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5 Reasons To Stop Relying On Stock Photos

5 Reasons To Stop Relying On Stock Photos

“Pictures are worth a 1,000 words”. Which words would you like to convey? Make them count. Don’t waste your time finding a random stock photo and use it “just because it looks pretty”. Unless a photo directly correlates with your brand and the topic at hand, you’re wasting your time, and time is money, so move on and find a better fit for you.

Stock photos may seem like the only option when your budget is low and you’re searching for high-resolution images. Often times, though, you’ll have the resources to take original photos that better represent your brand and fit your message. Photographers can take the time to accurately communicate with your audience who you are and what you’re doing. In this article, we’ll take a look at 5 reasons to stop relying on stock photos as a source of branding.

1.) Originality shouldn’t be left to your competitors

Stock photography can be purchased by anyone and seen on hundreds of websites. Why leave originality to your competition? Take the time and spend the money to create unique, original content with substance.



2.) Using real photography creates a sense of trust

Choosing to take your own photos shows that you’re the type of business that doesn’t like to cut corners; that you like to pay attention to the menial details. Giving your audience an accurate vision of your products and services creates a sense of trust, which will take you far. Customers are more likely to respond or click through if they believe what you’re selling to be true.

Stock photos feel fabricated. Original photography brings your audience into reality and adds legitimacy.

Let’s take a look at Perla’s Fresh Mexican restaurant; a new establishment opening in the Fargo Moorhead area. Recently, they sought out our help to design their website, and in this process, they asked us to take photos of their delicious menu items.

Below is a picture their signature vegetarian cauliflower burrito. Specialty items such as this are close to impossible to find on a stock photo website.

Cauliflower Burrito

Cauliflower Burrito

Neither of the searches on Shutterstock yielded anything remotely close to this niche item.

Cauliflower Burrito Search

Screenshot of Shutterstock’s search for “cauliflower burrito”.

Veggie Burrito Search

Screenshot of Shutterstock’s search for “veggie burrito”.

3.) Add a human element

Another way to create trust is to add a human element to your photography. If you’re opening a new restaurant, the last thing you want to do is use a picture of someone else to sell your business. Show these stock photos to a photographer. They’ll be able to set up the shot for you.

Use real photos, with real employees, doing real actions. You have an entire team of people at your fingertips. Discuss with your employees why you’re interested in showcasing them on your website. Making people feel comfortable with the process may be half the battle. A simple hand will do. Show your product being used in the real world.

Breakfast Skillet Tacos

Breakfast Skillet Tacos

4.) A monkey with an iPhone can take a picture

Monkey with an Smartphone

A monkey with a smartphone could figure out how to take a picture. A high-quality smartphone camera may be sufficient to add photos to social media or blog posts if you’re well versed in the proper setup of a quality photo. However, relying on too many filters can make your images look fabricated and artificial. Aim for minimalism in editing. Rich tones and bright whites are ideal. There are hundreds of tips on how to properly take and edit photos with your phone. Do some digging, learn a few basics before diving into the deep end.

I’m using the two photos below to showcase the subtle differences in this particular shot of Perla’s Mexican Wedding Cookies. Both shots have the same framing principles and use the same light source. However, the first photo is shot with my iPhone 6s, and the second is shot with my Canon T5i. Though the second shot is slightly more appealing, the first snapshot demonstrates the idea that you won’t necessarily need these higher quality photos for your social media campaigns.

Mexican Wedding Cookies shot with iPhone

Mexican Wedding Cookies shot with iPhone 6s

Mexican Wedding Cookies

Mexican wedding cookies shot with Canon

Not all photos will have similar results. The same basic principles are represented in the two shots below of Perla’s Mango Margarita. However, the first picture, shot with the iPhone, would be a much better fit for a social networking site than a website. The second, shot with the Canon, demonstrate the why it is best to rely on a higher quality DSLR camera to create media for your website over your trusty smartphone. The richer tones and more inviting depth of field highlight really showcase the drink in its best light.

Mango Margarita shot with iPhone 6s

Mango margarita shot with iPhone 6s

Mango Margarita

Mango margarita show with Canon

5.) High-quality photography potentially leads to high conversion rates and better engagement

Our brain processes visual information 60,000x faster than text. We’re also bombarded with millions of images in a day. We’ve become accustomed to skimming past irrelevant information, and over the years, stock photography has become irrelevant information.

Take a look at the study done here conducted by the Neilson Norman Group. The study showcases how often people were likely to view stock images of TVs on Amazon’s website vs high-quality photos of bookcases for Pottery Barn. After the data was collected, it was obvious original photos outnumbered the stock photos results.


Thumbnails of Pottery Barn’s bookcases in a real environment are viewed frequently and for a longer period of time, then the highly manufactured feel of the flat-panel TV’s on Amazon.


In conclusion

Stock photography can be appealing due to their high resolutions, which aids in the scalability of responsive web design. However, trying to find a stock photo which matches your brand’s look and feel, while also matching your product is more difficult than one may think. Instead of wasting your energy, hire a professional to take pictures of your product. Sure, the initial up front cost may be a bit alarming, but they will know how to take into consideration key factors which can make or break a photograph such as lighting, composition, color and so much more


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