Stock images or memorable images?


I have spent many an hour searching and browsing image sites over my 20+ year career and it’s one area of my job that is not enjoyable. Browsing image after image online is not creative and you end up always wondering if the next page could have the ‘perfect’ image. Bespoke imagery can come at a price and stock image sites exist to bridge that gap when budgets are tight but there is a price to pay for using stock images all the time. 


Bespoke imagery

For small businesses investing in your own imagery can seem an expensive outlay but photographers do offer different, affordable packages depending on what you are looking for.

I always advise clients to invest in their own images. There are many benefits to having your own imagery: the images are completely bespoke and are all yours; they will be set up and taken to reflect your business personality and there will be no compromises on the people or objects in the shot.

One of the many down sides of stock photography is that your competitor could end up with the same shot as you on their website or in their social media post. How do you stand apart and look better than them if you are using the same imagery? Stock imagery can reduce trust and point of difference, so you have to ask if that is a price you are willing to pay.


Getting more for your money

Bespoke imagery can seem an expensive outlay at the beginning but there are ways to get more use from them:

• Repeat the images – Don’t worry about re-using the same image in social media, most people won’t notice you have already used it before. So use it across multiple social posts, in newsletters and on your website.

• Crop your images – Do different crops on your images to make them feel different, or zoom in a little more on the photograph if you can.

• Black and white – Turn an image in to black and white if it works for your business brand image.

• Text and graphic overlay – With apps like Canva you can add text or graphics over the top of your images to make them feel different.

• Mix stock and bespoke imagery – When you have your own imagery the odd stock image will not be noticeable so it is easier to use both effectively.


Candid imagery

Luckily for many small businesses, candid, ‘real’ images are a popular trend. Everyone has a camera and you can take some great shots on your phone that are large enough resolution to use online and in print.

If you are taking your own images, think about lighting. Inside lights have a yellow hue and so all your images will look yellow. Outside, natural light is the best light. If you take any images inside, what is in the background? You don’t want the bin or your washing ending up in the shot! Try for a clean, simple background. You can also invest in photographic backdrops if you are doing a lot of product images so that you don’t always end up using the same kitchen worktop.

Unusual angles can help to add interest and perspective to something quite plain and ordinary. Also think about the focus of your image. You don’t want to over clutter the shot so try not to have too much going around the main focal point.

Try and tell a story, capture moments of real life rather than being too polished and posed. Big brands are investing in ‘real’ images and ‘real’ people to help engage customers. They are creating well composed but real-life looking images that contribute to the visual story of their business that the target audience is attracted to. As a small business being ‘you’ is important, show the real side to the business. Get people to know, like and trust you.



Don’t forget about illustrations. Companies like Slack and Dropbox have created a strong brand image by investing in some great, original illustrations.

There are so many different style of illustrators out there, it would be quite straight forward to find a style that would work with your business and talk to your target market.



Infographics can help illustrate something that could be quite boring or complex and make it easier to read and digest. If you search infographics on Pinterest you will see that you can make almost anything in to an infographic! The graphics can then be use in your social media, on your website and on any printed communications where relevant.


Many of us run businesses in a crowded market, a strong visual brand is one of the main drivers of business success. Strong and relevant images help businesses to stand out and be memorable.


If you want help creating some bespoke images, whether illustrative or photographic, please do get in touch as we have many contacts in the industry that can help create a distinctive look and feel for you.