Stock photos are one of the best online resources available to marketers. They save time and money by replacing photoshoots and production costs with powerful pre-edited imagery placed right at our fingertips.

Sites like Pexels,Upsplash,and Pixabay all thrive on this service of providing high quality pictures and videos that are completely free to use without any attribution or fear of breaking copyright laws. Amazing.

But as the popularity of stock photos grows, so does the familiarity of the best quality images. The more you search through these photo banks, the more you will begin to recognize the photos being used in products by other marketers. In a climate that values uniqueness, personability and genuine connection – using a photo that is commonly recognised as “stock” isn’t going to always cut it.

Another issue that will arise, is that you can never seem to find exactly what you’re looking for. There may be several images that are close, but chances are something about it will be off from your ideal photograph.

Thankfully since these photos are free to use, we can edit them in a way that changes their initial impression. By making just a few small changes, the look and feel of a photograph can take on a whole new personality and message. Your selection of great photography will only increase once you realize how many possibilities there are with each image you’re viewing. 

Here are 7 ways you can alter stock photography to fit your needs:

  1. Resize and Crop

By simply cropping the image, you can create several new images from one original. Cut out areas that are unnecessary or extend sections to give you a bigger canvas.

The first image in the following gallery was cropped to create the other 5 images:

  1. Recolor

With just a few minutes in photoshop, you can recolor images to fit your brand standards, create a pop of color, or neutralize a background.

  1. Edit details and remove what you don’t need

Another nifty tool in photoshop is the clone tool, giving you the power to take out or repeat details found in an image by copy and pasting the pixels. Simplifying images is very powerful and can turn a busy photograph into a clean slate for your graphics.

  1. Flip the image

This may seem like a simple change, but by flipping a photograph you can change the initial impression of an image. This can also be helpful if you need a certain justification setting for your text, but it doesn’t fit correctly on the image you have chosen. Beware of any words (or in this case logos) in your image that will not look correct once inverted.

  1. Add an overlay

Overlay shapes and hues to brighten, darken, desaturate or warm a given photograph. The changes can be minute or drastic, depending on your vision.

  1. Personalize

Think of blank spaces, signs, screens, and walls in your images as spaces to insert something personal. Add your logo to a product. Change colors to hint at your branding. Insert a website you created on a stock image screen. Any little way you can take an impersonal photo and make it your own is a step in the right direction. 

  1. Refocus

Our eyes are drawn to light and color. If you find a good image, but your focus is away from a subject, there are a few changes you can make to draw your eye in the right direction. Try desaturation distracting background objects, brightening the lighting around the focal point, darkening unimportant backgrounds, or blurring things that are farther away. All of these will redirect your audience to wherever you want them.

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