How to Select Stock Photography

Written by | November 20, 2012 | Posted in Process

In my last post, I presented the case for hiring a professional photographer. I still believe this is the best option for most businesses, but I also realize that sometimes that isn’t always possible. Luckily, there are some great resources out there for stock photography, if you’ll only follow a few simple rules:

1. Consider what type of photos would be appropriate for your business.
Photos should not be treated as merely objects to fill space on your site, they should support your overall message as a company. A pretty photo of a beach is nice, but makes no sense on your accounting website. It would be better to find images related to your industry, either in a direct or indirect way. Sometimes an abstract theme may work – maybe a play on words – like the name of your company or your business’ location – or symbols and industry-related objects.

2. Try to choose photos that resemble your geographical region.
If you’re looking for appropriate photos, remember – things like palm trees in the background are a dead giveaway that this can’t actually be a photo of your employees in Iowa. Even things like similar architecture of homes and buildings compared to your area can help photos feel more genuine and local.

3. Stick to a similar style of photography throughout.
Think about the amount of light, the quality of color, and consistency of content. For example, it would be a poor decision to choose several photos of similar content, but one taken in broad daylight, one in dark indoor light, and a third isolated on a white background. When at all possible, try to see if there are multiple photos available that were taken by the same photographer. In most cases, the photographer’s style will be similar throughout their body of work, helping your photos work together as a cohesive set.

4. Try to choose photos that aren’t too “stocky.”
This is a difficult concept to explain, and I can’t really say what it is about a photo that sometimes gives it away as being stock. But there is a certain quality – that “this could be the fake photo of a smiling family that comes in a tabletop picture frame” feel, that we definitely want to avoid. Also, don’t choose photos that you’ve seen used in another place. If you recognize a stock model from a cereal box, then you don’t want her representing your company on your website.

5. Don’t just grab photos from Google!
This should go without saying, but there are some serious copyright infringements you could run into by swiping photos from someone else’s site. Don’t do it.

6. Let us help you out.
At Cuberis, we’re happy to suggest photos for clients’ websites. We can look through our own stock library, perform a stock search for you, or you can browse our most used source for stock photos, thinkstockphotos.com. We’ll be happy to offer our advice on what photos will and won’t work, and most importantly, how to avoid that mysterious “stocky” quality.