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A Guide to Using Stock Imagery

When it comes to adding imagery to your professional business website, many companies choose to use stock imagery. This is very common practice and is often an affordable way to add colorful images which can break up large amounts of text. However, using stock imagery must always be undertaken with care as these images will represent your business or your brand. With such a large choice of stock images available online, it is very easy to choose an image which may give off a bad impression.

If you’re looking to update your images or thinking about using stock photography, then take a look at our guide of things to avoid when using stock imagery.

Busy, Abstract Images


As a business owner, you will know your own product or service inside out. However, your website is a window into your company for an audience who may know nothing about you, which means images should be clear and easy to understand. Whilst this image may make sense to you personally, stop and think about whether the image you have chosen is really the clearest way to enforce your brand to a potentially limitless audience.

Representing Metaphors


A common mistake many businesses make is to use images which depict a metaphor. Whilst this may make sense to you and may appear to compliment the content of your page, you should keep in mind that your audience may use any image on your website as an indication of whether or not to read the page, or to leave your website. Keep in mind that most images are dependent on context, for example if your business is a high-altitude, formal gardening company, then this image may work for you.

Creative Photography


Creative shots can be a very engaging way to deliver a message to an audience. In some cases, the image in theory is acceptable and the meaning is quite clear. However, you should be cautious that you aren’t accepting the image meaning, without looking closely at the image itself. This image could be used to depict a business searching for a business solution. However, due to the angle of the magnifying glass, the woman in this picture has a distorted face and consequently this becomes a very unusual image.

Images You Can't Explain


If you’re a serious business, looking for serious clients you need to make sure your images are in keeping with this theme. There are a lot of images produced by professionals for stock image websites which look great. However, not all of these have a clear meaning. If you’re looking at your website or marketing materials and notice an image you can’t describe clearly, remove it.

Thumbs Up


One common thing you will see on stock imagery websites are images of people with their thumbs up. Whilst this may suit some brands or businesses, most professional websites should not rely on an image like this to signify a feeling of trust, reliability or friendliness. If this is a message you are trying to communicate, then make sure your content and tone of voice reflect this, you can then accompany this with a warm image with more natural friendly people.

Unrealistic Scenery


Using images of unrealistic scenes (unless done very carefully) can cause your audience to become confused and leave your website altogether. Any company who specialize in waterproof suits could use this image to represent what their brand does. Most other businesses would have to work very hard to explain why a businessman is swimming fully dressed.

Stock images are a wonderful thing, providing an infinite number of opportunities for businesses to use. With a little patience and care you can very easily add value to your website or marketing materials. However, as the images and points above indicate, it can be very easy to make a bad impression.