Is Stock Photography The Right Choice for You?

For just a small monthly fee, most stock photography sites offer a seemingly endless supply of images available at the click of your mouse.

While this may be true, what you end up presenting in your digital media or print materials isn’t really “you”. It may be a representative of you and your industry, but it’s not YOU and it’s certainly not YOUR customers.

Consider Implications for Your Brand

A stock photo featuring a suited-up business engagement may convey trust and professionalism, but that all goes away when a prospective customer visits the site of a similar business, or possibly a completely different business, and sees the exact same photo. That potential client leaves your generic-looking site without making any memorable connections to the visual content, and may even feel put off by the cheap nature of your use of obvious stock photography.

Whenever you consider using stock photos, just remember there might be multiple business using that exact same image. Just look at these examples below where the same image is being used by competing businesses, sometimes on the same platform!

9 times out of 10, budget constraints will be the determining factor when it comes to imagery. I certainly don’t want to make it sound like we only use custom photography in the creative work we do, because that is simply not true. We understand budget constraints and do whatever we can to work with them.

Many times we will open up the discussion of finding images that will be prominently displayed in marketing materials or on website main pages from premium stock sites such as While these images may be priced higher than subscription-rate stock image services, the chances of a competitor using that same photo are lower.

How Can You Stand Out with Stock Photography?

When choosing stock photography, take time to browse through your options. If you select the images on the first page of search results, your competitors will likely be using the same photos. Dig through the results and see if there is another option that may fit your needs.

One great use for stock photography is to accentuate a subject. In the image below, we received a photo of a product that was to be used in marketing materials, but it had no “life”.

By adding a new background (Image), adjusting the lighting of the subject and removing distracting elements, it brought a whole new feeling to the supplied image. We certainly couldn’t wait for a storm to approach to get a shot of dark clouds, so in this instance, stock photography worked well to enahance an otherwise boring original.

Our Advice: Professional Custom Photography

Nothing will convey who you are and what you do quite like custom photography featuring your employees and customers, either in the field or in the office. Now, before you get started taking your own photos or contracting with a photographer, the most important thing to do is to make a plan! Here are a few key tips when considering custom photography:

  • Brainstorm: Think about all aspects or your business and the different scenarios you want to show, as well as where you want to use the photos. Will these be used for your website, print materials, social media? Each usage has different considerations that need to be thought about. If you don’t properly plan ahead then you will could end up with a library of photos that you can’t effectively use on your website or marketing materials and you’ve wasted your entire budget.
  • Research: What is the style of photography that will fit your project goals?  Does everything need to be shown in fine detail or do you want a shallow depth of field (foreground in focus while the background is blurry) ? Research photographers in your area to find someone that may fit your stylistic needs. Asking a sports photographer to shoot your office head shots may not be the right way to go if they don’t have proper studio or lighting.
  • Placement and Scale: Do you plan on using the photos in a stand alone setting, or do you need to plan for copy or design elements to be placed into the photos?  Are your images going to be used only on the web, or will they need to be used on items as large as billboards or trade show booths? While all photographers will shoot high resolution photography, they need to be aware that subjects need open space around the them for copy, or that the images will be used in a tightly cropped horizontal or vertical setting.
  • Talent: Plan on getting the right people involved at your office if you are aren’t hiring outside talent. Make sure your subjects bring a couple different outfits so all the photos don’t look like they were shot in the same day.

Are you an Omaha business owner with a story to tell? Reinforce your content marketing strategy with custom photography or video production.