I have some opinions on the matter of opting for stock imagery over personal brand photography– and my guess is that you do too, even if you haven’t realized it before now. For a moment, just think about what happens when you land on a website that is clearly using stock imagery. What initial reaction do you have? Be honest.
Do you click away? Do you internally grimace? Or do you think, “wow– what gorgeous, personalized images this website is using!”
Let me start by saying that recently, a client was looking to use a popular stock photo platform (that shall remain nameless) and she reached out to me for help.
“My stock imagery isn’t cutting it,” she admitted. ” I have tried and tried and I still don’t know how to make it work together. What do you recommend?”
It’s not the first time I’ve heard those words.
For starters, stock photography websites are rather overwhelming. There are countless options, crops, and colors available in any given theme or subject matter. You can easily spend hours scrolling through imagery, looking for just one or two images that speak *somewhat* to what you are looking for ‒ and that you HOPE will also blend in with the other images you source or already have.
But then, even after wasting a frustrating amount of looking for just the right one (imagine scrolling Pinterest but with your business feeling like it’s on the line here)‒ something still seems….off. So, you head back to the drawing board and start the search again.
The thing is, when it comes to your brand imagery, stock photography only gets you so far.
Stock photography produces licensed photos that can be used for a specific purpose, used often for digital marketing and advertising. More and more, I see stock imagery used in place of personal brand photography.
Stock images, that are captured and created to serve the masses, can be purchased and downloaded from a number of websites. Often you can find a single stock photo for as little as 49 cents and some sites even give you access to countless choices for a monthly membership fee.
When you dig into it, there are two classic reasons people source stock photography:
It seems fast and easy to find an image that works, pay, and click ‘download.’ – that is if you don’t account for how much time you’ll waste trying to find the “right” ones – only to end up settling for “good enough.”
They’re cheap, like really cheap, and shot by professionals with high-quality cameras so you trust that they won’t look blurry or distorted on your website. It seems like a good deal..until you realize how much it’s costing you by turning away potential clients on sight.
Speak to some people who’ve tried their luck at stock photography, please ask them about their experience with it. Did it get them great results? Save them time? Resonate with their target clients and help them make the sale?
But realizing the limitations of stock photography is a part of your growth as a brand. And growth is always, always something to get excited about.
Both stock and brand photography are both types of professional photography for businesses. But the similarities end there.
While stock images may be cheap and easy to get, the ones you get often either stick out from the rest of your imagery or don’t quite capture your brand the way they should. As my client told me, “Something just feels off.”
Think I’m just trying to make you feel good? I have science on my side.
Using eye-tracking technology, studies have shown that people skip over stock images and ignore stock photos of generic people. Why? Because they want to see real photos of real people ‒ you know, the ones who actually work for a company — the people they’re actually buying from or looking to work with.
Bottom line: they want to see YOU.
You’re “it” for them. The special potion. The secret sauce. The spark that ignites a fire under your ideal customers and clients.
The unmistakable sound of the heartbeat of your business.
Investing in brand photography means more than creating continuity across your brand, it means building your “like, know, trust” factor and humanizing your brand, so that your ideal client or customer has little to no hesitations working with or purchasing from you.
When I work with clients, we not only look to create cohesion across your brand and website imagery, but we also try to better tell your story, convey your true value, and we also plan for things like personalized stock photography specifically for your field and goals.