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Stock Photo Guide
The ultimate guide to making stock photos look less stocky

The Ultimate Guide to Making Stock Photos Look Less Stocky

Stock photos can be said to be the lifeline of marketing. After all, we depend on them to create stunning and engaging visuals no matter if it is for a display banner or an outdoor billboard.

The problem? Stock photos often have a certain “stock-like” look to them. Whether it’s an incredibly cheesy pose or over-the-top reactions, stock-based visuals, if not done right, can be an eye-sore to your increasingly ad-savvy customers!

So, if you’ve been thinking of how to make your marketing assets look less like it’s been plucked straight out of a database, here is Heroes Of Digital’s ultimate guide to making your stock photos less stock-y.

We’ve also compiled this guide into a handy PDF for you to keep as inspiration. Download it here!

1. Avoid an overused or recognizable model if possible

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2. Crop out the model’s face to bring focus on the subject instead

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3. Split an otherwise ordinary photo into half - customise it by aligning it left & right with high contrast editing

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4. Play with asymmetry by cropping ordinary full faces into half, as well as shifting to the left or right for word placement

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5. Greyscale can work wonders to highlight your product or the subject

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6. Refrain from displaying the whole image's background by adding object or combining images

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7. Capture and utilize genuine emotional cues

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8. Image manipulation - rotate, zoom, flip or mirror & other techniques. Stock photos are often shot in generic positions to appeal to a wide market. Aim to make your visual look as if it came from a personal studio.

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9. Apply a gradient fade on an image horizontally or vertically

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10. Authenticity - find candid photos to show genuine moments over photos that are over-posed

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11. Split an otherwise ordinary front-sho to make a stunning comparison

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12. Most stock photos will be shot in the safest-possible colour scheme (which looks generic), so changing the colour drastically can make it unique to your brand

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13. Don't be afraid to mix images and vectors (symbols, emojis, FB/IG texts) as long as it fits the brief and brand.

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14. 99% of stock photos are shot with wide depth of field (everything is focused). Making a focus-point seperates the genering from the stunning.

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15. Perspective - choose photos that are not shot from typical & cheesy angles

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16. Typography Design - make full use of text as a main design element

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17. Blending Options - this is a quick technique to to boost your visual creativity

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18. Mix it up - combine your actual product with a stock vector or 3D illustration

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19. Eye candy - play with exciting and striking colour palettes to embolden a design or brand

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20. Combine Real & Flat - Combining The 2D and 3D can give your visual liveliness

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21. Manipulate the saturation and hue, adjusting the level to be consistent with your branding

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22. Combine several illustrations and blend them into one setting for a great and compact graphic

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23. Combine interesting elements with themes that connect to each other (e.g. women & flowers, wood & fire)

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24. Keep an eye out for visuals that can be cropped effectively

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25. Keep it simple - flip images for text settings

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26. Utulise humor & inject some fun in to your visuals - remember, customers are people who respond to humour!

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27. If your products are vastly different, combine them under a single colour

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28. Make a strong and irresistable proposition

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29. Behind every good design is good application of contrast

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30. Make full use of photoshop to single-out your product's main color

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31. With some photography and styling, you can add other top view elements to support the main product

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32. 2-in-1 Design & Info - combine bold texts into the visual to make a bold statement

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