Six Creative Ways to Customize Stock Photos
This guest post was originally published on the Haute Stock blog and was written by Design Expert LeAnna Weller Smith, of Weller Smith Design. This post has been updated for The InstantBoss Club blog.
We’ve all seen them, those perfectly curated Instagram feeds that suck you in the second you land on them. The beautifully designed website with professional quality photos that instantly makes you want to click “buy now”. How can you achieve that gorgeously polished look without spending countless hours try to master the perfect flatlay? We’ll let you in on the little secret — styled stock photos.
Simple or busy, colorful or muted, light & airy or dark & moody, everyone loves a beautifully styled stock photo, but not everybody knows how to use them.
Styled stock photography can add a new dimension of visual interest to your current brand. It not only helps to reinforce your brand feel, but it can also provide inventive ways to promote, share, and display your services and products.
So if you’ve ever wondered how you can make those gorgeous stock photos collecting digital dust on your computer work for your brand, read on!
Here are six creative ways you can use mockups, flatlays, lifestyle images and more to create stunning graphics that’ll instantly elevate your brand presence.
The examples you see in this post were designed in Canva and feature images available in the Haute Stock library.
1/ PRODUCT MOCKUPS [GIVE YOUR BRAND PERSONALITY]
It may seem that product mockups (like frames, mugs, invitations, tote bags, etc) could only be useful for someone who sells physical products or party printables.
You might even think to yourself that it would be strange if you posted a mug mockup on your Instagram, because that has nothing to do with what you offer.
Well, we’re here to tell you that’s not off-brand at all, especially since mockups are blank canvases that you can customize to suit your needs.
You can add your logo, a fun quote, cute graphic, or signature saying, or promote a sale — the possibilities are endless with a little imagination.
Product mockups are a great way to add visual interest and variation to your graphics. Go ahead and capture your audience’s attention!
While product mockups are perfect for creators and makers who need ways to show off their designs, they’re not only used for product listings.
Product mockups are a great way to add visual variation and interest to your graphics. Add a funny saying, your logo, or a cute graphic to customize these types of images for your brand.
2/ TECH MOCKUPS [SHOW YOUR PRODUCT IN ACTION]
Another type of stock photo you might let collect digital dust is a tech mockup but go ahead and dig up that image — it’s both a pretty and functional way to display your latest e-book, website or shop launch, course, wall paper design, etc. It’s also an easy way to show off your latest projects in action with your audience.
In the Haute Stock library, we have phone, laptop, computer, and iPad mockups available for members to download. The screens on these devices are blank, so once you’ve chosen the tech mockup you like best in your brand colors, overlay your design and size to fit the appropriate screen.
Not sure how it’s done?
We’ve customized this desktop mockup (from Haute Stock’s Pink & Red Tech Mockups collection) with a screenshot of our Featured Spring images available in the Haute Stock library. Tech mockups show your product in action and add a sense of realism to the stock photo.
3/ OVERLAYS [MAKE YOUR BRAND POP]
Adding overlays to stock photos is a great way to further customize images to fit your brand style. This helps create consistency, purposeful design, and adds visual emphasis.
There are different kinds of overlays you can add — for example, a filter to adjust the tone of image, a colored overlay to make an image more on-brand, a border or frame to add emphasis to the text, etc.
It may take a few tries to figure out what types of overlays look best with a particular stock photo, but when used in the right way, the extra layer of visual interest can certainly help to up your image game!
Create unique website buttons by using stock photos in the background, a semi-transparent on-brand colored overlay, and on-brand text.
Pairing text with a stock photo (i.e. location text + image of globe) makes for an impactful design. These images are from Haute Stock’s Fresh Start collection.
4 / USE DESIGN ELEMENTS [FOR EXTRA FLAIR]
Want to really customize your designs? As a Haute Stock member, you receive access to stylish icons, overlays, patterns, and more on a monthly basis.
Check out the examples below to see how they can be used to create a gorgeous and consistent graphics. Be sure to check out this post for even more tips!
Using images from Haute Stock’s Beauty & Makeup collection and graphic elements from our Luxe pack, we created these sample blog post covers and website header.
We added a simple frame overlay to the top and bottom corners of each graphic to add visual interest and create a signature brand look.
The gold foil lips and eyelash icons also help to create and sustain that signature look and feel — they add extra flair and personality to this fun and glam makeup blog.
5 / FLATLAYS [CURATE YOUR LOOK]
Flatlays are a popular type of stock photo that, depending on the colors and theme, can be used to convey your brand style, messaging, products (digital or physical), and more.
You can curate the look of your business by selecting the type of flatlay(s) that work best with your brand and using them to create consistent graphics across all your visual touchpoints.
Really, the options are limitless with flatlays and they can easily be customized to suit your needs.
We used flatlay images from Haute Stock’s Urban Vibes and Fresh Start collections to create these easy to read, simple yet effective website headers. You can get a feel of what each brand will offer just by looking at these flatlays.
6 / SOCIAL MEDIA [GRAPHICS THAT GET ATTENTION]
Social media is the place to show off your brand and styled stock has become an effective way for businesses to add beautiful imagery to their feed without having to spend major money to create custom styled stock for each post.
You can use styled stock images on your various social media platforms in many different ways: to create sales, testimonial, or quote graphics, and more!
These social media examples are from Haute Stock’s Fancy Valentine, Travelgram, and Urban Vibes collections. The graphics were created in Canva and the images are perfect backgrounds for testimonials, quotes, announcements, and sale promos.
So there we have it, six ways you can use styled stock photography to elevate your image game.
We hope these tips and examples have sparked your creative juices and motivated you to start designing your own beautiful graphics for your brand!
Can’t wait to put these tips to use? Don’t let your newfound knowledge and inspiration go to waste.