prism landscape
4 minutesVisual storytelling tips

How to Find Stock Photos that Don't Look Like Stock


95% of creative professionals feel their content suffers when they can’t find the right image.  

Clearly, the challenge of finding the right high-quality images can make or break even the strongest marketing campaigns and creative projects. And simply relying on the results from a stock photo site like Adobe Stock or Getty Images after a search for “office meetings” won’t separate your content from your competitors. 

For example, I’m willing to bet you’ve seen pictures like this pretty much everywhere: 

Boring office stock photography

Finding the right images on stock photo websites doesn’t mean you have to spend hours digging through each page. It’s a matter of knowing exactly what to search for.  

So, without further ado, let’s get into how to find stock photos that don’t suck.  

Use Better Search Terms 

Because it takes so long to find good images, it helps to think outside the box when considering the right search phrase.  

Start with learning current photography trends : what does everyone want more of right now? 

To find trending images, here are some search phrases to try:  

  • “Aerial photography” 

  • “People in motion” 

  • “Minimalism” 

  • “Street photography” 

  • “Film camera imagery” 

  • “Psychedelic landscape” 

Trendy stock photography

Trends are magnetic, but they can also be short-lived. When you’re creating content that might outlast the latest trends, you’ll want something more evergreen.  

Here are some search phrases that never go out of style: 

  • “Joyful” 

  • “Pet love” 

  • “Nature” 

Evergreen stock photography

Feeling inspired? Try any of these search phrases at and see what pops up!

Edit to Make It Yours 

This tip may take a little bit of graphic design skill, but the end result will give you something that no one has ever seen before.  

stock photos that dont suck

There are some basic do’s and don’ts around editing stock photos, here are some provided by Shutter Stock:

DO'S: you can edit, or alter, and use the licensed image however you want, anywhere you want, in as many projects as you wish, forever. 

DON'TS: You cannot resell, gift, or transfer the licensed image to anyone for its use as-is. This license applies to you only, and you’re solely responsible for its use. 

You can use Shutterstock images in client work – say, if you’re a designer creating visuals for a customer– under the Standard license no problem. But what you give the client must be the final, edited work, not the stock image, just as you downloaded it from the agency. 

Try Multiple Sources 

Search engines do their best to find the image you’re looking for based on search terms, but every algorithm works differently.  

If you don’t find what you’re looking for on the first few tries, it doesn’t mean you won’t find the right high-resolution images for your project. They’re just being filtered out. 

filtered coffee stock photos

When this happens, Chron suggests trying a different search engine. In fact, you might need to try 3 to 4 different search engines. This sounds tedious—but it’s actually a much bigger problem than you realize. 

In an image search study by Cascade Insights, 70% of creative professionals reported being frustrated with how long it takes to find the right image.  

In fact, one marketing director says, "Image search is one of the most time-consuming things. It's a hunt for a diamond in the rough." 

So, now what? 

Popsync it!  

82% of marketers publish visual content at least twice a week. 79% say they’ve delayed a deliverable due to difficulty finding the right image.  

We’re delighted to tell you that there is an easier way than tab surfing across multiple free stock photo sites.  

Popsync by Bluescape enables you to search the top image search engines at once (including Unsplash and Adobe Stock) and pick your fave stock images to make mood boards, spruce up blog posts, fill your social calendar, and more.

You can also configure Popsync to search cloud folders and digital assets management (DAM) systems for images and assets you store internally. 

“This is a distinct advantage because it allows users to access amazing content without going through a separate platform to search for images, no matter their budget.” -Getty Images 

Think of it as the search engine of search engines. It’s your key to unlock a wider world of visual content with a single search. 

Find Stock Photos that Don’t Suck for Your Next Project  

It’s time to find the perfect stock photos for your next project!   

Try Popsync by Bluescape to search multiple stock photo libraries at once or check out the top stock photo sites to kick up your next campaign!

About the Author

Megan Ranger

Megan Ranger

Copywriter at Bluescape



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