Stock Images and Custom Photography – Advantages and Disadvantages

We often rely on photography to get a point or idea across at a speed that words just cannot match because so much can be said with the right photo. When you are creating a new website or marketing campaign, you will be faced with a choice: Should you use stock photography, or should you hire a professional photographer to get the images you need for your project? There are advantages and disadvantages to both.

Stock Photography — It is affordable and accessible

Most of the time using stock photography costs a lot less than hiring a photographer to take photographs of the images you need. It can be easy to find the image you need given that stock photo websites have such a wide variety of images from which to choose. Using stock images is quick and easy, and when you purchase the license online, you can download the image right away.

The downside to using stock photography is the lack of exclusivity. Since royalty free stock photography is readily available and less expensive than custom photography, it is more likely that someone else may use the same image as you. Some stock images can also look clichéd or dated. When choosing images for an important marketing campaign or website launch, most businesses want images that are new and fresh. Using stock imagery could dilute the uniqueness of your message.

Custom Photography — It is original and unique

Custom photography is created with an intended use in mind and can feel like a more natural approach, as the photographer you hire can capture situations unique to your company and brand. Your finished project will be both original and unique.

Obviously, hiring a photographer will have larger initial costs than using stock photos, and it will take time to plan and execute any necessary photo shoots.

Stock versus Custom — Which is right for you?

For the sake of consistency with your brand, delivering a powerful and genuine message, and avoiding duplication of a competitor’s imagery, you should first consider the possibility of hiring a professional photographer.

The reality is we do not always have the budget or the time to use custom photography. In cases where the imagery needs to be obtained quickly or only needs to be used as support for the content of the project, stock photos can be a great option. There are many stock websites available that will deliver a variety of high quality images at a reasonable cost. The key is to consider the style of your photos and their intended uses when choosing stock photography for your project.

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