When you’re first starting out, the free stock sites like Death to Stock Photo or Unsplash or RawPixel are perfect. I personally still use photos from them monthly for my own blog or social promo graphics. But when it comes to our website design work, we needed to up our stock photo game.
As a brand stylist, I am constantly on the lookout for the best, most professional, and cost-effective photography solutions for my clients. Unfortunately, I am not the greatest photographer, which often means souring out other photos from photographers that meet all of our clients’ criteria.
Many of our clients are sole proprietors or solo-small business owners, so expensive custom stock photography isn’t always an option. But neither is the mass-produced free stock images that you see everyone using all the time. My clients trust me to find them something unique, ideal for their brand, and that won’t break the bank.
So if you too are looking to up the photography for your brand, and are sick of seeing the same images pop-up on a million sites, or all across Pinterest, check out our list of go-to, high quality, stock photographers.
First off – why pay for stock photography where there are SO many free resources out there?
- Uniqueness. While a photo might be for sale to many people, and you are most likely not the only person who’s purchased that image, chances are, the pool of other brands who have also invested in that image are significantly smaller than those using the more popular stock photo resources. There is nothing worse than writing the most amazing blog post and publishing to find at least 20-30 other bloggers who used the same image as you for their content.
- Consistency. When you find a stock photographer who not only charges for their work (increasing the uniqueness factor of their images) but is constantly cranking out new images on a regular basis, you begin to build a relationship with them as their image style fits the tone and mood of your brand. So when you need more images, instead of scouring the web for something that might or might not quite fit, you’ll have a safe, consistent source of images to choose from that will keep your brand’s identity consistent and strong.
- Shopping Small. I am a HUGE advocate for supporting small businesses, and since our business is almost entirely online, shopping local isn’t always an option for us, but shopping small is. When you purchase photos from a stock photographer, an actual person on the other end of your screen is doing a celebratory dance. Your investment is actually felt and makes all the difference in the future of that photographer’s brand. So not only are you supporting your brand with higher quality photography, but you’re supporting your fellow small business owner in the growth and expansion of their business too. And that feels really good, doesn’t it!?
Ok, so we’re all clear on why we want to invest in stock photography for our business, but where can you go to get the best photos for your brand?
Our Top 3 Stock Photography Shops on the Web
1. Jana Bishop Collection – Brand Photo Bundles
Jana Bishop is an incredible stock photographer who sells her photos in themed bundles of anywhere from 5 to 50 images, all styled, shot, and edited to be used for your blog or small business. She provides a wide variety of styled options to fit just about any brand and is constantly updating and expanding on her older sets which makes her an incredibly valuable investment. There’s nothing worse than finding a set of stock images that are perfect for your brand, and then never find any other photos that fit again. Because Jana is constantly adding to her shop, investing in her photography is an investment in future photos as well since you’ll be able to come back again and again for a consistent visual tone and mood to fit your growing business.
2. Beckley – Social Media and Hero Images
Rebecca, the lady behind the lens of Beckley is my newest favorite in the stock market (or at least my kind of stock market 😉 ). While the blown out and bright white styled stock images are incredibly popular right now, the bright images aren’t for everyone. For us personally, we prefer the richer colors and darker lighting of Beckley & Co.’s photography. But unfortunately, she lives in Texas while we’re up here in Colorado, so investing in her personal brand photography is a bit out of our budget — BUT Rebecca just released her first few albums of stock photos that are competitively priced to keep your content unique while not breaking the bank.
With both dark and light styled options, any modern minimal lifestyle brand or blog will find that perfect look with Beckley’s stock shop.
3. Stefan & Janni – Generic Stock Images
While both Beckley and Jana Bishop are perfect stock resources with beautiful photos for social media or website design, they don’t often (if ever) include any people in their images and sometimes, a human face is exactly what you need.
Stefan and Janni is my favorite secret photo-weapon when I am looking for that perfect, professional, and unique photo that includes people in various industries. They have one of the largest photo libraries on Creative Market and include styled shoots for just about every market. Again, with very competitive pricing, I’ve been able to keep my clients’ budgets low while meeting their needs of unique stock images with Stefan and Janni.
Now, some of these brands might send out a freebie or stock photo sale every once and a while, but as all of them are professional photographers, you are guaranteed to receive a higher quality product for your investment, and a relationship with a photographer that will grow along with your brand.
If you’re ready to step-up your brand’s stock photography, but aren’t quite ready for a fully custom brand shoot, check out any of the photographers above for the perfect stock solution.