Dig a little deeper. Most photo sites rank according to popularity, which means that the first round of photos are the ones others are using. That group could be your competition!

Go a little deeper in, find something with a little more individuality. But you don’t have to stop there. Alter the photos that you do use. You can crop them, or change them to black and white. There’s no limit to what you can do. Just be sure to check the license of the photo to be sure alterations are allowable.

4. Make Sure the Photos Fit the Topic
Just because you CAN use a photo doesn’t mean that you SHOULD use a photo. Not only do you need to make sure your image fits your brand, but it needs to fit your subject as well. A confusing picture will leave your readers scratching their heads.

5. Don’t Use the Same Boring Images
We’ve seen enough families running on the beach, or two executives shaking hands, or a woman holding her baby. These images are as cliche as Star Wars quotes. Be creative and come up with something that will grab the reader’s attention and offer a little entertainment value.

Need some more? Here are a few links that will help you!

This is the Advanced Search page of Flickr. You can find just about anything you need.

 Creative Commons Search
This site is free and actually allows you to search for photos and music using multiple sites.