Posted On 26 Jan 2021
Venetia Hillary

If you’ve ever had to search for marketing images online, you’ve probably felt both elated and overwhelmed at the shear volume of stock photos available. There are literally millions of options to choose from! But after a while, they all start to look… the same. And none of them feel quite “right” for your brand.

Pictures lose their impact when it becomes obvious they are not original. So, instead of pulling from the same stock photo pool as everyone else (or worse – using the same one as your competitor!) why not consider these options instead?

Candid Snaps

Do you have drivers out on the roads seeing customers? Are you a tradesperson who makes house calls? If you offer a product or service that puts you face-to-face with your customers, then there is an opportunity for candid photos to be taken.

Candid photos, especially those that include faces, are particularly useful when used across social media channels. They allow your audience to see the human side of your brand. They can also help to build positive sentiment with potential customers.

Why not consider up-skilling your team with one of the many free smart phone photography courses available online (like those listed here) and see what they come up with for you. You might be surprised, and impressed!

Invest in a Professional Photographer

For a long time, the hiring of a professional photographer wasn’t an option for many small businesses due to cost. These days, with smart phones being almost as good as some professional cameras, many photographers have had to pivot towards more streamlined and affordable services.

Using your own photos, with your own staff or customers featured in them, will instantly improve the value of your content. It will also provide you with the flexibility for reusing them across a range of different platforms. And if recognisable to your customers, they can become valuable components of your overall brand identity!

User Generated Content (UGC)

UGC is any content (photo, video, text and audio) that has been created by your customers and then shared online. On social media specifically, visitors to your pages may choose to interact with your brand by posting content and either tagging your profile, using a unique hashtag or “checking in” at your virtual location. This content is then free for you to share and repurpose and much more impactful than a random stock photo.

Some brands have managed to build such a following of engaged content creators that they use UGC for the majority of their social media content. Check out Wayfair and Adobe as examples.

If you have a lively social media community, consider running a content contest to source some UGC images. It is also a great way of engaging with your community online and letting them see that you value the effort they go to disseminate information about your brand to their followers.

Consider moving away from photos all together!

A beautiful photo can be great content, however there is sometimes just as much value for your followers in something more curated. If you’re just starting out, free online design tools like Canva have some great templates that you can build on. Infographics, quote tiles and client testimonials require no actual photo, but are still very effective in conveying messages and telling stories.

Commissioning some brand illustrations could also be an option for you. They can be incredibly powerful for conveying the character and personality of a company, and are a fun and quirky way to avoid using photos. If you’re unsure how illustrations can be used, check out this article featuring a range of different businesses using them to great effect. There are many online designers who offer their services at a very reasonable rate, so it’s an option for any business regardless of the size of your marketing budget.

Collaborate for content

Finally, if you’re looking for a collection of action and service photos, collaborating with third party providers (think suppliers and contractors etc) might be an option for you. Quite often, they might already have a pool of products or service photos that you could easily draw from. Most business partners will understand the benefit of sharing content this way, as a post on social media featuring their product accompanied by an @ tag of their business page is only going to expand their own reach.

So there you go! 5 unique alternatives which mean you don’t need to get caught in the trap of stock-photo smiles! Using these tactics, your business will easily be able to build a pool of engaging marketing content that is original, fresh and on brand.

And as always, Oracle Tree is here to help you with all of your marketing questions, so contact us today! 

Newsletter Sign Up

Subscribe to the Oracle Tree Newsletter here and receive industry insights, small business news plus marketing tips and tricks to keep you ahead of the curve.


  • 2023 (4)
  • 2022 (55)
  • 2021 (53)
  • 2020 (42)
  • 2019 (20)
  • 2018 (43)
  • 2017 (32)
  • 2016 (9)

    What could you do if your business simply… worked?

    image right