How to Make Original Featured Images from Stock Photos: The Shrink Trick via @sejournal, @martinibuster

One of the downsides of stock photography images is that they’re not original content. Original content is important. Here’s an easy way to show Google original image content that is made from stock photography.

There are many ways to use stock photography and make it original.

This tutorial is going to show you two tricks for turning a stock photography image into original content.

The Shrink Trick

One of the advantages of using stock photography is that the images come in huge sizes. This means you can crop it in a way that zooms in on a specific area.

For example, if you download a stock photo of a person on a laptop computer, you can crop the area of the photo with the laptop within a rectangle then copy it and paste it into a new file.

Because stock photography images are at such a high resolution, the cropped image can be shrunk down to whatever size you need it to be for your featured image, easily.

Find an Image that Contains a Part of What You Want

The way it works is to find an image that contains one part that you need. So if you need an image with a laptop but no people, instead of doing a search for images of just a laptop, do a search for images of laptop computers and people, instead.


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So you can search for photos like “woman with laptop” or “business person with laptop” or “clown with laptop,” whatever you want.

Download an image with a laptop in it that conforms to what you had in mind then crop it.

Example of the Shrink Trick

I’m going to show you a different version of the shrink trick. In this variation I look for an image that is on an isolated background. That means a background that has a high contrast with the model or thing that you want for your featured image.

For this example, it doesn’t work if the model in the image is yellow and the background is yellow. There has to be a contrast because the contrast allows you to easily select the background, then reverse the selection so that you have the model selected.


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Once the model is selected, copy the model then paste it back into the image.

If that’s too hard for you, go ahead and skip the next steps.

I needed an image for an article I published on Search Engine Journal on April 2021. I found an image of a person that shows them from head to toe, a full body photo.

Original Stock Photo with Model Isolated on a Blank Background

Stock photo with a model isolated on a white background

Stock photo with a model isolated on a white background

As you can see the image is “isolated” on a white background. And it’s a full body image.


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Tip: You can search for “isolated” images on stock photography sites, if you need to do that.

Select the part of the image you want. In this case I want to zoom in to the top half of the model’s body so that I get a close-up of her face.

Image Now Only Shows Top Half of the Model

Image cropped to just show upper part of body

Image cropped to just show upper part of body

If you want, you can stop right  here. Google sees the above image as an original image. I uploaded it to Google Images and Google did not identify it as a stock photography image.


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TIP: A way to make sure to that the image is seen as original is to flip the image horizontally. 

Horizontal Flip Trick

Horizontal Flip TrickFlipping an image horizontally will make it be even more original in terms of contentHorizontal Flip Trick

You can skip this step if you’re not handy with an image editing software. But what I did was to select the background, expanded the selection by about one pixel, feathered it by one pixel, then reversed the selection (technically, I inversed the selection) so that I had the model selected.


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Then I pasted the model back into the image.

I did that because I want to put stuff behind her. I use this trick when I want to add a company logo behind a model, which helps to make the image more original.

Next, I added words behind the model. Because I add the words on a layer that is beneath the model, the words will slide in as if behind her.

I also slightly blurred the words in order to create the illusion that they are a slight distance away from the viewer and the model, after all they are behind her.


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Here’s the resulting image:

Final Image that I Used for an Article

Screenshot of Final Image created from a stock photoThis is an original image that is created from a stock photography photoScreenshot of Final Image created from a stock photo

Original Photo from Stock Photography Site

Screenshot of original image

Screenshot of original image

Google Images Sees it as an Original Image

The resulting image is original. If you upload the image to Google Image Search, Google will not identify it as coming from a stock photo site. As far as Google is concerned, this is an original image.


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Google Images Does Not Identify Image as Stock Photography

Screenshot of Google ImagesGoogle Images does not recognize this image as a stock photography photoScreenshot of Google Images

You Too Can Have Original Images

If you don’t have the time or the budget to hire a model and/or a professional photographer to create original images, use some creativity to make original images.


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For example, the featured image for this article is an over the top mashup of three stock photography images.

Purchase an image editing software or engage a freelancer to help you. The result will be fresh original content that users will love, that communicates your message and that Google will recognize as original content.


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