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EdTech: 7 Ways to Be Better at Stock Photography in Online Education by@katerinamalyavkina

EdTech: 7 Ways to Be Better at Stock Photography in Online Education

Katerina Malyavkina Hacker Noon profile picture

Katerina Malyavkina

Content Marketing Specialist at

Visual concepts of education topics changed over the past year. Details showing the EdTech industry and online learning appear in photos here and there. They reflect how the way we learn and teach is altered. Laptops and various gadgets, online platforms, and software are replacing classic concepts of education photography, including books, black and whiteboards, and even classrooms (at least for a while).

A few years ago Buzzsumo reported that Facebook posts with images gain 2.3x more engagement than image-free ones and the Buffer study stated that Twitter updates containing images receive 150% more retweets. The imagery seemed to be the key to success. However, it’s not that simple. People consume tons of information and scroll over numerous images on their Facebook or Instagram feed every day. Simply adding images to blog or social media posts is not enough to make your audience pay attention to the content. Content creators need to get people interested in the content, involve them, and make stop scrolling to find out more. 

Keep reading to learn some practical tips on how to pick up attractive imagery on education topics whether you get them from stock websites or make a brief for a freelance photographer. 

1. Avoid fake emotions

We all are able to recognize excessively emotional facial expressions instinctively. That is why, no matter what type of photography you use, people shown in an image should be super lifelike, just as they are in real life. Euphoric students and teachers might look as cartoonish as those who frown. 


2. Lifelikeness is the trend

Models shouldn’t stare at the camera and lock up when posing. Their poses and look should be natural, as well as all the details around the room and color palettes which are heading toward more pastel grey, beige and brown tones, according to the recent color trends research by Everypixel. We’d recommend you to choose images portraying characters, details, and cultural references that are more likely reflect your target audience. If your clients are students, pick up images with students which are look just like your clients. Bring the details that characterize them.    


Image Source — Unsplash

3. Avoid over-edited and perfectly polished images

Over-editing is another outdated trend that was relevant in an era of perfectly polished images and bad cameras. Photographers used to edit their images too much in order to cover up poor-quality pictures or make their images look perfect. Nowadays, overly-retouched faces, over-saturated colors, and too filtering images look unrealistic and do not reflect real life. Consider choosing the images that are minimally processed. It will definitely bring genuineness to your visual content. 


Image Source — Everypixel

4. Don’t make your metaphor literal or too sophisticated

To express the idea or empower the message, some photographers use the most obvious associations to come to their minds. In this case, images come out trivial and plain. For instance, we understand what ‘to study hard’ means, but it’s pretty unlikely that someone desperately grabs their head or eats a pencil having a facial expression like this girl:


Others are prone to creating sophisticated concepts and using as many creative tools as they have. As a result, sometimes content becomes awkward. The Internet is full of articles with compilations of weird images from stock websites. 

Avoid extremes of trivial concepts and sophisticated metaphors when looking for images for your marketing needs. Images portraying real life is always better. 

5. Avoid pictures of people studying over a pile of books 

Nowadays, the idea of education is more likely associated with laptops or tablets than a paper book. Books we read, textbooks we study, and assignments we have to do — all these things are digitalized. Classrooms are replaced by webinars and Zoom classes. So, an image of a student with a bunch of books is the exception rather than the rule. Until your client is not a book store.


6. Show online learning scenes 

A laptop screen with the Zoom class is probably one of the most viewed pictures for all students and teachers over the past couple of years. One more concept in the spotlight is a teacher or coach hosting a webinar, recording a lecture, or making a TikTok video. 


Image Source — Pexels

7. Flatlays is always the answer

Flat lay, commonly used in product photography, is an example of still life photography. It shows the top view of a surface with objects laid on there. By placing proper objects, changing or rearranging them over a shoot, photographers take pictures covering a wide range of topics. 

For instance, adding a ruler and divider may refer to the geometry topic. Tools for painting such as drawing inks and brushes show us an artist’s workplace. 

Moreover, using an image containing a white paper or a tablet screen (so-called ‘copy space images)’, you can bring your vision to the content by writing a text or putting your image inside the blank space.  


Image Source — Pexels

Special tip. If you consider flat lay photography to bring life into your content, we’d recommend finding a couple of photographers who shoot images that resonate with your style, tone of voice and suit your topic and needs. It enables you to make your visual style consistent and improve the clients’ perception of your product.

To Sum Up

Although content marketers should keep up to date with the latest trends and implement them into their work, they shouldn't let the brand's visual tone of voice conflict with its marketing goals. It means if a bookstore is selling books, the imagery doesn't have to switch on portraying only gadgets and laptops. You should reflect your audience’s needs and interests. However, by adding these details marketers can make the content look more fresh and appealing to their audience.