How to Use Stock Photos of People For Your Business in 2020

Carmen Pietraru

Written by:
Carmen Pietraru

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Strategists and marketing people tell you that your advertising campaigns should always include a strong message and an impactful image. This is because images work miracles on brand identity.

But when it comes to choosing the right image for your business and products, you’re up for a task that’s neither fast nor easy.

From in-house, custom-produced visual content to ready-made stock photos, there are billions of images out there, and some will work better in building your brand awareness and business reputation.

In this article, we’ll help you learn how to choose the right kind of stock images of people for your business and marketing campaigns in 2020.

 

What Kind of Images are Successful in the Online World?

Using the right kind of visuals is key to the success of your business, especially in the online world.

Take your company website, for instance. Most visitors will take one look to decide whether they like your page, your business, your product or your face. Much of this is related to visuals—the design and choice of images that you use.

Now, it’s no secret that audiences generally tend to trust brands that use relatable visual content that is both attractive and cohesive throughout all communication channels.

Social media has reshaped the world and e-commerce. Platforms like Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook have brought real people into the scene. Everyone is online, with stories to share and photos to post.

These platforms have not only brought photography at the core of every strategic marketing campaign, but have also raised the bar for visual content and introduced the term ‘authenticity’.

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The power of authenticity in brand imagery.

Most people nowadays won’t fall for any generic, polished picture of an ideal they’ve never seen in real life. They want to see authenticity first so they can pursue the story behind it.

Ideally, each business, company or individual selling anything online should have their own photos. Most mobile devices will produce high-quality photos of yourself and your offices so you may not need to hire a photographer to do the job.

how to use stock photos of people - real group colleagues

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However, when you’re thinking about broader marketing strategies, with fresh social media posts every day, stock photos may come in handy for your brand imagery.

Some will say that using stock photos looks fake and your customers will know it, but you sometimes need to let a pro do the job.

You probably know by now that most real business people being photographed would show a discrete smile, optimistic yet clumsy because posing is not their actual job.

A million thoughts go through their head while posing. Would they look silly if they smile too open? Would they look unfriendly if they don’t smile at all? Is this their good or bad side, is the light advantageous, will their nose look big?

So, unless your employees are all spontaneous and cheerful at all times, and very photogenic, an in-house photo shoot may or may not be successful.

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Stock photography is a good alternative because you can find authentic shots of people who can easily speak for your brand and products.

 

How to Choose Stock Photos of People For Your Brand

Stock photography can be very useful if you frequently use images, whether it’s for marketing and promotional purposes, or for putting together material for human resources.

But not every stock image will work for your business. There are multiple factors to consider when choosing a stock photo so it doesn’t make your brand look fake or irrelevant.

When it comes to using stock photos of people, you have to be extra careful of whether the people in those images are aligned with your brand voice.

You also need to consider the recent trends in your industry and if the characters in your stock photos reflect similar values.

Here are some helpful tips for choosing the right people images for your business and brand strategy.

Follow the true leader.

True story: people in suits look really successful until you find out they work for people in jeans. You may want to rethink what a business owner looks like in 2020.

The recent economic crisis has brought everybody back to earth, so the old, wise, serious and thoughtful businessman dressed in a thousand dollars suit is not something we’d identify with.

Two colleagues from a corporation who quit their jobs and started their own cafe is actually a story that people would resonate better with.

how to use stock photos of people - follow the true leader

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With small business on the rise and the glorification of entrepreneurship on social media, your images need to keep up with the trend and depict authentic-looking business owners and leaders—cool, casual, inspiring.

Plus, the suit has lost its power. More and more business people are ditching the tie and are digging a more relaxed outfit. Office hours take much of our time—we might as well feel at ease and at home.

Truth be told, we're all a bit tired of grey and blue and black, and even if they're nice colors and classic for business, they inspire cubicles and the stress of unfinished reports.

Instead, go for people wearing orange, green or red shades, that’s more like what business people are usually wearing today.

 

Avoid stereotypes of people and offices.

Some people have the wrong impression that managers have to be old, while most of the CEOs who have been in the spotlight lately are in their 30’s.

According to a Harvard Business Review article, the average age of managers is 33, so we shouldn’t suggest that people have to wait until they’re 60 in order to succeed in their profession. Instead, try to cover all these ages with trustworthy and charismatic models.

Offices are no longer neutral, faded, with plenty of whites or grays and no personality. Are you advertising for the EU Parliament? Even so, we’re sure they’d appreciate some color spots here and there.

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The modern office has often moved to an abandoned factory, which has been repurposed to host that new, fun-looking co-working space.

The team working in such a place is usually multi-generational, multi-ethnic and multi-everything, and while they love and praise the bootstrap look, they can be very unforgiving with outdated computers and electronics.

Don’t include any outdated devices in your photos, unless you’re advertising for nostalgic, retro stuff or your campaign is focused around a past-present comparison.

 

Go for the team.

Shots of individuals may be great and appropriate for some of your social media posts, but nothing is more inspiring than togetherness. The sense of community, interaction, socializing and having other people nearby—that’s what you need to enliven designs.

So, what’s the right group or team photo for your business? We’ve seen enough groups of people with crossed arms faking happiness, and they look more annoying than successful.

Let’s reset that image, think about what a real team does and how they’re interacting in real life. How would they pose for a group shot?

Think about your team, for example. Or better yet, think about the people you would love to work with every day. Now that’s a completely different picture.

how to use stock photos of people - go for the team

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Identifying the ideal business team might be a challenge. What does the ideal team even look like? A recent Google research on what makes a team successful managed to reach a few conclusions, out of which this one may be the most important:

“The researchers found that what really mattered was less about who is on the team and more about how the team worked together.”

So, if teamwork is the most important characteristic of the ideal business team, it’s a good idea to focus on this aspect in the images you choose to represent your business.

 

Live for the action.

The classic stock photo shot we’d recommend you to avoid is a bunch of static, joyful people pretending to discuss something, with frozen handshakes and unconvincing emotions.

Most of your audience has learned, over time, to ignore any type of content that resembles ads. The models should act naturally instead, work naturally, feel natural or have no feelings at all. They don’t need to act, they just need to interact.

how to use stock photos of people - live for the action interaction

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Think of what your audience does when they actually see the pictures: are they sitting at their desk? If that’s the case, probably seeing other people sitting at their desks won’t engage them in any way. Action attracts action, while inactivity doesn’t even get seen.

 

Use Stock Photos of People in Your Designs

A lot of data shows that people prefer candid photos over posed images—authenticity over perfection.

In fact, it’s a trend that’s easy to observe with most successful influencers: they usually post pictures of themselves doing something, looking away, or even with their backs to the camera. That’s something you could use as well when you’re choosing the right images to represent your business.

Want to use images of people for your own business?

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About the Author

Carmen Pietraru is a Content Strategist and QA Manager for Dreamstime. She majored in Literature and likes reading but says stock photography is her major craft now. She currently lives in Bucharest with her family.

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