Photography

4 Myths About Stock Photos (And What You Really Need to Know)

4 myths about stock photos - why styled stock photos can be a great affordable photography resource and what you need to know about using stock photos for your brand.

So I know stock photos sometimes get a bad reputation when it comes to using them as images for your business. But I know that 1) not everyone can afford custom images for their business 2) not everyone has the time to take their own photos and 3) even if people have the time, they’d rather spend it on other things (like binge-watching netflix, drinking wine, or actually spending time with their family)!

Stock photos can be great way to create a cohesive visual brand across your marketing channels, especially if you have a new business and want to make the most of your budget!

Unfortunately, not all stock photos are created equal. When you understand some of the myths and misconceptions around using stock photos, you can ensure that you choose the right kind for your business!

Myth #1 – Free Stock Photos Are All Bad

Free stock photos are easily accessible for a wide range of people. While that’s very convenient, it also means that A TON of people are using them. If you want to create a unique visual brand for your business, using free stock photos is probably not the best choice, but free stock photos aren’t necessarily all bad. There are plenty of websites that have free stock photos that could be a good fit for your business. It’s definitely going to take some digging and some research to find great free images… but it might be worth it to convey your brand in a more attractive way. (PS you can grab 10 free feminine stock photos RIGHT HERE!)

Myth #2 – Paid Stock Photos Are Expensive

Stock photos are actually available at a wide range of prices. They certainly don’t have to be free or wildly expensive. Websites like Creative Market and Etsy are full of beautiful stock photos at a reasonable price. They are also a number of sites that offer affordable stock photo memberships where you can download a certain number of stock photos every month. And if you’re looking for a stock photo membership where you have instant access to download an unlimited number of photos, there’s the Styled Stock Society – where you can get instant access to over 1,000 photos for less than $20/month.

Myth #3 – You Don’t Have to Credit the Photographer

The terms of use associated with stock photos differs depending on the photographer and copyright owner. It’s really important to understand how you can and can’t use your stock photos when you’re using them for your business. Some sites come with licenses that allow you to use stock photos for both personal and commercial use, while sometimes they’re just for personal use. Sometimes you have to credit the photographer and other times you don’t. In fact, you may only be able to use images a certain number of times based on the photo license. It’s really important to understand the full terms of use when using stock photos for your business because you want to make sure that you’re using them legally.

(If you’re using my stock photos, credit is never required… but it’s always appreciated!)

Myth #4 – You Can’t Customize Stock Photos To Fit Your Brand

Depending on the terms of use of your stock photos, you may be able to customize them to fit your brand. You could add color overlays, filters, or text in your brand fonts. You might also be able to crop, rotate, or otherwise manipulate the orientation of a stock photo to make it look a little bit different. You might even be able to insert your own product images into stock photos! There are a few different ways you can customize stock photos to be a better fit for your brand – just make sure that the way you use your stock photos isn’t a violation of the terms of use.

Stock photos can be a great way for businesses with a limited budget to create a cohesive visual brand. Just remember that not all stock photos will work for you! It’s really important to find the right stock photos for you that not only represent your brand, but also come with the terms of use that are a good fit for your business.

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How to Brand Photos for Your Business

How to brand photos for your online business or blog

Branding is the key to differentiating yourself from hundreds of people who are doing the same thing that you do or selling the same thing that you sell.

It’s about providing an experience and presenting your offerings in a way that makes your audience feel like they know you. Brand photos also help to create a recognizable brand so that when people come across your business online, they remember you. Your brand photos play an essential part in your overall visual branding and help to build the know / like / trust factor with your potential clients and customers over time.

How to Brand Photos for Your Business

Know Yourself First

If you think your brand is just a logo or some colors and a tag line, you’re wrong. When you’re a small business owner, solopreneur, or blogger you are your brand. Think about the way you speak, connect, and relate to other people. All of that is part of your brand. Your personality should come through in your brand images. If you’re funny and sarcastic or warm and friendly, think about how that comes across to your audience and how you can illustrate that visually. Your brand photos should help people visualize what it might be like to work with you / hang out with you / be IRL besties with you. How can your potential clients begin to like you if they don’t know who you are? 

Know Your Audience

Other than knowing yourself, knowing your audience is a key component to branding your images. You have to understand who you are trying to attract. If you don’t have a specific audience in mind and you’re trying to relate to everyone – you probably aren’t relating to anyone. Think about the people you actually want as your customers and clients. Defining your target audience is an essential step in the building of your brand and business. 

When you’re clear on who your target audience is, you can create brand photos with them in mind. You can show how your product will fit into their lifestyle or what their life might look like after they work with you. You want your clients to be able to picture themselves interacting with your products and services. By understanding your audience, you’ll be better able to attract and relate to them through your visual content.

Define Your Style

Keeping your personal brand and audience in mind, think about how your visual style can showcase your personality but also attract your target audience. Start with a Pinterest board and pin 10-20 images that really appeal to you and fit the vibe of your brand. Then try to narrow down your style to two or three adjectives that really convey your brand visually. All of your images should then reflect these adjectives. If your brand is ‘bubbly and colorful’ or ‘neutral, minimal, and organic’, keep these words in mind whenever you are taking photos (or having photos taken!) for your business.

Understand Your Goals

Think about how are you are actually using or going to use your photos for your brand.  Will you be using brand photos on your website or blog, social media, print marketing, or advertising? You’ll want to make sure that your visual content helps you achieve your goals on whatever platform(s) you’re on.

If you’re using your brand photos on your website for example, think about how specifically you’re using those images. What feelings do you want your audience to have when they come across your website? You might have a hero image that calls attention to specific products or images on your about page that illustrate who you are. Do you need horizontal images or vertical images? Do you need a lot of white space for text? Determine specifically how your photos will coordinate with the rest of your website and brand elements before you create photos for your brand. Having this forethought may save you a lot of trouble in the long run!

Be Consistent

Consistency breeds credibility. People like to know what to expect. You want to send a consistent visual message to your audience so when it comes to your brand photos, consistency is key! From the colors you incorporate to the props you use to the way you edit your images – you should maintain a level of consistency to the point that your visual content flows together and your audience can easily recognize your brand photos. If you’re constantly changing things up or incorporating a lot of different styles into your visuals, your audience is going to be confused! Keep things simple and be consistent when it comes to your branding photos for your business.

Do you have other tips for branding photos for your business? Share in the comments!

5 Times You Should Hire A Professional Photographer

5 times you should hire a professional photographer for your business - when you're a small business owner or solopreneur you may be DIYing your brand or product photography but here's when you should hire a pro photographer!

Whether you’re just starting out or have been in business for a while, your visual brand is a key part of your online business. When someone comes to your website or finds you on social media or clicks a link to see your products, you want to make a good first impression. You can DIY your photography or use stock photos but if you truly want your brand to stand out with uniquely branded images, there are several times when you should definitely hire a pro!

5 Times You Should Hire a Professional Photographer

When You’re Launching A New Product Line

You’ve been working hard to build a new product line, and the worst thing that can happen is for you to invest a lot of time and money into creating the products… and then be stuck with inventory because no one buys it! Before you launch it, think about what’s going to get people really excited to actually buy the product. When you’re selling online, people can’t touch or try on your product. This makes your visual content that more important. A professional photographer can work with you to ensure that your products are captured in the most visually appealing way for a new product launch so you can focus on selling!

When You Want to Increase Your Sales

If you’re selling products online and no one is buying them, it may be because your products aren’t being showcased in a way that isn’t enticing to potential customers. Your basic product photo should be well-placed on a clean white background. If you’re background is dingy or chaotic, that’s going to distract potential customers from your products. You might also want to add other elements that help customers envision what it would look like to have your products in their place. Professional photographers can help you style your products in a way that will make people actually want to buy them more. This can make a huge difference in having people just scroll past your images on social media or stop and actually click through to shop because they think, “OMG I need this thing right now.”

One of my clients has a luxury tea brand. They were posting basic product photos on their social media account and they weren’t sure why people weren’t engaging with the photos. We discussed ways we could make the products more appealing to potential customers. We photographed the tea to show how it would fit into someone’s everyday life. This way people could actually see themselves incorporating the tea into their own lives. By incorporating lifestyle photography into their marketing, this company was able to grow their engagement on social media as well as grow their sales.

When You Want to Uplevel Your Business

Once you’ve been in business a while, you might want to increase your prices or start offering higher priced products. Having high-quality images is nonnegotiable if you are going to sell a high end products or services. If your photos are dim or amateurish, you’re going to have a really hard time convincing people that your products are high price item. To uplevel your business and sell on a higher end, you need high-quality images that feature your products in the best way.

One of my clients designs hand painted champagne flutes and wanted to sell her products at higher-end department stores. She knew she need to up level her photography to attract higher-end buyers, so she hired me to shoot a selection of her custom glassware for her marketing material. With her new professional photos she’s much more confident presenting her products to potential buyers!

FREE QUESTIONNAIRE: 8 QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF BEFORE HIRING A PRO!

When DIYing Your Photos Takes Too Much Time

Even if you’re capable of doing your own photography, it’s probably not the best use of your time. When you’re a solopreneur you spend your time building products, posting on social media, business planning, accounting, and answering 5 million emails (OMG all the emails!) – but your time could be better spent focusing on what you are an expert at doing. So hire a professional photographer to take your photos. They will save you a lot of stress and time.

One of my clients is a graphic designer, web developer and busy mom. She found that she was spending a lot of time on her weekends taking photos for Instagram because that was the only time she had “free” … but she was was missing out on quality time with her family. Now that she outsources her social media photography to me, she actually gets to spending time with her family on the weekend!

When You’re the Face of Your Brand

When you need to be in your own photos, obviously it’s going to be harder to DIY (no selfies, please!) – sure you could try using a remote or a timer to do it yourself, but if you really want to be the face of the brand and have imagery that helps you connect with potential customers, hiring a professional photographer is going to make your life so much easier. A professional photographer will help to style your brand photos in a way that allows you to connect with your ideal audience. They can help you find the perfect locations for your personal brand photography and/or help you feel more comfortable in front of the camera. Bottom line: hiring a professional photographer makes your photos look more professional.

Are You Ready to Hire A Pro?

Are you on board with getting help from a professional photographer? Not only will it make your life easier, but your business will look a lot better too! To help you get started, I’ve put together a list of 8 questions you should ask yourself before you work with a professional photographer. Grab it NOW!

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