23 Nov

Stock Photography: How to Handle the Good, Bad and Painfully Ugly

By Abby Brown, Creative Associate

Stock photography is a great example of a fantastic idea that often goes horribly wrong. Stock photo websites are an important resource for designers and clients everywhere. Need a picture of a cat riding a bicycle but don’t have time to teach your feline how to use training wheels? That’s the beauty of stock photography; it gives designers and creatives quick access to photos that they don’t have the time, money or resources to create themselves.

While the history of stock photography is pretty interesting, learning how to use it is ever more important. Your photo choice has the potential to pull your audience in, or horrify them. Here are some tips for choosing the right picture in an endless pool of options:

Natural is always better
Stock photography is notorious for its cheese factor. We’ve all seen it… the unrealistically good-looking family who are lounging about the beach, laughing at their perfect life? Do you remember the last time you and your family did that? Probably never. When perusing stock photos, go with photos that aren’t over-the-top or unrealistic. Choose something your audience will relate to and that communicates authenticity.



Consider candid over posed

This tip stems off of choosing natural photos; candid photos tend to come off as more organic and authentic than posed pictures with forced smiles. Both of these examples communicate teamwork, but one of them does so more efficiently. Hint: it’s the one that doesn’t look excruciatingly awkward.



Try something new

Sometimes using a visual with an unexpected perspective can set your image apart from what your audience is used to. Consider trying new angles, new types of lighting or new treatments on your photos. Something visually unexpected has a more likely chance of differentiating you from all the clutter and catching the eyes of your audience.



Consider your audience
Whether you’re working with a client or creating collateral for yourself, make sure your photography will be relatable and relevant to your target audiences. This one might seem like a given, but don’t be afraid to dive into details of gender, age, ethnicity, social class, etc.

Hopefully this short guide will help you in your quest for the perfect photo. And if you don’t believe in the horror of bad stock photography, or you just need a good laugh, check out this website dedicated to terribly awkward stock photos.