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How to Edit Stock Photos to Create Custom Images for Your Brand

In the attention economy, visuals can make or break the success of specific campaigns and impact engagement for brands. It’s a difficult issue to contend with if you don’t have the time or budget for your own photoshoots. This is where stock photography can help. When you know how to select the right images and how to customize photos, you can create something unique without overextending your resources. 

The global stock images market is also expected to grow by USD $2 billion at a CAGR of 7% during the forecast period of 2023 to 2028. It’s clear that all industries are finding use for stock photography, so giving your images a personalized touch will help ensure that your business stands out. In this post, we’ll explore how to edit stock photos to customize pictures. 

License these images via LightField Studios, Erenai, and L.Koroleva.

Understanding the Basics of Stock Photography

Stock photography refers to high-quality images that anyone can license for creative use. These images feature many subjects, from everyday scenes and beautiful landscapes to abstract patterns and more. Instead of taking photos yourself, you can search and find what you need in just a few clicks.

Stock photo libraries serve as a convenient and efficient way for brands to access professional-grade photos. Unfortunately, stock photos sometimes get a bad rap as impersonal or too generic. The truth is, with careful selection and strategic customization, these photos can become powerful, personalized visual assets to enhance your brand’s narrative.

Transforming Stock Photos into Brand Assets: How to Customize Photos

Grabbing a stock photo from the web and using it as-is can work, but in some cases, it will make more sense for you to customize the stock photo you purchase. That way, you can turn it into something unique for your brand. 

When you customize pictures, you add a layer of personal touch that separates your brand from the crowd. This helps you achieve originality and it can strengthen your connection with the audience. 

Remember: Customizing should enhance the original composition of the photo, preserving its visual balance and appeal. Making the photo your own is important, but you may also need to make changes that keep the quality of the photo intact as you edit. 

Essential Techniques for Editing Stock Photos

Working on photo customization requires some editing. This can help you refine your selected stock photos, infusing them with your brand’s unique style and character. Fortunately, with Shutterstock, you can call the shots, right from each photo’s licensing page. Here’s a closer look at how to customize your stock photography.

Remove Backgrounds

This tool helps isolate the subject by eliminating the original background. It allows you to erase any distracting elements or change the color and style of the background to better match the look you’re going for. 

License this image via Eeeleonora.

Crop Photos

These tools help to reframe the composition, emphasizing the most important elements, or adjusting the photo dimensions to fit specific layout requirements. 

Resize Assets  

What if you find the perfect image, but it’s not the right fit for the asset you want to create? This is where resizing comes in. You can use editing tools to transform any stock image into the exact dimensions you need. Common sizes are:

  • 1920 x 1080 pixels: This standard image size is widely seen across high-definition TVs, presentations, and social media cover photos. It follows the 16:9 aspect ratio.
  • 1280 x 720 pixels: This size follows the standard HD format featured in photography and film. It fits the 16:9 aspect ratio.
  • 1080 x 1080 pixels: You’ll see this 1:1 ratio image size used widely across social media, namely Instagram and Facebook posts.

Learn more about this topic in: A Guide to Common Aspect Ratios, Image Sizes, and Photograph Sizes

Add Text

With these tools, you can add descriptive captions, powerful slogans, or crucial information. This additional layer of text serves as a direct communication channel. Be consistent with your brand’s font styles and colors to maintain your brand identity.

Add Filters

Filters are your go-to tools for adjusting the mood and tone of photos. They can enhance brightness, alter contrast, and balance colors.

However, subtlety is key here. Be careful not to overuse these effects.

Bottom Line: Making Stock Photos Your Own

Stock photography can be a useful tool for your brand when you know how to use it correctly. It all starts with understanding your goals and selecting the best stock photo, before moving on to customization. Once you get the hang of making these changes, you’ll find that stock photos can supercharge everything from print materials to your online presence.

Now it’s your turn to customize photos and find out how you can use stock images to your advantage. Want more stock photography tips? Make one of these posts your next read:

Looking for ways to make your custom designs a breeze? We’ve got you covered. With Shutterstock Flex, you’ll have all-in-one access to our massive library, plus the FLEXibility you need to select the perfect mix of assets every time.

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