July 6, 2021
We’ve all seen those gorgeous posed photos of our fav influencers and brand owners. The ones where they’re sitting at their perfect desk or in an amazing coffee shop. Perfectly coiffed and with professional makeup.
And then… there’s the rest of us. Sure, we have a few cute pictures of ourselves or our team, but we can’t get custom brand photos taken every couple of months.
Let’s be real: custom brand photography can be really expensive, and sometimes shooting your own image content just doesn’t turn out the way you intended. It’s cool to just leave it to the professionals, friends.
That’s why some amazing folks have created stock photography.
Nowadays, stock imagery and even stock photo memberships offer high quality, gorgeous, and unique photos. There are so many now that it’s easy to find something that’s on-brand and that looks similar to your own brand photos (or what you wished your brand photos looked like).
Best of all: You can use them anywhere. There’s nothing wrong with using stock photos on your websites, social media, lead pages, and ads. They’re more likely to get engagement when the content is appropriate and they can make even simple designs look really polished.
Psst… in The Balanced Brand Lab Kit, we cover how to choose the right photo style based on your brand.
But when you want to use stock photos as more than just photos, how do you choose them? If you know you’re going to create a graphic with a text overlay, or use it as part of an ad, banner, video thumbnail, or other asset, there are a few things to look for!
Because there are so many stock photo options out there, let’s talk for a minute about what you can do to whittle down your options when you’re looking for something to use as a website banner, ad graphic, or Instagram carousel cover.
If you know you’re going to use a stock photo for a graphic, look for:
We also know that, while some free sites like Unsplash are super popular, paying for a super affordable stock photo membership can really help diversify your stock photo pool (and will generally be more consistent in terms of quality, style, lighting, etc!). It can also ensure that you’re not using the same stock photo others are.
Here are some examples of great candidates from Social Squares:
Here are some examples of great candidates from ColorJoy Stock:
Great, so now you know why stock photography rocks. You know how to find stock photos that work for your future graphics. Now, let’s talk about how to add text and graphics to them.
You can use stock photos as the base for things like social media graphics, PDF images, blog images, and more. This usually entails adding some text boxes to the image, or formatting it so it fits in your design.
Here’s the rub, though. We all feel tempted to overlay text on our images — it makes your designs look really clean and like your photos were made for you and the space they live in. However, most stock images don’t leave you a ton of space to fit text into an Instagram story ad, Facebook ad, or web banner. So, what do most people do? Stick a rectangle on top. *Cringe* That just looks messy and unprofessional.
So below, Design Lab owner and lead designer Nicole Yang wants to show you her trick for making these stock images work for you by increasing the whitespace available to you. This way, you can use them wherever you need.
(Bonus! No Photoshop needed!)
Using semi-transparent gradients to transition your graphics from image to solid color is so easy and gives your stock images way more uses. Just set a background color that matches the background color of your image, and set your gradient to transition from 100% opacity of that background color to 0% opacity of that color.
As long as you’re maintaining the integrity of the image, you can use this trick in so many ways — even photos you take yourself that might not have enough space! Experiment with this a little until you feel like a master, and your graphics and web pages will look even more polished.
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