Stock photography is a great way to improve your site’s visual strategy. Unfortunately, some stock photography is overused or used “as is”, resulting in many sites using the same images without any branding or specific customization.

I believe that stock photography can be customized to fit your brand quite easily, making sure that the photos you are using receive the attention they deserve and your site stays on on brand without mimicking someone else’s

Tips to choose a stock photograph:

1. If you have seen the photo used over and over on Social Media or other sites, DON’T USE IT! No matter how much customization you put that photo through, it will still be recognized as that “photo everyone is using”.

2. Get yourself a proper subscription for a stock photography site like Freepik. The free options will always be used by more people because they are easily accessible, by having a subscription you can at least have some kind of exclusivity.

3. Find photographs that fit your brand in terms of color and niche. There is a limit to how much you can change a photo without going overboard so picking one that fits your brand without editing will give you more options.

4. Choose and download the photo in high quality so that any customization you do to it will keep its good standard and not become over-pixelated, especially if you are cropping to smaller sections of the photo.

Today I will show you 3 ways that you can customize photos and 5 different styles of each. In total you will see 15 different ways that you can creatively customize one stock photograph to match your brand and use inside your blog and for social media.

Below is The Original Photograph from Freepik. A beautiful and versatile food ingredient photo that can be used for recipes or any article about food. With just one photo you can visually embellish your articles, create Blog Post Title graphics and Social Media posts. The three main creative edits I will show you today are;

1. Overlays

2. Cropping

3. Color Adjustments




1. Overlays

An overlay is a semi-translucent color that can either cover the entire photo or just part of it. The color that you use for an overlay greatly depends on your Brand Styling. Below are three full photo overlays; black, white and dual tone.  After placing the overlay you are ready to add some text, like the title of your blog post or a quote to post on Instagram.




A different way of using overlays is to place a shape over a section of the image instead of the entire photo. Just like before, you can add text in the overlay to create a Pinterest graphic for example. When using colver overlay shapes, you grant the photo a whole new feel.

TIP: choose the color of the overlay with the eyedropper tool to match the elements in the photo.





When a high quality photograph has lots of elements, it can be cropped in lots of different ways. From large areas to really small areas. Using cropping as an editing tool will give you the freedom of using one photo for lots of purposes.

For example the photo I chose to show you all the possibilities looks to be like the ingredients for a bowl of pasta with a tomato and basil sauce. Using cropping techniques plus the other mentioned techniques as supplements, you can create images for your article and all your social media.

Remember that a photo that you found originally as vertical can also be turned on its side to be horizontal and vice versa. If you want to get really creative you could even crop the photo into a circle or any other shapes and create a collage.




3. Color adjustments

The third creative technique I will show has to do with the overall feel of the photograph. Color adjustments are not something you add to the image but rather something you do do it.

Desaturation is a technique in which the intensity of the colors is stripped to make the image a bit washed out, with a romantic feel. Sepia is a technique that mimics a sort of film coloring. By adjust the sepia in your photograph, it turns a bit brownish. Sepia is the name of a kind of brown. A photo in full sepia would be similar to a black and white image, but it would be precisely brown and cream. For the example I have applied the sepia adjustment to about half, only enough to give the photo a sepia “feel” yet not turn in completely into a sepia effect.

The last example is a total desaturation of color to turn the photo in a black and white photo. When desaturating a color photograph to mimic a black and photo you also have to tweak the contrast a bit to make it look better. A little toggle with highlights and shadows also helps reach a nicer effect.

Color adjustments can also be applied to only parts of the photo with masks or by copying and pasting if you aren’t very good with photoshop and masks. Remember that you can also add shapes that match your brand and play around with cropping and overlays at the same time!



About Orana Velarde

Orana is an artist of many trades currently working as a Graphic Designer for bloggers and small businesses. Her love of art and travel create the perfect artist nomad combination. Orana founded Orana Creative to help freelancers, solopreneurs and bloggers master a better visual strategy. She is passionate about eye happiness and loves constructive criticism.

To learn more, visit

  • Dany Lizotte

    Thank you sooooooo much for that brief and extremely informative content. I love it!

  • Ma. Clarice Lao

    This is so helpful. You just don’t know how much I needed this since I am looking for ways on how to improve the visuals/ graphics on my client’s website. Thank you so much.

  • Maria Louisa Mae P. Mercado

    These are excellent and very useful ideas. You’d think you would have thought of them on your own but that’s not the case. Sometimes I get stumped trying to come up with an interesting image. Will definitely take tips from this.

  • These are great tips that I can actually try. I’m focusing on travel photography and I have always been using my own photos since then. Although trying out stock photos is also a good idea. I’ll try to create a post where I can easily incorporate these photos with mine. 🙂




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