The internet is home to innumerable pictures, everything from big brand advertisements to social media snaps from holidays and parties. While many of the photos we see are taken by individuals, many more are stock photos.

Stock photos are professionally staged pictures that are sold via marketplaces for businesses and individuals to use as they see fit. In this article, we talk about why you might decide to use a stock photo and how you can find the perfect picture. Read on to learn more.

Why Use a Stock Photo?

The best way to demonstrate when and why you might use a stock photo is by thinking of an example.

Let’s say you own a blog site, and you write blogs about the travel industry. In some cases, you might write up an article about somewhere you’ve visited recently, meaning you can use images you’ve personally taken on your travels to make your blog more visually interesting.

Now, imagine you are commissioned by a business to write a blog about a destination you have never visited. The writing part shouldn’t be a problem; there are abundant resources online that you can use to ensure your blog is factually correct. When it comes to images for your blog post, however, things get a little trickier.

If you have never visited the destination in question before, you will obviously have never had a chance to take any pictures of it. This is where stock photos come in. Rather than leave your blog imageless, you can instead check out a library of free stock photos to find the perfect picture, whether it’s of the Eiffel Tower or the Taj Mahal.

The above is just one example, there are plenty of other reasons why you might need to use a stock photo, and we see them used by a wide range of different creators and business owners. Below, let’s take a look at how you can ensure you choose the best picture.

Subject Matter

The subject matter of the picture is what you’re going to need to think of first, and you will need to assess how relevant it is to the context in which you are using it.

For example, if you are writing a blog about a seafood restaurant, you should look for a stock photo with seafood in it, rather than one featuring a cheeseburger or pizza.

There are hundreds of millions of stock photos out there, far too many for you to realistically search through manually. Thankfully, stock libraries come with advanced search features, allowing you to input keywords and specify filters to narrow down the results.

Think About Tone

Tone is related to subject matter but is slightly more subtle and nuanced. For example, you could have two photos of an apple, but the way in which they are lit and shot means the two could be drastically different in tone.

You will need to match the tone of the stock photo with the tone of whatever you are pairing it with. If you have written a serious, thought-provoking blog post about a difficult topic, you won’t want to use a bright, flashy stock image.

Think about how the image will impact users and whether it will reflect the thematic message of your content. If a reader sees a blog post with a sombre, melancholic image, only to click through and find that the blog itself is about something humorous, this will create a sense of disharmony that can discourage them from continuing to read.


Consistency is another important factor to consider when looking for the perfect stock image.

What we mean when we talk about consistency is how well the image will fit in with your existing content. If the blog section of your website uses images with cool, muted colours, a new image with bold reds and yellows will look imbalanced.

Pay close attention to the images that are already on your platform, and make sure any new stock image you choose will be consistent with their tone and visual appearance. You can choose to follow similar themes with the images you use, by using things like similar colour palettes or lighting.

Visual consistency is a key cornerstone of branding. It will make your platform appear more professional and legitimate and can foster a sense of familiarity that will ensure visitors return again in the future.


You might assume that finding the right stock photo is easy. Surely it’s just a case of visiting a stock image library and choosing the first one you see? That simply isn’t the case. There is a process involved when it comes to choosing the perfect stock photo, and there are a number of things you need to consider. You’ll have to think about subject matter, tone and consistency if you want to choose the perfect stock photo to accompany your content.