Stock up on photos

This week I have been thinking about using images with design. Quite often I find myself on a tight deadline or budget, and having to hit up a friendly stock photo library to illustrate a design piece with some imagery. There is nothing wrong especially with using stock images, or even clip art, but there are things you should consider while using them if you want them to work well and not look too cheesy! Here are 5 points to consider if you are using or thinking of using stock images.

Means to an end

Firstly, stock images are more often than not a necessary evil. Tight deadlines or slim budgets mean you may not be able to get the exact image you need, or pay a photographer & model to create one for you. Not to worry! This is why stock photos are so valuable. While I can't overstate enough how much better it is to have your own custom images done, picking a good stock photo will go a long way towards replacing that potential custom image.


So if you have decided to go with stock photos. My next piece of advice would be to make sure you invest in a good site. While you can spend hundreds of pounds on stock photos with some licences (make sure you get the right licence!), there are some websites out there that offer high quality photos at reasonable prices.

Some of my favourites are and It may be tempting to try and find some free images, but they are usually of a much lower quality, or incredibly common. 

Remember to never use images you have found on a google image search without properly looking into the usage rights, as they may belong to someone else.

Don't over-use

When using stock images, the trick is to ensure you don't over-use them. If you need an image to highlight a specific point that is great, but if you need to create a magazine article from scratch with only stock images you are going to struggle to make it look unique in any way, as stock images have a tendency to look very similar to each other.

Change it

Another thing you can do with stock images is to not be afraid to change or edit the images. Crop them or cut out elements! Depending on what you are using the image for, changing it even slightly can really make it yours. You don't necessarily need to be a whiz on Photoshop to tweak the images as even cropping slightly can change the look.

Just remember, if you change the image it doesn't make it yours and most image companies will not allow you to resell someone else's edited image on its own.

Be inspired to do it yourself

Lastly, if you have found a really great stock photo that you want of a happy guy sitting at a desk, why not try and do it yourself? Ask Dave from the office to smile for once and snap a picture of him, stick an Instagram filter over it and you could be surprised with the results!

Having a photo that is genuinely unique can really enhance whatever you need the image for. At least give it a try before you go for the stock image as it can really make a difference by being unique. If you would like a helping hand with image choice or advice on taking or editing an image, let me know and I would be happy to help!

Thanks for reading. If you would like to use any of my amazing stock images I took for this article please feel free! For more blog posts about my thoughts on many design related subjects check out: 

If you are interested in any of the issues discussed, and would like to speak to me, please feel free to get in touch. You can comment below, email or even give me a call on 07742 990524.