When brand owners and marketers create and redesign websites, pictures play a critical role in the process. Photographs are a central component of brand strategy. One question that a lot of marketers have about pictures is: Should I use stock or custom photography for my content?
There are upsides to both custom and stock photos– and there are drawbacks, too. Nobody can tell you with certainty which type of content is best for your brand; but there are some common pieces of advice that can help brands determine which variety of photos might be most effective.
The difference between custom photography and stock photos
- Custom photography is the result of hired photographers; it’s unique, individualised content designed to help highlight a brand’s offerings and personalise their messaging
- Stock photos are generic pictures of people, places, and things; they are licensed for commercial use; anybody who wants to use them can do so
The Pros and Cons of Custom Photography and Stock Photos
Custom photography is original— and if you know anything about marketing and creating consumer interest, you know that individuality is key.
Smart brands use their marketing campaigns to further their overall brand strategy— photos help share their brand stories and communicate their values. It’s much easier to do this through custom content (photographs included) than with stock content.
If you need your photos to be versatile, consistent, and one-of-a-kind, custom photography presents the perfect opportunity to make it happen. You can work in tandem with skilled photo experts to create exactly what you need.
Stock photos are usually a more affordable alternative to custom photography. It can be pricey to rely on an expert’s skills to create custom content for you. You’re obviously likely to find something a little cheaper in a stock collection– but that doesn’t mean that you should give up hope on custom photos!
You can use stock photos as support to your brand’s wide range of photography. If you notice your budget starting to dwindle, it’s not a bad idea to look into some stock photography to help liven up your content. They’re as easily accessible as they are affordable, so you should never have trouble finding one.
Stock photos do present some risk of dissatisfied or uninterested audiences. That’s because they tend to be simple and far-reaching. Those are great traits when you need a little filler content to boost your marketing aesthetic; they’re drawbacks if you rely too heavily on stock photos.
Competing brands can use the same images whilst use stock photos. Plus brand can tend to come off as disingenuous. It’s tough to communicate with a unique audience or share a brand message through canned content.
Sometimes, stock photo use can even prompt people to see a brand in a more negative light. These photographs are great when they’re used sparingly, but a site that’s stock photo-heavy likely won’t go over well with audiences.
Custom photography does present some downsides, too. Staging, styling and other elements need to be well thought through. They can also present creative challenges– an uninspired marketing team may have difficulty determining the custom photography that would benefit their brand. If you add an uninspired photographer into the mix, the situation dissolves further.
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