How To Find Unique Stock Photos For Your Digital Brand

Stock photos, so many people have an adverse reaction to the word. Over my years as a blogger, I have grown to love these time-saving images though, and that’s because I go past the basic cringe-worthy stock photos that are on the internet. It’s so easy to write all stock photos off, but you definitely shouldn’t.

When you decide to use stock photos for your brand, you have to do some soul searching beforehand. You can’t use any stock photo. As we know your digital brand is based on three components: identity, visibility, and credibility. Stock photos can help you with those three concepts. It all depends on the type of stock photos you use.

SEE ALSO: Digital Branding vs Personal Branding

What Are Stock Photos?

Picture a stock photo. In your head, you are probably thinking of some guy in a suit screaming angrily into a rotary telephone on a white background. Stock photos have some along way since then. The stock photo business is booming and has started creating better photos. You can find content that resonates with your digital brand and heightens the three components we discussed earlier.

Stock photos shouldn’t be defined by those cheesy man yelling at phone photos. Stock photos have become so much deeper than those images. A stock photo (at its score) is a photo that is taken by a photographer that is available to the public for free or through paid stock libraries. With these photos, there are many licenses attached. Some may require attribution (or you letting your audience know exactly where you got your photos) while others may not require this. Some may be licensed for personal use, commercial use, or something in between. You want to consider how you can use stock photos before you decide to take the step to use them.

Each photographer will more than likely have their own rules about usage, so check with them if you have any questions.

Why Should You Use Stock Photos?

As a digital brand, you probably don’t need to create photos in-house. Obviously, if you have a physical product business, it is a good idea to take some photos as a company. If your brand is strictly digital, you can probably save a ton of time and money by subscribing to a stock photo library.

There are so many ways to make your photos unique, and we will chat about exactly that a bit later in this post. Don’t feel held back by stock photos, embrace them. If you take the time to pick the best stock photos, you can easily integrate them in with your branding.

When it comes to picking the best stock photos for your brand, you want to focus on how you see your brand.

  • What audience are you trying to reach as a digital brand?
  • What colors do you want to include in your branding?
  • Is your branding masculine or feminine? Is it bright or dark?

Examine the visual elements of your branding and pick great stock photos that compliment that visual branding. Think about the essence of your brand. Does the picture you are thinking of picking represent that?

How Do I Use Stock Photos?

Once you have picked the perfect stock photo–there are so many ways that you can incorporate them into your brand. Stock photos make a great addition to any imagery you might have for your brand. This could mean imagery for blog posts, social media updates, e-books, webinars, and everything in between.

Any place where you might include a photo taken in-house can be replaced with a stock photo.

If you are a solopreneur rocking your digital brand all by yourself, this can prove beneficial because instead of taking photos for Instagram, you can pivot your attention elsewhere. I use stock photos in many elements of my blogs because I don’t have the time to worry about creating imagery for myself consistently.

Stock Photos Haute Chocolate
A stock photo from Haute Chocolate

How Do You Make Stock Photos Unique To Your Brand?

A lot of people have concerns about stock photos because they know that the images aren’t unique to them. There are a couple of ways that you can make stock photos unique to your branding.

  • Crop Your Stock Photos: An excellent way to increase the life of any stock photo that you get as well as make it unique is cropping. You can easily crop a stock photo so that you only see part of it within an image. Working with only a section of the stock photo will make it unique as you can make many different crops from most stock photos. Check with the stock photographer before you crop their photos, though, as this is not always allowed. Most stock photo sites will allow you to crop your photos though.
  • Filter Your Stock Photos: Before you filter or alter your stock photo in this way, you want to check with the photos original creator. Filtering is a lot different from cropping, and it can drastically change the look of your image. Tasteful filtering can change the look of your images and make the image more unique to your digital brand.
  • Add Text and Brand Colors To Your Photos: Lastly, another obvious option is to add some text on top of the image using your brand colors to do so. You may also want to add fun banners, stickers, and more on your image if appropriate to make the images more unique.

You can do all of these things with the tool Canva. Canva is a great online image creation software that will make the process of working with all your stock photos so much easier. You can easily create images perfect for things like e-books, social media posts, blog posts, and more with Canva. If you plan to use stock photos for your digital brand, I encourage you to check out Canva.

If those options aren’t unique enough, consider:

Hiring A Custom Stock Photographer

Custom stock photography is becoming a great business alongside stock photo libraries. Many stock photographers are taking on clients to create stock photography specifically for the people they work for. Many stock photographers can integrate your products into their stock photography for your brand as well.

When working with a stock photographer to create images for your brand, you are usually giving them quite a bit of information about your brand. They want to know everything from the visual elements like colors to the more emotional elements like what you want your followers to feel when they see your brand. If you hire a custom stock photographer, you will be working closely with that person to create a set of images that essentially encompass what your brand feels like with pictures.

I encourage that you take a look at the photographer’s portfolio and maybe even join their stock photography library before you decide to hire them. By doing this you can get a great understanding of the photographer before you sign a contract with them.

Stock Photos Death To Stock
A stock photo from Death To Stock

11 Stock Photo Sites To Consider:

There are many stock photo sites that you want to look into. Here is a nice starter list of places so that you can start finding awesome stock photos today.

  1. Shutterstock
  2. Adobe Stock
  3. Creative Market
  4. Pexels
  5. Unsplash
  6. Canva
  7. Death To Stock
  8. Pixabay
  9. Haute Chocolate
  10. IvoryMix
  11. Bloguettes


Stock photos don’t have to be boring! Working with a variety of stock photo companies and getting custom stock photography created for your digital brand will help you stand out online. I hope that this article has helped you realize that stock photos are great for branding.

SEE ALSO: 5 Time-Saving Digital Branding Tools

Have you used stock photos in your business before? I would love to know your experience using stock images. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Written by
Amanda Cross