Stock Photography versus Real Photos

Stock Photography versus Real Photos

Written by: Maria Horan

You have gone to all the trouble of carefully planning your brand new website and finding the right designer to make your vision a reality. The design process is under way and you are busy gathering the assets needed for the content. As you work through the checklist, you realise you need images… after all, a good image is worth a thousand words.

At this point, it is very natural for the client to struggle with the decision of whether to go with stock photography that’s “on offer” from one of the many online stock libraries or run the gauntlet of trying to secure quality “real photos”.

Stock photo or custom image?

This is a question that comes up at some point in most design builds and with good reason. After all, when it comes to site imagery, it’s not so much about having photos online, as it is about giving visitors to the website a proper sense of the business, the products or services and most importantly, giving a consistent feel for “the brand”.

Images are one of the most powerful tools in marketing and branding. They are also what leads your visitors to form an opinion about your business within the first few seconds of landing on your homepage. So you need to show that what they are seeing is a real view of your business.

The price of website photography

Granted, stock images have the lure of being affordable, especially when your site build is on a budget, but is this false economy? Too often, the price paid is damage to reputation and brand identity, all of which results in lost revenue.

To put it in context, many of us, at one time or another, have been on a website and click on the contact form or customer support page, only to be greeted by the stock image of the person with the headset and the unbearable cheesy grin. What is worse, we have seen them on another site a few minutes before and with that, you develop a major question mark as to the credibility of that business.

Consequences of stock imagery

One mistake many businesses make on their websites, when trying to put a human face to the business and add a personal touch, is working with stock photos. This can have some of the following consequences.

  • Reputations and Brand Ruined
  • Sending Mixed Messages
  • Making Your Website Look Generic
  • Limitations of Photo Usage and Light
  • Overused Images

When to use stock images

When time and budget are limited, you don’t have the resources to employ a photographer. To source a new image, the easiest alternative is to download a photo from a stock library. However, stock imagery should always be used as a last resort and often requires a lot more thought than simply choosing from a bank of custom images.

If you go with a stock image, it is a must that you’re spending the extra time searching online to ensure that the images you find are better suited to your brand and help in giving the right impression of your business. Make sure the image works with the overall brand and website design. If you are uncertain, then consult your website designer as they will have a very good idea of how the photo will affect the overall feel of your website.

Whatever route you choose, remember that good imagery is about conveying a sense of your company’s personality, character and enticing people to your brand, the moment they land on your website.