I was working with a client recently on her website design who didn’t have any imagery of her own. This meant we couldn’t convey her messaging and make the designs more appealing. We started to explore stock photography sites but couldn’t find anything that would work perfectly. In the end the client invested in getting some professional bespoke photos taken. It made us question, should you go out and get professional photographs taken or are stock photographs perfectly fine to use?
- Stock imagery
- Bespoke imagery
- A note on illustrations and icons
The advantages of stock imagery
Without a doubt stock imagery has some great advantages. There is a vast list of websites out there now where you can download royalty free or buy licensed images. Thus, making these images very quick to access. They are also free or cheap meaning using this route can be very cost effective. If you’re looking for urgent images you can usually find, download and use immediately meaning a fast turnaround on projects. Great for sending out that social media post you need to send out right away!
The disadvantages of stock imagery
However, that time can soon be eaten back through the search to find the perfect image. An image which works in the format you need, conveys the correct message and fits in with your brand. I’ve spent hours scrolling through stock photography sites trying to find ‘the one’ that will usually ‘just do’.
When you start to use images in this way, you start to try and force them to fit in with your brand and the message you want to communicate. More often than not this can be noticed negatively, taking the sheen of your brand potentially cheapening or causing confusion.
There are a lot of stock photography sites out there now but there are a handful of popular ones that are the ‘go-to’. There is some nice imagery on these sites (and also some terrible ones!) but the nicer images will get used a lot. I when I say a lot I mean by hundreds of thousands of other people and businesses.
You start to notice the same images again and again and through experience start to notice they are stock photographs straight away. This means you can’t begin to stand out through your imagery, which is one of the first elements that attracts attention. If you’re not standing out, then you’re not being unique which in brand terms is a big no no.
Professional bespoke imagery
The advantages of bespoke imagery
Opting to use a professional photographer to capture bespoke imagery however means you can tailor your images to your brand from the beginning. Using unique images to you, set up in your brand style to fit in with the rest of your marketing materials can make you stand head and shoulders above everyone else. Immediately you look professional and people will notice the effort you have made with your images.
Having tailored images means you can plan them to convey and enhance your messaging. Take advantage and show off your premises, products or the people in the business.
Another great advantage of investing in bespoke images is that you can brief the photographer to where these images may be used. Considering this bigger picture means the photographer can shoot the photographs in the right format. This could be in landscape or portrait but also leaving enough ‘white space’ around the focal point in case text needs to be placed for example.
The disadvantages of bespoke imagery
But all this sounds expensive right? Choosing to go down the route of hiring a professional photographer to capture bespoke images is an investment. If planned out well you can receive a whole bank of images that can be used for years going forward. Having a plan, scheduling time in with a photographer and then waiting to receive the images maybe one slight negative (but doesn’t everything work better with a plan!). The excitement of going through the shoot process and receiving the final retouched images is worth it.
A note on illustrations and icons
All of the above isn’t just unique to photographs. If you’re looking to use illustrations in your marketing material or infographics on your social media for example, take the time to work out which might be the best route to go down. You could commission an illustrator to create bespoke illustrations to help you really stand out. Or a designer to create on brand infographics and icons to add some personality to your content.
Stock imagery serves a purpose at certain times and in particular circumstances. However the advantages of using bespoke imagery out far outweighs these. The effect on brand photography can have on your brand is huge and can take your business to the next level if planned out correctly. It will be an investment worth making.
Remember, never use an image without permission and without the right license. For more information on copyright uses check out my blog on Understanding Image Copyright Rules.
If you want to know more about how you can use imagery in your branding or how to go about finding and working with a photography, get in touch for a free #brandpowerhour consultation or book here.