How to Create Great Graphics Using Stock Photos


Stock photos are one of those staples of business.

They help maintain a common aesthetic on your website and across your social platforms. And when your business is on a budget, they help you get over the hump before you invest in custom photography.

But how can you use stock photos in your business to create those drool-worthy images you see elsewhere online?

You know the graphics: carefully curated quotes on beautiful photography backgrounds, graphic buttons and social graphics that make you want to click.

It’s not hard to create your own custom stock graphics, when you start with the right photos and keep some simple tips in mind along the way.

Be Consistent with Your Brand

Your brand has its own personality and its own aesthetic. Use stock photos that are consistent with that look and feel so your audience immediately recognizes your brand on first look. Pay attention to the colors and tone in the photos you purchase  and only use your brand’s fonts when adding text to the images.

Follow the Rules of Photography

You don’t have to be a professional photographer to recognize a good photo. Pay attention to how the photo is composed, taking the “rule of thirds” into account. This helps to maintain balance in the photo and leaves “white space” in the image–a necessary element so your audience’s eye isn’t overwhelmed.

Think Outside the Box for Graphics

Not every stock photo needs to speak exactly for your content. Instead, be creative with your photos and find those that complement the text. For example, if your blog post is about partnerships in business, a photo of two people shaking hands is a pretty white bread (um…boring) way to go. To make the featured image more interesting, find a stock photo that shows people actively engaging with one another–working together and interacting.

Use a Design Program

These days, it’s easy to tweak a photo to fit your needs–through cropping, adding text, changing saturation and hue, etc. And you don’t have to have a degree in graphic design to do so. Photoshop is a typical way to go for those who want to manipulate photos, but there are other options for those without the skills (or budget) for this premium program. Pic Monkey and Canva both very budget-friendly options.

Keep It Simple

As you’re cropping and adding elements to your stock photo, let “less is more” be your guide. Don’t go overboard with busy, script text or so much text that it’s unreadably small. Look for simple photos that lend themselves to the message and tone you want to send and make sure your text is readable and clear.

It doesn’t have to cost a fortune to create graphics for your website and social media, and when you start with the right stock photos, you can truly do it yourself.