Stock Imagery: the Where and the What


Whether you are a new business or an established one, the imagery you use to represent your company is extremely important. Professional photography helps to send your brands message and it further showcases the quality of your services. I would argue that it is as important as your logo. Below I have come up with a list of rules to follow in regards to stock imagery, as well as a list of the best places to find stock imagery.


Do not use outdated photos. Any images with outdated technology or styles will age your brand. The people in your photographs should be using state-of-the-art technology. They should also be dressed in contemporary styles with hairstyles that represent the times. Additionally, images taken with old technology will not have the same quality as modern high-resolution cameras.

Avoid overly posed portraits. Ask yourself do the people look genuinely happy? Unnatural or over-exaggerated emotions make images look cheesy. Do they look comfortable? Rigid portraits are a big “no.”

Go for shots that incorporate natural lighting. This seems so simple but it makes a world of difference. Fluorescent lighting is the enemy. Don’t forget that. Also, unnatural lighting can be just as bad. It can make an image look forced.

Do not use cliché imagery. Your product is not going to stand out if it has the same imagery as your competitors. Examples: the hand shake, the word cloud, words on a keyboard, the target, the cupped hands, the rainbow eye…

Look for imagery that compliments your brands color palette. If your color scheme has blues and greens, look for images with those colors or complimentary colors.

Couple stock imagery with professionally shot custom photos as much as possible. Try to budget to hire a photographer to do a shoot. Photos of you, your employees and your work space can help to give your materials a genuine feel.

THE WHERE: LOCATE STOCK PHOTOSNo matter what website you use you are going to need to do a lot of searching. Create a lightbox and save all your photo options into it. Then go back and review all of your photos you have selected. Eliminate any photos that look out of place or any photos that violate the above rules. Below is a list of sites that I recommend.

Getty: Although it is more expensive than iStock (which is owned by Getty), I find that they have some higher end images. Great for medical imagery and corporate environments.

iStock: Similar in selection to Getty, but more affordable. Also great for medical imagery and corporate environments. Great vector selection for borders, frames and textures. Also mixed in are some creative gems if you can find them!

Unsplash: This a great source for free stock images. Great mix of rural and urban landscapes shot by a variety of talented photographers. There are not as many business/corporate shots, but a ton of cool stuff! The site is updated with 10 new shots every 10 days.

Startupstockphotos: So many cool free options. Although some of these tend to have more of an amateur look. Be careful on your selection. A lot of the photos capture start-up/small-business look. There a lot of images of young people, phones and laptops (not a bad thing at all!).

Deathtothestockphoto: This site is a recent discovery, but the selection of creative photos is amazing. For just $10/month you can get access to all of their past and present images. If you or your client is a big corporation, this may not be your best resource. But for small to medium sized companies, I highly recommend this site.

Please let me know if you have any other recommendations! Happy photo-searching!


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