So your agency is telling you that you need to do a photoshoot before they start marketing your business.
“Why?” You ask, a little bit annoyed.
“Isn’t this what stock photography was made for?” you say, “Saving me the hassle of coordinating staff and services?”
“I mean, come on, can’t you just find something that works among the 300 million photos available on Shutterstock?”
Well yes, we can, but it isn’t ideal.
Here are some of the reasons why you should ditch stock for something original.
1. Stock Photography Is…Vague
That photo you choose from Shutterstock was not created specifically for your business or your customers.
Instead, it was made to appeal to as many Shutterstock users as possible.
For this reason, it’s going to be a little vague.
Take vision/search/quest man for example:
“Why is there a businessman in the wilderness?” you may ask.
“Is he looking for his long-lost padfolio or is he just a mega-stalker?”
We don’t know, and your customers won’t either.
2. It Really Isn’t Yours
Yes, you may now own the rights to use that photo you just licensed from Shutterstock, but it isn’t yours.
The staff and customers aren’t yours.
Neither is the business nor are the products featured in it.
The concepts communicated in the photo were not concepts that you came up with.
Why are you advertising someone else’s ideas?
Here’s an example of a business that uses photography they own:
When you own the photography you’re using, you own the message it is sending your customers.
3. Stock Photography Creates Brand Confusion
Everybody has access to stock photography…and we mean everybody.
So where you might use the photo below to advertise ice cream, another business owner in your area with a Shutterstock account might use it to advertise sunscreen.
You can guess how that might get a little confusing for the residents of your local community.
Unless you are planning on creating a new, “Coppertone-flavored” dessert, you may want to avoid using stock photography that will mix you up with other businesses.
4. It’s Not Natural
Stock photography is often super staged.
The people, places, and things involved are not acting naturally.
Take for example the perfect, suburban family on display below:
Kudos to that momma for coordinating her entire family’s teeth-whitening for this candid moment.
But seriously…we all know this isn’t real.
Your customers will be able to smell the lie from a mile away.
5. Stock Photography Says Something About You…You Won’t Like It
Are you in the business of giving your customers generic, “stock” experiences that can be found anywhere else?
We’re hoping here that your answer is, “no.”
Then why are you using stock photography?
Stock photography doesn’t say anything about the unique way in which you help solve your customers’ problems.
Instead, it may say something that you don’t want it to, like, “We provide the same customer service as everybody else.”
6. You’ll Look Like a “Try Hard”
Stock photography sites like Shutterstock do their best to be inclusive when it comes to gender and race.
This is awesome, however, sometimes it comes across a little too heavy-handed.
Take the photo below for example:
Isn’t it so convenient that this friend group has exactly three guys, three girls, and nobody of the exact same mix of races?
7. Stock Photography Is a Little…Off
Because stock photography is not taken by a photographer directed by your unique, creative vision, it’s never going to be exactly what you’re looking for.
You may find a photo that “will work for now” but you’re not going to find something that’s “perfect.”
You may even end up going with a “plan A” or “plan B” concept because there simply aren’t photos of what you want.
Trying to force an idea into a mold that doesn’t fit may turn out a little odd.
8. It Looks Cheap
At this point, everybody knows that anybody can use stock photography.
So when your customers can tell that you are using it, they can also tell that you aren’t going the extra mile.
This can devalue your business.
9. Original Photos Build Trust
So what about original photography?
We’ve been talking a lot about stock and why it isn’t great.
What is the value of using original photography in your marketing?
For starters, original photography creates trust because it shows customers exactly who they will be doing business with, what the product or service experience looks like, or where it all happens.
This allows customers to essentially “test drive” doing business with you.
Here is an example of a company that uses original photography to demonstrate their products:
10. They Are Original & Exciting
Everyone has seen stock photography before.
When you take original photos, you are showing the world something they have not yet seen.
This can make your business look new and exciting!
11. Original Photos Can Be Local-Relevant
Original photos can include the right climate and landscape in the background, the right landmarks, and the right demographics because they are taken in the location of the business.
This reinforces to customers that they are witnessing exactly what their customer experience is going to be like.
It also promotes local business, something we are all trying to do more of.
12. They Create Brand Consistency
You may already understand the importance of using your logo consistently, but have you ever thought about the importance of using consistent imagery?
Some brands can be recognized by their photos just as much as their logos.
No B.S. is an excellent example of this:
This company has used branded photography so well that, whenever you see one of their photos on social media, you know exactly who they are without looking at their name.
That’s a lot of power coming from a photo, especially considering that your customers will connect with a photo before anything else in the graphics you produce.
13. Original Photos Are a Long-Term Investment
Once you “bite the bullet” and get a photoshoot done for your business, you now have visual assets that you can use for years to come.
Not only will you experience the benefits of original photography and its impact on your brand, but your initial investment may come out less than the cost of purchasing stock photography year over year.
Original photography is an investment in the future of your business.
Are you ready to schedule that photoshoot?
Original photography is definitely the way to go if you want to follow best practices and do everything you can to reinforce your brand.
This doesn’t mean that stock photography won’t work “for now” or for some specific use cases.
But original photography communicates exactly what you want to who you want in the way that you want.
If you are interested in scheduling a photoshoot for your business, we would love to chat.
Schedule a free consultation with us using our live scheduler!
But if you would like to continue using stock photography for your business, we wish you the best as well.
We also offer marketing services that can make use of stock photography or original assets–whichever you have available to help your business grow!