Simple Ways How To Make The Best Use Of Stock Photos

Don't just simply crop them. There are plenty more ways to customize stock photos for your business. Let me show them!
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Featured image for blog post simple ways to customize stock photos showing a journal, scissors, pen with some stationery

If you’re a small business owner like me, you probably wear many hats to keep the boat afloat. And you may struggle with finding enough time to take pictures for your blog, social media content and email marketing campaigns.

To run your business effectively and profitably, you need to invest into business tools that support you and help you achieve your marketing and sales goals.

Stock images and stock library memberships are the perfect solution and valuable assets if you don’t want to spend your money on professional photo equipment, lighting, backdrops and props.

Let’s face it, it takes time to learn how to take high quality photos. And if you’re on a tight budget, or need something quickly for your blog, well then waiting for a professional photographer isn’t the solution either.

Before you buy a stock library membership

Or spend a fortune on stock photo bundles, make a list of how and where you’d use those images and graphics:

 

Remind yourself about your business style and aesthetics, and who your ideal audience is. The images should not only appeal to you, but need to catch your ideal clients’ attention as well.

In my earlier blog post I collected a curated list of stock photo sites for your website, blog, or email marketing campaigns to captivate your audience and to grab their attention. It contains both free and premium, paid stock photo sites.

To get the most out of your stock images I’m showing here today 10+ simple ways how you can customize and repurpose them for your business and content creation needs.

 

Let’s dive in and see them in action! I’m using photos in the below examples from one of my favourite stock photo membership sites: MOYO studio.

Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase via my referral link I may get a small commission.

10+ Simple Ways How To Customize Stock Photos

1: Use stock images as they are (but optimize them first)

This is the quickest and most straightforward way. As Moyo studio’s stock photos come in a high res, high quality format, the best is though if you optimize them first. It’s an overkill to upload a 6+ MB image to your website or blog. Especially if the dimensions of your WordPress template can’t handle them and would resize them in the CSS anyway.

You need to be mindful of page load times.

Or let’s say you want to create an eBook, a mini guide or a workbook as your lead magnet. While designing the pages you decide to add some flair to it by selecting a few stunning stock images. Don’t be tempted to use full res files as they are. You may end up with an 8-page pdf for download that’s 10+ MB heavy.

When your subscribers access your blog & offer from their smartphones, as statics prove that’s what happens most of the time, if they need to download 10-15 MBs files, they may lose patience and interest in what you offer before they even would get it and read it.

Pro Tip 1: As a design best practice always check the size of your lead magnets. If it’s meant to be consumed digitally, compress images and decrease the file size to an optimal value. To give you an example an 8-page pdf booklet/workbook should be less than 1 MB.

Pro Tip 2: If your lead magnet is specifically meant for printing, first of all let them know. Mention it before they would hit that download button, that the best way to consume and enjoy this magnificent freebie is to print it (maybe even professionally). And because of this the file size is big.
To avoid disappointment tell them to download it when they’re on a steady, high speed connection on their device. And then you’re covered!

2: Crop images to various sizes and ratios (square, landscape, portrait)

You can crop a high-resolution stock image to form several different stock photos that you can re-use for

  • social media,
  • sales pages or
  • other types of promotions.

 

First decide where you want to use the images and select suitable cropping dimensions. Check your WordPress template to see what the ideal dimension are for your blog post featured image.

All social media platforms prefer different ratios. And they may even change those from time to time! Pick the appropriate cropping method based on where your audience hangs out and where you want to promote your blog post, be it your

  • Instagram feed,
  • Instagram stories,
  • Facebook business page,
  • Twitter handle or
  • your themed Pinterest boards.

 

Pro Tip 1: Instagram allows you to upload images not only in 1:1 ratio (squares), but also with landscape and portrait orientation. Start experimenting!

To seamlessly add a landscape oriented image to your Instagram feed follow these steps:

  1. Crop the image with a predefined ratio of 16:10,
  2. cut the image in half exactly at the middle,
  3. save the two new images for web (legacy) in Photoshop with a newly set image height of 1350px,
  4. and then post the two image parts as a carousel to your feed.

 

Pro Tip 2: If you thrive for a cohesive look and feel in your content marketing, select 1-2 images of the same topic/theme and crop them to end up with:

  • a blog post featured image (typically landscape oriented),
  • one or two additional images for the blog post body (can be square, landscape or portrait),
  • a Facebook optimized image for sharing (landscape),
  • a Twitter optimized image for sharing (landscape),
  • one or two Pin-worthy images (portrait), and
  • one or two versions for your email newsletter (can be square, landscape or portrait).

 

If you plan to load a video or slideshow to the blog post, make sure to re-use the images there as well. For long form, list type posts you can throw in additionally a pin-ready infographic using some of these images.

 

Let’s see how you can build an Instagram feed with MOYO studio’s images cropped to squares. Just add a few quotes, personal notes to make it more versatile, relatable and engaging.

Instagram feed examples with Moyo studio's photos and text quotes

3: Zoom on an area of the image and then crop it

Another version of the above tactic is to zoom on a specific area of the stock photo, making it more prominent. And then to crop the photo with that new focus point into new slices. Again you can have several versions if you switch between ratios of square, landscape and portrait orientation.

If this doesn’t seem too interesting, combine it with the below method.

4: Flip the image vertically, horizontally

When it comes to customizing your stock photos, don’t be afraid of flipping your images to see how the new perspective changes the composition. If you use the above zooming and cropping techniques as well, this already gives you countless new options from just one image!

Let’s see it in action with an image from the Pink Collection Photo Bundle:

collage of zoomed, cropped, flipped image examples from one Moyo studio photo

5: Rotate the photo at any angle

A lesser known and used technique is rotating the original image or its cropped versions. By rotating the image even with just a Don’t be afraid to experiment with this can give new dynamics to your design asset.

Pro Tip: Add some hand drawn doodles to the side or a

  • quote,
  • message,
  • headline – and you’re ready to publish it.

6: Add filters

Adding a colour overlay or a filter is one of the best ways to customize stock photos for your brand. Use editing filters that transform the photo in a way that matches your brand.

For example, if your brand has a monochromatic style, add a muted, black and white filter to achieve the required effect. Or if your brand is more colorful and bright, you can enhance the original stock photo with a saturation filter to make it pop more.

7: Add text to the whitespace area

Images in MOYO studio’s stock photo library have plenty of negative space where you can add your

  • blog post title, promotion title,
  • motivational quote or
  • ad copy.

 

In the below examples I picked two photos to showcase different fonts for a typography sample presentation.

text element examples on whitespace area on Moyo studio's stock images

8: Add a background overlay with text

A slightly different version of the previous tip. If your photo doesn’t have enough white space, then first add a smaller semi-translucent background on your photo. Then embed your text to this coloured area.

9: Add a border or a frame to your stock image

You don’t need to overcomplicate things. Most of the time ‘simple yet chic’ achieves more than a busy, distracting composition. Adding a border or a frame to your selected stock photo is especially catchy for Pin images, but it can work quite well on your Instagram feed, too!

10: Combine images from the same bundle into a collage

This is one of the most visually striking ways to customize stock photos. Create a collage by combining 5-6 photos from the same collection or photo bundle to make one big image. You can get super creative with collage layouts and use one that works best for your

  • brand,
  • blog or
  • social media feed.

 

In the below example collage you can see photos from the Summer Lifestyle Collection Photo Bundle working together seamlessly.

summer lifestyle photo collage with Moyo studio images

11: Combine the cropped versions of the same photo into a collage

A few steps above I zoomed, cropped, flipped an image to show you how you can get several pieces out of one high res, high quality photo.  While you could publish and share them on their own, but don’t just stop there.

Pro Tip: Combine those pieces together into a brand new collage, with perhaps showing the original image in black-and-white and all the focused, flipped versions on the side. You may add a color palette to the mix as a finishing touch.

Sounds like an intriguing design, am I right?

12: Combine images from different photo library sources into a collage

If you’re like me than you probably won’t stop at only one stock photo membership. And it makes sense to invest into other types of images and graphics.

I’ve collected a list of 20 amazing sites with stunning (free-ish) stock photos where you can browse for more visual assets. Make sure to stick with photos that match your original ones to get a harmonious composition.

Pro Tip: Be brave and bold and throw in one image that’s completely different and make it the focus point of your collage.

13: Mix any combination of the above mentioned methods

I’ve already mentioned 10+ methods but if you start mixing and combining these techniques you end up with seemingly endless options and variations.

 

What is your favourite way by the way to customize stock images for your business?
Let me know in the comments!

What tools do you need to customize your stock images?

My ultimate image editing tool is Adobe Photoshop. And that’s also what Moyo studio recommends if you want to edit the mockups (.psd) files.

If you don’t have it, and your main focus is on regular images, Canva helps with majority of the things that Photoshop does. Whether you simply want to crop or straighten a photo or want to get creative with textures, fonts, badges and stickers, Canva can help.

You can try GIMP as a promising alternative too. It’s a free professional software for editing photos and is compatible with Linux, Windows and Mac operating systems.

If you have a PC with Windows, then you can look at Paint.NET as image and photo editing software.

The Pixlr Editor is more like Photoshop. It’s a straightforward photo-editing tool that lets you crop, size, and tweak the image. It has a red eye tool that eliminates those devil eyes that appear when the flash goes off.

Pixlr Express, on the other hand, lets you put creative overlays on your images — this is really for playing with your photos.

Fotor is another photo editing software solution that boasts an intuitive interface. They also have a Collage Editor!

PicMonkey offers a more comprehensive graphic design solution than just editing photos. You can create collages, edit your photos, crop and add touch-ups to mention only a couple of its features.

My personal favourite to compress images before uploading them to my website is TinyPNG or TinyJPG.

  • For PNG files it uses smart lossy compression techniques to reduce the file size.
    • The effect is nearly invisible but it makes a very large difference in file size!
  • For JPGs: Every uploaded image is analyzed to apply the best possible JPEG encoding. Based on the content of your image an optimal strategy is chosen.
    • The result is a quality image without wasting storage or bandwidth!

Did you like this post? Then share this post with your friends on social media and leave me a comment below. It would mean the world to me.

Don’t forget to pin it to your boards as reference for later!

 

How to customize stock photos

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