How to Choose Stock Images for Your Brand

Quick Tips On Choosing Better Stock Images

How to Choose Stock Images for Your Brand

Choosing stock images for real estate content or marketing can be a mind-numbing challenge. They have a bad rap because so many are just so blah, but it doesn’t have to be that way. There are some incredible stock images out there. Choosing the right ones can be easier if you know what you’re looking for. If you find yourself completely stumped, start by finding your brand archetype. It will help you narrow down your audience and a brand direction that will resonate with them.

Some see stock photos as a necessary evil (which they kind of are). Still, they are an essential element of your overall brand style. It’s important to get them right.

I use stock photos every day for things like website layouts, social templates, brochures, and presentation decks. It used to take me forever to find images that worked and didn’t feel staged or stuffy.

We’ve all seen awful stock images. Here’s how to find good ones.

no cheese, please

avoid anything that's not authentic

Whenever you can, steer clear of stock photos that look staged, canned, or not authentic. If it has stuffy people in suits with fake smiles shaking hands, just don’t.  

archetype appropriate

make them feel something

Your archetype will tell you which emotions you need to evoke.  Serious vs happy, rebellious or tame, relaxed vs upbeat, etc.  On each archetype page I’ve included some photos for inspiration to get your started, but these are mostly for mood.  If you added your email after the archetype assessment, you’ve probably also seen the email with more photo inpiration for your brand style.  Haven’t done that?  I recommend that you do.  It’s free.

cohesive colors

If your colors are muted, your photos should be, too.  If you have a bright and bold color palette, photos should be highly saturated.  Deep and rich color scheme? Use images with colors that match the mood. The colors and tone of the images you choose should perferably match your brand colors or at least coordinate with them.  Colors and style across your images should be cohesive, too.

reflect your audience

They should be able to something of themselves in the images you choose. It can be their lifestyle or the one that they aspire to, or people who they perceive as having similar goals or needs. For home or interior photos, the perceived price range of the look should be similar to your market. Not to nag on brand archetypes, but I’m going to nag on archetypes. Find yours so you know what your audience is looking for.  

know where it's going

Not all images work for every purpose. If it’s being used as a website or Facebook header, it needs to work for horizontal formats. If it’s going on Instagram, you need to be able to crop it to a square. If you need to overlay text, make sure that there is enough copy space in the image. Likewise, watch your photo sizes. The highest resolution is not always best.  They’re huge files and can slow down your page load if you use them on a website, but they’re fabulous for importing to add to a Canva layout or to use in a presentation or print peice.   

watch the people

Photos with people in them help to increase a feeling of trustworthiness and a photo of someone smiling can increase your shares. Be careful, though. We have instant reactions to anything that feels fake.  Rather than increasing trust, photos that feel inauthentic will degrade it instantly. They don’t all have to be on the same page or in a single post, but throughout your website and across your feeds be sure that you are show varying ages, ethnicities, and lifestyles

mix it up

The photos you choose should tell a story, inspire, and evoke emotions. Sun coming through a window, a dog in the park, a stack of books on a table can help break things up. They show a lifestyle and give your real estate photos a little breathing room.


With homes, look for photos that are appropriate for your market and your audience. It’s not only easier with interior photos than exterior, but interior photos will draw more of an emotional reaction. Focus on lifestyle, not just houses.