How to find the best stock photo for your work

(Or, what we can learn from Snow White)

Okay, that’s a little weird. A blog article on stock images that is about Snow White? While it may seem a little odd at first, the connection is almost self-explanatory.

In just 3 minutes, you can read about how to get the best pictures and videos for your work and why the fairy tale would have ended differently if Snow White’s apple had been the second-most beautiful.


The bad reputation of stock images

People have a lot of opinions about stock images.

They look cheap but they’re a waste of money, they are exaggerated and not specific enough, they use clichés, they all look the same, etc.

But are stock images really that bad?

If they have such a terrible reputation, why do the most successful brands in the world use stock images every day? The answer is simple: not all stock content is the same. Certainly not all images are as clichéd as this one:

I think you know what I mean.

At this point, we could talk about a few good stock images, and the discussion could probably go on forever. After all, there are entire blog articles devoted to the worst stock photos in the world – which you should check out, by the way, because they are hilarious.

However, we don’t want to waste time, so here is a list to help you search for and find the perfect stock images for your marketing content, website, or most recent campaign.


1) Know your goal

Well, that sounds pretty simple. However, from my experience, too many people do not think about the intended use of the pictures they have purchased. This is bad for many reasons:

  • Not every stock image is suitable for every use
  • Online and print require different image qualities
  • Different licensing conditions limit use
  • Not all stock providers offer content for business use

What does this mean for your work with stock images?


Make a plan!

Ask yourself the following questions:

– What do I need the stock content for?
– What do I want to do with it?
– How long will it stay in circulation?
– Is traditional stock content enough, or do I need specific content?


2) Search in the right place

There are many stock providers nowadays. The big ones like Getty, Shutterstock, and Adobe Stock cover the whole spectrum, while others like Image Professionals are true specialists that focus on specific niches. It is important to know what stock content you need. For example, our travel business customers prefer to search platforms that are specialized in travel and tourism.

Then there are some providers who officially say that you can use their content – but if you carefully read the fine print, you’ll notice that using these images could quickly land you in hot water.

Here are 3 tips to help you easily identify questionable providers when it comes to licensing law:

  • You can use the images “without restriction”
  • The stock content is free
  • Brands are visible in the pictures

If you come across providers like this, do yourself and your company a favor: look elsewhere.


3) The image itself

There can be huge differences from stock photo to stock photo. In my experience, you should pay attention to the following points, depending on the intended use:

Do not use exaggerated images

Of course, we all remember the time we danced on the table with our colleagues, right? Not really. This image is one of the reasons why stock photos have such a bad rap among some people.

And can you blame them?

It’s over the top and looks completely unnatural. A brand that relies on authenticity and trust will not use pictures like this (hopefully). To put it even more simply: would you want to work with a company that uses photos like this to market itself?


What can you do instead?

Rely on realistic images

Use images that you could actually see as part of your everyday life – like this one:

Yes, the people in this picture seem to be happy about some kind of success. But in this case, I believe them. There is no excessive laughter or clichés.


Rely on natural images

To better illustrate what I mean, here is a picture of a couple in a restaurant. I would also eat a burger in this setting.


And here is an example of a very unnatural stock image:

As you can see, stock images are a dime a dozen. Which one you choose is up to you.


So, what about Snow White?

Actually, it’s the same thing.

If the apple that the wicked witch offered Snow White had not been so beautiful and appealing, the young girl would probably not have accepted anything from the strange woman.

For the success of a project, it makes perfect sense to choose the product or image that is more visually appealing. In the case of stock images, this means not being satisfied with the first choice, but always looking for the best image for the respective use.

To ensure that you and your colleagues always have the largest and best selection of stock images available, use Enterprise Content Buying ® to search across all stock providers.

It’s quick and easy with just one login.

Christina Holzner

Christina is our Chief Marketing Officier and loves great tips & life hacks.

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Alfred-Wegener-Institut / Mario Hoppmann (CC-BY 4.0)

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