There are many reasons why marketers customize stock photos, beyond simply wanting something that looks unique—sometimes you need an image to follow brand guidelines (such as colors or style). Luckily, you don’t need to take all custom photos to get that uniform, curated look across your feed. In this post, we’ll use an image of a woman reading at home to explore different ways to customize stock photos. Here’s our starting point:
The simplest way to change the look of a photo and make it match your branding/mood is to adjust the color. Here we used an adjustment layer in Photoshop to create a color overlay to reflect the Pantone Color of the Year: Ultra Violet. When using monochrome tints, don’t forget you can still tweak your brightness and contrast to get exactly the look you want.
Here we used a Curves Adjustment Layer in Photoshop to give the photo a vintage look with a more custom feel than, say, an Instagram filter has.
Next, we created a pink color fog using a Gradient Adjustment Layer in Photoshop. This is a great way to incorporate brand colors or to create a simple background for overlaying text.
Converting a photograph to a vector is not for every image, but it can create a different, artistic look worth experimenting with.
All of our high-resolution images can be viewed in large sizes or cropped quite a bit without visibly degrading the quality. In this example, we zoomed in on the subject’s tattoo to create a graphic for a Twitter chat. Creative cropping can change the subject of an image entirely; rather than a photo about reading, now we have a photo about tattoos.
In this next example, we cropped the horizontal image to a vertical format and used the mobile app, A Design Kit, to create an Instagram Stories post. The app costs $1.99 and also has in-app purchases. It’s a good, low-cost option if you want some of the same features of Instagram Stories but with more thoughtfully designed paint-like brushes and pretty fonts.
Add Graphics and Text
In this next example, we created a completely different look by converting the photo to black and white and adding text for this blog graphic.
Photos are a great way to add visual interest to an infographic too—especially for non-designers! In the infographic below, we incorporated a man reading, an open book, and a book with glasses. For this example we used Canva, but you could also use Illustrator for something more customized.
Add Movement with Videos and GIFs
Photos can be transformed by way of motion content like videos and GIFs. Plus, tools like After Effects and other video creation apps can help bring still images to life.
This square-format promo video was created using an After Effects template. (You can find a deep dive into editing AE templates here.) We incorporated our original photo, plus a woman doing yoga and a man on a run, then tied it all together with this song.
We created this GIF using GIPHY’s GIF Maker. This tool provides tons of stickers and type options to make your GIF dreams come true in a matter of minutes. GIFs are great for blogs, social, and listicle-style posts.
This Instagram Story was created with this image and the Hype Type mobile app. Hype Type is on the pricier side at $20/year, but it’s simple-to-use interface and makes creating beautiful, animated type is a whole lot easier and cheaper than After Effects—and might be just what you need!
In short, our photo library is just an entry point to infinite possibilities. Whether you need a quick color adjustment or motion graphics, we’ve got the building blocks for your next project.