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Before you buy stock imagery, you really should read this…

Before you buy stock imagery, you really should read this…

Hi there - us again! This GoodHuman blog post is really more of a PSA. Why? Because every day millions of stock photos are senselessly and heartlessly placed in all sorts of branding materials without any concern for how often they are being overused. Stock photos have feelings too, you know…

We're not going to tell you that using a stock photo is never appropriate or necessary. But we are going to tell you that using custom, original photos in your marketing materials can have a much more powerful impact on how your brand is perceived.

In this two-part series, we’ll cover the challenges of working with stock photography and offer solutions for each.

Part-1: We hate to tell you this, but your stock photography is showing...

Let’s face it, stock photography is really about convenience and cost. As a business owner, it’s pretty great to be able to quickly access decent imagery. You search for the business pictures you want, and with a few clicks of the mouse and a credit card payment, your website and marketing materials instantly have the appearance of a professional business. Sometimes you don’t even have to pay for these images - they are free or nearly free.

GoodHuman loves stock photography. As a matter of fact we’ve shot thousands of stock images that have been used by some of the biggest corporations in the world including Toyota, The New York Times, and Proctor & Gamble. So, yes, we absolutely believe there’s a time and a place for stock.

However, there are some challenges to using stock imagery, and there are also some situations when it just won’t cut it.

In part one of this series, we are going to cover three primary reasons when you should skip the stock photos and instead hire a professional photographer to create your own custom image library.

Challenge 1: All of your competitors - including your inferior competitors - are using the same images.

Imagine this: you’re a new business. You’ve just put together a simple but elegant website, and, yes, you made use of some stock photography to give your site a professional vibe. One of your best marketing tools is finished, and you’re feeling pretty good about yourself. Then you decided you’re going to check out the websites of your competition - you know, just out of curiosity. You pull up the site of one far less-qualified competitor, and right there on the front page is the exact photo you just used on your “About Us” page. That, friends, is reason number one that stock photos are not always the best choice. There is no originality - nothing to set you apart; literally anyone can use the same image.

Solution: Allocate a little more of your budget to imagery. A photographer for hire can create gorgeous images that highlight the uniqueness of your business. Custom business pictures help you to create an identity that represents the true value of your brand and distinguishes you from your far less-qualified, less professional competitors. Whether you are investing in business headshots, office pictures, or specifically business pictures of your product or service, the money will be well-spent because it will set you apart from your competition.

Challenge 2: Your clients can tell that you are using stock, and it gives them the impression your business isn’t established or successful enough to have a budget for custom images. Let’s face it…it’s not that hard to tell when a business picture is stock photography. Low-budget stock images often look stiff, generic, and maybe even a little corny. People usually know when they are being lied to, and in some ways, stock photography is a lie - especially if a business is passing off a stock image as something unique to that business.

Solution: Use real photos of your real business. Find stock photos you would use, and then have a professional photographer recreate that photo with real people from your business in your real office environment. When done well, custom business pictures convey authenticity and integrity - two qualities that are essential to building and maintaining a solid client base.

Challenge 3: You can’t find the exact image you really need. Have you ever looked for a stock photo but couldn’t find what you needed? Think about the time you wasted looking for that perfect image and then you still ended up settling for something that wasn’t quite right. Maybe the photo’s content was perfect but the color clashed with your logo? Or the image composition didn’t lend space for your tag line? Or everything about the image was perfect, but you needed it for a banner and the dimensions were all wrong. You get the idea. Time is money - this is an universal truth. So the money you think you are saving by using stock images might just end up being no savings at all, especially if you are spending all your time looking for an image that just doesn’t exist.

Solution: Invest your money (and time) in finding a photographer for hire who will get you the exact business pictures you really need. And, here’s another tip: while the photographer is set up at your business and ready to go, have him/her take other photos (i.e. business headshots, office pictures, etc.) for future use so you can build up a collection of your own custom photography. In the end, maximizing the photographer’s visit by getting additional shots, can make the right custom images more cost-effective than the wrong stock images. Lastly, who knows when you’ll need a photographer for a product launch event, a holiday party, or public offering announcement. Once you’ve established a relationship with a photographer you love, it’s so much easier to get the images you need in quick order; especially since “find a great photographer for hire” will be off your to-do list once and for all.

So there you have it: three good examples when custom business pictures beat out stock photography, hands down. In part two of this series, we’ll discuss the hidden cost of using stock photos, the shady side of the stock photography industry and when you should use stock photos.

GoodHuman would love to help you create an iconic collection of custom photos to help your brand shine above your competition. Contact us for more information about how easy and affordable custom business pictures can be.

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