It may seem unnecessary—maybe even wasteful—but budgeting for custom photography and design is money well spent for your content and brand. It creates a level of credibility and authenticity with your audience. Simply stated, it’s been proven that people respond better to original images.
Don’t get me wrong, though. Stock photos are very purposeful if you have budget or time constraints. But, it can be pretty easy to recognize stock in print and digital—images can look very polished, almost too professional and too generic in subject matter. They can also be easily recognized as stock because everyone else on the planet has access to that very same image. You might have seen the same model on an insurance billboard, an attorney’s print ad and your chiropractor’s website. Even worse, some stock photos look cheap and generic. And don’t get me started on the ever-present group photos of business professionals.
Mike Dobies said it best: “When is the last time you’ve seen a teenage Asian girl, a hipster bearded twenty-something, a middle-aged professional Black woman, and a savvy-suited elder businessman all in a conference room together? Few offices represent 100% of America’s melting pot.”
If you ask any designer or art director how many hours they have spent searching through stock photos for that perfect shot, they will probably roll their eyes and tell you how it’s shaved years off of their life. They’re being paid to spend hours searching for the perfect image—one that they’ll probably have to spend time reworking later just to make it fit in a layout. Yes, Photoshop is a powerful tool that can create magic when used by the right hands. But, sometimes the end result still doesn’t hit the mark.
For example, when you say, “Let’s take this model and put her into this environment,” the altered image may not look quite like you envisioned regardless of how much time was spent editing. So, now you have invested time and money with nothing to show for it. (And, it’s important to note that the high-end, more unique stock images aren’t cheap, to begin with.)
The beauty of hiring a photographer to capture your own original images is that you avoid the “Frankenstein” approach (in other words: patching pieces and parts together to see if they work). When a design is created with custom imagery, the concept feels more complete because every element of it was intentional. And when art directors and photographers work together, that’s when the magic happens: Your brand evolves into a cohesive, visual experience that takes the viewer on a journey.
When it comes to your brand, your first impression is critical. So, take a second thought before using your own DIY designs, or hiring the family member who took a design class at the local community college. Hire a professional. Whether it’s photography or graphics, using custom imagery can increase engagement and conversions, as well as boost your overall brand experience. And trust us–that that extra time and attention to detail is priceless.