In fact, we put together a list of 25 FREE STOCK PHOTO SITES. Check it out and let us know which are your favorites! (Did we miss any on your list of go-to stock photo sites? lets us know in the comments below!)
Five Problems With Stock Images
There’s nothing wrong with using stock images—even free ones—on your website or blog, but you must be careful. Here are five problems with using stock photography.
Stock Photos Can Be Cliché
You’ve seen them… A couple of business people shaking hands. A smiling man or (typically) woman with a headset ready to take your call. Women laughing alone with a salad.
Clichés don’t sell. They reduce your credibility. Avoid them. Instead, think outside the box to identify more clever images to illustrate your point. (And remember: images are not just for decoration. They should provide additional meaning and support to your content!)
Stock Photos Can Be Overused
Think you are the only one using that awesome stock photo (or one like it)? Drag an image to the Google search bar to find out everywhere that image is used. You can also use Tin Eye to reverse search images.
If you are going to use stock photos, find ones that are not used everywhere on the internet. Look around in the lesser-known free stock photo sites listed in our 25 Free Stock Photo Site Resource Guide to locate high quality stock photos that not everyone is using.
Stock Photos Are Not Specific To You Or Your Brand
Stock photos are typically a vague representation of a mood, feeling, concept, situation, emotion, etc., and can be used in a variety of situations by a variety of people and businesses. Using a “close enough” approach may work in some circumstances, but original photography usually will provide a better and more tailored experience for your customers.
Stock Photos Can Cause A Negative Association
This is an interesting thought from ConversationXL.com:
“If the stock photo you’re using is at all similar to another website that created a negative experience for the visitor, subconsciously, they’re projecting their negative experiences onto your stock photograph, reducing trust & adding friction to the process.”
This, of course, could happen with original photographs, too. But there is something about many stock photographs (especially corporate/business ones) that can give your customers a queasy feeling—like if that clichéd customer service lady stock photo you are using on your greeting card company website is seen by a potential customer who saw the same clichéd customer service lady stock photo on their bankruptcy lawyer’s site.
Definitely not an association you want your customers to make.
Quality Can Be Hit Or Miss
While you can find some pretty nice free stock photos for your website or blog, you may have to wade through many so-so collections to get there. Find the gems, and don’t settle for “so-so.”
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Stock Photography’s Biggest Benefits? Price and Immediate Availability
Setting up your own photo shoot can cost hundreds to thousands of dollars and take days or weeks to complete. To avoid the cost of hiring outside photographers, you could of course learn the art of photography , but becoming a good photographer can take time.
So when you don’t have the time or the budget, the only option typically is to select photos from a stock image site.
The biggest benefit of using free stock photography is, of course, the fact that it is FREE. As we said earlier, paid stock photo sites most times offer better quality images than their free counterparts, but prices vary widely depending on the site and image. Paid stock images can be expensive, especially if you are just starting out or on a tight budget.
The other big benefit to using stock photos, whether paid or free, is that stock photos are available for immediate download and use—a huge benefit if you are on a tight timeline. And if you ARE planning an original photoshoot, stock images are perfect as placeholder images for your project, giving you (or your clients) a good idea of what the creative layout will look like.
So… Can You Find Nice Stock Photos For Your Website Or Blog?
Problems aside, if you dig, you can find some darn good free stock images, like these beauties:
Tip: Assuming the image license allows it (and you are proficient with Photoshop), you can manipulate and modify stock photos to make them fit with your brand, with your content, and with the expectations of your customers. Crop. Adjust colors. Combine images. Use your imagination and BE CREATIVE!
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THE BOTTOM LINE: When using stock images, remember to be creative and peruse many sites (check out our list of 25 Stock Photo Sites) before selecting the winning photo. Don’t settle for a cliché. Don’t settle for so-so. And remember: with everything you do, including selecting stock images, stay consistent with your brand!
Want a second opinion about a stock photo for your blog or website? Let us know what image you are thinking of using and where it is being used, and we can give you our input and advice! We love helping businesses, nonprofits, and blogs shine!