5 tips to select stock photos that aren’t cheesy

4 minute read
5 tips to select stock photos that aren’t cheesy

Stock photos can be incredibly helpful in your digital marketing efforts, but are the stock images you’re using look like obvious stock photos?

Your visuals matter. When people hear information, they’re likely to remember only 10 percent of that information three days later, but if a relevant image is paired with that same information, people retained 65 percent of it three days later.

In addition, posts with images get 650 percent more engagement than posts with only text, and tweets with photography receive 18 percent greater clicks, 89 percent more favorites and 150 percent more retweets.

However, design and visual content is the biggest challenge for about 24 percent of content marketers.

Enter stock photos. Stock images are generic, previously created photos, illustrations and icons that are licensed for specific uses. Some are free, while others cost a fee or are part of a paid subscription plan.

Their use can save you time and effort, but it’s critical that you’re selecting the right stock photos for your digital marketing efforts. There’s a real danger of obvious stock photos appearing cheesy and inauthentic, which can turn off potential customers. 

The following are five tips to select stock photos that aren’t cheesy.

Keep the context top of mind

Before you even begin searching for a stock photo to use, fully understand exactly what you’re going to use that image for. Consider:

  • Are you using it in digital or print?
  • What surrounding colors are involved?
  • What shape or orientation would work best?

Knowing exactly what you’re looking before you get started will save you a lot of wasted effort.

Get a little abstract

Subtle images can go a long way. You don’t have to be super literal when searching for the perfect stock photo. 

So, think outside the box. Going more abstract can be a great way to find a visual that will feel more unique while complementing the surrounding content it’s being used in.

Avoid cheesy smiles

Simply put, some of the most identifiable stock photos are those of super happy businesspeople interacting in posed ways, especially when they’re photoshopped onto a somewhat blank background. 

And they’re not just identifiable because of their contrived aesthetic. They’re also extremely overused. 

Oftentimes, going with more natural poses and realistic postures will feel more authentic, especially if there are at least two people interacting with each other.

Try to avoid a severe lack of personality, the use of way-too-literal tropes and wide-angle shots that are distant from the subjects in the frame. Inauthentic-appearing stock photos often have these characteristics.

Use your judgment. If you see an image that technically works but hits you as feeling fake, keep looking.

Look to direct the viewer’s eye

It’s all about positioning. Consider a magazine article layout, where the image fills the entire page, but the text aligns to the left, while a person (or animal or object) is to the right.

Bonus points if that person in this example is looking toward or pointing to the article text.

You can apply this idea to any stock photo usage, whether it’s text on a social media image or something else. It’s all about directing your viewer’s eye.

Keep experimenting

Remember that there is no science behind selecting the perfect stock photo for your brand. Continue experimenting with different images. Be sure to measure your results so that you know what types of images are working and which are not.

Just keep your brand identity and target audience in mind.

In conclusion

Stock photos have definitely earned a bad reputation over the years, but a lot of that reputation results from marketers and others not knowing how to find stock photos that are unique and authentic-looking. Truthfully, stock photos can be just as genuine and impactful. You just need to invest the time in your search to find the right ones for your brand.

While you’re thinking about visuals, check out these six ways that visuals can increase email conversions.

As you begin to search for more authentic stock photos, consider optimizing the digital marketing process that you’re using them in, such as automation, audience segmentation and enhanced email marketing capabilities, to name a few. DailyStory can help. Schedule your free demo with us today.

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