How To Use Stock Media so Well No One Will Know You’re Using Stock Media

Tired of the same million versions of a “business man smiling in a meeting” or “customer support representative with headset”, or even the ages old “woman with salad smiling”? Fear not, there is still hope that your project will be finished in time and not look like a stock photography presentation at all.If you want to know how all you need to do is keep reading.

1. Stay authentic

Above I’ve enumerated a few of the best sold and most used image in stock photography worldwide. Why? So that you avoid the trap of using them as well. They are oversold, overused and well overseen by anyone who’s owned anything with a screen on it in the past 10 years.

So how do you go about not doing the same mistakes as countless other before you?You find the soul of your project. You find the story and then you tell that story using images. Telling the story in a personal manner will make the difference between every other presentation or website out there and your own project. If you will use people images make sure that they are people you can relate to in real life and not unachievable beautiful, perfectly pressed suits, impossibly white smiles aliens.

Business People Meeting Seminar Sharing Talking Thinking Concept


Happy young female business leader standing in front of her team

Both are good images but one tells a story while the other is a corporate style picture.

2. Set a happy mood … but not too happy

“Sadness is awesome”, said no one ever. It’s one thing to have a moody overall tone to your project and another to make it downright depressing. So choose images that brighten the mood but don’t overdo it either. The moody office image I gave as a good example above is a perfect mood, one person is smiling while the others look content yet not all are doing the mad, fake, all-teeth-out smile we can often see in classical examples of stock photography.

Freedom wellness happiness concept - happy woman

Way too happy, how many of you do this on a regular basis?

Cute baby girl shone with happiness, curly hair

Happy, cute and fun that you can actually relate to

3. Cohesion

Why is this important? Because all great stories have it. Introduce the characters and follow them through the story while keeping a cohesive style all across the board is very important in how the project will present itself at the end. You can do this in a few ways. Find series of images using the same tones, the same models, the same mood, find objects and icons shot or designed in the same manner. Make sure the objects and icons fit with the general style of the people images that your are using and last, but not least, don’t be afraid to do a little processing yourself to make it all look well glued together. Visual storytelling can be your greatest asset or your biggest downfall, depending on how you choose to approach it.

4. The plan

I’ve been telling you a lot about storytelling and, as you probably know, good novels (and businesses, and projects) start with a good plan. Why do you need one? To make sure all of the above happens as it should and you’re not caught in the middle of a creative storm when you least expect it.Start with the scope of your project and continue with the mood you’d like to set, the story you’d like to tell, all the technical details should be well documented before proceeding as well and use the tools we provide, gather your images in a lightbox, don’t be afraid to constantly look for improved versions of what you already consider good.

5. The search

You found a good image and are thinking of just going with it? Let me stop you right there. Stock photography might be a bit boring at times and tedious to look through at others but no expense should be spared when looking for the perfect image. Dreamstime has almost 70M images and some of them are real gems waiting to be discovered. Play with the advanced filters, as well as with the type of sorting and the words you are using in searches.

Last but not least, don’t overdo it. Remember that there is a thin line between not looking stock like and looking garish so stay in the realm of reality with small escapes to the wonderland while still making it look effortless and approachable.

Photo credits: Martinmark, Opolja, Rawpixelimages, Rohappy.

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December 07, 2017


Thank you for sharing these tips with us, now let me share this article with my twitter "followers'.

December 03, 2017


Thanks for sharinng. Very useful info!

November 28, 2017


Useful info! Thank you!

November 27, 2017


Useful advice Ioana :)

November 27, 2017


Excellent advice and guidance!

November 27, 2017


Great tips. Useful info indeed.Thanks for sharing Ioana Grecu.

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