There are some common mistakes when using stock photos for your designs, products, or marketing. In this article, we will review some frequent wrong practices regarding using stock photos so that you could consider them choosing images that will be effective for your creative or business goals.

Visual support is an essential factor to consider whether you are creating a blog or planning to build an online business. It is among the key elements that capture the audience’s attention to further inspect and explore your website. Hence, it does not surprise that website owners continuously strive to discover how to steal stock photos and ways to get them legally, all to achieve the desired effect and favorable user engagement.

However, there are some common mistakes when using stock photos you do not want to make. Otherwise, you risk failing to create a positive first impression, which is imperative to convincing visitors that your website is worth checking out. Thus, in the following lines, we will tackle all the wrong practices regarding using stock photos.

Choosing unrelated photos

Photos are highly important for brand identity. Those you use on your website need to communicate relatable messages and add to the value of the content you offer. In other words, having an excellent stock photo does not guarantee an excellent website. However, having photos that enhance the messages you want to send to your target audience is the right choice and a safe way to avoid having a visually poor website.

Picking up photos similar to competitors’

The photos you choose have to be unique and powerful to provide you with the effect you want to achieve. One of the common mistakes when using stock photos is surely ignoring the three Cs – composition, color, and character.

The composition is the top priority. The way you frame the photo significantly depends on this factor. Before making the final choice, it is vital to define what you want in the background or foreground of the photo to be used, and what the appropriate distance among the elements in the photo should be to enable you to convey a particular message. Using cluttered and messy photos is never a good decision.

The color you choose also depends on what outcome you expect. If you plan on adding a logo or a catchy slogan in the negative space, using neutral colors is the way to go. On the other hand, if you want to instantly attract attention, bright colors are a better choice.

stock photography tips

This photo does not leave you with much space to experiment and be creative.

stock photography tips

If you are writing about house plants, for example, this is the right choice. You can be creative with the photo before publishing, add a logo or a slogan, and easily achieve the desired effect.

Finally, the character of a photo is the most important reason why using photos similar to those of your competitors is a bad practice. To be memorable and effective, your website’s photos need that “wow effect” they will surely lack if your visitors have already seen them somewhere else. Hence, conducting simple research and exploring some of your competitors’ websites is well worth your time. Only this way will you be sure that you are purchasing or using unique content.

Using photographs that lack quality

There are many resources where you can find amazing stock photos. They are available in a great variety of resolutions and at different prices. However, it is of key importance to always opt for high-resolution photos as they are sharp, appealing, and will contribute best to conveying a particular message. Choosing photos of lower quality may initially save you some money, but it will cost you more in the long run.

In addition, make sure you eliminate those photos that seem unnatural, outdated, or tacky. These will signal to your visitors that you do not pay enough attention to your website, so they may doubt your professionalism when doing business as well. Remember that each and every element of your website matters if you want an effective whole.

Which photo do you prefer? This one:

stock photography tips

or maybe this one:

stock photography tips

Both photos need to convey joy and happiness, but the latter is a better option as it is more natural, bright, and appealing.

Using stock photos without a creative approach

Simply posting the downloaded stock photos on your website is rarely a good practice. Instead, employ your creativity by using some excellent free photo editing software, for example, and experiment with them prior to publishing. You can crop a photo, add a slogan or a logo, or anything that comes to your mind that is eye-catching and may attract visitors to your website.

Opting for cliché images

Choosing cliché images is one of the frequently made mistakes when using stock photos. The problem with them is that they do not contribute to building your distinctive brand image at all. When you understand that being unique among countless competitors is the key to success, it does not take much to also understand why using these overused, ineffective, and, finally, unattractive and boring photos is a bad decision. If you, for example, want to develop a mind-blowing online store, following the steps of others is certainly not the right strategy to stand out and beat your competitors.

Hence avoid using photos of this type, they look too generic and far from natural:

stock photography tips

stock photography tips

Not keeping an eye on the current trends

Keeping pace with the current trends is imperative for an excellent, attractive, inviting website. The same rule applies to use stock photos as well. Understandably, to make the trends work for you, you have to come up with a way to relate them to your publications. For example, during the holiday season, seasonal topics, photos, and visuals are inevitable for enhancing user experience in this period.

Ignoring distribution rights

Finally, one of the common yet costly mistakes when using stock photos is ignoring the distribution rights—studying these closely after downloading a photo is very well worth your time. Otherwise, you risk paying exorbitant fines for not paying close attention to the licenses offered by a stock agency whose photos you use.

For example, using low-resolution photos from Moose is possible completely free of charge if you add link attribution when publishing. However, buying a subscription is a must if you need high-resolution photos and do not want to be bothered with linking.

Final thoughts

Though using stock photos surely has its set of pros, opting for them at all times without exception might also be listed among common mistakes. Sometimes, creating custom illustrations yourself, or photographing your employees at the office for your ‘About Us’ or ‘Contact’ page, for example, may provide you with much better results. Thus, when organizing your website, before taking any steps towards modernizing and improving it, make sure you visualize what you want to achieve and the impression you want to make. The vision you define will then steer your further decisions.

About the author: this is the guest article by Lydia James, a copywriter currently exploring the secrets of digital marketing with Digital Dot New York.

Title image from Moose Stock Photos

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