They say a picture is worth a thousand words. So what exactly are you communicating when you choose to use a stock photography image?
People use stock photos for a variety of purposes: for blog posts, website design, promotional material and more. They seem like a hassle-free, inexpensive way to add a professional visual touch to your content, but they can be detrimental to the perceived quality of your work.
Why you should avoid stock photos in your content marketing
Stock photography puts your work in the ‘average’ category. Consumers are so familiar with stock photography when they see it in your content it automatically blends in with business content they’ve previously seen.
This message is echoed in the 35th episode of the Brand Newsroom podcast featuring Paul Pichugin, a professional photographer. Paul calls for all businesses to avoid using stock images, saying,
“If your brand is generic then go for the generic stock photograph. If you put a bit more effort into your brand, and into your content, then you need to stay on brand and have images that reflect and tell that story”.
Building your own photo library
Using original photos makes your work look distinctive and, in most cases, more professional and authentic. From a content marketing perspective original photography can be used as an asset to your company. If you decide to make an investment in these photography assets and are clever about the way you use your time, it’s possible to get a professional photographer to capture hundreds of usable shots from one day’s work.
However, hiring a professional photographer to capture a library of photos for your business comes at a cost not all businesses can afford. If you aren’t in a position to develop your own photo library, there are still several options available.
Creating a photo library on a budget
If you or one of your colleagues own a high-quality camera, you have the opportunity to take photographs for commercial use on your own. You will have full creative control over the framing, subject matter and quality of these images and you can continue to add to your library as time goes on. In the Brand Newsroom podcast, Paul Pichugin touches on this idea of amateur photojournalism,
“Business with its own branding, it doesn’t necessarily have to always be spending money on a professional photographer. They can augment that by telling their own stories”.
Taking your own photographs will create images that are company specific and highly relevant. However, they may not be the best quality, which could compromise your credibility. In addition, taking time out of your workweek to take photos is not always feasible.
Free stock photo sites
If you’re short on both time and money, there are still solutions that should take priority over stock images. Many websites offer free to use, high-resolution images that don’t require attribution and are more creative than the standard stock photo.
Some of my personal favourites include:
- Life of Pix
- Little Visuals
- Death to the Stock Photo
- New Old Stock
- Jay Mantri
With free resources and the opportunity to create your own photography asset library, there’s no reason for your business to continue buying run-of-the-mill, stock photography. People do judge books by their covers, and changing a featured photo or design element could be the difference in whether or not your work receives the attention it deserves.
Get help with your visual content
If you need advice on what images to use in your content, get in touch with Lush – The Content Agency. We have a wealth of experience pairing images with content and even have in-house photographers for your use.
By Carla Young
Image credit: Julian Masters