Stock Photos + Where to Find Them

Stock photos! Should you use them? People will argue some of their cons, but there are also some significant pros to equally consider. Every business is different and it is important to make decisions based on your needs and not anyone else’s. Whether you are just starting out or running out of fresh content to share during your off season, stock photos can save you a lot of time and stress – for both social media and your website.

Marketing in today’s world is entirely different than it was even 10 years ago. The internet is more accessible than ever and social media has evolved into much more than just a social platform. In turn, the marketing industry has changed its game quite a bit. We all know that visual appeal now plays a vital role in our marketing strategies. Which means we need high quality photos and lots of them!

While we all understand the importance of quality photos, the reality is that it isn’t always easy to create visual content. Depending on your industry, it may even seem impossible at times to keep up. Stock photos are an incredible solution that is often overlooked for those who are not yet ready to invest in a content creator. Additionally, if you’re working with a web designer to get your business online, great stock photos can be key to a professional looking, industry leading website. We require all of our clients to have professional custom photos taken, or stock photos selected before we begin a project.

Keep in mind that personalized, branded and original photos are always the best choice! We are not suggesting you stop working hard to create content and start relying on stock photos. Rather just shedding light on another avenue for when it is needed – we love stock photos for “filler posts”. There is no need to get bogged down, quit or even temporarily let your business slow down just because you don’t have original content.

So let’s get into a few tips when it comes to using stock photos! There are so many variables but we want to point out three important ones today to help you get started.

Rules for Using Stock Photos

Just like any photographers rights and guidelines, there are some rules and etiquette for using stock photos. Check your stock photo source for certain guidelines as they all have slightly different requirements. More important than the visual appeal of your business is its honest and upstanding practices. If you use a stock photo without having purchased it, you’ll likely be fined heftily. (Trust us from personal experience in the corporate world – they will find you, and the fines run about $1,000 per image).

Sourcing your stock photos

There are countless stock photo providers for you to choose from! Here are a few that we recommend looking into:

  1.  Unsplash.com
    For those who aren’t able to invest in their stock photos quite yet, this is a great free source. With over 300,000 high res photos sorted into convenient categories, it’s become a go-to for us and our clients. This is a great source for small businesses and is only possible because of talented generous photographers. While it is free, these photos do come at a cost of someone’s generosity and willingness to help. So be sure to pay that forward wherever you can. Unsplash will prompt you after downloading with who you can credit the photo to. It’s not required, but so helpful for those generous photographers get some well earned publicity.
  2.  Stocksy.com
    If you need more than just digital photos for your visual content, this is a great source with plenty of film photography and video as well. For most digital purposes, the smallest file size is plenty – leaving your cost around $15 per image. We particularly like the editorial feel of Stocksy – nothing feels “stock” about it.
  3. Creativemarket.com
    This is an incredible source for just about everything else you need when it comes to marketing your business and will come in handy to any creative no matter how experienced you are. From stock photos to templates to fonts, you will find a great selection of it all here!
  4. Kate Max Stock
    We can honestly say that Kate Max Stock Library is largely repsonsible for the growth of our business. Her stunning images are minimal, feminine, and perfectly edited. She adds hundreds of images a month, and her site is easy to search. Buy a one year subscription for a ridiculously reasonable price and have content for a year.


How to effectively search and find stock photos


It can be tricky searching through so much beautiful work without getting distracted or wasting time. Trust me, we know! So here are a few tips to help you stay efficient with your stock photo search.

  1. Try searching by color or themes rather than specific objects.
  2. Batch your stock photo search when possible. If you know you will need a handful of photos and have an idea of what you will want, set aside a time to sit down and find them all at once. This helps avoid spending excess time looking for images and gives you a handful of stock photos to pull from next time you need one!
  3. Use the “similar images” feature. If you find an image close to what you’re looking for, most stock accounts will offer a list of similar images at the bottom that could lead you to the perfect stock photo.
  4. There are countless options available for you to search through.  Be cautious and don’t get too caught up in finding the perfect image. The photo you are imagining and looking for may not exist yet and is waiting for you to create it!


Instagram + Pinterest are Not Stock Photo Sources


Most importantly, remember that Instagram, Pinterest and Google Images are not a free stock photo resource. Each of those platforms are hosting images protected by copyright. Click here to read about our Instagram Etiquette practices on how to properly share someone else’s photos on Instagram.



The Identité Collective is a full service creative studio for interior designers and boutique lifestyle brands. Offering bespoke branding, web design and social media content creation, we help small businesses elevate their digital presence to become industry experts. Want to work together? Shoot us an inquiry here.





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  1. Incredibly helpful — just used this to create content for my website launch! Keep doing what you do (:

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