3 Easy Ways to Customize Your Marketing Stock Photos

There are a handful of popular stock images I frequently encounter on the web. I see them in Facebook posts, PPC ads, side bars on news sites, everywhere! And admittedly, I'll happen upon some I’ve even used before myself.

It makes sense. If you need an image of a group of professionals working on a computer or talking during a meeting, you’re most likely to pick one of the most downloaded images on the first two pages of the image site you’re using. But if you're selecting photos everyone else is using, it may actually be detrimental to the credibility of your site.

Below we’ll go over some quick tips you can use to customize these marketing stock photos, make them more interesting and set them apart from the standard.

Note: The following tips assume you're using a Mac. (PC steps are similar.)

1. Add a website screenshot to the screen.

Quick Edits to Marketing Stock Photos: Tip #1

Here's how you do it:

  • Take a screenshot of your website (Command+Shift+3). It will automatically download the screenshot to your desktop.
  • Open the screenshot in Adobe Photoshop.
  • Trim excess edges using the "Crop" tool. It will be the fifth tool down on the bar.
  • Open your stock image in a second window.
  • Move your website screenshot into your stock image window by dragging it using the "Move" tool. It will be the first tool on your tool bar.
  • Now you can resize the website screenshot image by going to the "Edit" tab and selecting "Free Transform". Don’t forget to hold down "Shift" while resizing so the image shrinks or expands while simultaneously keeping its proportions.

If the computer screen image you are using is flat and facing forward, you will be able to use "Free Transform" to get it perfectly on the screen. If the computer screen on the stock image is angled (like in the image above, go to the “Edit” menu, select "Transform" and then click on "Skew". From there, you will able to adjust the angles of the photo to align with the screen and appear naturally.

2. Add logos to your images.

Quick Edits to Marketing Stock Photos: Tip #2

This one's easy!

Simply open the stock image in Photoshop, open up the logo, and place the logo in the desired spot. There is a secret sauce here though. You don't want the logo to look pasted on. Make it work with the image. Use a variation of the logo if needed. Maybe you want to skew the logo just a tad in order to place it on a portion of the image (kind of like we did in #1.) It may take a bit of trial and error to get it just right. 

In the above example, I went with a version of our logo icon inverted into white. I set the opacity of the icon to 30%. This lets it blend in with the photo and provides a softer contrast, as opposed to hard edges that would fight with the beam of light coming off of the iPad.

3. Convert colors in the image to match your brand.

Quick Edits to Marketing Stock Photos: Tip #3

EPS file graphics in Illustrator are commonplace on websites, infographics, eBooks, etc. If you don't feel comfortable building your own graphics, there are great options on stock photo sites that you can customize to suit your needs. Above is a standard stock EPS file from Getty Images. The image on the right was customized with our PMG brand colors.

Here's how you do it:

  • Download the file from your preffered stock photo site. Make sure you download the EPS file version and not the JPEG.
  • Open the file in Adobe Illustrator.
  • Use the "Direct Selection" tool (it's the white arrow) to select the portion of the graphic for which you want to change the color.
  • Double tap on the "Color Fill" box. (The box will have the current color of the selected area in it.)
  • Insert your desired color hex – and click OK.

The area you selected will now be converted to that color. Then you can click on File > Export > Export As (and pick the type of image file you want). You're ready to roll!

Your content is unique, so make sure the images you're using are up to the same standard! A few small edits can really liven up your marketing stock photos, and even disguise that they're stock images altogether!

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Doug Orleski | Graphic Designer

About the Author

Doug Orleski, Graphic Designer

Doug Orleski has been a Design Specialist at PMG since 2013. He’s an Adobe extraordinaire, with specialties in Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator. He’s a big picture thinker – no, seriously, he thinks in pictures, so when he’s not grappling with shifting to word-based work, he’s writing about techniques in streamlining design, customization techniques and optimal image selection.