Royalty free stock photos and imagery are essential resources for any web professional. Whether you’re buying photos for yourself or your clients, it’s important to get the most use out of them that you can. Here are seven ways to make your royalty free stock images keep on paying for themselves.

1. Don’t skimp on your stock

Great stock photos are an essential investment, but make sure you know what you need before you hit the ‘Buy’ button. Purchasing a smaller image impulsively may seem like an economical option, but in fact it will cost you more if it turns out the client needs something in a higher resolution for print purposes or you end up using the image in a different project. Buy the very best you can afford to save money in the long term.

2. Take advantage of colour effects

Greyscaling images or creatively recolouring them can make a huge difference to the number of situations in which you can use them. Images with different effects can create a familiar feel for the viewer without becoming repetitive or boring.


Image Credit: Image Source – IS0997QQ6


3. Create full-screen backgrounds

The great thing about using high-quality stock photography is that you don’t even need to touch it in Photoshop for it to perform well for you. Fullscreen background photos are popular for websites at the moment, and there’s a great tutorial on how you can code them quickly here.

These kinds of stock photos also work incredibly well as desktop wallpapers. With a little editing (such as adding your logo and slogan) you can create a standard wallpaper for all your business devices in minutes. It’s a neat little touch that impresses clients and shows that you go the extra mile.

4. Creatively reuse photos

Different shapes and settings go a surprisingly long way to make your images look different. Blurring backgrounds, using selective focus and colouring, and placing sharper, smaller versions of the image over the top help you get more from a single photo and go a long way towards making sure you develop a consistent look.

5. Use stock images for text

Don’t just think of your royalty free photos as just photos. You can create some impressive picture text which is perfect for large titles and blog post title images. Check out this picture text tutorial for help and ideas.


Original stock image credit: Bjorn Holland / Image Source – IS0266NT7

6. Keep organised

Once you’ve completed a project, it’s easy to forget about (or lose!) the images you purchased for it. It really helps to be as organised as you possibly can, especially when you’re working with hundreds or thousands of images. Cloud storage can be pretty useful; just make sure you use folders and subfolders effectively and be fanatical about organising images as you purchase them. Add keywords and name files with a system so you can find images easily further down the line.

7. Consistent branding

When you’re buying images, think about the problems they will solve and how they can be repurposed for different channels. A particular image may be great for a website, but may have awkward dimensions for a Facebook cover photo, for example. Think about how the image will sit with the various social media image dimensions, print ads, posters and so on, and plan accordingly. It’s worth buying a few complementary images in different orientations and with slightly different perspectives so you can achieve a consistent branded look that’s optimised across a range of formats.

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