Without a hired photographer, it can be challenging to get authentic images for your print brochures. Smiling faces and edgy angles can work for a lot of things, but will they really connect to your brand and customers?

Finding great stock images is half the battle, but how do you make them distinct to your company? How do you take five “well, they’re sort of related” shots and turn them into a moving brochure that represents you well?

Here are a few tips for choosing and using stock images in brochures.

 Buildings photo |  Scanrail
Buildings photo | Scanrail

Divide and Conquer

Cutting your favorite shot down to a smaller piece of the original can give you a brand new image tied to your brochure’s message.

A photo that shows most of a building, for example, could be cropped so that the building’s edges bleed out of frame, creating a close-up effect.

If you do this, be sure to mind the grid so you keep a strong composition.


The Rule of Thirds is the perfect guideline here. Imagine dividing the photo vertically and horizontally into three sections each way (like when you’re uploading a photo on Instagram). Position the major points of interest in the image at the intersections of these lines. This will help you keep a strong composition and avoid turning your great stock shot into a tourist photo.


 Night traffic image |  msv
Night traffic image | msv

Match ‘em Up

If you’ll be using more than one shot in your brochure, pick images with a matching style. A shot of people against a white background will look awful next to a shot of a blurred yellow Manhattan cab. Pick your theme and be strict about it.

While you’re at it, stick to shots with dominant colors that work well with your brand’s color palette.

If your brand is orange and white, find images heavy on one or both. This will give you a design that feels cohesive and purposeful all the way through.


 Split boardwalk image |  nito
Split boardwalk image | nito

Have a Filter

Speaking of cohesive, you can fake a sense of pro-photographer style with this little trick:

Open that photo-editing app and run every shot you use through the same set of filters.

Lower the contrast, bump up the saturation, adjust the blur — whatever you want, just give them all the same treatment. They’ll look consistent and give you a slick gestalt factor.


 Young people image |  zurijeta
Young people image | zurijeta

Keep it Real

Finally, avoid shots meant to represent ideas, like Cooperation, Success, and Pride.

Shots of office workers waving as a group and people looking frustrated at their desks rubbing their temples can come off as contrived in some projects.

If the image is an obvious metaphor, skip it. It’s been done. Use stock images that feel authentic and relevant, ones that couldn’t be used in a million other contexts.


Now get to it. You’ve got a killer brochure to make.

And, if you need stock photos for that brochure, sign up for a 7-day Free Trial of Bigstock. You’ll be able to download up to five royalty-free photos a day – up to 35 free images during your trial.

About the Author: Robert Hoekman Jr is a writer, product designer and leadership consultant. He’s written acclaimed books and articles on UX. He is also a columnist and editor for Iron & Air magazine.


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