Using Styled Stock Photography

 Styled Image for  Host & Toast

Styled Image for Host & Toast

What is styled stock photography?

Styled stock photography is any photography that is purposefully created for digital use. Styled means that extra care was taken to make sure the photo is illustrating the right emotions and tone. Stock photography can have that terrible doctor's office brochure feel - very general and all purpose. Styled stock is much more focused. There’s more care when it comes to composition, layout and storytelling. It’s like still life painting, but with things.

 Styled Photos for Roswell's  Summer Sippin

Styled Photos for Roswell's Summer Sippin

Where can I get it?

$ There are many ways to get styled stock photography. Good free stock photos exist. It just takes a little digging to get the right mix of images. (Factor in your time to this equation. Nothing is free!) We used free stock photos for the Miles4Major site design. Each of the images we selected have similar colors, lighting and over all feel. Click around the site to see what I'm talking about. And this is a list of free stock photo sites that don't suck! 

$$ You can also buy styled stock photos from sites like Creative Market. These will vary in price and quality. Shay Cochran (heart eyes emoji) has an amazing styled stock shop for feminine brands. (We purchased and used some of Shay's images on the Better + Better site.) One thing I love about her is that she only a single image x number of times. This lowers the chance that a competitor is scooping up the same photos. 

$$$ You can hire a stylist and photographer to create styled photos for your company. This is a great option because we can get very specific with brand colors, props, products, people and places. No one else will be using these images - they are tailor made for your brand and your brand story. This is can be an investment, but it pays off in a big way. (Especially if you have a physical product to sell like Marie Mae. And it's a great investment if you’re working on a re-brand or a new website.)

 Styled Photos for Marie Mae

Styled Photos for Marie Mae

Why it's important.

Social media, websites, blogs - all rely heavily on an image's ability to tell a story. The faster the story is told, the better chance you have of your customer clicking “Let’s Get Started.” You know this already - we're visual creatures, now more than ever. 

Signs you might need to update your photography:

  • If you're working with dated, grainy, poorly lit images
  • If you have been using the same 10 images for the last 2 years, or if you're always looking for something last minute to post or share
  • If you're not getting the right kinds of leads (Are your photos attractive to your ideal customer? If not, your ideal customer might not feel at home with you and your brand. You want them to think, "this is for me," when they visit your site or see your social media posts.)

If you'd like to chat more about photos for your brand or have questions, reach out! All the images in this post were taken by Angie Webb and styled by me. (#dreamteam, yes?) 


Probably the best thing I did last year.

2017 was our official third year as a business and we learned a lot. A lot, a lot. All that learning gave us a better idea of where we want to take our business this year. Here’s a look at what we are celebrating and what we’re looking to improve in the new year.


The Good

I went part time, and it was probably the best thing I did all year.

I cut back on Mad & Dusty and started working part time at our local yoga studio. Not only did I get a sweet discount on freelance uniform staples (yoga pants, yay), I got to be around people again. (A surprising win for this introvert.) Adding a part time job took a lot of pressure off our business and allowed us both to pursue projects we feel passionate about. I started using my limited time more wisely. And Bonus - I've gained a much better understanding of brick and mortar small business - the struggles, the wins and how design plays a part in that. This is probably the best thing I did for my business last year.

We joined our local network. 

We love our creative group here in town. Small Town Creatives meets monthly at Reformation Brewery. Each month we dive into a creative topic and build relationships. It’s been great connecting with people I see around town all the time. Dusty and I even got to help coordinate a Holiday Pop Up Shop with 20 local makers.

We traveled and enjoyed this business. 

Last year, we took a little trip to Savannah in combination with Plywood Presents. We spent our anniversary in New Mexico. Then Christmas came and we stayed put. I feel like this year more than last, we really took time to enjoy the things that this business allows us to do. Spend time together. Travel. Learn. Year 3! It's been really great. 


The Bad

We did a bad job with bookkeeping. :(

I was so used to checking in once a week and once a month. When our sale tax filing changed from monthly to yearly frequency, I dropped the habit. I was lucky to form a partnership with an excellent bookkeeper. She offers quarterly bookkeeping help. Yes, please. I’ve also got weekly check ins on my schedule again. 

We spread out too wide and lost our focus. We got too narrow and lost a few clients.

Our third year in business was a learning year. (I’ve yet to experience a not learning year.) We had grown too wide. Then we got suuuper narrow and focused into offering only 2-3 project types. It’s a smart business model, and it mostly worked for us. I now realize - I really enjoy it as a starting place with clients, but I need to think of ways to continue working with the great people we've met. (Web check ups, packaging, photography maybe?) 

We had trouble closing projects. 

I know a designer who charges a fee anytime a project runs over. I love this, but I’m a little scared to do it! Eeek! We did implement timeline and project templates, but I still struggle with wrapping up projects. A few of our clients have needed to pause their project midway. Totally cool! But it's been a struggle to get some of those back online and finished. I will be spending some time defining the project close process and what to do if a project needs to be put on hold. (Let me know any suggestions!) Time to refine.

How did your 2017 go? I'd love to hear about it! If you have any suggestions on the above ^, let me know! I'm so glad we get to do this together.


Behind the Scenes: A Styled Shoot for Marie Mae Co

Styled shoots have been one of my favorite projects lately. I love talking through the product and brand story with the client. Finding props, and then making shot lists and story boards - it's this magical combination of planning and treasure hunting.

For this shoot with Marie Mae Co., I teamed up with the lovely Angie Webb. She took care of photos and lighting, which allowed me to be all in when it came to styling. We had 4-5 major "scenes" for this shoot and about 10 products all together. 


We shot the entire session at Ember Hot Yoga in Downtown Woodstock. Amazing natural light and white walls made for photo shoot heaven. 

One under appreciated skill is how to drop things beautifully. I think it's something I learned in art school. Styling photos is so similar to painting - laying out the composition, considering colors - it's all there.

Product photos have to tell the story for customers who are too busy to read your product descriptions (i.e. everyone). Like most visuals, product photos work as the receptionist. Good photography is like a warm welcome to your audience. It should say, "You're in the right place. This is for you."

Hope you enjoyed this behind the scenes peek! You can see the final pieces on this page. If you're interested in a photo shoot for your company, don't hesitate to reach out. Contact us to get a list of current rates in your inbox.