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How to use stock photography from Haute Stock on Your Website

Choosing the right visuals can make all the difference in connecting with your ideal clients online. Whether you opt for stock photography or invest in custom brand photography, you’ll want to intentionally choose images that resonate with your brand and audience.

In this post, I’m going to talk about a designer’s take on the differences between stock and brand photography, when you should use each, and how to choose the BEST stock photos to represent your brand. 

And, I’ll share my favorite stock photo service, along with an exclusive code for a Haute Stock free trial. 


Understanding stock photography vs. brand photography


First, let’s lay out the basics.

Brand photography consists of photographs taken specifically for your business. They capture the essence of your business, your offerings, and (usually) you! Brand photography is unique to your company and tailored to convey your specific brand messaging and style.

Stock photos are ready-made images available for purchase or free use. They’re created for generic graphic design needs, rather than specific brands. Stock photos are versatile and cost-effective, which is perfect for brands who need quick and relatively inexpensive content.


Haute Stock is a website that specializes in stock photos for women entrepreneurs. Every image is curated in particular for this demographic (more on that below!)


Why use stock photography?

It would be fabulous if we all had bespoke galleries of on-brand images for every single website page, blog post, opt-in, and social media post, but that’s not super realistic. 

Finding stock photos that fit together with your existing brand visuals makes a great supplement to brand photos. I recommend getting a professional headshot at the bare minimum and investing in brand photography as soon as you can. Starting with a brand mini-session is a wonderful way to get started and brand photographers typically offer these a few times a year!

But stock photos and videos from a service like Haute Stock can fill in the rest. They do a fantastic job of pulling in inclusive photos and videos that match an array of aesthetics.

When to invest in brand photography

Here’s when you should definitely invest in brand photography:

  • Brand identity images. For most small business owners, this will be photos of the founder and team. Other great places to use custom photography are images where your visual identity or brand is unique. For example, an interior designer would use custom photos of their work as the main images on their service page – using your actual work serves as a portfolio and builds trust with potential clients. 
  • Unique products or services. If you sell digital or physical products, you should always use custom photography or images so customers have a clear understanding of what you’re selling. If you’re a service provider, brand photography is ideal, but not a must (you can get the job done with stock photography and mockups in a pinch).
  • Major marketing campaigns. When you’re launching something big (like a podcast, event, or course), you might want some custom images make a bigger impact. 

Shoutout to Madalyn Yates Creative for our fabulous brand photos!

Not sure if it’s time to invest in brand photos? Head over to this post were we dive into why and when you brand needs brand photos.


When to use stock photography

Here are the top times you should look into using stock photography:

  • When you’re on a limited budget. Stock photography can provide professional, on-brand photos at a fraction of the cost of a custom photoshoot.
  • When you’re pressed for time. If you need images quickly – like yesterday – stock photos are instantly available.
  • When you’re creating content that isn’t you-centric. Think blog posts, pins, sales pages, lead magnets, and any image spot on your website that isn’t about you.

Tips for choosing high-quality stock photos

Even when you’re using quality images like Haute Stock photos, there are a few tips and tricks to choosing the best images for your brand.


Avoid overused images

Look for unique stock photos that you haven’t seen being used by other businesses.


Look for natural poses

Looking straight into the camera with a cheesy smile? That’s not natural! Choose photos with people who look natural and unposed.


Avoid Stock Headshots

A few stock photos with people’s faces are OK, but avoid using too many images of people who aren’t on your team on your main website pages. It can feel spammy, and you’ll lose visitors’ trust.

If you need more images with a human element, a good compromise is to use close-up shots (think hands typing, writing, or scrolling on a phone).


Consistency is key

Choosing one color scheme, style of photography and mood maintains a cohesive look. I recommend choosing stock photos for your main website from the same photo collection (vs. pulling images from multiple sets).


Pick images that feel like your own

It’s so easy to get caught up in beautiful photos that you forget that they don’t match up with your brand. 

For example, shots of people throwing confetti in the air might fit a fun brand best, while champagne toasts bring to mind celebration and high-end services.

When in doubt, go back to your brand descriptors, brand values, and color palette and find things that match your vibe.


A note on naming photos

Even if you use stock photos on your website, you should rename them with your branded keywords and use those same keywords in the alt text. Also don’t forget to optimize those images for site speeds before uploading to your media library!


Here’s an in-depth guide to renaming photos for WordPress. 


Haute Stock photos

My favorite service by far for stock photos is Haute Stock. I use it for Southern Creative and for all of our clients! Haute Stock photos are included in our Launch Week and Scalable Site packages.

As a designer, I have tested out a whole lot of stock photo sites over the years. Haute Stock is hands-down the best and most adaptable across different industries and brands. 

The images are feminine, stylish, and fit the look of SO many brands. You can think of it like a curated stock photo experience – so you don’t have to dig through piles of “meh” photos just to get to the good stuff! 

Everything is organized into easy-to-navigate categories based on themes, categories, and colors. 

There’s also so much more than photos! You get videos, social media templates, and training with a Haute Stock membership.

Here’s a quick  at how you can filter by industry + color (plus so much more!)



Haute Stock makes stock photography easy

Even if you don’t have the time or budget to have custom-branded photos for every single image, you can still have amazing images on your website and in your content. 

Haute Stock is my go-to because they have SO many high-quality photos and videos for brands to choose from. 


Want a Haute Stock free trial?


I have an exclusive Haute Stock discount code you can use for 21 free stock photos. Grab your freebies my visiting this link and using the code “southerncreative”.


Steph O'Keefe, SEO strategist and WordPress designer sitting at desk wearing a white shirt in Raleigh, NC.

I'm Steph!

I'm the Founder and creative Director behind Southern Creative, a.k.a. your SEO strategist and web designer.

My passion is crafting websites rooted in strategy so you can put your focus where your heart is while we launch your dream website that shows up online.