Using the Autohootkey tutorial to search for images

What are stock photos and how do you use them properly?

Do you remember the one time when you and your four ethnically diverse friends, who all look like models, pointed at a computer and laughed like you were having the best time of your life? Not? And how about the other time when you and your unrealistically attractive friend were in some seedy but well-lit restaurant, had a salad for dinner and giggled to each other for no reason? Can't you remember it at all? Maybe that's becauserealPeople don't do that. And yet, these mendacious moments seem to make up the majority of the stock photos.

Stock photos and stock images generally have a bad reputation and sites like LOLNEIN make fun of them. But the truth is, there are tons of stock images out there that aren't trite, and these are extremely useful for designers and businesses alike. First of all, they're both cheaper and easier to use than homemade pictures. The trick is to use them properly. But how exactly do you do that?

In this article, we'll explain how to use stock photos and, more importantly, how to use them Notshould use.

What are stock images?

Stock images are generic photos, illustrations, and icons that were created without a specific project in mind. Individuals or companies can then purchase a license - usually for a fee - to use it in marketing materials, on websites, for packaging, books, and more.

Many stock photos platforms now specialize in certain styles and types of stock photography, such as more diverse stock photos and more realistic, natural stock images.

If you're a photographer and want to do this job full time, stock photography is a great way to sell your work and can help increase your income.

Are Stock Photos Effective?

It can be you. Stock photos become much more versatile if you change and personalize them. The fact is, stock images are most effective when they don't look like stock images.

A few years ago the blog Marketing Experiments tested the performance of stock images compared to individually made images. They found that when they swapped a generic stock image of a woman for a photo of the actual founder (and a caption with his name) conversions increased by 35%.

The Nielsen Norman Group supports this data. Their eye-tracking studies showed that stock photos are largely ignored compared to photos of real people, suggesting that modern humans have developed a kind of “sixth sense” when it comes to distinguishing stock photos from self-made images .

But stock photos have a notable advantage over individually made images - namely the price and ease of use. You can browse and download all of the stock photos you need in just a few hours and pay very little, if any, for them. Compare this to custom-made photos that require a professional photographer, scheduled photo shoots, and sometimes models. The amount of time, money, and effort a photo shoot requires can quickly grow to be immeasurable.

So the best way to use stock photos is to choose stock photos that look realistic. So you get the best of both worlds: Quick and easy pictures without the high price of individually made photos.

How many types of licenses are there for stock photos?

A lot! Stock images can have several types of licenses, including special fees for commercial use and alteration. There are three main types of license that designers deal with:

  • Toll-free:Users don't have to pay any fees at all and can use the image for free. However, everyone else can do the same. These include public domain (content whose intellectual property rights have expired) and creative commons (artists choose their work to be royalty-free). However, these may require certain references to the source.
  • Rights management:You have to pay for the use of the images and licenses can be purchased for individual projects, a specific period of time or a location.
  • License extension: This provides additional rights to a standard license, including multiple use of the image and fees for resale and commercial use (e.g. on a T-shirt).

For more details on licensing stock photos, see our Stock Image Licensing Guide.

Stock images are priced differently depending on where you buy them, and there are tons of free stock images available in case you run out of money. Some sites let you pay per image, while others charge a membership fee that allows you to download a certain number of images within a certain period of time.

Be aware that some usage rights require certain names to be named - especially for images that are subject to the Creative Commons license. This just means that the artist / creator has to be named. Common Attribution Licenses include:

  • Standard attribution: Free use of the picture, provided the artist is named.
  • Attribution - disclosure under the same conditions:The same rules as for standard naming, but all new uses, commercial uses or changed uses must also be marked as Creative Commons.
  • Attribution - No processing:The image can be redistributed, also commercially, but may not be changed or edited.
  • Attribution - Non-Commercial:The image may not be used for commercial purposes or resale.
  • Attribution - non-commercial - sharing under the same conditions:The image may be used for personal use, but any modification or editing must also be done under Creative Commons.
  • Attribution - Non-Commercial - No Processing:The image may be used for personal use and may not be changed or edited.

While it doesn't seem like it, Creative Commons has tons of legal pitfalls, depending on the type of attribution. Make sure you follow the guidelines carefully, otherwise your "free" stock image can end up getting you a lot of legal fees.

Where can you find stock images?

Stock images seem to be everywhere, but some sources are better than others. The first step is to know your budget and needs: if you need multiple stock images, or will need new ones regularly over time, it may be worth looking for a paid stock image service. You may already know these names:

  • Adobe Stock: Adobe Stock is known for its size and diversity. It's so useful that we even wrote a 6-step guide on how to find that perfect stock image there.
  • Getty Images:One of the most iconic names in stock images, Getty offers stock photos, images, videos, and even music. Getty offers discounts on packages of 5 and 10, which can save you hundreds of dollars when using larger HD photos or videos.
  • Shutterstock: Shutterstock is another well-known name in the stock photos space that you may already know from its watermarks. Occasional users can take advantage of the 5 and 25 pack discounts, but regular users or businesses will prefer the subscription plan.
  • Mosses: Moose is a stock photography site operated by Icons8. Their images are free for personal and commercial use, provided you link to their page. You can also purchase a license that does not require linking.

The main reason why stock images are so appealing is that they are so cheap, so your best bet is to download free stock images. If that sounds like what you're looking for, here is a list of 30 sites that offer free public domain images.

Once you've found a page or database of stock images that you like, you can search for the actual images. One more technical piece of advice before you get started: Make sure you check the status of your stock images to make sure you're safe to use. You need to check two main points:

  1. Check the license agreement. If you want to edit the images in Photoshop or use them commercially, you have to make sure that the license is correct. Some works are different from others and when it comes to claims for damages, prevention is better than aftercare.
  2. Do a reverse image search to see who else is using the image. The problem with stock photos is that anyone can use them. Unless you have acquired exclusive rights to an image, you should do a reverse image search to find out who is still using the image.

We recommend TinEye, a free reverse image search tool.

2 important tips for using stock photos

Using stock photos is easier than it seems, but there are a few important tips that will ensure you get a quality product.

1. Combine stock photos with self-made images so that they all look like they were self-made (avoid using stock photos for each photo).

Stock photos are like a strong spice: they're best when used consistently, but if you use too much at once, it will be all you can taste (or see). Stock images work best when mixed with your own images to strike a balance between originality and price.

Photo montages are the best way to sell stock photos as your own, as long as you get it right. Here are a few tips:

  • Use homemade images as primary images and stock photos as secondary images. The eye-catching, self-made pictures give the impression that the following pictures are also self-made. In web design, this works particularly well in photo carousels.
  • Connect your photos with text like the clothes manufacturer Someoneabove. Text is free, easy to create and always custom made, making it a smart alternative to real images.
  • Mostly show your logo on photos you have taken to prove that they are not stock photos. You can also show your logo on stock photos, but we'll explain that later.
  • Connect all photos with an optical motif. It could be a dominant color or something abstract like smiling people. While custom designs are easier if you create your own photos, you can also filter the stock images to find what fits your scheme.

2. Personalize your stock photos with an image editing program (do not use "finished" stock photos)

Just because you spent a few hours finding the perfect stock photo doesn't mean you can use it right away. You should always personalize your stock photos. Not only so that they better fit your brand, but also so that your image is different from what other brands are using.

If you have a stock image that allows changes, take advantage of this. On the one hand, you can remove or add elements as you wish, for example if a flower pot on a table is too distracting or there are too many balloons in the party scene.

You can also customize stock photos to better match your brand. You can add your logo on products, uniforms or signs in the background. For stock photos that have a plain background, you (or someone who knows how to manipulate images) can easily change it to a background in your corporate colors.

If you are familiar with photo editing software, you can make the changes yourself by following our guide to photo editing. If you are not very familiar with Photoshop, consider hiring a professional. Getting the help of a designer is like a shortcut to creating homemade pictures without a photographer, even if it still takes time and effort. Depending on your project (poster, website, etc.), you can even hire a designer to take care of everything for you.

Stock Photos: Lent Originality

Don't forget, if a stock photo is really good, you won't notice that it is a stock photo. Anything you can do to customize it will make it more impactful, so don't be afraid to turn your stock photos into customized images.

What do you think of stock photos? Has anyone ever really blown you away or made you laugh so much that you fell off your chair?

Let us know what you think about stock photos in the comments.