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How to choose the best stock photos

Stock photos, they are so accessible these days - which is great! Plus, so many of them are free - even better! So, what's the problem?

There are so many online galleries, so many photographers willing to give away their images for free and so many great photos. However, there are also lots of terrible photos too...or photos that are way too overused or just "too stocky"!

Wait what? What is "too stocky"?

Let's discuss, this is an example of a great stock photo:

Why is this a great stock photo?

I love its simplicity, and the way it is eye catching, whilst not being in your face. It displays texture and depth, plus I've given it an extra point for having a naturally blank area for you to easy overlay it with your text and branding if you wish.

So, what is a bad stock photo? Let me show you!

Why is this a bad stock photo?

Does it look genuine? Does it make you feel happy? Do you believe the smiles on their faces? My answers are NO, NO and NO. It just makes me feel awkward. So, why then would you use this image? If you trying to show that you have great ideas or a happy workplace, perhaps? It does not instill trust, respect or credibility.

So how do you find the best stock photo's?


Don't use images from the first search page! This is what everyone does, and you may very well see someone else post that exact same image. Usually I go 2, 3, 4+ pages through the search until I find the right one. Don't give up straight away!


Really think about what you are trying to convey to your audience, then make it eye catching. Use really descriptive search terms to try and nail down exactly what you are looking for. When you are searching through the pages, what made you stop and focus on that image? Does it make you feel how you want your followers to feel when they stumble across your post on their Newsfeed?

THREE: When you find an image that you like, have a look at that photographers profile. Most photographers use a certain filter or shoot with a certain style. I find this is an amazing way to keep images consistent.

Do I need to say thank you to the photographer?

Look, you don't have to BUT I think it's always a great idea to mention them if possible. The more recognition they get, perhaps the more images they will allow us to have access to. When you download an image through a free stock website you will usually be given a piece of text that you can use to link back to that image/photographer. If you don't want to link back to them, there is no pressure to! Whatever works for you!

When should I pay for stock images?

Sometimes, you might not be able to locate the perfect image, or maybe you want a really unique style which everyone else doesn't have access to. This is where paid stock photo's come in. Think Adobe Stock or Shutterstock. I personally ❤ Kate Max Stock I am in love with her imagery and have been following her for years.

When purchasing stock images you need to check on the licensing of them like, what are you allowed to use them for? Print marketing, social media marketing, website imagery? Also, check if you are allowed to use them multiple times, or if it is a once off license.

My Conclusion

I love stock images, if they are the right images for what you are trying to convey, they are not "too stocky" and not over used!

Not many small businesses have access to a reasonably priced photographer so stock images can be great however, if you are perhaps a coffee shop DO NOT use stock images of coffee for instance! If you can make great coffee you want your images to be reflective of this.

I hate it when I go into a hairdressing salon and all of the images are stock images of beautiful hair...I want to see what you can do, not what hairstyles you think are trendy.

Show me what represents YOU and YOUR business!

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