What Advertisers Look for When Choosing Stock Photos
Photo by Artem Beliaikin

What Advertisers Look for When Choosing Stock Photos

Published on February 1, 2021

Stock photos can be a great tool for advertisers looking to promote their product. Up until recently, the photos available to these advertisers, have not been the most eye catching. When a company uses bad stock photos, they deter buyers. Generic and cheesy photos do not help sell a product or drive people to a website, therefore advertisers are not open to using them. An image will capture a consumer’s attention faster than any text will, so you want to make sure you make a good first impression. 

Frame with the rule of thirds



In order to create composition, which adds further appeal to any image, follow the rule of thirds. Using two vertical and two horizontal lines, create a grid of nine equal squares. This will allow you to better identify where to place the different elements of the photo on the grid. Points of interest should fall on the lines of the grid. This will add balance to the image and make it seem more natural. 


Proper Lighting


Nate Russell

Lighting is vital no matter what purpose you are taking the image for. How a photo is lit can make all the difference, and take a photo from so/so, to amazing. There is so much you can do to experiment with the way you light your photo.  A brighter image gives off a different vibe and emotion than a darker image. Lighting from different angles gives off different shadows and texture to your image. It is up to you to determine from what angle your subject is lit and to what degree of intensity, but you should always experiment and aim to get it just right.


Focus on the product


Frank Mayorga

When a picture looks busy, it is hard to determine what the main subject of that image is supposed to be. You don’t want that to be the case, when you are hoping to sell this image to an advertiser. Try to keep the background clear of distractions, and make the product the main point of the image. It should be the first thing someone sees when they look at the picture. If there is anything in the background, just make sure the subject stands out more than anything else in the image.


Keep photos looking candid


Benjamin SMK

The worst thing to come across when looking for good stock photos, is when the image looks staged and inauthentic. Authenticity is so important when trying to sell a product or service so the image has to reflect that. If you are going to take a picture of someone eating pizza, don’t have it in front of a generic white background, with the model staring into the camera while pretending to take a bite. Give people pizza and allow them to interact while you take your pictures. Candid photos are always more appealing, both to audiences, and advertisers.


Go to real events


Photo courtesy of Adolf Martinez Soler

One way to make sure your photos remain candid, is to go out into the world and take candid pictures. Parades, carnivals, and plain old trips to the park can all work to your advantage. Just make sure you have permission from the people whose picture you are taking when their faces are showing. 

If you don’t want to take pictures of strangers on the streets, take your models to the streets and allow them to improvise. Allow them let loose on set and interact with each other in a natural way. That is one sure fire way to get candid and authentic images potential advertisers could be looking for.


Consider the buyer's perspective 


Corne Ann Lubbe

Look at other ads and see what advertisers like in the images they are using. When you understand what they are looking for, it is easier to get into their mindset and produce what they want. When taking a picture with the intent to use it as an advertisement, think like an advertiser. Don’t fill up the frame with background information that isn’t needed. Imagine what the photo would look like in an ad. The buyer may want to add text somewhere on the image, so think of that while your framing. 

Article by Lori Bashian