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?) 


How Do I Know if I've Found the Right Designer?


It is kind of like dating. You don't need to play the field, but you want to make sure it's a good fit.

So, how many designers should you date before you know she/he's the one?!

Our happiest clients have done a little research before hand. They have probably looked into two or three, maybe had a call with another. It doesn't hurt our feelings. We want to make sure that you feel comfortable in your choice!

Personality, over all style, and the technical details are a few good things to think on as you consider your designer.


Would you and your designer enjoy spending time together? Long walks on the beach, anyone?! Ha. But in seriousness - would you look forward to meetings and calls? Do they seem trustworthy and honest? Usually you can answer these questions within the first 10 minutes of a call. Most of our work comes from referrals, so you might have the added bonus of talking with a current/past client. This one is generally not something you have to think through deeply - it's more of an unconscious feeling. You know when you know, you know?


Do you like your prospective designers portfolio? More importantly - would your audience like it? I love when clients come to us with a Pinterest board or collection of images. It helps us establish a visual preference and find some common definitions for words like words like "traditional," "modern," and "classical." You don't want the designer's portfolio to be all over the place, but you also don't want to see 10 pink watercolor logos in a row. You should be looking for a focused "look," with some room for flexibility. 

Budget / Timing

I listed these two last because these are generally the most flexible parts of any project. You want to make sure your budget aligns with the designers rate sheet. As far as timing - it's very common for designers to be booked out into the future by 1 or 2 months. (The onboarding process can take a few weeks in some cases, so the wait time is definitely not wasted.) After talking with you, they will be able to give you a loose timeline and may ask for a deposit to hold your spot.

Oh! Bonus: One question I love to hear from prospective clients - "What sort of personal projects are you working on?" I love it for 2 reasons. Number 1 - I love sharing about my product line and daily sketches. Number 2 - When you hear about someone's personal projects, you see where their head is at and the direction they are leaning in. If that aligns with your business, you know you're in for some fun. I think we've had a soft spot for makers lately because Dusty and I are both working through the challenges of launching our own products.

This is one of those rare areas in life where you get to pick who you work with. Have fun with it! Don't be afraid to date a few designers before deciding they are the one. 

If you'd like to check out our rate sheet and learn a little bit more about our process, head to the contact page and drop us a line! Can't wait to here from you! 


5 Best Design Resources for Non Designers

This is a semi-followup from last week's post on slowing down. Many of our clients work with us for branding and web to get their brand off the ground. Then armed with their brand guide and some consulting, they are able to handle most of the day to day marketing stuff in house. (Go team!) Then we get to work with them again on bigger projects like line sheets, annual reports and bigger marketing efforts. It's been a really nice flow for us!

Here's a few of the resources I find myself recommending time and time again:

Free Stock Photo Sites

Images are everything. At some point you will want your own branded photography, but for now you might be able to get away with free stock photos. There are some wonderful stock photo sites out there, and this article, Stock Photos That Don't Suck, has a bunch. Our personal favorites are Unsplash and Death to Stock


Canva is an online graphic design tool. It can be a little testy, but it's perfect for putting text over an image for a social post or resizing/reformatting images. They have templates for all sorts of different items. We have several clients using it for those small day to day items!! 


I have used Skillshare to learn so much! Lots of hand lettering, but also how to optimize my Etsy, and a course on Email Marketing. 

If you find yourself doing the same thing over and over, why not search Skillshare and find a class that may teach you how to do it better/faster? I recently made myself a mini chart of new short codes to learn for Illustrator. My thinking is - when you run your own business, lessons come to you. Why not seek some learning out and get ahead? Haha.  


Hands down, Mailchimp is the easiest and most beautiful email marketing software. (Bonus points for being located right here in Atlanta!) (And they just launched free automation for everyone! Yay!)


If you don't have a site yet, or are considering switching, we recommend Squarespace. It's a template site builder, but miles above Wix and the other guys. Their customer service is top notch. (To me that is such a huge selling point.) It also has Gmail and domains built right in. They have so many gorgeous templates to choose from. (This chart can help you spot the differences.) Then you can change out photos and text and reorder pages. Later down the line if you want something more custom, you can team up with a designer.

These have really helped us and our clients grow in marketing and design.

If you feel good about your ability to create what you need, but want help with a game plan - we now offer personalized consulting sessions! We can talk through anything from branding, company naming, web layout, how to tell your brand story, products and customer experience. If that sounds fun, hit us up for a free intro call!

P.S. If you want even more resources, check out this post! It's a mega post!

Top photo of the most amazing pair of boots you will ever wear from The Root Collective / Photo taken by Molly Stillman