Remember the last time you and four of your ethnically diverse, hot-as-models friends pointed at a computer screen and laughed like it was the time of your lives? No? What about that time you và your other unrealistically attractive friend dined on salads in an ambiguous, but well-lit restaurant, và giggled at nothing at all? Can’t recall that either? Maybe it’s because real people don’t vị these things. Still, these hokey moments seem lớn comprise the better portion of stock imagery.

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Beige Suits, Inc. Via LOLNEIN.

Stock photos & stock imagery in general have a bad reputation, something lượt thích the footage LOLNEIN pokes fun at. But the truth is, there are plenty of stock images that aren’t corny, và these are incredibly useful to both designers & companies. For starters, they’re both cheaper & easier to use than custom photos. The trick is to use them right way. But how exactly do you bởi vì that?

In this article, we’ll explain how lớn use stock photos, and more importantly, how not to lớn use them.

What is stock imagery?—

Stock images are generic photos, illustrations & icons created without a particular project in mind. They are then licensed, usually for a fee, lớn individuals or organizations for use in sale materials, websites, packaging, book covers and more.

Lots of stock platforms are starting lớn specialize in specific styles & types of stock photography, such as more diverse stock photos and more realistic, natural stock imagery.

If you’re a photographer looking lớn start a full-time photography business, stock photography is a great way to sell your work and can help you boost your income.

Are stock images effective?

They can be. Stock images become decidedly more versatile if you modify and personalize them. The fact of the matter is, stock images are most effective when they don’t look lượt thích stock images.

A few years ago, the sale Experiments blog tested the performance of stock vs. Custom photos. They found that when they swapped a generic stock image of a woman with a photo of the actual founder (and a caption naming him), they saw a 35% increase in conversions.

Are you as shocked as we were that not all stock photos are terrible? Via Mpumelelo Macu. 

The Nielsen Norman Group supports this data. Their eye-tracking studies show that stock photos are largely ignored compared khổng lồ photos of real people, suggesting that modern human beings have developed a sort of “sixth sense” when it comes to lớn distinguishing stock from custom images.

But stock photos bởi vì have a notable advantage over custom images, namely price & ease of use. You can browse and tải về all the stock photos you need in a few hours & pay very little, if anything at all. Compare that khổng lồ custom photos, which require a professional photographer and scheduled photo shoots, sometimes even models. The amount of time, money and effort required by custom photo shoots add up pretty quick.

So, the best way to use stock photos is to select photos that look real. This gets you the best of both worlds: fast and easy photos without the price tag of custom made photos.

How many types of stock licenses are there?—

A bunch! Stock images can have various license types, including special allowances for commercial usage & modification. Designers primarily find themselves dealing with three chip core types:

Royalty-free: User doesn’t have to pay any royalties & can use the image free, but so can everyone else. These include Public domain name (content whose intellectual rights have expired) & Creative Commons (artists choose that their work is royalty-free), however these may require special attributions.Rights managed: Images are pay-to-use, and can be licensed by individual projects, a period of time, or a geographic location.Extended or enhanced: This provides additional liberties to lớn a standard license, including multiple uses of the image and allowances for resale và commercial use (like t-shirt).Flickr allows you filter image searches by the different licensing types. Via Flickr.

For more on the specifics of stock licenses, read our field guide lớn stock image licensing.

Stock images are priced differently depending on where you get them, & there are always plenty of free stock images if you’re under a budget. Some stock image sites let you pay per picture, while others offer a membership fee that allows you to tải về a certain amount per cycle.

Be aware that certain usage rights require specific attributions—this is especially true for Creative Commons images. This means only that the artist/creator gets credited. Common attribution licenses include:

Standard Attribution: free use of the image as long as they credit the artist.Attribution share Alike: Same rules as with standard attribution, but any new uses, commercial uses, or modified uses must also be registered as Creative Commons.Attribution No Derivatives: Can redistribute the image, even commercially, but cannot modify or edit the image.Attribution Non Commercial: Cannot use the image for commercial purposes or resale.Attribution Non Commercial chia sẻ Alike: Can use the image for personal use, but any modifications or edits must also be Creative Commons.Attribution Non Commercial No Derivitives: Can use the image for personal use and cannot modify or edit it.

Despite how it seems, Creative Commons has a lot of legal red tape depending on the attribution type. Make sure you follow the guidelines exactly or else your “free” stock image may end up causing more in legal fees.

Where can you find stock images?—

Stock images seem khổng lồ be everywhere, but some sources are better than others. The first step is understanding your budget và needs: if you need a bunch of stock images, or will need new ones regularly over time, it might be worth looking into paid stock image services. You might already recognize these names:

Sites like Realistic Shots offer plenty of free, interesting images with Creative Commons licenses.

However, part of the appeal of stock imagery is its affordability, so you may be better off downloading free stock images. If that sounds more like what you need, kiểm tra out our danh sách of 30 miễn phí public tên miền image sites. Just be careful to follow the usage guidelines so you don’t kết thúc up accidentally violating the agreement.

Once you find a stock image site/database you like, you’re ready to start searching for the actual photos. But first, one last bit of technical advice before you get started! Be sure lớn double-check the status of your stock image to lớn make sure it’s harmless for you khổng lồ use. You want lớn verify two main points:

Check the license agreement. If you’re planning on photoshopping it, or even using it commercially, you have to lớn make sure the license fits. Some works are different than other, & when it comes to legal damages, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.Conduct a reverse image tìm kiếm to see who else uses the image. The problem with stock images is that anyone can use them. Unless you bought the exclusive rights to lớn an image, conduct a reverse image tìm kiếm to see who else uses your same photo.The reverse image search tool TinEye. Via TinEye.

We recommend TinEye, a không tính tiền online reverse image search tool.

2 key tips for using stock imagery—

It’s easier than it seems khổng lồ get stock images khổng lồ work for you, but there are a few essential tips that will guarantee a unique product.

1. Phối stock photos with custom ones so they all look custom (i.e. Avoid using stock photos for every photo)

Stock photos are like a strong spice: they’re best when peppered throughout, but use too much at once và it will be the only thing anyone tastes (or sees). Stock images work best when intercut with custom images, lớn create a balance between originality và price.

Someone combines photos of their products with more general imagery (and text) that could come from anywhere. Via Someone.

Photo montages are the best way to lớn pass stock photos off as your own, as long as you do them right. Here are a few tips:

Use custom photos for your primary image & stock photos for secondary ones. The initial, attention-grabbing custom photos phối a pattern that suggests the following photos are custom as well. For web design, this works especially well in photo carousels.Splice your photos with text, lượt thích the clothing retailers Someone above. Free, easy lớn make và always custom, text is a smart alternative to lớn actual photos.Display your logo sản phẩm predominantly in custom photos to prove they’re not stock. You can even showroom your logo sản phẩm manually on stock photos, but we’ll explain that later.Tie all the photos together with a visual theme. This could be a dominant color, or something more abstract, lượt thích people smiling. While customized themes are easier when creating your own photos, you can also filter stock image results when searching to lớn see what fits your pattern.

2. Personalize your stock photos with an image editor (i.e. Don’t use stock photos “out of the box”)

Just because you spent hours tracking down the perfect stock photo doesn’t mean it’s ready to lớn use immediately. You always want to lớn customize your stock photos, not just to make them fit better with your brand, but also khổng lồ separate your copy from those used by other brands.

If you get a stock image that permits modifications, take advantage of it. For one thing, you can remove or showroom elements according khổng lồ your personal tastes — for example, if a flower pot on the table is too distracting or there are too many balloons in the tiệc nhỏ scene.

Moreover, you can customize stock photos lớn better fit your branding needs. Namely, you can địa chỉ cửa hàng your hình ảnh sản phẩm on products, uniforms or on signs in the background. For stock photos that have solid color backdrops, you (or a more experienced photo editor) can easily change that to your company’s color.

The “custom” cover khổng lồ The Fog Seller is actually three stock photos combined. Does that make it more original, or less? By Proi.

If you know your way around image editing software, you can handle these modifications yourself by following our photo manipulation guide. If you don’t have an intermediate khổng lồ advance grasp of Photoshop, consider hiring a professional. Enlisting the help of a designer is lượt thích a shortcut lớn creating custom images without a photographer, although it still requires time & effort. Depending on what kind of project you’re doing (poster, website, etc.), you can even hire a designer to take care of everything for you.

Stock photos: borrowing originality—

“Can you believe they didn’t know not all stock is photos?” Via The British Library.

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Remember, if a stock image is truly successful, you won’t know it’s stock. Any measures you can take to personalize it make it more effective, so don’t shy away from converting stock images into custom ones.

What’s your opinion of stock photos? Has the usage of one ever blown you away, or maybe made you laugh so hard you fell out of your chair?