Styled stock images are great for a multitude of purposes and quite frankly, no matter the nature of your business or the segment of the market you serve, they are indispensable to enhance your brand image and get some eyeballs your way.
Wow! that was a mouthful…now I’m hungry again…I digress! When you buy styled images, you are making an investment in your business that can potentially provide you with great returns in the future.
And, as with any other investment, you would naturally want to get the most value out of your styled photos as well. There are many ways you can use styled images to adapt to your unique requirements.
After all, each business is different and every fempreneur has her own needs and vision. The following are 13 creative ways you can adapt styled stock images to make yours work for you and your brand…
Crop, Crop & Crop Some More
One of the most incredible things about the stock images from SHOP is that they are all high-resolution. This means that when you choose to work with one that has loads of detail or props in them you can easily crop into specific sections of the images without it getting pixelated or compromising its quality. The same image can be used multiple times and for different online purposes just by cropping into different areas of the image and creating a whole bunch of unique images from the one. Perfect for Facebook or Instagram and for staying on brand. This is perhaps the single best way to get the max value out of the images you have purchased.
Plus, you could use this to suit any particular need of your business. For other images, you may not want or need to use the whole image but just a select part of it. In such cases, cropping will be your best option. This can be particularly useful for different online purposes like banners, headers, social media images, etc.
Play With Aspect Ratios
Let’s take Instagram for example… As you know it has very specific aspect ratios for all the different features of the platform. From its general feed images to stories and IGTV. An image you may have liked the composition of in its native size can look totally different from how you had imagined it to look at the 4:5 aspect ratio that Instagram loves for its feed images. The same can be said for how an image in your feed may look different to how it could look in your Insta Stories. Changing the aspect ratio of the image as you upload to Instagram can sometimes work out for the best but not always.
My advice is to have your images ready in the platforms preferred aspect ratio before uploading to avoid disappointment and to be better prepared. It’s both interesting and amazing that the same photo can look totally different just by changing its aspect ratios.
There are many apps that can help you do so. In fact, even the native camera or photos apps in your smartphone can do that easily.
And there are tons of different programs available for desktop as well! My favourite in Canva!
Sprinkle Some Text
Some great looking text with a styled image as a background can really enhance the delivery of your message. It makes the images even more alluring and can be really useful to grab attention, think Pinterest Pins and Quotes for Instagram or Facebook or even for dropping some knowledge bombs and educating your audience. What’s more, adding text in your brands’ fonts is synonymous to the elements of your brand and business, making the overall image truly yours. Styled images overlaid with text are great for social media, especially Instagram and Facebook.
In fact, they should be vital components of your social media marketing strategy for sale and promo announcements or the launch of a new product. Creating them is as easy as dropping the image in editing software, and adding text with the text tool. I highly recommend Canva if PhotoShop and Illustrator aren’t your thing.
It may happen that sometimes you love the image, the individual components, the way they are all styled, but you want a slightly different colour. Most of us face this problem with clothing, shoes and accessories but unlike this case, it’s quite easy to change the colour of your styled images. Almost all editing software (even ones designed for beginners) allow you to adjust the hue of your photo. It’s as easy as selecting that option and playing with the slider to change the overall colour of the image or the colour of a particular element or object in your image.
Add Your Own Design Elements
There is a lot you can do to a styled stock image. In a way, they are like blank canvases. Well, not exactly a blank canvas, but you get what I mean.
Whether you are a blogger, course creator, online coach, designer, digital product maker, or all-around Boss of your own business, you can add your own design elements to a styled stock images to make them more your own. I use Photoshop and Illustrator all the time so it’s totally second nature to me but there are simpler yet just as efficient programs like Canva that are perfect to get creating with too. It doesn’t have to take that much time and all. And don’t forget you can use those same design elements as a base or template for your next creation, which will speak the overall language of your brand and create that cohesive look you are going for.
A really smart way to make the same image look totally different is to change its orientation. This means flipping it horizontally or vertically. You could even rotate the image, just a bit or a whole lot if it makes sense and keeps the beauty of the image alive. This can easily be done in any native apps on your phone or Canva. Doing so might even help you create the perfect space for where you want to add text. TIP: Don’t flip the photo if there is any kind of text in the image…That will look weird, unless of course, you can edit the text out in Photoshop, then flip away.
Add Color Overlays
Colour overlays can make your already awesome styled image pop out even more. Choosing to do so with your brands’ colours will add that cohesive look and style of your brand to make it more recognisably yours. The way to do this is by simply placing a colour element on top of your image in any photo editing software and then changing its opacity until it is just right.
Again, Canva is perfect for this!
Add Flare With Filters
If you have used Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat or any other social media apps, you will be well aware of filters. They tweak the images by playing with several different parameters to give a different look from slight to a totally drastic change. These can be applied to change the mood and feel of the image. This too can be done easily on any social media app or even standalone photo editing apps. The effects available on different apps will differ so it’s always a good idea to have a whole bunch of different apps to play around with so you can get the image to look just the way you want it to by knowing which filters do what, where and when.
Adding a blur to images can make the different elements and objects in the image quite hard to recognise and therefore, adds a sense of suspense. You can blur the entire image to use it as a background to add crisp text on top of or you can blur parts of an image to make the key object stand out more. Either way can create some unique results. Technology companies and blogs do this all the time. But it can also be adapted to your particular work.
Adding a blur is easy-peasy with the right photo editing software.
Use With Screenshots
What’s great about styled stock images is that they are digital images that can be digitally manipulated. One of the most creative ways you can use them is by adding screenshots of your digital products, services or offers to styled stock images. You can also add a screenshot of your website, social media page, or anything else to give a feel of what it is like before specifically going there. Of course, you would need a styled image that has a computer, smartphone, tablet or even a frame in it to incorporate your screenshots into them. This is a great way to casually put your business or brand, it’s offerings and services in front of your audience in a new way.
Use a Gradient Fade
When you are dealing with images, sometimes you can really get creative to use it in the way you would like. Fortunately, there are tons of editing options. Using a gradient fade is one of the cooler ones.
You can use this trick to create white spaces in an image. But why would you want to do that, you may ask? Well, some photos already have white spaces in them for you to place your message on. But sometimes, you can make some space yourself. To do so, you can use ‘fade to white’ or any other color that goes with the image or your brand. You just need to add a solid box over an image and then fade the edges of the box so that it blends perfectly with the background. To make the edit flawless, you can use a colour picker tool.
Every image comes with a background. However, that doesn’t mean you have to keep that background. That’s the beauty of styled stock images. You can edit them to your heart’s content without compromising on the quality. So, you can remove the background of an image to isolate the objects within it. There are many reasons why you would want to do that. For one, removing the background can increase the focus on the objects. Or, you can drop those objects onto other styled images if they fit.
You may also want to create more space to insert text where there may otherwise be a busy background, no problem at all, just remove the background to get the space you want.
Yes, a moderate amount of editing will go into this, but the end result will be amazing and totally unique.
TIP: Canva has an easy-peasy background remover feature which is quick and easy!
Choose Your Signature Collection
Styled stock images are an investment in your business. So, you should use them again and again to get the most returns. One of the ways you can do that is by creating your signature collection.
This will also go a long way in enhancing your branding. As we all know, branding involves repeating the same message, style, colours, fonts, etc until they are embedded in your audience’s minds. So, you can create your unique “signature collection” of images such that whenever you use it, your viewers will immediately know that it’s you! It will make them take notice.
This is one of the main reasons why I create large collections with such a variety of images in them. Once you find a collection that you love, you’ll easily be able to create your perfect bundle to get started with and, if needed, keep coming back to it and find new ones to use. This will keep that consistent look and feel of your brand. When you find images from different collections that you love, you’ll easily be able to use them with one another as there is already an overall consistent way the collections are styled and edited.
This is purposefully done on my end, with the very reason for consistency in mind. All you have to do is drop them into your various channels and voila, you are, consistently, done!
TIP: You could use the same image for your “Tip Tuesday” info or when you announce a sale. With this type of consistency, your community will immediately recognise what you are dishing out and stop their scroll to take in that post’s value.
This is great for both Instagram or your Facebook group.
There is so much you can do with your styled stock images. The sky is literally the limit. You can use your styled images in your social media feed, blog posts, website, email newsletters, product promotions, and tons of other places.
The 13 ways that I have mentioned above are the main ways you can adapt these images to truly make them your own no matter where you use them.
I would love, love, love to see you guys use them creatively to build your brand and grow your business.
Using stock images will certainly help you with the aesthetic part of your branding. And as we all know, branding is one of the pillars of creating a thriving business.
So, there you have it. 13 ways to use your styled images that even the most novice users can get the most use out of their images from Shop
Now that you are armed with the tools you need, grab your favourite images, and start creating! Customizing stock photography can be fun if you’re not afraid to experiment.
P.s. I’d also love to hear what programs you like to use to work with to create your imagery. Let me know in the comments below along with any other suggestions you might have to help other business owners to get the most out of their images!