Stock vs. Custom: What's A Photograph Worth to Your Business?
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then photos on your website are priceless. Engaging photos attract and hold the attention of casual browsers and serious information seekers alike. When selecting the perfect photograph, it's important to decide where you stand in the stock photography vs custom photography debate. Will you opt for cheaper stock photos or focus on compiling personalized photos to match your message?
So what's the difference?
Stock photos are images taken by people around the world that are bought and sold for commercial use. Designers can search common databases for stock photos that work best for their projects and then purchase the pictures royalty free. Custom photography, on the other hand, is when you hire a photographer to take pictures of your own company, product, space, employees, etc. Stock photography has a lower cost, but custom photography is more personalized and customizable.
At your fingertips
There's a reason stock photos are so ubiquitous on websites and in ad campaigns: they are fast and easy to find. Millions of high-quality stock photos are organized by subject in online databases. It only takes a moment to find and buy appropriate photos that fit your image. However, for more specific needs, it may be difficult to find the right photo. Despite the plethora of stock photos available for purchase, they tend to have generic subject matter.
Generally speaking, stock photos cost less than custom photos. Many stock photos can be licensed for less than $10 per image. Meanwhile, a professional photo session can cost you upwards of $1000 for one session. Many people would rather pay a smaller amount up front for a more basic product. This means that you might have to buy a cheaper stock photo and alter it digitally, which often results in an unpolished, awkward photo.
Stock photos may be cheap and convenient, but they're not always the best option. You might find that your competitors are using the exact same layouts and photos as you. You don't want to end up like local car dealers who all use the exact same photos as their rivals. Stock photos can even become famous thanks to internet memes. Nothing makes a company look more out of touch than casually reusing a photo that is already familiar to millions of people.
Your unique voice
When you're deciding on stock photography vs custom photography, it is important to realize that custom photography can be specifically tailored to your vision and your customers. Your company may have special products and goals that a generic stock photo can't begin to convey. If you have a brick and mortar location, photographs of your premises are key to communicating your brand. High-quality, professional photos go a long way to helping you stand out from the competition.
Saving time and money by opting for stock photos gets you ahead in the short term, but custom photos present your message your way. This allows you to craft a clear-cut image to your target audience and to end the tweaking of generic stock photos to match your branding.