So you've started utilizing styled stock photos for your business--we knew you were smart! Now you want to maintain an aesthetic that works with your brand, all while maximizing the investment you made in stock photos. We’re here to show you just how easy and effective stock photography can be in your marketing and branding. You can take one stock photo and personalize it to work for you and get more bang for your buck!
Below we give you four tips on how to make styled stock photos look “on brand” and later in the post we review apps and editing software that can help you utilize these tips!
How to Use stock photos and Make Them Look “On Brand” with 4 easy tips
1. Creative Cropping, Flipping and Turning
You can use one photo several different ways just by cropping the photo. Let’s look at this example (below). You can zoom in and crop either side of it and even rotate it on an angle. Boom! NEW PHOTO. Also, no one remembers what you posted yesterday and if you spread these different "new” photos out in your feed you can stretch one photo into three or more in a matter of clicks!
In the top image (shown below), we cropped it on the left side of the image in a square format and rotated it for a completely new look. The bottom image is cropped in the center right of the image. They look like brand new photos!
Spreading these two “new” images out in your feed will make it so that no one will remember or think, “hey, she’s using the SAME photo”. It’s genius!
2. Add Text Overlays in Your Brand Colors
Add in your logo, a quote, or an announcement with your favorite photo editing app. We love Canva! Most editing software allows you to customize fonts and colors so that your feed looks consistent.
Using your own unique font and brand colors makes your stock photo look like you and your followers will think, oh, that’s [insert your awesome company name here]!
3. Fade or Add Contrast to the Photo
Fading the photo or adding contrast to it can completely change the look and feel of an image. Are your brand’s images punchy and filled with contrast? Or more muted with a matte feel? Canva, PicMonkey, or even Instagram’s filters make adjusting the vibe/aesthetic of your stock photos so easy! You can purchase (or create your own!) a “preset” to use in the editing software of your choice that makes your images look like your brand, so that you are only clicks away from a photo that looks like it’s yours.
Stock photos are great for those weekly prompts you create in your Facebook group. And you can separate your group by personalizing your stock photo.
4. Add a Color Filter
Are you known for your gold toned images? Or does your feed carry an overall pink color theme? Use a faded out color filter over a stock photo that will transform your stock photo. Using your “signature hue” will blend a stock photo in and look cohesive with your brand’s feed and overall vibe.
Now that we have your creative juices flowing on how to use a stock photo in your business, let’s get down to the nitty gritty of how we do this.
How Do I Edit My Stock Photos?
Not sure where to start with editing photos to match your brand colors and style? Below we break down some easy applications for your desktop computer and your smartphone! It’s easier than ever to edit and personalize stock photos for your branding.
Desktop Editing Applications
Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop
Lightroom is a fantastic resource and has a low learning curve. Photoshop has so many options, it’s scary. There’s a reason ‘She looks so photoshopped in that photo!’ is a thing people say in our society. You can change a photo so much in Photoshop, it can be unrecognizable from the original. For us? That’s way too time consuming. You’re utilizing stock photos to save you time, right?
Lightroom is intuitive and offers a deep level of editing—so much so that it’s our editing platform of choice. You can throw on a filter, change the hue, creatively crop, and more! You can’t add text overlay (Lightroom has its limits!), but pretty much everything else that you’ll want or need is right here in Lightroom.
And there are many ‘presets’ on the market specifically for your area of need. There’s everything from portrait, to lifestyle, to food presets available to help you keep a cohesive look to your images.
Need help with presets or working in Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom? Here are a few articles to get you started:
Affinity Photo for Desktop
We’ve never used Affinity, but we hear it’s similar to Adobe Photoshop and there is a low learning curve, especially if you’re familiar with Photoshop. Plus, there is only a one-time fee of $50 to download the software to your Mac or PC, unlike Adobe products that start at $10/month.
We prefer the cloud/subscription of Adobe because we’re always using the most current version, but Affinity also has updates that you can apply, as needed.
Another bonus: they have an iPad version.
Canva is such an incredible tool for any online business (or offline, for that matter!). If you’re not familiar, it’s a powerful design application where you can create anything from blog post graphics, to business cards, to flyers for the school fundraiser.
The interface is intuitive and has so much depth. They just came out with Canva 2.0 and while we typically don’t like change, it was an easy transition.
You can upload a stock photo, add your logo, text overlays, fade the photo, deepen the photo, make a Pinterest graphic with the photo, crop it, etc. The list goes on!
Before Canva, we were PicMonkey die-hards. It was what our founder used prior to learning professional photography and the magic that is Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop.
PicMonkey has come a long way and offers many of the same graphic design abilities as Canva and also provides some cool “photoshop-like” features: teeth whitening, red-eye remover, skin fixing, etc.
PicMonkey is a great option for someone who doesn’t want to use professional applications and wants some editing power to make stock photos look more unique and on-brand.
There are too many photo apps for smartphones to list here which should tell you there’s an app for everyone at every price point.
Here are some iPhone apps that we personally use and can recommend:
A Color Story is the creation of the sisters behind the incredibly popular A Beautiful Mess and has changed/become more robust since their first release quite a few years ago. It’s pretty popular and easy to use. There are three ways you can change your photos in the app: filters (over 100 to choose from!), effects, and manual edits (20 editing tools!).
They also offer batch editing (time saver!) and grid preview so you can make sure your feed is looking consistent. It takes a few tries to figure out your filter combo, or editing steps, but once you have it saved it’ll save you so much time in the future.
Of all of these iPhone apps PicTapGo is our favorite. It’s so easy to use! I love the unique editing options (some favorite filters are “crispity” and “cool it down”) and the way you can move the slider to lower the amount of a particular filter. You can play with multiple filters, save your actions for future images, and download to your camera roll, or directly into the app of your choice (like Instagram).
As of this posting, it’s only $2.99 and is available for iPhone and Google Play.
Yes, you can download a very cool Lightroom app for your iPhone that syncs with your Lightroom library. And it’s free. We repeat: FREE. It doesn’t contain every feature of the desktop lightroom, but there’s a lot of power in this app!
Another great feature: you can shoot in ‘raw’ if your camera allows it. We love this feature, but honestly, it takes too many clicks for us to get to ready to take the shot and we typically just use my regular camera.
VSCO (Visual Supply Company) is one of the first apps we used for iPhone photo editing. It has A LOT of filter options (in-app purchases) and it takes some time to find a combination that works for your brand. But once you get it, it’s a beautiful thing to remember your pack and numbers. AKA: Presets (That’s a little inside speak for VSCO users ;)
LIttle did I know that they offer amazing Lightroom presets and they’re known for their ability to mimic film beautifully. I have their film #7 and #5, although, it appears that they’ve renamed them. Great quality and fun to play around with and most importantly, once you find one you love that is “you”, one click makes a stock photo look on-brand.
If you have a business on the web, you most likely have an Instagram account. And if you don’t have a business account, you are probably one of the millions of people who have a personal Instagram account.
Instagram’s filters have come a long way. They offer so many different styles and you can customize each filter to make it more your own. You can save the image to use off of Instagram, or just continue and post it to your feed.
Final Thoughts on How to Use Stock Photos in Your Business
Stock photos are an amazing tool that can enhance your brand’s image and make your life and your marketing efforts so much easier. This post covered why you should use stock photos in your business, but beyond that, we covered how you can edit stock photos to make them look consistent and on brand—and use one photo in many different ways. Stock photography can be edited creatively so that you maximize the number of uses for your blog posts, pinterest graphics, and social media feed.
As you can see—with so many editing software and app options, it’s easier than ever to keep your brand’s aesthetic consistent. Even when you’re utilizing styled stock photos!
Check out the shop for seasonal, modern, and bright photo bundles to use in your business.
Don’t have the budget for stock photos? Make your own! Check out this awesome resource, “How to Create Beautiful Flat Lay Photos”.
Thanks for reading! xoxo