Original photos and videos are fantastic, and they can instantly create an emotional response within the viewer. But not all brands can afford expensive production and many resources for filming, processing, and editing. In this case, stock photos and videos can help you.
Stock sites work on the principle of searching through Google images, but you don’t need to communicate with the author about the rights to the image.
But content alone isn’t enough for your marketing. The real value lies in high-quality content enriched with quality images or videos. And good stock photos can bring your content to life.
Below we’ll outline 8 tips for finding great stock images and videos without photos of a group of friends awkwardly laughing or holding up random charts or giving an enthusiastic thumbs-up. We also list some free stock sources to help you find the right places. So stick with us, and we promise you’ll learn something along the way.
1. Thinks about your audience
You know your audience better than anyone, and you should always put your audience first when it comes to finding the perfect image.
Explore the accounts of influencers followed by your audience and pay attention to the design. Then select images that could look good on the influencer’s feed and don’t contradict your brand style and visual design.
For example, we tried this exercise with Damiano David’s Instagram page (@ykaaar)
2. Don’t ignore stock videos
If the budget or time for the original video production is limited, you can find a quality stock video.
Sure such videos cant replace product reviews or live videos, but they can illustrate less specific things. For example, show an image of the target audience in the video to let them understand that your brand is connected to them.
Also, stock videos are good as references – they can be used to show the client how the video will look and clearly explain the idea.
3. Avoid deep retouching and hyper-soft skin
If the retouching is too noticeable, the design will look unstylish. The skin should look like it belongs to a real human, meaning that the texture can be cleaned up, but it shouldn’t be erased.
Try to avoid deep retouching when choosing stock photos. Instead, give preference to imperfect shots that seem to be taken by accident.
4. Take a look at the illustrations
Illustrations, colleges, and animation can make ads stand out in the news feed, where photos and videos dominate.
Also, illustrations are often more credible than retouched photos of models. And for some brands, illustrations and graphic design can be the best option.
5. Avoid “stock smiles”
Fake smiles and poses like mannequins, overly active gestures, or facial expressions are “typical stock photos”. The users are growing tired of phony-looking and meaningless photos. Of course, you can always find such pictures on microstock, but you can catch more natural and lively images. To make it easier to search for quality stock photos and video, curators on stock sites create special collections.
Real people, their real smiles, sadness, or anxiety are something that readers, viewers, and users trust more than cheesy plastic feelings. The time of fake emotions has passed away, so photographers don’t ask their models to be someone else during a photo shoot, they just let them be themselves.
Let’s compare 2 stock images. The difference is obvious, isn’t it?
6. Look for real people and identify natural poses
When looking for a stock photo, keep an eye on the people in the photos. Most of us don’t sit fully upright or smile 24/7. Agree?
But it’s very common to see stock images with generic traits like these. Try to identify images where the subjects look natural and not posed.
– Do they look like they’re genuine, or are they, models?
– Are their hair, teeth, and clothes perfect?
– How realistic are their poses?
When choosing an image, look for real-world setups and subjects that a little reveal character.
7. Respect the copyrights and model release
Remember, once you’ve found your perfect photo or video, check the copyrights and license and if the people captured in the photo have agreed to use the photo of them (i.e. model release).
Yes, some stock photo sites provide “free” photos, but there might be certain terms around the use of content. For example, some licenses allow only the personal use of photos, don’t allow photo modification or require attribution to the photographer. So, be sure to read the license carefully to ensure that the content is suitable for your use.
8. Keep your brand’s visual style
To keep your brand’s visual style consistent and recognizable, you need stock images and videos tailored to it.
There is a wide range of tips to help you change and adapt stock images to your visual style. And we want to share some with you.
1. Add text and your signature font
For example, our marketing team sometimes uses stock images as feature images on Instagram pages.
Here’s an example below:
2. Adjust the colors
Try to use colors familiar to your brand to make a stock photo feel closely aligned with your business.
You can also pay attention to trending palettes. For example, explore the Pantone Color Institute or do your research. Another way is to use filters to find the images that match your brand’s color palette or search for similar style pictures through the reverse search. These features are available on Pinterest, Google Images, or Everypixel.
3. Crop the image
If you want to make an accent on a specific part of a stock photo, you can crop it to discard the unnecessary portions of the image.
Our design team pulled together a guide to the great free resources to help you find the perfect images and videos for your blog.
Over 2.5 million+ high-quality stock images, videos, and music are shared by our talented community.
It is a free stock photo site with a community of photographers and videographers generously donating their work for everyone to download and use, royalty-free.
Stock photo site powered by a community of photographers, all uploading free stock pics for you to download and use.
Diverse and inclusive stock photos, beautiful, high-res photos of black and brown people, for free.
Promising stock photos by a «movie-scale crew», Moose brings you options of people, ethnicity, style, fashion, and more.
A good source for free CC0, do-what-you-want-with stock photos. Browse and download thousands of copyright-free stock images. No attribution is required.
Royalty-free photographs by subject, photographer, or even camera are all completely free to download and use for personal or commercial use.
Burst is a free stock photo platform powered by Shopify that brings you free, high-resolution images for your projects.
Another royalty-free CC0 resource with a particular focus on nature stock photos and videos.
10. New Old Stock
Vintage photos from the public archives. Free of known copyright restrictions. Recapturing History.
11. Barn Images
Beautiful high-resolution photography for everyone. Free for personal and commercial use.
12. ISO Republic
ISO is a one-stop shop for all your visual needs, promoting thousands of free and high-resolution stock images and videos.
So stock photos, if used correctly, can be so useful for your content marketing. We hope you found this guide helpful for your biggest gains in content marketing and blogging.
To sum up, 3 main questions to answer while choosing the picture are:
– Is it high-quality?
– Does it convey the right emotions and message?
– Does it fit into your brand’s visual strategy?
Use this guide to find relevant images that add value to your content.