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Introduction to Stock Photography
What are Stock Photos, and How are They Used?
If you’re on the hunt for high-quality images for your website, you might have considered stock photos. These are professionally taken photographs that you can license and use to enhance your work, be it for commercial or personal endeavors. It’s a practical alternative to arranging a customized photoshoot, especially when resources are limited.
Stock photos are widely utilized across various mediums— websites, brochures, presentations, social media graphics, and ads, offering a quick solution to enrich any project visually. With a plethora of choices available, it’s relatively easy to find an image that aligns with your vision and conveys your message effectively.
But that doesn’t mean you can just copy and paste something that shows up in a Google Image search for your website! You must make sure that you have permission to use each one of your images for different platforms and purposes. Even if you are paying to use a stock photo, check that it comes with a commercial license, extended commercial license, or whatever it is you need for your website or project.
Whether you’re contemplating professional photos, sifting through free stock options, or evaluating paid ones, my goal is to help you find the perfect stock photos for your brand and website.
The Pros and Cons of Using Stock Photos vs. Hiring a Professional Photographer
Benefits of Stock Photography
- More affordable than custom photography
- Save time compared to organizing a photoshoot
- Massive selection to choose from
Downsides of Stock Photography
- Less unique/original than custom photos
- Risk of using the same generic images as competitors
- May not perfectly match your brand aesthetics
Benefits of Professional Photography
- Completely customized photos tailored to your brand
- Unique images that competitors won’t have access to
- Helps establish a consistent brand aesthetic
Downsides of Professional Photography
- More expensive than stock photography
- Time intensive to plan the photoshoot
- Limited selection to choose from
Free Stock Photo Platforms
While hiring a professional photographer or purchasing stock photos from a premium site can provide high-quality and unique images, these options come at a cost. If you’re on a tight budget or just need a few basic images, free stock photo sites can be a good option.
Overview of Popular Free Stock Photo Sites
Free stock photo sites offer royalty-free images that can be used for both personal and commercial projects. The main downside is that the selection is more limited compared to paid stock photo sites. The photos also tend to be more generic since they are available for anyone to use.
Some popular free stock photo sites include:
The selection on free sites may not always be robust or print-quality, but they can work well for website images, digital ads, or social media posts. Just be cautious about overusing the same free stock images that appear on many sites.
Paid Stock Photo Solutions
Overview of Premium Stock Photo Sites
Premium paid stock photo sites offer a vast library of stock photos, vectors, and videos that are licensed for commercial use.
Some popular options include:
- Shutterstock – Offers a massive library of photos, vectors, videos, and music. License costs vary based on image size and usage.
- Getty Images – Known for its extensive collection of premium, editorial images. Different licensing models are available.
- iStock – Owned by Getty Images, iStock also provides millions of photos, vectors, videos and more.
The benefit of paid stock photo sites is having access to nearly any type of high-quality photo you can imagine. You’ll also typically have more flexibility in how you are able to use the images commercially depending on the license.
The tradeoff is that licensing costs can add up, especially if you need lots of stock media. This is where subscription plans can offer better value compared to paying per image.
Benefits of Subscription Stock Photo Sites for Entrepreneurs
While premium stock photo sites can provide high-quality images, the per image licensing fees can really add up, especially if you need photos regularly for your business or creative projects.
This is where subscription-based stock photo sites shine for the value they provide.
With a subscription stock photo site, you pay an affordable monthly or annual membership fee and then have access to download a set number of images per month. This model is perfect for bloggers, social media managers, web designers, publishers, and other creatives who need fresh visual content on a regular basis.
Below I’ll highlight some of my favorite subscription stock photo sites that are great options for small business owners and digital entrepreneurs on a budget.
My favorite stock photo subscription is Ivory Mix because it’s so much more than just a stock photo membership! The free level of the membership includes hundreds of templates, photos, and business strategies with new downloads each month. And the paid Profitable Content Membership has thousands and thousands of content plans, templates, stock photos, masterclasses, and more.
Ivory Mix is a top choice for fashion, lifestyle, and business photos featuring diversity, female empowerment, and body positivity. Their collection captures authentic stock photos of real people from all backgrounds.
You’ll notice photos from the Ivory Mix “Navy and Mustard Bosses” photo collection throughout my site and in my digital products.
Depositphotos likely offers the most diverse selection of photos in this post, since their photos appeal to more than female entrepreneurs. You can sign up for a subscription (monthly or annual), or you can purchase a number of images ‘on-demand’.
Depositphotos is the first place I look for stock photos for my blog since they have millions of photos, graphics, and videos to choose from. And with a media collection that large, you know their search and filter system is top notch.
Now let me share my favorite pro tip with you: From time to time, Depositphotos offers 100 photos for a VERY reasonable price on AppSumo. You can check to see if this deal is currently going on, and if it’s not, I recommend signing up for updates from AppSumo so you can be the first to know when it’s back. But a bit of warning… AppSumo is an addicting site for all of its software deals. You’ve been warned!
Wow, Creative Market has so much great content beyond stock photos! I’ve used photos from their enormous collection on websites I’ve built, and it’s my go-to site for custom fonts for websites and other digital products.
Creative Market offers different levels of their monthly membership, giving you credits to spend on any items in the market at a discount. My favorite part of Creative Market’s Membership, other than a percentage off each purchase with membership credits, is the monthly Design Drop. It’s such a great opportunity to build a library of design assets from graphics to templates to font bundles.
Stocklane brings luxury to your brand with their high-end, editorial-style images, tailored for the ambitious woman entrepreneur. They are passionate about empowering women, providing a constant stream of stunning images to enhance their brands, allowing them to create successful and profitable lifestyle ventures.
The affordable Capsule Membership offers instant access to carefully curated collections, with new full-resolution downloads each month. This ensures your content stays fresh and seasonal, and aligns perfectly with your brand’s aesthetic and values.
For the lifestyle entrepreneur with big visions and goals, Stocklane is committed to helping you communicate and connect effectively. Their strategic and stylish images are designed to see you and your business thrive!
Haute Stock stands out as a collective masterpiece of creative professionals, all bound by a shared passion for photography, design, and a desire to see women triumph in business and life. They are devoted to offering commercial-quality imagery and cutting-edge marketing advice that’s affordable, making it an ideal choice for solopreneurs and small businesses.
The Haute Stock Membership gifts you with exclusive access to premium stock photos, videos, and marketing templates, designed to help you build a brand, launch offers, and attract the right audience with ease.
Navigating their extensive library is a breeze, allowing you to set your brand colors for quick filtering, explore professionally curated mood boards, browse by industry-related categories, or search by keyword. With thousands of premium images at your fingertips, creating an aesthetic that elevates your brand has never been easier.
She Bold Stock is a treasure trove of over 6,000 stock photos and 100+ stock videos designed to help women stand out with confidence in their respective fields. The She Bold Stock Membership comes with access to numerous collections, from neutral and feminine to vibrant, allowing brands to tailor their visual narratives.
Their affordable membership also includes customizable Canva templates for every social media platform. Additionally, the membership provides ‘done for you’ lead magnet templates, allowing brands to focus on sharing their expertise through workbooks, webinars, and presentations.
The uniqueness of She Bold Stock lies in its commitment to fostering confidence and determination among women. She Bold Stock ensures that women can concentrate on what they do best, providing the visuals that allow their personalities to shine through.
Finding the Right Stock Photos for Your Website
With so many stock photo options available, it can be overwhelming to figure out which images will work best for your particular brand and website. Follow these tips to choose and utilize stock photos effectively.
Tips for Choosing Stock Photos That Fit Your Brand
- Look for images that align with your brand colors and style. A cohesive aesthetic will look more polished.
- Consider the emotions and lifestyle you want to convey. Stock photos are a subtle way to communicate your brand’s values, personality and vibe.
- Model diversity is important. Choose photos that represent your target audience so customers feel seen.
- Make sure image quality and resolution will work for its intended purpose, like web or print.
- Look for authentic moments vs overly posed or generic shots to help your brand stand out.
- Stock photos don’t have to be literal. More abstract images can reinforce emotions and ideas.
How to Edit Stock Photos to Make Them Look More Unique
- Try different crops to create new compositions. Cropping in close can give a dramatic effect.
- Adjust brightness, contrast, hues to fit your color scheme. Photos will coordinate better with your website design.
- Overlay textures or graphics like stickers/frames to tie images into your style.
- Add stylized filters to give a cohesive, signature look across photos.
Using Stock Photos Effectively Alongside Custom Photos
- Use stock photos for supplementary purposes, not main hero shots. Those should be custom.
- Pair stock photos with custom images in galleries and albums to break up visual repetition.
- Maintain a consistent editing style across stock and custom photos for a cohesive look.
Elevate Your Website with High-Quality Stock Photos
Finding the right stock photos for your website or creative projects doesn’t have to be a daunting or expensive process. Start by determining whether free stock photos can meet your needs or if a paid subscription site would be worthwhile for you based on the volume and type of images you require.
Subscription-based stock photo services offer excellent value, variety, and high-quality photos for businesses and creatives on a budget. Sites like Ivory Mix, Depositphotos, and Creative Market make it easy to access stylish, relevant images that you can use to take your content to the next level.
Remember to choose stock photos that align with your brand aesthetic and target audience. The imagery you use is part of how you communicate your brand’s story and identity. With the right stock photos that fit your vibe, you can reinforce your messaging and connect on a deeper level with customers.
Most stock photo subscriptions offer select free images so you can get a feel for their collections. Take the time to explore the stock photo sites mentioned in this post today! Once you find options that resonate with your vision, you’ll gain access to endless inspiration to enhance your website and content.