You probably already know that stock photos can make your life much easier by saving time and $$$, BUT it's kind of annoying to know that you're using the same photos as a bunch of other people, right? Luckily there are a few easy ways to customize stock photos for your brand to make them look more unique!
You're probably using stock photos for your blog or social media and adding a text overlay is an easy way to make them look more intentional. You can overlay text for blog post titles, quotes, testimonials or any other promotional messaging for your brand. Use your brand fonts and colors so that your graphics are easily recognizable – even if you are just using stock photos! For example, I use my own stock photos for most of the graphics you see on this blog, but since I'm using consistent fonts / styles for the text all of my blog post graphics have a similar look and are easily recognized when people see them on Pinterest.
Many styled stock photos have excess white space where text can easily be added, otherwise you can always add a colored overlay over all or part of the image so that your text stands out. Adding a colored overlay over a whole (or part of an) image is an easy way to make stock photos that aren't entirely in your brand's color palette work for you. Since the overlay “hides” most of the colors in the image, you can be a bit more flexible with the stock images you use in this way.
You can also add a colored overlay over only a small portion of an image where you want to add text or other branded elements. If you're using neutral stock photos this is an easy way to infuse a bit of your brand's personality into your graphics without distracting too much from the style of the images.
In the examples below, you can see the original image in the top left – I've added a light overlay with dark text, a dark overlay with light text, a gradient overlay (a great option if you want to use multiple brand colors), an opaque overlay that covers part of the image, and a transparent overlay that covers part of the image. So as you can see there are a lot of different ways to use color overlays to customized stock photos for your brand!
OVERLAY YOUR PRODUCT IMAGES
If you sell physical or digital products, use your stock photos to showcase whatever you are selling. You can overlay product images on stock photos with negative space or mockup style images with frames or tech elements where you can insert your work. I love the way The Spotted Olive used one of our stock photos to showcase these festive holiday gift tags on Instagram. You could also use tech mockups to share screenshots from your website, blog, or shop!
In the example below, I've used an image from the Styled Stock Society library and added a screenshot of my Subscription Creation Roadmap. This is an easy way to use mockups to promote digital products during launches or promotions and can increase conversions on your sales pages (because it allows people to actually see what you want them to buy)!
CROP / ROTATE / FLIP THEM
Last but not least, instead of sharing stock photos “as is” – most high quality images can be cropped, rotated, and/or flipped for a more unique effect. This is also an easy way to get more bang for your buck since you can crop stock photos in multiple ways and use them multiple times!
In the example below, you'll see one of the images from the Styled Stock Society and how it could be cropped / rotated to create 4 completely different images to share on Instagram. There are definitely other ways you could crop, rotate, or flip this image to create different graphics for your blog, website, or other social channels so don't be afraid to play around a bit to see how many ways you can use your styled stock photos!
TIPS FOR CUSTOMIZING STOCK PHOTOS FOR YOUR BRAND
If you're customizing stock photos for your brand using any of these methods, it can be helpful to use certain tools to make the process as simple as possible! Personally I use Adobe Photoshop for most of my customizations but you can use free tools like Canva to add text or other branded elements as well.
- Create templates – regardless of what tools you are using to customize your stock photos, setting up templates can save you a ton of time. Setting up templates makes it easy to just switch up your stock image and text instead of starting from scratch every time you want to customize something.
- Be consistent – if you're adding graphic elements, colored overlays, or filters to your stock photos, you should be consistent with the styles and colors. You want your images to be easily recognizable, so don't change things up too often!
CUSTOMIZE STOCK PHOTOS FOR YOUR BRAND
So those are a few ways to “customize” your stock photos so they are a better reflection of your brand. Stock photos are an affordable option for incorporating high quality visuals into your marketing (and I recommend them, especially if you have a limited marketing budget), but sometimes you may want the images to look more unique to your brand. Luckily there are a lot of different ways to customize stock photos with a little bit of creativity and free tools like Canva.
How are you customizing stock photos for your brand?
This is great information. I tried to make the images for my last blog post have a consistent look and feel. I’m still trying to figure out what my brand should be. I’ll keep all of this in mind as I work on future images and re-work my old ones. Thank you!
I never thought to flip or crop my photos. I am going to try that next time!
Such a useful post, Elle! It seems everyone is using the exact same pictures from Unsplash and other stock photo sites. These are just such great tips to make a brand stand out without having to buy expensive photos or have them custom made :)
Great suggestions and very helpful!!
Great suggestions! I really like the visuals you used to demonstrate the different strategies.
I love cropping stock photos to give them a different feel, but I’ve never rotated them! I’m excited to give that a shot. Thanks! :)
Since I’m thinking about changing my Instagram branding strategy, these were some great tips for me to consider!
These are amazing tips! Thank you! I especially love the idea of cropping and rotating the images. I’d never thought of this before.