I have a love/hate relationship with stock photos.
On the Love side: I’m not a photographer. AT. ALL. And I’m so thankful for bloggers that share their talents with me (especially for free!) to help me grow my little business. Like most people, I love to see my Instagram full of pretty images, so I go a little crazy with the free downloads. Then they usually just sit in my later.com account waiting to be used because…..
I also Hate them: I’m not ready to give up my personal instagram for my business. I don’t want my real-life friends to think “I never know what’s going on with Danielle anymore because she just posts photos of notebooks and laptops and coffee” (TBH – I’m pretty sure that was the entirety of my feed during my senior year of college).
And I know I love knowing the real people behind the brands I follow. If you look at my feed, you know I use stock photos occasionally (more often lately because NJ is in an ugly season: snow, rain, mud). Here’s a few things to consider before using stock photos for your brand:
Before using stock photos:
- Are you sure you can’t take your own? Look around your house/office/workspace and gather all the items you love and use in work every day.
- Does it really represent your brand? Be super picky about the photos! keep your colors and feel consistent!
- Can you use a customer image instead? Maybe your customers take great instagram-worthy photos. Use them! with appropriate permission and credit of course!
My rules for stock photos:
- Must match my color scheme: Stock photos I use will probably have some kind of magenta, purple, or greenery in them.
- True to my office: Sometimes the stock photo has the right colors, but it uses some tech products other than a mac or an iPhone 6 in the image. So I skip it. There’s a popular stock photo floating around that has an iPhone 4 in it! I can’t use that.
Guess what? It’s my brand, and I can be as picky as I want. I don’t want my followers to think that I have multiple computers or outdated technology.
- Alternate stock photos with my own photos: Usually by a lot. I try to only use 2 stock photos/ week… so that means 3-5 are my own photos. It’s a lot of work, but I want people to know ME.
- Take my own “stock photos”: I have a lot of pretty things around my house, so I use those, and take photos of my planner or office set up. I just use my phone and the “A Color Story” photo editing app.
Stock Photo Resources
These are a few of my favorite places to find FREE stock photos. I haven’t bought any photos yet. I would consider working with a photographer to take my own stock photos to use around the web when I have enough money to do that. I definitely need new head shots and photos of me “in action.” But that’s for another day.
- Kaboom Pics: totally free stock photos that you can use however you want! I find my almost all of my favorites on this site.
- Styled Stock Society: This is by wonderfelle Media. She offers 10 free images on her site!
- Ivory Mix: She adds free photos to her resources every month, as well as blogging tips. Lots of bright pink photos!
- Turquoise and Palm: Lots of pink and purple by this girl, too!
- Creative Convex by Pink Pot
Some of these stock photo providers go to the dollar bins in Target for their props – I do that, too. So when I look at their photos, I feel like they actually represent what my life looks like!
Resources for taking your own stock photos
It’s not as hard as it sounds guys!
- White foam posterboard: There was a sale on this at Michaels, and I bought 10 sheets for $1 each! I didn’t actually need that many… but I put a bunch together when I need to lay out a larger object, or build a little studio by standing one on its side to reflect the light.
- Dollar Bins at Target: These are rotated all the time, so you’ll probably find something that matches your color scheme! use it to take some fun photos!
- Buy pretty tools: When you need to buy something for your life or business, try to pick something that matches your branding! When you go to meet with clients, they’ll notice the little things are coordinate, and you’ll be able to use them for photo shoots.
- Take photos when there’s good light: This should go without saying, but make sure you’re in a good spot with great lighting. This means that sometimes I need to wait until Saturday so I can be home at noon when the light is right. Plan your blog posts accordingly.
- Show your face at least once a week! There should be a photo of you on your instagram feed at least once a week, so your customers know the real you! I know Jenna Kutcher says that she and her husband do a big photoshoot once a year (in several outfits), giving her plenty of options for the year.