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How to Create Original Images from Stock Photos

Want fresh and original creatives, but don’t have the time and energy to create them from scratch? Then we’ll show you how to turn mundane stock images that people have seen before into exciting new material. 

On paper, stock photos might seem like the perfect solution for your ad campaigns. There are literally billions of images available online that you can use legally in your campaigns, (providing that you have the rights to use them of course). However, the main issue with stock images is that they will almost never look original. 

One of the best things about stock photos is how many of them there are. One of the worst things about stock photos is how many of them there are. It’s a double-edged sword. Because there are billions out there, you have all the choice in the world. However, because there are billions out there, you’ll need to make yours stand out in the crowd by making them unique. 

Making stock images look unique can be great for sites like Instagram, where you want a polished look, yet at the same time, you need to create images that look as though they are viewed through the lens of a real person. For more info on this, check out our article: 5 Simple Ways to Improve your Instagram Ads

The good news about making stock images look unique is that you don’t need to be a professional photographer or editor. With simple, free online software, you can breathe new life into stock images. 

All of the examples below were made using Canva, but you can use any editing tool you like to produce the same results. The method might be slightly different, but the principles will remain the same. However, Canva is a great tool if you don’t want to learn more complex methods using professional editing tools. 

Here are 5 easy ways to make your stock images unique!



Adding an overlay can make images more vibrant, and look as though they have been specially created for your site. 

Overlays are created by adding a textured layer on top of your stock image. In Canva, choose the image you want to use and then find a photo texture that you like. Use your chosen stock image as a base and then place the texture image on top. Then, simply adjust the transparency of the textured layer until you see the results you want.



Blurring is probably the easiest. Choose the image you want to use and then go to adjust in the top right and adjust the blur. You probably don’t want to go over 10, as the image will be completely indistinguishable if you do. 

Black and White


Black and white images can be really effective and give you some great stylised images. To turn a vibrant stock photo into a black and white image, simply go to the adjust tab in the top left and then tune the saturation down to between -100 and -70. You can play around with the contrast too if you want to give it a more retro feel.   

Zoom and Crop


Canva lets you drag and edit image sizes really easily. If you have your template set up to the size you want then you can simply drag the image outside of the borders to crop it. To adjust the image within the frame, double click and you’ll be able to maneuver it. 

Combine Images


Combining images is the same as adding overlay textures, but rather than using texture images, you simply combine two relevant stock images to create a new image. 

The Bottom Line

If you’re trying to find a quick, easy, and cost-effective way to get creatives, then editing stock images is a great place to start. You can get great results fast, just be sure to test your new images against the originals to be sure that your edits are helping and not hindering your campaigns.  

Finished reading?
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