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Cut The Cheese: 5 Tips For Finding Stock Imagery That Isn't Cheesy


Ugh, stock photos. Not only can they be cheesy and ridiculous, but they can also be a huge time suck when you’re stuck searching for the *perfect* picture to use on a specific piece.

But in today’s marketing/design world, they are all too often a necessary evil.  

In a perfect world, we would all have the resources to shoot original photography for marketing use. But this isn’t a perfect world — it’s a realistic one. And because of time, money equipment (and let’s be honest, talent) restraints, we more times than not have to turn to stock imagery to use in our blog posts, social media campaigns, website designs and even print materials.

Check Out Our List of Free & Low-Cost Photos for Your Website & Blog

Searching for the ideal stock photo can be a long, rewardless process. Believe me, I feel your pain! But with the following tips, you can fight your way out of the stock photo slump and ultimately cut the cheese (in a good way!).

To show you just how effective these tips can be, I’ve put them into action comparing each one to the infamous Stock Photo Cliche “Woman Laughing Alone With Salad.” (Why are there so many of these, and WHO is using them?)


Nobody likes salad that much…

1. Use images with creative cropping, compositions or overlays.

Can’t find one? Download one with potential and make it more unique with a five-second fix in Photoshop or Canva.

Read Our Blog About Inexpensive Alternatives To Photoshop


2. Don’t go for the obvious.

Writing a blog about eating healthy? A woman laughing alone with a salad seems like the obvious choice, but think outside of the box. What’s more mouth watering than a hysterical salad? Farm-fresh produce!


3. Show them a picture of who they WISH they were/trying to become. 

Again, you don’t have to be so literal with the imagery you use. Instead, try to find a picture of someone who your audience aspires to be and can connect with.


4. Venture off the beaten path.

Don’t restrict yourself to only shopping for stock imagery on Shutterstock or iStock. Other websites that offer stock imagery can have very unique and non-cheesy imagery for you to use! *sometimes even for free!*
Creative Market (CHEAP)
Unsplash (FREE)
Bigstock (FREE)
Burst (FREE)
Death To Stock Photo (FREE)

Check Out These Other Free And Low-Cost Stock Photo Sites


5. Use an Illustration.

Just can’t seem to find what you are looking for, even after taking all of my above suggestions? Well, don’t forget about illustrations. Sometimes illustrations can achieve something even better than an actual photograph can!


I hope this makes searching for the perfect stock photo easier and faster! Have other photo suggestions? Share them in the comments below.


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