Cult Following: The Death to Stock Story

Cult Following: The Death to Stock Story

Cult Following: The Death to Stock Story

We invited David Sherry, founder of Death to the Stock Photo, to share his tips on building a community around visual content-- something we’re all striving towards. DTS helps creatives with their visual content needs by providing them access to free, inspirational photography and design resources. We’ve been inspired by David’s story and wanted to share this interview with you to help inspire your own community building and methodology for creating visual content. David has built a community of over half a million creatives and has some great advice.

What is DTS?

Death to the Stock Photo is a media library that helps make your content more awesome. We collaborate with artists to make inspiring stock photos, videos, and designs that you can use when you're making your own ideas, campaigns, projects and creations. We provide themed photo packs and inspiration delivered to your email.

A photo posted by David Sherry (@brandswell) on

What is the core problem DTS is solving? How did you first recognize the problem?


Every week our customers are faced with the challenge of dreaming up and creating new projects. We provide the assets that are the building blocks and the spark for the work they create. I like to think we're like a caffeine fix for creatives. Daily inspiration mixed with tools they can apply immediately. I first spotted this problem back in 2013 when I realized just HOW much media brands would need to stay relevant in an online world where everything is image based. I started asking myself the question, "How are brands going to be consistently relevant on Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter etc..?"

I like to think we're like a caffeine fix for creatives.

Visual content is more prevalent than ever. What are your customers using DTS content for?

Our customers use DTS content to achieve a visual quality and consistency with whatever they publish online. DTS helps supply artists with the tool they need to finish a blog post, create a website, start an app design, launch an ad campaign, or practically anything that necessitates a quality image and aesthetic.  

What do you see as the main value of content today?

It facilitates the communication of an idea from your brand to your audience. If that idea connects, you get to have a customer, a fan, a relationship, and so on.


What have you seen change in the landscape of content creation since you first started DTS?

In the beginning, we were really helping people stand out, being on the forefront of authentic imagery. Today, it's a baseline need to have an incredible unified image across your brand. The amount, quality, and diversity of assets needed have gone up 10x.

Who are the content creators behind the media that DTS is sharing?

We work with artists all over the world, curated and contracted directly to produce the highest quality images and media we can. We spend most of our time finding the best artist in a specific style or field, and then build a long-standing relationship with them to produce our media.


How do you select and work with artists?

I believe we're better at selecting and working with artists than most other brands, which is where we create our value. Our artists are found and selected in a variety of ways. We'll see them on Instagram, get referrals, contact them through their website, bump into them at a coffee shop. We spend 90% of our time finding the right people and 10% of our time making sure we're not getting in the artist’s way when they're creating.

The community you’ve built is really incredible. So many marketers are trying to do the same with their customers. Are there some top tips you can share?


1. Have an opinion.

2. Voice your opinion from an authentic place, and be a champion for your community.

3. Have the guts to not censor, edit, or take off the edges off of your work. Try what's not conventional. If you're doubting or scared about the idea you're trying, you're too boring and no one will care.

4. Talk to people like they're humans, because they are. Build your relationships one at a time when you're starting out.

Thanks to David Sherry for sharing his perspective. If you aren’t taking advantage of the free monthly photo packs from DTS, you’re missing out!

Creative Community Director at Snapfluence. 

There is often a pen stuck in my hair.