Of all the images on your company’s site, how many are original photos? If you’re realizing stock images outnumber originals, you’re missing an opportunity to elevate your brand in more ways than one. With visuals being a constant driving force behind consumer behaviors and purchases, using moments captured from your own lens or with the help of marketing pros is becoming increasingly important.
Leverage Brand Identity
Brand imagery has long been a factor in establishing brand identity among consumers. And because we consume information via visuals faster than text, consumers form an opinion about your brand almost instantly. Original photography can convey very specific emotions to viewers, emotions that you, someone who truly understands the vision for your campaign can illustrate during photoshoot. Original photos lend the opportunity for more insight and control over the images becoming a direct representation of your brand. By being more involved in this process and crafting your own visuals rather than choosing them from a predetermined selection, you nurture an ever-important piece of your brand’s identity.
Visual communication is often the first interaction you have with potential customers, so photography is key to telling (and selling) your brand’s story. Original photos taken by a pro you can trust and offer direction will almost always tell that story better than any stock image.
Equally important to originality is authenticity. 90% of consumers cite authenticity as a significant part of their decision in supporting a brand. Go beyond company headshots when showing clients your team’s true colors and feature moments that reflect your company’s day-to-day and personality or showcase the meaning behind your product or service. When referencing your “friendly, helpful staff,” showing a tired, generic stock image of someone behind a desk who clearly isn’t on your team or at your location does little to prove your case. Instead, actual brand photography of team members interacting with clients and customers is much more likely to catch and keep the user’s attention.
If images are accompanying an actual story or narrative, it’s especially important to have original photos. When sharing news with Winter Park through the32789, our agency’s online hyperlocal news platform and developing patient testimonials for an awarded healthcare client, we’re either behind the lens or right next to the photographer helping direct the shot.
Execute and Own Your Vision
One of the best perks of original photos is plain and simple–they’re yours. With original photography comes a sense of control in having the ability to interpret what you see through the lens or provide in-depth direction to an agency photographer. From what subject you want in the photo, to the angle, depth and emotion, it’s all up to you. There’s an opportunity to make every shot different than the last and tailor every detail, even considering next steps in the creative process like design, web development and copywriting during the photoshoot. Original photography also serves as a valuable investment in your brand because they’re available for future use and you’re able to use the photos for multiple assets.
Stock Images Are Overlooked
While stock images can be a good source for inspiration and vision, they often do little to truly carry a message. Even stock images from premiere sites are easily recognized and stick out to consumers as stiff, boring and unrealistic, especially if intertwined with original content. In fact, studies have shown that people tend to ignore stock images completely while they pay closer attention to original brand photography with real customers and team members.
Ending the Debate
In a perfect world, there would always be enough time and resources to take stunning photos for your brand. But we get it, sometimes stock images are necessary if you’re facing a tight deadline or budget. Though we recommend original photos whenever possible, here’s an overview to make those stock image vs original photography decisions easier.
When does it make sense to use original photography?
- For materials that communicate your unique and authentic brand
- For campaigns that convey an original concept, story or message
- For product photography
- For food photography
- For editorial profiles
When does it make sense to use stock?
- For projects that have a limited turn-around time and/or a limited budget
- To supplement existing photography (provided you can find images that match in style and tone)
- For simple images that don’t require a background or an environment is not needed
- For projects that are internal, or more playful
Apart from these exceptions, original photos should be your goal for most projects. Whether photoshoots are executed in-house, through an agency or a professional photographer, no one can capture your story like you can.