It’s a familiar argument amongst the marketing team – whether to purchase stock photos for the new corporate brochure/ annual report/website or pay a photographer for a set of custom images.
You might think this all comes down to budget, but let me give you a few reasons why custom photography is the way to go:
- Exclusivity: Anyone can download the same stock photos as you: competitors; ranty bloggers; an extremist cult! If you want to be sure this won’t happen, you need images that are exclusively yours.
- Plastic people: So many stock photos have that ‘All-American’ ‘oops I’ve taken one too many valiums’ look, which is great if you’re an Abercrombie store, or a dentist promoting teeth whitening, but not so great for everyone else.
- Brand control: If you want a consistent look across your organisation, the best way to achieve this is by having your own custom photo library. Otherwise, you’ll be giving free reign to all those anarchists across the business who love downloading random stock photos for their reports and presentations! (By the way, these are the same people who use Comic Sans for every PowerPoint because they think its cool – the correlation is high, believe me!)
- Authenticity: It only takes one stock photo to blow the credibility of a brand wide open. If customers spot an obvious stock photo it makes them suspicious that you’re really who you say you are.
- Creative genuis: When you brief a photographer and attend the photo shoot, you actually get to be part of shaping the creative process. You get to sit in the Director’s chair and say, “let’s try that again with a red ball instead of a green one” or modify whatever part of the shot you think isn’t working.
- Cost: Don’t be ridiculous I hear you say… stock photos are sooo cheap and photographers are sooo expensive! Well that all depends on how you calculate it. If you spend $5-$10 each time you download a high res stock photo, then you might be interested to note you could hire a professional photographer for $1200 and potentially get 400 shots for your image library. That’s only $3 per image!
- Support local talent: In an era crowded with ‘citizen photographers’; when even mainstream news media no longer employs local photographers – talented, experienced photographers are a dying breed. If you can afford to support local creative talent then you’ll be contributing to the creative economy and helping at least one hardworking photographer pursue their passion for a little while longer…