How to Use Stock Photography Successfully

Using stock photography can greatly improve your website or project, but if used improperly, stock images can ruin the message you’re trying to convey. There is a fine balance in using stock photography, and it’s important to know the potential pitfalls you can stumble into.

When to Use Stock Photography

Using professional and unique photographs, like the one above, can instantly make your website look credible, and stock images are a way to achieve this look without breaking the bank. Don’t sacrifice quality if you can’t afford to hire a professional photographer; using poor photos will instantly deter potential viewers form your website.

Stock images can be purchased at a fraction of the cost of professionally commissioned photos; Shutterstock has various pricing models, but one of the most popular is 25 image downloads per day for a 3 month period for $709. If you only need a couple of images, you can purchase five photos for $49. Paying $49 for five professional photos is definitely worth the return if it means attracting more respectable viewers.

Potential Pitfalls

We’ve all seen terribly used stock images before, and it’s important to know what to avoid, so your website doesn’t end up looking cliché and poorly designed.

Avoid cliché and overused images
Unfortunately, there are loads of overused stock photos, and your website can instantly look corny and impersonal if you use these images. Below are three of the most commonly used images you need to avoid:

The Handshake

The common handshake image is usually used to communicate teamwork and cooperation, which is a great value to represent on your website; however, using such a cliché image will only make your website look stale and impersonal.

If you’re interested in communicating the teamwork you value in your business, consider using a less conventional image, like the one below.

The On-Call Businessperson
This image appears on countless websites and advertisements, but it’s very easy to tell the photo is stock. The image is overly posed, and very generic looking, but is meant to communicate friendly service.

If you want to show your website viewers that you have friendly service, try going for a more creative route, like the photo below.

The Seedling
This stock photo is all over the internet, and is used to represent growth and success, but unless you’re specifically discussing the growth of a tree, you should not use this image.

If you want to show your website viewers that you’re interested in personal development and growth, try using an image that shows a more of a creative aspect. The image below combines a human figure with a tree, which is a more unique spin on the seedling image.

Irrelevant Images
One of the greatest stock photo pitfalls people fall into is using irrelevant images. Of course adding images to your website is the best way to add visual appeal and visual interest, but using irrelevant images will look like you did a sloppy job putting your site together. Images will only help your website if they are relevant and high quality. You always want your photos to represent your business, values, and goals as closely as possible.

Stock photography can be a huge help to small businesses or new website creators, as it can add visual interest without a high cost, but it’s important to tread carefully when using stock images. Don’t overly use stock images, and think carefully about what you want each image to communicate.

Guest Author
James Daugherty
 is a blogger from the Pacific Northwest. He enjoys outdoor photography and loves snowboarding during the winter and cycling during the summer.


Kerry Garrison lives in Castle Rock, Colorado with his wife and two dogs. With 10 years of experience shooting products and 5 years of experience in the wedding industry, Kerry brings a good deal of technical know-how and can explain topics in easy-to-understand terms.

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2 Responses

  1. Stock Images says:

    Nice collection of stock images.

  2. Stock images are being used by many companies for designing their website. But it is essential to know how to use proper images that can add value to your website and increase the number of visitors. Imagination is the key to create beautiful images and you can use this key to use innovative stock images for your site. Very nice suggestions have been provided by the author here that will surely help us regarding the use of stock images.

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