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Saturday Feb 1st, 2020

Original Photography Outshines Stock Photos

Stock photography can be the white rice of website design. Yes, it fills the void and is often inexpensive, but it severely lacks in flavor. The visual content your business or organization showcases needs to send your customers a clear message about who you are, what you do, and why you do it—and that’s achieved best with the personality of original photography. 

Simply put: The purpose of stock photos is to provide pleasing visual content that appeals to the widest possible audience. Shutterstock alone has 1.4 million users trawling through the same bank of photos, most of which cost only a few dollars apiece, making the click-and-purchase appeal attractive. As business owners try to minimize digital marketing costs, opting for cheap stock images seems like an easy and affordable solution. 

But cheap isn’t always synonymous with easy. Not only are there limitations on how you can use stock photos, but stock images also do little to showcase your brand. 

Imagine, instead, your company’s own library of distinct photographs specifically tailored to your business. With original images, you can tell your story, one that your customers will resonate with—not one that’s likely showing up elsewhere on the web.

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Capture Their Imagination With Unique Photographs

Photographs engage people by giving them rich detail, helping them to imagine themselves in the situation you’re describing, perhaps even using your product or service. In the same way a beautifully staged house lets potential buyers envision living in a home, an original photograph delivers the clear context stock images simply can’t provide.

You've heard it a thousand times, so what's one more: A picture is worth a thousand words. But if a thousand people are using the same picture, those words lose their meaning, significance, and punch. Because photos have the power to speak volumes, you want yours to tell your story, not share space with someone else's narrative, product, or service.

Moreover, you can waste a great deal of time searching for the ideal stock photo for your company’s website and still never find anything quite right—or settle for something someone else has already purchased, used, and built a story around. Instead of wracking your brain and draining your resources combing through the carbon-copy cache of cataloged generic moments, consider smartly investing in original photography that’s created for your exact product or service.

One photoshoot with a professional photographer can yield dozens of high-quality photographs (and potentially a dozen more B-roll) that you can utilize across your whole brand—website, social media, brochures, and newsletters alike.

So let’s do some quick math. Say it costs $100 per hour of custom photography. If you yield 25 great photos over the course of two hours (with another 25 to cull from later if you want), it’ll cost you $8 per pic. And, those are original, polished, branded photos.

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That's not too much more than stock images, and that's before you factor in the time wasted scrolling through Unsplash, Pexels, and Adobe to decide on an image. If you spend an hour (and pay yourself $25/hour), you're losing money on stock photos.

Provide Credibility

Visual content that makes sense for your business will convey credibility to your customers. People are incredible at remembering pictures. A study found that hearing a piece of information led to a 10% recall three days later, whereas pictures led to a 65% recall three days later.

We’re hard-wired to look for negativity or discrepancies in our environment, and any mistake or non-sequitur launches alarm bells in our brain. Photos with weak ties to your written materials may make consumers question your product or service. People identify with images their brains decide are real and important. 

People like to connect with other people. A Forrester survey found that 70% of U.S. online adults trust brand or product recommendations from family and friends, while only 10% trust advertisements on websites. You can humanize your brand through authentic photographs that draw people in and let them be a part of what you create or the service you offer.

Stock photos are available at the drop of a Google search. While convenient, this accessibility means thousands of businesses are tapping into these cheap and license-free photos. How will yours stand out if your customers see the same images elsewhere? Additionally, some stock photos require you to leave a linked attribution, which could direct customers away from your site.

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Consistency is also key to building trust and turning browsers into buyers. According to Lucidpress the average revenue increase attributed to always presenting the brand consistently is 33%.

At best, cheesy, impersonal photos aren’t taken seriously but you may save some in the short term; at worst, they may erode trust in your brand and hurt your bottom line. So make sure to use a professional.

We’ve all seen the stock image of innocuous white-collar employees gathered around a conference table looking at charts and graphs. While the stock image accurately conveys a work setting, it could be any workplace with any employees reviewing any number of things. What it isn’t is your brand, team, or vibe. Even though you may remember the image, it doesn’t leave you with a lasting impression and doesn’t tell you anything more than a scenario that could work in scores of situations. Your photographs should be as specific as possible to your services.

Differentiate Your Visual Content

Before posting any picture associated with your brand, ask yourself if the image supports your point or obscures it. Unoriginal photos with less of an impact may cost you more as time progresses through lost opportunities and sales.  

Every written word and photograph you provide your customers should revolve around prompting them to take a specific action. Custom photographs can precisely match the aesthetics of your other content.

You can spend a great deal of time searching for the perfect stock photo picture for your company’s website and still never find anything quite right. Sometimes businesses will strive for a middle ground between stock photos and professional photography by Photoshopping stock photos to make them look more interesting. The results are passable, but with the time it takes a good designer to do that, you could have just hired a professional.

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Increase Search Engine Authority

Eye-tracking studies have shown people completely ignore pictures of feel-good, decorative images. Instead, they scrutinize photos of products and real people (as opposed to stock photos of models). The longer users have a good, genuine user experience (UX), the more likely they’ll be to stick around and then take action. According to an Azilen survey, 74% of businesses believe user experience is the key to increasing the rate of conversion.

Images with a strong correlation to your text help your website appear in search results. More specifically, if you use accurate alt text your site will not only be more ADA compliant but also have a better chance of appearing as a featured snippet on Google.

Snap Some Pics That Really Werk

Are you looking for a partner to revitalize your look? From photo and video services to web design and development, Werkbot offers turnkey solutions for all of your digital marketing needs. If you’re looking for a marketing agency that knows how to use quality photographs to reach your business’ goals, or if you’d like to discuss utilizing our professional photographer or videographer, contact Werkbot today to learn what we can do for you.