First impressions are important for brands – whether on social media or your website. If you are using photos, here are some alternatives to the traditional stock photography.

Images are crucial for advertising, defining your brand’s aesthetic, and more. Did you know that even blog posts and articles with images get 94% more views? Therefore, the images you use to depict your brand anywhere have to be memorable.

Certainly, stock images look professional and are relatively easy to find, but here is the catch: they are not tailored to your brand. Surely you can find generic pictures of “people laughing” or “books on a shelf” or “people driving,” but these will not necessarily represent your brand the right way, or exactly as you wish. Furthermore, you may have to look into copyright issues before you use any picture for your marketing purposes.

However, there are some other options. Read on to discover a variety of reliable stock photography alternatives for brands!

No Photos: Illustrations

Trust us, using no photos is not the end of the world. In fact, using illustrations that actually depict your brand can do better than using stock photography that is not tailored and is used by many others across several industries. Illustrations can be included on your website or social media and they will look great, especially if custom made!

In fact, back when photography wasn’t around, illustrations were the go-to! So don’t be afraid to try the old-fashioned way and give it a modern touch!


At Upwork you can hire freelance design and creative experts. Their pool of specialized talent is ready to help you and your brand. Hire an illustrator or animator for what you need and stock photos will be your last resource.

Colors and Patterns

When building your brand’s website and creating visual content for it, you will need to decide on the elements that define you. While for some minimalistic designs can do the job, for others more color or patterns with bold typography can do wonders.

Get inspired by some of the most beautiful photographers’ websites here.

Hire a student

Students in the fields of graphic design, film, and art are always looking to expand their portfolios and gain experience. Create a job description stating what you need and when, and advertise it at your local college. This is a good alternative if you are a small business or your budget is limited.

Custom Stock Photography

The wonder of custom stock is that you can be sure it will be tailored to your brand and contain your own products. You can be involved in the briefing process and be assured your brand is portrayed exactly how you want it.


Cherrydeck is a platform that provides on-brand custom visual content through a global community of creatives. The platform is home to the portfolios of 60,000+ photographers who are skilled to fulfill your content needs.

With Cherrydeck Branded Stock you can create a custom photography library with hundreds of images featuring your very own products. It is a time and cost-effective solution for brands of all sizes.

See how it works and success stories.

User Generated Content (UGC)

Instead of sourcing images from the overall web, you can also opt for UGC. Very self-explanatory, UGC includes images or videos that your customers have created themselves featuring your products.

You can use this content for your own marketing needs, your website, and to repost on social media. UGC has proven useful for boosting engagement, trust, and driving sales!

The tricky part: if your brand is now starting you may not be able to source UGC just yet and therefore it may not be a feasible option.

Do It Yourself

Of course, you know better than anyone what you want and need. So why not trust your eye and skills to bring your vision to life? Check out how to create a photoshoot for your brand in this step-by-step guide.

However, keep in mind this is a demanding option in terms of time and technique. If you don’t have the expertise or schedule availability, you might want to opt for the previous alternatives instead.

Free Image Libraries

If you really prefer to use stock photography for now but are looking for options that suit your budget, there are also solutions. You can opt for websites that provide you with high-quality content that looks good and is legally usable for free. Browsing free image libraries to find the perfect photo may take a good amount of time, but is surely possible.


Pexels is a website that features over 1 million royalty-free photos and videos uploaded by the creative contributors themselves. Their images can be used even for commercial purposes and be modified as much as one wants.


As their slogan goes, their website provides “Photos for everyone.” Unsplash offers free high-resolution images that are hand-picked to certain quality standards. Here you are also able to alter the pictures as you wish for your needs.

We hope these stock photography alternatives for brands helped you! Let’s review them:

  1. Use illustrations that depict your brand
    • Find freelancers on platforms like Upwork
    • Decide your colors, style, and patterns
    • Hire a student
  2. Create your own stock photography library to make sure you get custom on-brand content
    • Use Cherrydeck Branded Stock
    • Source user-generated-content
    • Do your own photoshoot
  3. Search in free image libraries
    • Visit platforms like Pexels or Unsplash

For more brand insights and tips, make sure to check out our blog. If you have an e-commerce store make sure to check out all you need to know on product photography.

Posted by:Cherrydeck Editorial

Our mission is to enable brands to source custom visual content at scale through our global creative community. Follow us on Instagram for the latest updates @cherrydeck

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