Using Stock Photography for your website, marketing brochures or newsletters? Then Stop!

Why You Should Never Use Stock Photography


When marketing your company you should only contain components that will positively impact the objectives of your company and one aspect where this is especially true is photography. You may think that custom photography is too expensive but this is not the case and is well worth the investment in the long run. Below are the top five reasons why custom photography is preferable over using stock images.

1. Your vision versus someone else’s vision

No matter how professional the stock photo, it will always be someone else’s vision and someone else’s interpretation of the idea, concept, emotion, etc. that you are trying to convey. As the old adage goes, “a picture is worth a 1000 words.” When it comes to your marketing, why would you want those words to be someone else’s? With custom photography, you have control over what thoughts and emotions your website, publications or emails convey. From a marketing perspective, that is HUGE. Regardless of whether it is a personal purchase decision or one for business, emotions and feelings always have an impact on decisions, even if it is a small impact.

Here is another way to think about it. Remember back to your last holiday. Think about the amazing experiences you had and the memories and emotions brought back by looking at the pictures you took. Are you there? Great, now do you think you would be reliving so those same experiences and emotions if you were looking at someone else’s pictures? No way, not happening. And that is why custom photography beats stock photography when it comes to evoking the right thoughts and emotions. Stock photography, for lack of a better term, is “someone else’s holiday photos.”

2. Original versus same-old, same-old

One of the greatest benefits of custom photography is that it presents you with the opportunity to show the viewer something they have never seen before.  When potential customers visit your website for the first time, for example, their immediate reaction should be “WOW.”  One sure-fire way to do that is with original photography that immediately shows them something they have never seen before, especially not at your competitors’ websites.  This will go a long way to helping establish your own, unique identity and promoting the image of your company that you want in visitors’ minds.  With stock photography, that is just not possible because stock photos are used over and over again.

3. Short-term cost versus long-term cost

Obviously, hiring a professional photographer may have larger initial costs than using stock photos. And yes, there are additional expenses such as models or having your employees away from their desk while participating in a photo shoot. But, there are also many indirect costs associated with stock photos that go beyond the licensing fee (which can be quite high depending on the quality of the image and how often you want to use it). You also have the time costs of scouring through hundreds, and potentially thousands, of photos to find the “perfect photos” for your website.

Additionally, when you use custom photography, you build a library of images that you own and can use in perpetuity. With stock photography, there are often limitations on how you can use the image and for how long.

4. The Perfect Pictures versus “Good Enough”

Before you select your images, before you even start thinking about your vision for your company, you have (or should have) done market research to identity the goals/objectives, the messages and emotions you want to convey, and the actions you want visitors to take when on your website or reading your marketing material.

With custom photography, you are ensured that you will have photos that are perfect for your company and your message. While the cost of going the custom route may be higher in the short-term, the benefits of more impactful marketing that produces better results will far outweigh those costs in the long-term. In fact, less impactful marketing will cost more as time progresses through lost opportunities and sales. Even if you find stock photos, they will only likely be “good enough” and not truly match your company and your message. With respect, in this regard “good enough” is neither. Not when it comes to your marketing (and your website in particular) and certainly not when it comes to the success of your business.

5. Immediate connection versus “Yeah, right”

Think about the last time you visited a website and clicked on “Customer Service,” “Contact Us,” or something similar. Was there a picture of a customer service agent? Did it look like the person actually worked for the company, or could you tell right away that it was a generic, stock photo? Think about how you would have felt if you had seen a picture of the person who was assisting you. How much better do you think you would feel about that experience if it was? While it is ultimately the responsibility of your team to establish that personal connection, actual photos of your team members versus generic photos certainly lays the groundwork for such a connection. Imagine the sense of trust and reliability that could have been established if these companies had used pictures of their actual employees, rather than a picture that bore no resemblance to their employees or their company?

So when considering what images to use on your website and in your marketing literature, remember that small savings now could very well have a much greater cost down the road.  Using stock images over custom photography is one of those areas.

Price Comparison – Custom vs Stock

The following table shows you what it would generally cost1 for a stock image from some of the major suppliers of stock photography. The figures below are the price per image based on purchasing 50 basic quality images with Standard Licenses2.

  iStock Shutterstock Adobe Getty
Single £7-20 £5.56 £5.99 £12.50-320
1 Month Plan £3.96 £1.50 £2.39 -
Credit Pack3 £5.16-15.78 - £4.64 -
1 Lowest priced images. Prices correct as of August 2018
2 Standard Licenses do not allow you to use the image on products and may not include website usage rights.
3 Available Credit Packs have been combined to cover 50 image credits and may include leftover credits.

A photo shoot with Carol Herbert Photography is just £75. After the shoot you will have the chance to view all the images taken and purchase as many as you wish. The prices below show the cost per image on the lowest 2 price bands
 

  Photo Shoot Digital File Pack4 Total Cost Price per Image
Up to 30 Images £75 £90 £165 £5.50
31 - 50 Images £75 £145 £220 £4.40
4 Digital files are priced in packs, i.e. 28 images would be £90; 41 images would be £145.
Image quantities may be rounded down if you decide to purchase all images in a shoot, i.e. if there are 54 images from a shoot you may purchase them all for £145.

As you can see, the cost of Custom Photography compares favourably with the base costs of Stock Photography.

What’s more, all images come with a license to allow you to use them in any way you wish without restrictions: websites, brochures, newsletters, emails, advertising, social media, printing, products etc.

If you would like to discuss images for your business please complete the short form on my Contact page.